17 Best Cardioid Condenser Microphones – For Vlogs, YouTube, & More

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What is the best cardioid condenser microphone?

You’ve written the songs! Your vlog content is ready! Your podcast idea is destined to gain hits! Now is the time to record vocals of epic proportions.

You need crystal clear vocals that capture every drop of detail throughout the frequency range. The answer lies with a cardioid condenser mic. Perfect for capturing not only a single voice but also instruments.

So which cardioid condenser microphone is the one for you? We are here to guide you on your quest for greatness.

Unfortunately, there are no shortcuts. Even the most decorated music producers would struggle to get results with a poor condenser microphone. Don’t let your recordings suffer. Upgrade your home studio to compete with the big hitters.

Your time is precious! Luckily we have done the research and catered for every budget. So let’s find your perfect match to take you to the next level.

Neumann TLM 103

The TLM 103 is a modern classic! With workmanship to be admired, youll be capturing silky high end and the trademark mid-range that can only be found in a Neumann.

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The Neumann TLM 103 sits proudly at the top of our charts. With an outstanding transient response, it is smooth, clear and powerful. You will not be disappointed with this exceptional mic!

Cardioid condenser mics are designed in a way to capture fidelity from the sound source and will take your audio to the next level.

All the condenser microphones on this list have a cardioid polar pattern. A cardioid pickup pattern rejects peripheral sounds expertly making them ideal for many applications… namely vocal and speech.

Do you know why it is called a cardioid polar pattern? Its name derives due to the response sensitivity resembling a heart shape.

And remember….. for a condenser microphone to work, it needs an energy source, often referred to as phantom power. A unique trait of condenser microphones, as no other mic requires phantom power. Phantom Power is often labeled as +48V.

The Top 17 Cardioid Condenser Microphones

Top Pick: Neumann TLM 103

Neumann TLM 103

The TLM 103 is a modern classic! With workmanship to be admired, youll be capturing silky high end and the trademark mid-range that can only be found in a Neumann.

Check The Price on Amazon

If you are considering the Neumann TLM 103, you are taking your production seriously! You can have confidence that this condenser mic will match your ambition. It is as good as it gets.

At first sight, you’ll be enticed. It looks stunning! Easily recognizable as a Neumann with its tapered grille and an all-metal body. You can be assured that durability is not a concern.

Has a harsh high end ever added brittleness to your recordings?

If so, you’ll be in dreamland with the TLM 103. Its frequency response is like velvet with a smooth boost at approximately 5,000Hz. It maintains clarity and definition throughout the spectrum.

It is the ideal condenser microphone for recording high-end vocal and acoustic guitar with true dynamic studio results. For voice-overs, podcasts and any other vocal project it will deliver pristine and detailed reproduction that will have the listener hanging on to your every word!

Costing a bit more than your average condenser mic, it might be out of the price range for some. But if the Neumann TLM 103 is within your price range, rest assured it is surprisingly worth every dime! It will upgrade the sound quality of almost any home studio setup.

Neumann TLM 103 Key Features:

  • Large Diaphragm Capsule (Update on the U87)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 138dB
  • Sensitivity: 23 mV/Pa
  • Includes: Swivel Mount

Runner Up: AKG C414 XLII

AKG C414 XLII

The C414 XLII crafts beautiful vocals. It is a versatile choice with selectable pickup patterns and variable bass-cut filters to suit all your needs.

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Developed in 1953, the AKG Acoustics C12, is often thought of as the ultimate condenser microphone. The legend lives on with the C414 XLII having been designed to reproduce that classic C12 sound.

Although this list is focused specifically on cardioid pickup pattern mics, its variable polar patterns are worthy of a mention. Five different pickup patterns are available and are easily switched between to engage cardioid, wide cardioid, Omni-directional, bi-directional and hyper-cardioid.

Further versatility is secured with its attenuation pad and bass-cut switch. The pad has 6dB, 12dB and 18dB settings whilst the bass can be filtered at 40Hz, 80Hz or 160Hz.

It is feature-rich but it is so much more than that. When faced with lead vocals or speech it shines. It balances warmth and body with high-end clarity, leaving your productions sounding tonally expensive!

The C414 XLII achieves what it set out to do. It has the characteristics of a classic mic whilst its features bring it up to date.

AKG C414 XLII Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Wide Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Bi-Directional, Hyper-Cardioid.
  • Max SPL: 140dB (158dB with 18dB Pad)
  • Sensitivity: 23 mV/Pa
  • Attenuation Pad: -6dB, -12dB, -18dB.
  • High-Pass Filter: 40Hz, 80Hz, 160Hz.

Best Budget: MXL 770

MXL 770

Professional results at a beginners price. Using a high-quality FET pre-amp expect a warm sound. The 770 is a flexible option bringing plenty of character to your vocal.

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The concern with budget options is investing in a poor quality mic with a meager tone. There are plenty of them in the market!

The MXL 770 has received a plethora of positive reviews. In our opinion….. they are well deserved! So let’s add another one!

The 770 stands head and shoulders above other condenser microphones at this price.

Is this your first condenser mic purchase? You will be excited by the improvement in sound. The exceptional FET pre-amp ensures the highs are clear and the lows are solid.

It features a high-pass filter that effectively reduces low-end rumble, and a 10dB pad increases the versatility of the mic.

The 770 is a bargain hunter’s dream. It is sleek looking with a durable all-metal finish. Sounds lush and performs to professional standards. Lastly, it is also available at a very affordable price!

MXL 770 Key Features:

  • Frequency Range: 30Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 137dB
  • Sensitivity: 15mV/Pa
  • Attenuation Pad: -10dB.
  • High-Pass Filter: 150Hz
  • Includes Shock Mount and Carrying Case

Best Under $500: Avatone CV-12

Avatone CV-12

The CV-12 offers beautifully professional results. In fact, it competes with mics double the price. For under $500, this beauty of a microphone should be on your radar!

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The glory days of recording were in the 1950s & 1960s. That immediate, honest and timeless sound. If only there was a way to deliver that instantly recognizable feel with modern durability. Introducing the Avatone CV-12!

It has a warm sound with a delightful sonic character, perfect for use as a leading vocal mic. Its body is both rugged and aesthetically plefieldsg with a wine red finish.

The tube circuitry adds harmonics, and captures nuances like only a tube mic can.

If you need further convincing of its performance, reference Taylor Swifts ‘Speak Now’ and ‘Fearless’ albums. The consistent use has ensured notoriety for the CV-12.

We love the Avatone CV-12! It is a class act both cosmetically and in sound quality. Along with the PS-12 power supply, the build quality is as rugged as they come. Whilst $499 might seem like a lot of money….. you’re getting great value for your dollars!

Avatone CV-12 Key Features:

  • Tube Condenser
  • Frequency Response: 25Hz – 20kHz
  • 9 Polar Patterns
  • Max SPL: 136dB
  • Attenuation Pad: -10dB Pad
  • High-Pass Filter: 80Hz (-12dB/octave)
  • Includes: PS-12 Multi-Pattern Power Supply, Padded Wooden Box, Shock Mount, Metal Case

Best Under $200: Rode NT1-A

Rode NT1-A

The Rode NT1-A is a studio-quality condenser at a beginner's price. For under $200 it is a great proposition for your home studio.

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Rode is a company certainly confident with their mic construction. You can’t get more reassurance than a 10-year warranty which comes as standard with the Rode NT1-A.

It has been spoken of as the world’s quietest microphone. The lack of circuit noise is quite the trait. The low noise makes it ideal for clean, pristine vocal recordings.

Whilst it does not enhance vocals with the warmth and depth more expensive microphones will offer, it is as precise as can be. Capturing sound sources with true likeness makes it a great mic to mix whilst bringing captivating detail to any production.

The Rode NT1-A is a studio-quality condenser at a beginner’s price. For under $200 it is a great proposition for your home studio.

Rode NT1-A Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 137dB
  • Self Noise: 5dB
  • Internal Shock Mounting System
  • Includes: Shock Mount, Pop Shield, XLR cable, Mic Dust Cover.

Best Under $100: Audio Technica AT2020

Audio Technica AT2020

For a mic in this price range the AT2020 raises the bar. It punches well above its weight for a condenser priced at under $100.

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Your vocal productions need not suffer due to your budget. Audio Technica has filled the gap in the market bringing performance and robustness at an affordable price.

The Audio Technica AT2020 does everything you need from a cardioid condenser microphone.

The extended frequency response competes with the finest capturing all the required frequencies. The lower mid-range has body whilst not sacrificing clarity or presence.

In our opinion, the Audio Technica AT2020 is a hit! It is the ideal home studio condenser microphone within this budget. A sophisticated addition to any home studio that will deliver heightened vocal recording.

Audio Technica AT2020 Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: -37dB (14.1 mV) re 1V at 1 Pa.
  • Max SPL: 144dB

Best USB: HyperX Quadcast

HyperX QuadCast
A solid choice to get your podcasts sounding on point. The HyperX Quadcast is a resourceful and multi-purpose choice.
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The HyperX Quadcast will deliver your broadcasts with quality sound. The Quadcast is very much an all-encompassing microphone designed with gaming and podcasting in mind.

So how does it facilitate your broadcasting needs?

The anti-vibration shock mount reduces rumbles, and a built-in pop filter effectively minimizes pops and clicks. The on-body gain control dial can adjust the input sensitivity with ease.

The tap to mute feature is a welcome addition where the mic signal can be cut by tapping the top of the microphone. It is ideal for muting during podcast interludes.

Are you eager to start your podcast right away with minimal fuss? The beauty of plug and play is its setup speed.

The HyperX Quadcast is the leader of USB mics. Whilst not preferred for musical applications it is a seamless option for any broadcast application.

HyperX Quadcast Key Features:

  • USB condenser
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, and Stereo.
  • Anti-Vibration Shock Mount
  • Internal Pop filter
  • Tap-to-Mute Sensor with LED Indicator
  • On Body Gain Control and Headphone Jack

Best Budget USB: Samson C01U Pro

Samson C01U
A definite step up from recording from the built-in mics offered by a laptop or tablet! The C01U Pro delivers high-end construction and authentic sound. All at a budget price!
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Are you ready to take the next step? The Samson C01U Pro is a great solution for musicians and broadcasters.

This large diaphragm condenser mic is a super budget choice to record audio for your music projects, YouTube content, and podcasts. You can expect clean, authentic vocal recording.

Cosmetically it is an attractive microphone. Complete with solid die-cast metal construction and a hefty grill, it not only looks the part but does wonders to protect the condenser capsule.

The mic diaphragm is shock-mounted to reduce vibrations, ensuring it delivers your voice without rumbles that can often taint budget mic recordings.

A headphone jack on the body is useful for minimizing latency when monitoring.

There are no drivers needed, simply plug and play. Compatible with most DAWS. The Samson C01U Pro is a portable option great for not only beginners but to create dynamic professional results.

Samson C01U Pro Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 18kHz
  • On Body Headphone Jack
  • Includes: Microphone Stand and Swivel Mount

Best Matched Pair: Neumann SKM 184

Neumann SKM 184

There is no doubting the quality of the SKM 184 matched pair. Whether used alone or for stereo recording, they are the ultimate state of the art equipment for natural and transparent recordings.

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You’re in safe hands with any Neumann microphone. The Neumann SKM 184 matched pair is no different.

Firstly, let us speak about the sound. They are as true as the day is long. There is no imprint just pure, transparent and uncolored reproduction.

The purity that these condenser mics capture lends them perfect for any acoustic instrument in any genre. A vocal take is so honest it would captivate while acoustic guitars have a detailed brightness and attack. Whatever the instrument, if the sound source is good….. they will deliver!

Another striking element to these small condenser mics is their high SPL capabilities. Handling high pressure levels without distorting makes them a standard in studios for numerous applications.

Let’s not beat around the bush! These cardioid microphones are the cream of the crop. They grace our favorite recordings created in the most illustrious studios.

The Neumann SKM 184 matched pair guarantee elite results.

Neumann SKM 184 Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 138dB
  • Sensitivity: 15 mV/Pa ± 1dB
  • Very low self-noise (13dB-A)

Best Under $500 Matched Pair: Rode NT5

The Rode NT5
The tight cardioid pattern makes for excellent capture with limited background noise. The frequency response is smooth and accurate. The Rode NT5s are a great alternative to more expensive matched pairs!
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Are you ready to experiment with stereo recording? Are the Neumann SKM 184s out of your budget? The Rode NT5s are the perfect solution for dynamic results!

These small-diaphragm condenser mics pack a punch. They are crystal clear with a beautiful sheen in the high frequencies. These mics will make your recordings feel up close and personal.

If you are seeking accurate and clean voice reproduction these mics will work a treat. However, their tight cardioid polar pattern also makes them ideal for use as a dialogue microphone for filmmaking and broadcast on a mic stand or boom.

Finished with nickel, this pair of condenser mics are robust and similar to the Rode NT1A, and are covered by an industry revolutionary 10-year warranty.

The Rode NT5 matched pair belongs on the list of the top condenser microphones and are great value for the professionalism they offer.

Rode NT5 Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 143dB
  • Includes: WS5 Windshields, RM5 Standmounts, and Carry Case

Best Budget Matched Pair: Rode M5

Rode M5 Matched Pair
Low in noise with full flat frequency response. These small-diaphragm condenser mics will impress the most scrupulous of pros.
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Do you want an even cheaper matched pair? The Rode M5 pair deliver high fidelity audio at an even more affordable price!

To start with, the design is sleek. With ceramic coating and the matt black finish, they look the part.

The pair are matched expertly to ensure little variation in sensitivity between microphones. They are balanced to make an excellent stereo recording.

Any acoustic instrument will shine with these condenser mics. Acoustic guitars will glisten with a beautiful sheen. Choirs, electric guitar, you name it. They are versatile and can be used within a stereo array or individually.

Whilst they are not designed with recording vocals in mind. If you are in search of a dark and uncolored feel to the voice they will deliver a beautifully accurate reproduction.

Overall, the price is super awesome for a pair of quality small condenser mics. What about durability? You guessed it….. Rode’s famous 10-year warranty.

You really can’t go wrong with the Rode M5 matched pair.

Rode M5 Key features:

  • Small ‘Pencil’ Condenser Microphone
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 140dB
  • Included: WS5 Windshields and RM5 Standmounts.

Who Should Buy a Vocal Microphone?

From recording singing, creating YouTube content, broadcasting a Twitch stream or any project that requires the recording of audio….. a vocal microphone is a must!

Every smartphone or laptop has a microphone though, right? Whilst this is true and the temptation to dodge the purchase is real, your productions will suffer without using the appropriate equipment for the job in hand.

To increase your chances of success in your production, present it with the highest quality. Crisp, clear and low in background noise.

It is a common mistake to rush into recording with inept equipment. Learn from other people’s mistakes and produce dynamic results to start growing your audience right away.

Other Cardioid Condenser Microphones We Reviewed:

If our top picks aren’t for you, here are a further 6 microphones we reviewed. These microphones are sorted from the highest priced to lowest.

Neumann TLM 103

The TLM 103 is a modern classic! With workmanship to be admired, youll be capturing silky high end and the trademark mid-range that can only be found in a Neumann.

Check The Price on Amazon

Alternate Top Picks

AKG C214
Are you in awe of the AKG C414 XLII? We certainly are! So much it is worthy of our runner up on spot on this list!
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The beauty of the AKG C214 is it replicates the sonic character of its more expensive brother. This large diaphragm condenser mic will capture the most beautiful details.

Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 136dB
  • High-Pass Filter: 160Hz (-6dB/octave)
  • Pads: -20dB
  • Includes: H85 Shock Mount, Widescreen and Carry Case
Aston Origin
Designed and built in the UK, it's a stunner!
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With the Aston Origin, you’ll be sounding and performing your best.

Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 127dB
  • Pad Switch: -10dB
  • High-Pass Filter: 80Hz
Blue Microphones Bluebird SL

The Bluebird SL will bring your performance to life. It looks the part and balances clarity in the highs with rich lows.

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Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 138dB
  • High-Pass Filter: 100Hz at 12dB per octave
  • Attenuation Pad: -20dB
  • Includes: Shock Mount and Wooden Storage Box
sE Electronics X1 S

The sE Electronics X1 S is handcrafted with care. A refined and enhanced version of the X1, its gold-sputtered condenser capsule captures sound sources with exquisite precision and sound quality.

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Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Max SPL: 140 / 150 / 160dB (0/10/20dB pad)
  • Low-cut filter: 80 / 160Hz, 6dB/Oct
  • Switchable Attenuation Pad: 10dB / 20dB
  • Includes: Mic Clip and Stand, Thread Adapter
MXL 99

The MXL 990 looks like it belongs in the 1960s! It doesn’t reinvent the wheel but what it does….. it does very well. This cardioid pattern mic produces a silky and warm sound.

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Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 30Hz – 20kHz
  • FET Preamp
  • Includes: Shock Mount, Mic Stand, Case
TONOR Condenser PC Microphone
This microphone is a long way off some of the mics on this list. However, what it does offer is a full kit to get you started podcasting and streaming. You'll be amazed at the list of accessories. A great option for a beginner.
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Key Features:

  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Includes: Microphone, Shock Mount, Adjustable Scissor Arm Stand, Table Clamp, Pop Filter, Windscreen, 3.5mm XLR cable, XLR Male to Female Cable and Sound Card.

Important Features To Consider

Frequency Response

A mic’s frequency response consists of the frequencies that the microphone can capture. Many microphones on this list have a response ranging from 20 to 20,000kHz. This generally covers all frequencies required.

A flat frequency response result will yield a natural sound quality. Some microphones may color certain frequencies to increase presence from the sound source.

It is worth having a basic knowledge of frequencies when using high pass filters, sometimes called low cut filters. Engaging a high pass filter will cut lower frequencies.

Max SPL

Maximum SPL (Sound Pressure Level) is often found on a microphone specification list. The max SPL relates to the highest sound pressure level a mic can handle before it becomes distorted.

Attenuation Pad

A pad will reduce the signal. Most common with condenser microphones, they are used to decrease the output signal. They are particularly useful in studio recording when capturing a loud sound source. A pad can add versatility in terms of instruments the microphone can record.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best condenser microphone?

There are an overwhelming amount of condenser mics available.

Regardless of price, you want value for your buck! You can’t go wrong with our picks ranging from the more expensive Neumann TLM 103 to the budget MXL 770.

If you prefer the ease of a USB the HyperX Quadcast is the ultimate in gaming, which is also a great all in one for capturing podcasting and YouTube content.

What are the best microphones for recording vocals?

Large diaphragm condenser mics are often considered the best microphones for recording vocals. The truth is dynamic mics can also be used to great effect.

What do you use condenser microphones for?

You’ll find at least one condenser microphone in every music studio. They capture a large frequency range with a fast and accurate transient response. Recording vocals and any acoustic instrument can benefit greatly from being captured on condenser mics.

Podcasts recording, voice-over work and any recording of speech all shine with the detail condenser mics offer.

Conclusion

We understand the difficulties you face when choosing a high-quality condenser microphone. We’ve been in the same position!

There are some great condenser mics available to suit all budgets. Through our research, we hope to have found the gems enabling you to make a more educated decision.

The Neumann TLM 103 is truly the real deal. If this is out of budget we are confident all of our picks will upgrade any beginners rig.

It is the time to create using your new condenser microphone!

2 thoughts on “17 Best Cardioid Condenser Microphones – For Vlogs, YouTube, & More”

  1. I hope you guys are getting a kick back from every single one of these mics. Your articles are way too long. I just want to read about the top 3-5 mics so I can replace my outdated models, but I don’t have time to read all this. I also don’t understand why every setence is its own paragraph. Super confusing. The good news is that I just used your site as an example in my marketing class for an assignment on sites that are poorly constructed. I got a 96%, so thanks.

    1. Hey Mark, excited your into microphones AND marketing, lots of power in the combination of those two in the future!

      Google “mobile view optimization” or something similar and you will see why the short paragraphs are preferred in today’s internet, yes it does go against everything all professors were taught about writing in their time.

      as far as the number of mics, you’re right, only 3ish are relevant to everyone reading these posts, we try to organize it so you can easily see the two to three that are relevant for your needs with our chapter links but as you are experiencing, it is not an easy task!

      If you want to crush the internet marketing thing, a couple of names that have really helped me are Neil Patel, Miles Beckler, Gael Breton, Kyle Roof, Ryan Stewart, uhhhh that’s who I can think of right now,

      Thanks for the feedback!

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