15 Best Condenser Mics Under $500: Top Recording & Vocal Mics

What is the best condenser mic under 500?

With a budget of $500….. you can record to a standard that will have your recordings contending with top selling artists!

The glistening vocal track that stops you in your tracks. The brilliance of an acoustic guitar shimmering in the mix. The piano with a presence to pull at your heartstrings. These are all achievable with the right condenser microphone.

In this article; we have the finest microphones available today; for under $500. If you’re on a budget… before you consider robbing a bank… we have considered your needs too with some inexpensive options.

Present your music like a pro. Let’s take a look at the top condenser mics under $500.

Avantone CV-12

The CV-12 is a microphone of great beauty. With its warm and rich sound, it can even outperform its higher priced rivals in certain cases. The CV-12 may very well turn out to be a primary mic in your collection.

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The Avantone CV-12 certainly deserved the top-spot in this list. It has a thorough frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, and as a multi-pattern large capsule tube condenser, it gives you tremendous value for the money.

The 15 Best Condenser Microphones Under $500


Top Pick: Avantone CV-12

Avantone CV-12

The CV-12 is a microphone of great beauty. With its warm and rich sound, it can even outperform its higher priced rivals in certain cases. The CV-12 may very well turn out to be a primary mic in your collection.

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The Avantone CV-12 is in a class of its own. This large capsule tube condenser microphone brings warmth and character in a way that only tube mics can. Whilst similar to the retro microphones of the 1960s, the CV-12 offers an affordable alternative… and a more reliable one to boot.

A stand out feature of the CV-12 is its 9 polar patterns. These are accessible on the power supply that comes with the package. Figure of 8, omni-directional, cardioid patterns and everything in between are all available to suit your needs. Changeable at the turn of a knob, giving adaptability in your studio.

The CV-12 captures a rich mid-range and glorious highs, ensuring that it shines; and with this in mind….. we consider this the best vocal mic. If you require further evidence for this statement, Taylor Swift’s repeated use on ‘Fearless’ and ‘Speak Now’ speaks volumes! For under $500….. the Avantone CV-12 is unmatched in this price range.

Avantone CV-12 Key Features:

  • Tube Type Condenser
  • 9 Patterns Selectable at PS-12 Power Supply
  • Frequency Response: 25 – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 136db
  • 6072A Tube
  • Output Connector: Male XLR 7 Pin w/ special power supply and cables
  • Attenuation Switch: 10dB Switch
  • Low Cut Filter: 80Hz (-12dB/octave)
  • Includes Padded Wooden Box, Shockmount , Metal Road Case

Runner Up: AKG C214

AKG C214
AKGs consistent reputation for excellence continues. A solid performer, the C214 is evolving into a classic within the industry. It is sure to capture every detail in your recordings.
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The AKG C214 was developed as an affordable alternative to its bigger brother, the C414. Similarly to the C414….. it performs to the highest standards.

It is not just designed for vocals, either. The C214 is a resourceful option with its adaptability across musical instruments. A reduction of 20 db is achievable with its attenuator. It is designed to decrease the proximity effect and does so effectively.

It is a worthy runner up. Scratch resistant, the C214 will remain pristine throughout the years. If you’re searching for a condenser microphone to pick up the finest detail. The AKG C214 is a solid choice.

AKG C214 Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 136db
  • Pads: -20db
  • Low Cut Filter: 160Hz (-6dB/octave)
  • Includes H85 Shockmount, widescreen and Metal Carry Case

Best Budget: AKG Perception 420

AKG Perception 420

AKGs excellence in design comes at a low price with the P420. Offering a neutral sound, the Perception 420 is a budget alternative for the home studio.

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AKG are big names in the microphone world. When budget alternatives infiltrated the market, AKG responded with the Perception line. Understandably, there will be slight audible differences compared to our top pick. However… the AKG Perception 420 punches, and is deservedly awarded our top budget condenser microphone.

It is a super option for home recording musicians. Although low in cost, the P420 is designed under the careful watch of AKG. They have a reputation to adhere to, and the P420 stands testament to AKG’s commitment to quality.

Considering its humble price tag, the P420 doesn’t lack in features. There is a switchable 20db pad and high pass filter (300Hz, -12dB/octave). A toggle switch on the cast zinc-alloy body offers omni-directional, cardioid, and figure-of-eight polar patterns.

The AKG Perception 420 handles vocal, piano, woodwind, brass, drums and percussion. Evenly capturing high end detail without the brittleness that can tarnish some cheap microphones.

AKG Perception 420 Key Features:

  • Cardioid, Omni-Directional and Figure-8 Polar Patterns
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 155db
  • Low Cut Filter: 300Hz (-12dB/octave)
  • Pads: -20db
  • Includes Shockmount and Carry Case

Best for Instruments: Shure SM81 – LC

Shure sm81
With peerless precision, the SM81 - LC is a cherished possession in many professional studios. Guaranteed to deliver fidelity to all your musical instruments.
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Any article listing top microphones would not be complete without a Shure. The Shure SM81 – LC is an industry standard, and will-be for many years.

This small diaphragm condenser provides maximum rejection, allowing you to focus on the source. With unnecessary room noise being a thing of the past, you can expect a crystal clear duplication of your sound source. Slim and sleek, it is easy to position in difficult spaces. Don’t be fooled by its unassuming size…… it is as rugged as they come.

The frequency response is as flat as a pancake. There is no color along the spectrum, making it ideal for capturing all acoustic instruments with meticulous precision.

The Shure SM81 – LC is the perfect instrument microphone for spotless reproduction.

Shure SM81 – LC Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20 kHz
  • Selectable low-frequency response: flat, 6 or 18 dB/octave rolloff
  • 0 dB/10 dB lockable attenuator switch
  • Max SPL: 146db
  • Includes: Stand Adapter, Zippered Pouch and Carry Case

Runner Up For Instruments: Audio-Technica AT4041

Audio-Technica AT4041

The AT4041 is a solid and reliable choice. A versatile instrument mic designed to smoothly capture high frequencies.

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The Audio-Technica AT4041 is a premium electret condenser microphone. Engineered to perform in the harshest acoustic environments.

The low mass diaphragm improves transient response, and with a slight rise in response at the higher frequencies, it captures detail and does so smoothly. You name it… drum overheads, acoustic guitar, banjo, piano, horns, and snare will all shine with this mic.

The AT4041 is a standout performer when faced with acoustic guitars. Its characteristics lend to capturing the complete guitar recording. Expect it all….. attack, body and brilliance.

If you’re in pursuit of a small diaphragm microphone, the Audio-Technica AT4041 is as professional sounding as they come… and is sure to add shimmer to your recordings.

Audio-Technica AT4041 Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 145db
  • Low Cut Filter: 80 Hz, 12 dB/octave

Best Budget For Instruments: AKG Perception 170

AKG Perception 170

Priced extremely reasonably, the AKG Perception 170 is an affordable alternative for instrument recording. Expect pure clarity.

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Earlier in this article we touched upon the excellent standards of all AKG products. The AKG Perception 170 is no exception.

The AKG P170 is a true-capacitor, small diaphragm cardioid mic. With its high quality design combined with its lower price, it makes for an obvious choice for the bedroom producer.

Designed as an instrument mic, its small diaphragm picks up amazing clarity considering the price. It is a flexible choice that will replicate all stringed instruments with both transparency and warmth.

If you’re searching for an instrument mic to add to your collection, the AKG Perception 170 will add another dimension to your home recordings.

AKG Perception 170 Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 135db
  • Mono Output Signal
  • Switchable 20dB Attenuation Pad
  • Includes Stand Adapter

Best Matched Pair: Rode NT5

The Rode NT5
Record like a pro with the NT5 matched pair. Enter the world of stereo recording at the highest standard with these neutral sounding mics.
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Upon purchase; if you register your Rode NT5 matched pair; you are covered with a 10 year warranty. This is a true statement of the durability of this product. You can have confidence in this buy as a long term investment….. they are built to last .

Sometimes referred to as a ‘pencil’ mic, these small-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphones seize every detail from your instruments.

Using the NT5 matched pair, you can add another string to your bow by using them to simultaneously record one instrument. Known as stereo recording, this will create a sense of width to your recordings, to help them sound like they were recorded by a true pro.

Low in noise and with excellent noise rejection, the Rode NT5 matched pair are crafted to perfection. A bright and detailed capture of all acoustic instruments and guitar amps will leave your audio toe to toe with the most decorated producers.

Rode NT5 Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20 kHz
  • Max SPL: 143db
  • Includes: Custom WS5 Wind Shield, Custom RM5 Stand Mount and Carry Case

Who Should Buy A Condenser Microphone?

All professional recording studios will have a condenser microphone. In fact… they will most likely have several at their disposal.

It is a must-have for any musician or producer planning to record music. Regardless of genre… vocals and most acoustic instruments can effectively be recorded on this type of mic.

You can pay thousands of dollars on a single microphone. However, with a budget of $500, you are in the realm of truly high quality microphones that will compete at the highest standards in your studio.

Due to a larger frequency range and good transient response, mics in this category are often used for voice over work, podcasts, YouTubers, and even TV and Film.

Avantone CV-12

The CV-12 is a microphone of great beauty. With its warm and rich sound, it can even outperform its higher priced rivals in certain cases. The CV-12 may very well turn out to be a primary mic in your collection.

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Important Features To Consider

  • Polar Pattern
    The polar pattern of a microphone is the sensitivity to sound in relation to the direction from which the sound lands. Understanding this can help when choosing mic placements to maximize the capture of the source.Cardioid is the most common pattern and is named after its similarity to a heart shape. It is the most sensitive directly in front of the mic, whereas behind has minimal sensitivity.A supercardioid is a variation of cardioid, but has a much tighter angle… offering more side rejection.A figure-of-eight pattern is often referred to as bidirectional. It is equally sensitive to sounds arriving from the front and back of the mic. The narrow pickup means it is least sensitive to sounds coming from the sides.An omnidirectional microphone has a spherical polar pattern. It picks up sound from 360-degrees surrounding the mic.
  • Diaphragm Size
    Condenser mics tend to fall into two diaphragm sizes, either as a large or small diaphragm. Generally, large refers to a capsule’s diaphragm size as 1 inch (25.4 mm) or more in diameter; small means it is ½ inch (12.7 mm) or less.Large and small diaphragm microphones both have their place. Neither is better or worse. It all depends on your goal.Small diaphragm microphones give a very neutral and realistic representation of your source. With this in mind, many studio professionals will use small diaphragms on acoustic instruments. On the other hand, large diaphragm condensers can be used more artistically. They can make the source feel bigger and more prominent. Hence the use on lead vocals and other instruments that need to be noticed.
  • Frequency Response
    A mic’s frequency response is the range of frequencies that the microphone can capture and record.Many microphones in this article have a frequency response ranging from 20 to 20,000 kHz. This generally covers all frequencies audible to the human ear.A flat frequency response results in a very natural reproduction. Some microphones may be tailored to color certain frequencies to increase instrument brightness or vocal presence.It is important to consider frequency response when using high pass filters. Engaging a high pass filter will cut off lower frequencies to suit your purpose.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you need for a condenser mic?
The active electronics within a condenser microphone require external power. Therefore, you will almost always need phantom power. This is a 48V voltage supplied to the microphone from the mixing board or mic pre-amp through the XLR cable.

Phantom power can also be supplied by a USB interface… but be sure to check that the XRL input supplies phantom power.

Are condenser mics good for vocals?
Condenser microphones are high in sensitivity and respond well at high frequencies. This intricate makeup makes them ideal for recording all vocals from singing to spoken word.

Due to the heightened sensitivity, the use of a pop filter is highly advisable. A pop filter can also be called a pop shield or a pop screen. They are designed to reduce popping caused by the impact of fast moving air during singing or speech.

What is the best condenser mic?
There are many great condenser microphones on the market. Picking the one for you depends on many factors… including purpose and budget. It is about finding the perfect mic for you!
However; if we had to pick one; in accordance with both our extensive research and financial criteria…… The Avantone CV-12 is overall, the unsurpassed pick in our opinion.

Other Microphones We Reviewed

There are truly almost endless options for microphones! For under $500 you can find durability and performance to a premium standard. If you still haven’t found what you’re looking. Delve deeper into our alternative picks…..

Avantone CV-12

The CV-12 is a microphone of great beauty. With its warm and rich sound, it can even outperform its higher priced rivals in certain cases. The CV-12 may very well turn out to be a primary mic in your collection.

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Alternative Top Picks

Its features include a built-in pop filter. Expect a smooth and intimate reproduction from this lush mic.

Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Warm, Smooth Sound Output
  • Controlled Amplification
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
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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The X1 S is a class act. With flexibility and an amazing sound, it is worthy of any studio.

Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Frequency Response: 20 – 20k Hz
  • Max SPL: 140 / 150 / 160 dB (0/10/20dB pad)
  • Low-cut filter: 80 / 160 Hz, 6 dB/Oct, switchable
  • Attenuation Pad: 10 / 20dB, switchable
  • Includes mic clip, mic stand thread adapter
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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The Bluebird SL will capture outstanding vocals that punch through a mix. Similarly expect natural reproduction of instruments. On looks alone you’ll want this in your collection… but on sound, you’ll wonder how you ever did without it.

Key Features:

  • Colored Upper Clarity
  • Large Diaphragm Cardioid Capsule
  • High Pass Filter
  • -20dB pad

Key Features:

  • Large Diaphragm
  • Gold Plated Diaphragm (24 Carat)
  • Internally shock mounted capsule to minimize noise

Alternative Budget Picks

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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Financially in the reach of most musicians, the MXL 990 is a dream for those on a budget. If you like your sounds with a warm vintage feel…… You’ve found your mic in this one.

Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Frequency Response: 30 – 20k Hz
  • Max SPl: 130db
  • Equivalent Noise Level: 20 dB
BLUE Condenser
Multi pattern selections make this a mic of versatility.
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For an affordable all rounder, this is a great choice. Choose your color to suit you!

Key Features:

  • 3 Capsules
  • Frequency Response- 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Gain control
  • Mute button
  • Zero-latency headphone output
LVEGO Pro Condenser Microphone
The LVEGO Pro deserves a mention due to the abundance of accessories included..... even the power supply!!!!!!
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One purchase and you’re up and running straight away.

Key Features:

  • Noise cancellation for reduced distortion
  • Windows, Mac and Linux compatible
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Multiple applications

It is a great option for the beginner, but you can still expect the clarity and warmth needed to perform.

Key Features:

  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Large Diaphragm
  • Gold Plated XLR Connection
  • 48V Phantom Power indicated by LED


I hope this article has shed some light on your search for the ideal microphone for you.

In our opinion; if you’re seeking for microphones under $500; the Avantone CV-12 is a complete package. It will offer results comparable with some of the finest in the industry that cost a lot more.

The Shure SM81 – LC is a standout performer for instruments. Designed to offer precise representation.

On a budget? The AKG Perception 420 is a perfect alternative… giving you the famous AKG craftsmanship at a fraction of the cost.

Choose wisely! It is now time to enjoy what you love….. creating!