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Best Beginner Microphone Options for Your Home Studio

Best Beginner Microphone Options for Your Home Studio

There is a lot of confusion accompanying choosing a microphone when you’re a beginner.

Should you already invest a lot of money for the most expensive gear, or should you lay low and be conservative about it?

To save you the time and stress of choosing, we have picked and listed the best beginner microphones out there.

Continue reading to find out!

Best Budget Pick
Best Budget

Behringer Ultravoice XM8500

Best Overall
BEst Overall

Audio Technica AT2020

Best in Value
Best Value

Rode NT1-A

Table of Contents

At a Glance: Best Microphones for Beginners

The following microphones are the creme of the crop when it comes to beginners.

We listed them down for easier viewing below:

  • Best Overall: Audio Technica AT2020
  • Best Value: Rode NT1-A
  • Best Budget: Behringer Ultravoice XM8500
  • Shure SM58
  • AKG P220
  • Blue Yeti
  • Rode NT-USB
  • Shure PGX48-XLR Microphone
  • MXL 770
  • Sennheiser E609

In-Depth Look: 10 Best Beginner Microphone Picks

We have combined all types of microphones best for beginner use. Whether you are using these for performing or recording, you’ll find the right one.

Let’s get to it!

1. Audio Technica AT2020 – Best Overall

Audio Technica AT2020 - Best Overall-

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: 37 dB
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 74 dB
  • Compatible Devices: Compatible with any recording programs, Audio Interface with XLR cables
  • Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
  • Microphone Type: Condenser

Our Overall Thoughts:

If you are looking for a microphone that will aid you in all your projects, this is the one for you. This mic will go to great lengths with you with metal construction and durability!

The Audio Technica AT2020 is a powerful condenser microphone for home studio recording, regardless if you are using instruments or vocals.

It has a cardioid polar pattern with an extended frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz.

This cardioid pickup pattern helps in isolating the sound source from any sounds the condenser microphone picks up from the side and rear, resulting in a better sound.

The Audio Technica AT2020 also has a wide dynamic range that can handle high sound pressure levels and higher pitches if you are using high-frequency instruments.

Have we mentioned that it also has a threaded stand mount that can pivot for a secure attachment? Talk about a complete package!

With unmatched versatility, this microphone from Audio Technica really is one of the BEST beginner microphones for beginners.

2. Rode NT1-A – Best Value

Rode NT1-A - Best Value-

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: 5 dB
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 88 dB
  • Compatible Devices: XLR cable
  • Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
  • Microphone Type: Condenser

Our Overall Thoughts:

This condenser mic has almost the same specifications as our Audio Technica AT2020, but it comes in a bundle, so it’s double the price.

The Rode NT1-A is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone with a wider frequency range than other beginner microphones.

  • It is designed with a JFET impedance converter and a bipolar outfit buffer, resulting in an extended dynamic range, clarity, and better sound output in higher pitch instruments.
  • This is the best condenser mic if you are looking for a condenser mic with better sound quality.

Did you notice that the audio sensitivity of our Rode NT1-A is only 5 dB? That’s because it has an ultra-low noise, which helps create a more accurate sound.

This mic has a Complete Vocal Recording Solution, which is one of the best features for home studio recording!

This bundle comes with a Rode SM6 shock mount, pop filter, and dust cover. These gears are useful for noise reduction and eliminating popping sounds.

3. Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 – Best Budget

Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 - Best Budget-

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: 28mV/Pa
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Undocumented
  • Compatible Devices: XLR cable
  • Connectivity Technology: Wired, Wireless
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Microphone Type: Dynamic

Our Overall Thoughts:

Dynamic mics are usually recommended for performing vocals and instruments on stage, but they can also do a good job in home recording studios!

If you are looking for an inexpensive beginner microphone, you’ve officially found what you are looking for.

To start, it has a fairly flat frequency response.

But, don’t let the price make you think that the quality of the XM8500 is any less than others.

The XM8500 has a smooth mid-frequency response, which is what we’re looking for in vocal projection. It has two pop filters for smoother sounds and vibrations, too.

Its frequency range lies from 50 Hz to 15 kHz; not bad for its price, right?

PLUS, it has a suspension for noise reduction and a built-in shock mount.

The XM8500 has a sturdy construction and reliable metal with a gold-plated ring. This makes it perfect for long-term use and performance!

However, one downside is that this dynamic mic does not come with its own cord. You need to purchase it separately if you want a stable gear holding this mic up.

4. Shure SM58

Shure SM58

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: 54.5 dB
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 71 dB at 93 dB SPL
  • Compatible Devices: XLR connection
  • Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
  • Microphone Type: Dynamic

Our Overall Thoughts:

What makes this dynamic microphone unique is its mitigation of plosives and fricatives, specifically the harshness of -p, -t, -k, -f, and -th sounds.

It also has a frequency response of 50 Hz to 15 kHz, which is best when you record vocals for singing or podcasts.

  • The Shure SM58 is one of the versatile mics out there, and with its cardioid polar pattern, it reduces background noise, which can be common in a home recording studio.
  • This microphone is responsive to singing and speech, and this can be attributed to its built-in spherical filter, which can minimize wind.

In terms of construction, this mic has a steel mesh grill which ensures that you can use it in both indoor and outdoor settings.

Just remember that the Shure SM58 is a great microphone for vocal recordings, but not really for recording instruments.

5. AKG P220

AKG P220

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: 33.9 dB
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 78 dB
  • Compatible Devices: 3-pin XLR
  • Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
  • Microphone Type: Condenser

Our Overall Thoughts:

What sets the AKG P220 apart from other condenser mics is it can easily pick up audio from an acoustic guitar. With its frequency response and high sensitivity, it’s easy to see why.

With phantom power as its source, the P220 is best used for live recordings, especially if you have an acoustic or electric guitar in the set.

Out of all the condenser microphones, this one has an astounding accuracy. So much so that the audio recording is SUPER clear even without an equalizer!

But wait, there’s more!

Because of the features, it is best when you record softer sounds as it has its built-in bass-cut filter. When you are recording music or a podcast, it will deliver a crisp result.

It also comes with a spider shock mount and a case, which helps in ensuring stability when recording.

You’d find that with the AKG P220, the audio quality of your acoustic guitar would come out clean, regardless if it’s on stage or off-stage.

6. Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti-

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: 120 dB
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 100 dB (with a headphone amp)
  • Compatible Devices: Personal Computer, headphone
  • Connectivity Technology: USB
  • Polar Pattern: Multi-pattern
  • Microphone Type: USB

Our Overall Thoughts:

If you are not well-versed about phantom power or you do not prefer condenser mics, a USB microphone such as Blue Yeti might be what you’re looking for.

All the microphones in this list offer great sound quality, but the specialty of a USB microphone for beginners is for non-musical uses, such as for speaking engagements.

You would find that the custom three-capsule array of the Blue Yeti will turn any recording into a broadcast-quality sound!

We love the Blue Yeti because it has four pickup patterns: cardioid, Omni, bidirectional, and stereo. The Yeti comes with a built-in headphone jack for listening without delay.

It also has a positionable design, which helps move the microphone for better audio quality.

And to put the cherry on top, it is also equipped with onboard audio controls such as headphone volume, pattern selection, and mic gain.

This all-around USB microphone for beginners makes everything easier! All you have to do is plug and play!

7. Rode NT-USB

Rode NT-USB-

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: Unknown
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Unknown
  • Compatible Devices: Amplifier, Headphone
  • Connectivity Technology: USB
  • Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
  • Microphone Type: USB

Our Overall Thoughts:

We recommend Rode NT-USB microphones for those who want to minimize the background noise when recording vocals.

  • The Rode NT-USB has a pop filter included, which helps prevent popping sounds when we are recording.
  • With a sound pressure level (SPL) of 110 dB, it is not the best when it comes to recording in greater volumes. But, it has a decent mic frequency response at 20,000 Hz.
  • This means that this USB mic is one of the best there is when it comes to recording trebles, such as when you are using electric or acoustic guitars.

We love the Rode NT-USB mic because of its versatility and adaptability; compatible with ALL mainstream recording apps in both Windows and Mac OS!

You can also use this one for stereo recording, as it features zero latency, and it also helps in minimizing pop noises when speaking or singing.

This USB microphone comes with a mount, tripod stand, and a storage pouch.

8. Shure PGA48-XLR Microphone

Shure PGA48-XLR Microphone-

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: Unknown
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Unknown
  • Compatible Devices: Amplifier, Speaker
  • Connectivity Technology: XLR
  • Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
  • Microphone Type: Dynamic

Our Overall Thoughts:

Out of all the dynamic microphones, this one has a very low noise floor. That’s why the Shure PGA48-XLR can deliver really clear sound!

This dynamic mic rejects unwanted noise and filters the microphone input with its cardioid polar pattern with its cardioid polar pattern.

It also stands out from other mics as it can capture the high-end frequencies, which is super helpful for those speaking and singing with a higher pitch.

But, that’s not the best thing about Shure PGA48-XLR.

Professional singers and other people in the music industry have lauded this mic for its build and audio quality.

With its frequency response of 70 Hz to 15 kHz, it is not the best beginner microphone for those sporting bass instruments.

Regardless, the Shure PGA48-XLR is an affordable, reliable and durable option.

9. MXL 770

MXL 770-

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: 15mV/Pa
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 74 dB (A-weighted)
  • Compatible Devices: XLR
  • Connectivity Technology: Wired
  • Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
  • Microphone Type: Condenser

Our Overall Thoughts:

Are you looking for a multipurpose microphone? Well, this is the right microphone for you!

The MXL 770 is the top-selling condenser mic because recording vocals, strings, and pianos in this condenser mic result in GREAT quality.

Have we mentioned that this can be a kick drum mic? The MXL 770 has a balanced bass response perfect for percussion instruments!

This is one of the best recording studio microphones out there, as it ranges from being a vocal mic to being used to record many different instruments.

Another reason why we adore the MXL 770 is its low-frequency roll-off. This enables the condenser microphone to reduce rumbles and other unwanted sounds.

If you are looking for a versatile microphone that can be used for home recording, live streaming and performing on stage, this is the best microphone for beginners.

10. Sennheiser E609

Sennheiser E609

Specifications:

  • Audio Sensitivity: 150 dB
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: Unknown
  • Compatible Devices: XLR-3 Cable
  • Connectivity Technology: Wired, Wireless
  • Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
  • Microphone Type: Dynamic

Our Overall Thoughts:

No mic stand? No problem! The Sennheiser E609 can be hung from a cabinet!

The shape of this dynamic mic aside, the audio quality of the Sennheiser E609 is REALLY outstanding!

The low-end frequencies come out tight, while the high-end ones are not taken for granted. We recommend this one if you are recording percussion instruments such as kick drums.

Out of all the dynamic mics in this list, this one is the most versatile. It does not require a stand or a shock mount.

Anywhere can be your recording studio!

Have we mentioned that it features a neodymium ferrous magnet with boron which can keep the mic stable regardless of the climate? This mic is super adaptable!

With full fidelity, it can even have an SPL of greater than 150 dB, and the super-cardioid pattern enables high-quality isolation from unwanted sounds.

To put the cherry on top, Sennheiser offers a 10-year warranty for this microphone!

How to Choose the Best Microphone

How to Choose the Best Microphone-

With so many options out there, choosing the best microphone for you can be overwhelming.

That’s why we dedicated this section to helping you buy the right mic for you. Consider the following factors when you are choosing your microphone:

Type of Microphone

As you have already seen in the list above, there are three common types of microphones:

  • Condenser microphones
  • USB microphones
  • Dynamic microphones

Let’s talk about them one by one.

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones are best used for vocal recording and to capture sound in higher frequencies.

These mics are the most commonly used for in-studio sessions.

Condenser mics are divided into two types: large diaphragm and small diaphragm.

  • Large-diaphragm condenser mics are the most commonly used in professional studio recording sessions and some home studios. One example is Audio Technica AT2020.
  • On the other hand, small diaphragm condenser mics are best used for recording instruments.

If you decide to try out recording vocals in a small-diaphragm condenser, we recommend adding an external pop filter for better audio quality.

USB Microphones

USB mics are the most versatile ones, as they are used for musical and non-musical purposes.

They are usually the more budget-friendly option, too!

Dynamic Microphones

Lastly, dynamic microphones are for musicians, singers, and audio professionals doing live performances.

They are usually used for louder instruments such as drums and other percussion instruments.

Intended Use

Depending on your purposes, you will be able to determine the right microphone for you.

For starters, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • Am I going to be using my mic for musical purposes?
  • Will I be performing outside of my home studio?
  • Will I use the mic for streaming, podcasts, and other speaking engagements?

If you’re still a little bit unsure of how you will utilize your mic in the future, the best option is to use a USB microphone.

They are extremely versatile and will provide good results regardless of the purpose!

But, of course, if you already know your intended use, other mics have their forte too. For example, the phantom power of some mics is better suited for outside performances.

Budget

The mistake other people make is they immediately go for the most expensive one advertised online, only to realize that they could have bought something similar for a lower price.

We don’t want you to end up doing the same.

In terms of price, condenser mics are usually more expensive than USB-cable mics, and understandably so.

For beginners, we recommend that you try out budget-friendly options first before going for the more expensive ones.

But if you do have the allowance and the specific price point in mind, we encourage you to invest in a sturdy and durable mic.

Either way, this list contains different microphones in a wide spectrum of prices, so be sure to consider that as well!

Condenser Mic vs. Dynamic Mic: What’s the Difference?

Condenser Mic vs. Dynamic Mic- What_s the Difference--

Before we talk about the differences, let us first tell you about their similarity.

Both condenser and dynamic mics are used in recording different types of music. They differ in what they specialize in.

  • A condenser mic is usually used in recording vocals, acoustic guitar, stringed instruments, and the piano.
  • On the other hand, dynamic mics are best used in recording drums, electric guitars, and bass cabinets.

If you have noticed, a condenser mic is better suited for capturing higher frequencies and more delicate sounds, such as studio vocals.

The strength of the dynamic microphone lies in capturing the lower end of the frequency, such as louder and stronger sounds such as drums.

Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions-

How Much Should I Spend on a Recording Microphone?

If you are going to record your vocals, we recommend that you allot around $100 and above for a good quality condenser microphone.

If you are also going to post-process your audio at home, we also advise that you save up a little more for an audio interface, as this can help solve some mics’ connection issues.

What Are a Mic’s Polar Patterns?

Microphone polar patterns refer to the level of sensitivity of the microphone when receiving sounds from different angles to its central axis.

The most common polar patterns are omnidirectional, unidirectional, and bidirectional.

The most commonly used polar pattern in mics is the cardioid pattern, which is versatile for recording purposes.

Which Type of Mic Is Best for Recording Vocals?

The best type of microphone for vocal recording is a condenser mic. More specifically, the large-diaphragm condenser microphone.

Natural wide frequency response is important for recording vocals, especially if there are many people who will be using the same mic.

This ensures that it can accurately capture the audio quality of both high and low pitches.

Although if you are recording solo and your range falls on the lower end of the spectrum, we recommend that you get a dynamic microphone.

Does an Expensive Mic Make a Difference to Sound Quality?

Not necessarily.

It also depends on the type of mic and if it is suitable for the purpose. Some mics can be so expensive because of the number of features.

Some have a built-in pop filter, while some don’t need an external power source. Of course, all of these make the mic easier for equipment to use.

However, when it comes to audio quality, the important thing is you have the right microphone and the right placement.

We recommend that you don’t make the price point a sole basis for determining the quality.

What Are Ribbon Mics?

A ribbon mic falls under the category of dynamic microphones. The difference lies in the microphone’s diaphragm.

Instead of having a moving coil inside, the ribbon mic has a thin strip of metal that is suspended in a strong magnetic field.

These types of mic don’t have any built-in preamps.

That’s why if you want to try out a ribbon mic, we recommend that you also purchase an audio interface for post-processing.

Let’s Recap the Winner Picks:

Let_s Recap the Winner Picks--

Best Budget – Behringer Ultravoice XM8500

Our budget option rivals even the most expensive microphones out there.

Designed with amazing sensitivity and accuracy, the Behringer Ultravoice XM8500 is created for the best home studio recording with its sound separation abilities.

Best Value – Rode NT1-A

The Rode NT1-A is the best microphone for those who want to invest in their gear.

Aside from its compatibility with any audio interface out there, it’s also very durable.

With its wide dynamic range, internal capsule shock mounting, and an ultra-low self-noise at 5 dBA, you’d be sure that you only get the most accurate and cleanest audio.

Best Overall – Audio Technica AT2020

Honestly, what more can we ask from Audio Technica AT2020?

It also has a built-in headphone jack equipped with volume control, so it’s easier for you to adjust the volume without connecting it to a laptop computer.

If you don’t want to purchase an audio interface for connection, the AT2020 can function just fine without one!

The AT2020 sustains reliable performance and sensitivity to the audio source with its cardioid polar pattern.

If you want an all-around microphone for all needs, this is the best microphone!

Conclusion

And that’s it for our list of the best microphone for beginners!

Remember, choosing the best microphone will have some objective criteria, but at some point, you alone will have to determine if it fits your personal preferences.

Additionally, the right microphone for you will feel right, and you will not have a hard time using it!

Good luck!

About the author

cd38730de4e65cc7ce515086e48ba144

After becoming obsessed with the beats that were the soundtrack to his youth, Nick became a student of hip hop, digging for vinyl records, looking for the perfect break. Before he got his hands on an MPC sampler, he would mash these records, beats, and breaks into mixtapes and live DJ sets.