Trying to choose a good large diaphragm condenser mic? Welcome to our ultimate guide! Bang up-to-date for 2020.
In this series of three articles, we compare 26 of the most popular and best condenser mics by price and spec and help you choose the right mic for you. Whatever your budget or home recording studio situation, if you are trying to find the best large diaphragm condenser microphone you can, then you should find what you are looking for here.
Part 1 below: Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Mics in 2020 Under $100.
Part 2: Raising the bar: The Most Popular Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones Under $300
Part 3: The Sky’s The Limit: Compare The Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones Under $1000
Note that these are all studio condenser microphones NOT USB mics (which are reviewed in detail elsewhere), and so to use them to record directly on your computer (whether you have mac, pc or tablet) then you will require an audio interface of some kind and you will need to make sure it supplies phantom power. If you are not sure about this, then refer to our article on how to connect a microphone correctly.
We have already written extensively about the different types of microphones available, where you can read in detail what exactly all the technical terms mean, and how to compare the specs you will see described. These can be confusing to a beginner, so if you don’t know what is a polar pattern or an SPL, or what is meant by the S/N ratio or phantom power, then check our our detailed post on recording microphones to understand the ins and outs. It will help you to compare these microphones, especially when the manufacturer blurb starts to get technical!
Why Choose A Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic For Your Home Recording Studio?
In a nutshell, a large diaphragm microphone is probably the most versatile and useful if you are purchasing your first microphone. A large diaphragm mic is particularly suited to recording studio vocals, and most acoustic instruments. So if you want to record your voice, acoustic guitar etc or make pristine voiceover tracks for your videos then the large condenser microphone is going to be your best choice. Do note that condenser microphones are sensitive, which is why they are good for all round studio use, but you will almost certainly have to think about some basic acoustic treatment in your home recording studio to get best results.
(And do note also that if you are going to record mainly live vocals, then you might be better buying a dynamic microphone, or a condenser mic designed for live use. The same is true if you are thinking of using a mic to record the output of a guitar amp. Although if you look particularly at the more expensive large diaphragm condensers you will find some that are designed to cope well with high SPL’s and have the ability to work well in live situations too.)
So in this article we are going to assume that you are mainly looking for the best condenser mic for home studio use, in a quiet studio recording situation.
It is impossible to just say “go and buy this mic and you’re sorted” because the perfect mic for one person may not be so good for another. It will depend very much on your studio, your voice or instrument, and most importantly your budget. We have tried to give you pointers to the consistent top sellers, and best reviewed microphones to help you with your research and hopefully narrow the choice down to the perfect condenser microphone for you.
There are some very famous (and extremely expensive!) large diaphragm condenser mics which you will no doubt have read about elsewhere: microphones like the Neumann U87 and the Telefunken U47. While these are state of the art condenser microphones, and amongst the best in the world, they are well outside the budget for someone simply trying to find the best condenser mic for home recording. So all the microphones in these comparison guides are under $1000, and included in the 26 mics reviewed here, we have found 8 of the best condenser mics under $100, plus another 9 under the $300 price point.
To help you choose from the overwhelming array of large diaphragm condenser microphones available on the market, we have divided the most popular available into price bands and listed the key benefits of each one. This should help you choose the best condenser microphone for you at a price you can afford to pay. You can click on any of the product links to find more detailed descriptions, reviews and current prices.
Hopefully these articles will serve as a good pointer to the very best condenser mics out there in terms of popularity, and general consensus on the various recording sites.
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Part 1: Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones under $100
If you want a cheap large diaphragm condenser microphone, and your budget is below $100 then do not despair, there is plenty of choice at the inexpensive end, and how you use the mic will be more important than how much you spend if you are just starting out:
Behringer C-1 Studio Condenser Microphone. A consistently well reviewed and very popular entry level microphone, cardioid pickup pattern for good sound source separation. An ideal main microphone in a budget home studio. Comes with case and swivel stand mount, and has high quality gold-plated XLR output connector, nice neutral sound. Rugged and robust.
more info on Behringer C-1 …
Samson C01 Studio Condenser Microphone. Exceptionally well packaged, comes in a high quality carry case. Large dual-layer diaphragm offers warm bass tones and an extended top end. Good all-round studio mic, well suited to vocals and acoustic instruments. Uni-directional pickup pattern (hyper cardioid) is ideal in a home studio where external noise might be an issue, as it will reject more of the sound you don’t want when positioned correctly. A good easy to use beginner’s condenser mic.
more info on Samson C01 …
Behringer C3 Large Dual-Diaphragm Condenser. Ability to switch between cardioid, omnidirectional or figure eight pickup pattern mean this professional mic versatile is suited to a wide range of uses including: solo vocals; acoustic instruments; 2-way interviews; and ensembles or conferences. Tough die-cast body and rugged German design as well as low signal to noise ratio, this a highly regarded microphone, noted for its sensitivity and excellent sound quality for such a low price.
more info on Behringer C-3
MXL V67G Large Capsule Condenser Microphone. This mic originally retailed and sold well at $200, so the sub $100 price makes it incredibly good value. It has a large 32mm pressure gradient condenser capsule and solid state preamp balanced transformer output both of which are remarkable for a microphone at this price. Noted for its rich velvety sounds, and particularly well suited for vocals, this mic has a strong vintage look and an ‘old school tube mellow’ sound to match.
more info on MXL V67G …
Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio Microphone. You will struggle to find a bad word about the AT2020. This is hugely versatile microphone and perfect for home studios due to its ability to handle high SPLs (sound pressure levels) and a wide dynamic range. It is well designed to reduce pickup of unwanted sounds from side and rear, adding to its suitability for a home recording studio.
more info on Audio Technica AT2020 …
Behringer B-1 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Mic. This mic is noted for its ability to capture sound with realism and sensitivity. It has a wide frequency response from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, enhanced by a pronounced presence boost, which makes it good for vocals but also works well for acoustic instrument recordings. With its excellent transducer and gold-plated XLR output, this mic is noted for its low noise. Behringer offer plenty of choices at the budget end of home recording studio equipment.
more info on Berhringer B1 …
Hopefully if you are setting up a home recording studio on a supertight budget you will by now have seen that there are some very well reviewed large diaphragm studio condenser microphones to be found for less than $100. But if you have more to spend then you should read on to parts 2 and 3 of this ultimate guide: