8 Best Cheap Microphones Reviewed [2020]

best cheap microphones for recording and vocals reviewed

Finding a good, cheap recording mic can be intimidating, especially when prices range from $20 to $20000.

Luckily, we’ve rounded up 8 of the best cheap mics and reviewed them for you.

Whether you’re on the lookout for your first home studio microphone or just looking to add another microphone to your arsenal, these are tried and tested mics that will help bring your music to life.

Ready? Let’s get started…

Top 8 Best Cheap Microphones Reviewed

Best Cheap Microphones Buyer’s Guide

best-cheap-microphones-buyers-guide

In other words -- what to look at when buying cheap mics?

Condenser or Dynamic?

One of the most important things to have in mind when buying a cheap microphone is what you want to use it for. If youre mostly recording vocals, it’s smarter to invest in a condenser microphone.

Large-diaphragm condenser microphones are the usual tool of choice when it comes to capturing detailed and rich-sounding vocals. Although not all condensers are built the same, some can also give you good results on other things, like a guitar cabinet or bass speaker.

This is true for some mics, but if you really need to record high output sources like a guitar or bass cab, a dynamic microphone is best. Dynamic microphones are better at recording loud sounds and are usually built to be more rugged for rough handling. That’s why most people use dynamic mics for drum and guitar tracks.

There are other types of mics used to capture guitar amps, such as ribbon mics. However, dynamic mics are the most popular for those kinds of applications.

If you want to read more about condenser vs. dynamic microphones feel free to check out this article over here.

Phantom Power

If you’re looking into cheap mics, chances are your budget is limited and you’re looking for an affordable, effective microphone just to plug in and get the job done. 

Most condenser mics require you to have phantom power on your interface or mixer in order for them to work. On the other hand, dynamic mics do not require any phantom power to work and can literally be powered by anything with an XLR.

The reason why condenser microphones need phantom power is that they contain active electronics that need to be powered externally. Dynamic microphones are passive.

If you do decide to go down the path of the condenser mic and you don’t have phantom power available on your recording device, you’ll have to buy some extras to make it work.

Read more about phantom power here.

Sound Characteristics

Although some microphones sound similar, no microphone sounds the same, and some work better with certain voices or sources.

Some mics have a warm and deep sound, others have bright and sparkly sounds, while others are more mid-driven.

We include some recommendations about what works with what in our list, but if you want to hear more, feel free to check this comparison test of different microphones to further understand the difference in sound character:

Mic Shootout 2: Affordable Large Diaphragm Condensers

Pop Filters & Shock Mounts

When recording vocals, especially if you’re using a high output mic like a condenser, it’s essential to have a pop filter and a shock mount.

As previously mentioned, condenser mics have a higher output than dynamic mics, which makes them have a more sensitive input. That’s the main reason why condensers sound so detailed and vibrant.

This also means they’re susceptible to ambient noise, way more than dynamic mics are. Sharp breaths and powerful P’s will cut through the recording like no one’s business. 

This is where the pop filter comes in. The pop filter diffuses those powerful p’s and breaths so that the recording sounds clearer.

The shock mount suspends the microphone to keep any accidental hits to the mic stand or mic from getting in the recording. It creates separation between the mic stand and mic that dampens sounds you don’t want.

Conclusion

We’ve established a clear difference between condenser mics and dynamic mics. If you’re only interested in recording vocals, then definitely think about a condenser microphones. But if you want a great all-around microphone that is affordable and can perform in the studio and in a live setting, then the SM58 is the clear winner.

The Shure SM58 is an absolute beast of a microphone that can be placed in front of almost anything and perform really well. If you’re just entering the world of recording, I highly recommend starting out with the SM58.

While we think the SM58 is the ultimate cheap mic, all of the microphones on our list have some great and unique qualities. The important thing is always to make sure that you pick the microphone that suits your needs -- and have fun in the process.

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