If you’re new to audio recording, you’re probably just starting to build the foundations of your home studio. Or maybe you’re just looking to add a recording microphone to your pre-existing setup. Whatever the case, with so many important pieces of equipment you need to cover; often the last thing you’re ready to do is to break the bank over expensive microphones that can end up costing you thousands. So is there such a thing as a cheap microphone that will do the job?
The good news is that for most beginners, your first microphone won’t need to cost you an arm and a leg. Granted, you get what you pay for. So it goes without saying, spending the extra bit of coin on a more expensive microphone is going to leave you with a much more professional-level of recording. Therefore, if you can afford it; you’ll be better off pushing past the $100 budget. But that’s not to say you can’t achieve some great results with a cheap microphone.
Whether you’re singing, rapping, playing an instrument, or looking to start a podcast. DJ City is sure to have a cheap microphone that’ll kickstart your journey into the world of audio recording. But before we delve into the list, it’s important to understand what kind of microphone you’re looking for; in order to achieve the best results while remaining on a budget. For your convenience, we’ve covered studio recording as well as one for live performance purposes. Plus, we’ve included a mix of both XLR and USB powered microphones.
- Which Microphone Is Best For You?
- What else will you need?
- Best Cheap Microphones
Which Microphone is best for you?
If you’re looking for an entry-level cheap microphone, there are really only two types of microphones you’ll need to consider.
- Dynamic Microphones
- Condenser Microphones
Dynamic Microphones are the most versatile and cost-effective vocal microphones on the market today. Available in a wide range of sizes and features; there’s bound to be a suitable dynamic mic for your application. Most commonly used as vocal microphones for professional singing and live and “on-stage” performances, dynamic mics can handle high SPL levels. All while remaining crystal-clear and rejecting unwanted background noise and feedback.
Recommended Uses: Vocals, Podcasting, Drums, Radio DJs.
Condenser microphones offer highly sensitive recordings, ideal for use in the studio. Unless its USB-powered, you’ll often need phantom power from an audio interface to function your condenser mic. Improving sensitivity and sound output by giving you cleaner and more accurate sounds.
Most commonly found in a studio environment, condenser microphones pick up all your surrounding noise. Your typical condenser mic features a thin plastic film, coated on one side with gold or nickel, mounted close to a stationary backplate.
Recommended Uses: Vocals, Acoustic Guitar, Piano, String & Woodwind Instruments.
What else you’ll need
Whether you’re recording a podcast and looking to monitor your audio; recording vocals in the booth and wanting to hear your backing instrumentals whilst recording; or just using them for post-production mixing and mastering. A good pair of studio headphones will go a long way. Differing to your standard set of HiFi headphones, Studio Headphones are designed to deliver a true sound with an accurate response. Allowing you to fine-tune your vocals so they’re sounding great, and will translate well when played on other speaker systems!
Often referred to as the brains of your studio. To put it simply, an audio interface gets audio into and out of your PC or MAC. Turning your analog audio signals into digital information and vice versa using AD/DA converters. With higher quality converters, you’ll get a better performing interface, thus impacting the price.
In particular, if you choose an XLR-Condenser microphone, you’re likely to need a +48V Phantom Power source to connect, power and record your microphone. As a result, if you don’t already have one, you’ll need to also pick up an audio interface. Otherwise, it might be best to stick with a USB powered mic!
The Best Cheap Microphones
Assuming you’ll be recording in your home studio rather than performing live, we’ve tailored this list more toward studio applications. However, we’ve also included a dynamic microphone amongst them if you are going to be performing on-stage!
AVE VoxCon Best For: Recording Vocals & Instruments
The AVE VoxCon is a condenser microphone that comes in both USB and XLR connection varieties. So if you don’t have an audio interface, and your budget won’t allow for it, the USB option is going to give you your best bang for the buck. Capturing with high-sensitivity, low-noise, wide frequency response, and high SPL handling. So if you’re a music producer, home recorder, guitarist or piano player; the AVE VoxCon is a cheap microphone that covers all bases!
Allowing you to record crisp audio that’s definitely going to take your recordings to a higher level. All while remaining under the $100 mark!
- Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20KHz
- Sensitivity: -36dB+ / 2dB
- Max SPL: 125dB for 0.5 THD
- Frequency response tailored for vocals
- Cardioid polar pattern
- 22mm Electret Condenser
- Hardened steel mesh grille that resists wear and abuse
- Advanced pneumatic shock mount system that minimizes the transmission of mechanical noise and vibration
- USB connection
Vonyx CM400 Best For: Recording Vocals & Instruments
The cheapest microphone on the list, the Vonyx CM400 is a large-diaphragm condenser mic with a fairly wide frequency range (for the price). At the cost of going out for lunch, the CM400 is sure to entice those on a budget. However, it’s important to note that the CM400 is an XLR microphone that requires phantom power. So you will need to have an audio interface or mixer to use it! The CM400 will suit a variety of vocal and instrument applications, whether you’re in the studio, or performing live. Sporting an attractive silver housing, and offering fantastic quality and sound reproduction for the price. The Vonyx CM400 also comes with an included shock-mount, to prevent picking up rumbles and unwanted sounds caused by the movement of the mic!
- Frequency Response: 60Hz-15kHz
- SPL max: 126dB
- Sensitivity: -37db
- Impedance: 200 Ohm
- Large diaphragm condenser microphone
- Minimal handling noise and high SPL
- 48Vdc Phantom power
- Wide frequency range picks up every nuance of the sound
- Rugged metal casing for improved longevity
- Including 3/8” to 5/8” adapter
- Including Shockmount
Behringer C-1 Best For: Studio & Broadcast applications
Behringer is one of the most well-known brands in the industry, and they’re renowned for offering some of the most affordable gear! The C-1 is another cheap large-diaphragm condenser microphone that’s ideal for studio and broadcast applications. Sporting an exceptional pickup and frequency response it also housed in a solid die-cast body. Offering durability as well as the ability to reject off-axis sounds that could otherwise ruin your recordings. With a quality transducer and gold-plated XLR output, the C-1 is very neutral sounding and truly delivers on the promise of noise-free transmission.
Again, the C-1 is powered via an XLR input and Phantom Power. So you will need to have an appropriate audio interface in your artillery to put it to use! In saying that, the C-1 offers great value and you can’t really go wrong at its price point. Not to mention, there’s also a C-1U USB option for a small extra cost.
- Frequency Response: 40Hz to 20kHz
- SPL max: 136dB
- Professional, large-diaphragm condenser microphone for unsurpassed audio quality
- Ideal as main and support microphone for studio and live applications
- Cardioid pickup pattern for outstanding sound source separation and feedback rejection
- Pressure-gradient transducer with shock-mounted capsule
- Ultra-low noise, transformerless FET input eliminates low-frequency distortion
- Ultra-rugged construction with metal die-cast body
- Gold-plated 3-pin XLR output connector for highest signal integrity
- High-quality components and exceptionally rugged construction ensure long life
Shure PGA58 Best For: Live Performances: Lead & Backup Vocals
Shure are renowned for quality dynamic microphones, which is why it’s our top pick if you’re looking particularly for live performances. We would have liked to include the renowned SM58 mic here, as it’s notorious for being a budget-friendly microphone. As well as used by professional musicians worldwide. However, for the sake of staying under the $100 mark, the PGA58 is the next best choice for a cheap dynamic microphone.
What makes Shure’s PGA48 a great microphone for on-stage use, is its extremely durable design and construction. So you can rest assure it will stand up under rigorous live-performances. It also delivers an excellent sound, so it’s perfect if you’re performing lead or back-up vocals. Finally, to top it off, the PGA48 comes complete with a swivel adapter, carrying pouch and an XLR cable.
- Frequency Response: 50 Hz to 16kHz
- Tailored cartridge for vocal performances and recordings
- Cardioid polar-pattern for reduced background pickup
- Sleek low profile industry design and quality
- Recessed microphone on/off switch
LD Systems D1013CUSB Best For: Vocals & Podcasts
The LD Systems D1013CUSB is a universal USB condenser microphone. Ideal for home studio recording, the D1013CUSB is a plug-and-play microphone that will work with any computer, straight out of the box. So there’s no need to have to go out and buy an additional Audio Interface to get started recording! Sporting a cardioid pickup pattern, the D1013CUSB also boasts a wide frequency range of 30Hz to 18kHz. So you’ll find it’s suitable for nearly all types of sound sources. Whether you’re recording Vocals, Instruments, Podcasts, or recording audio for videos, the D1013CUSB is sure to deliver quality results. All while remaining a cheap microphone and sitting just within the $100 bracket. Complete with a shock mount, zip-up storage bag, and USB cable.
- Frequency response: 30 – 18000 Hz
- Max. SPL (1% THD @ 1kHz): 140 dB
- High quality studio microphone with the convenience of USB connectivity
- 16-Bit / 48kHz analogue to digital converter.
- Shock mount system and XLR cable included
- Works with most operating systems
The Final Say
All in all, you can definitely get yourself a cheap microphone that will do the job for under $100. However, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more, you have the potential to unlock even better results. So if you’re serious about recording, you may want to consider spending a little bit more money and considerably bettering the performance!