Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones for Your Studio [Guide]
More often than not, large-diaphragm condenser microphones are used for string instruments and vocal performances. However, they don’t have to be limited to just those applications.
Some performers also like to use them for drums and a variety of acoustic instruments, as well.
If you are planning on purchasing just one microphone for your studio, you just may want to make it a large-diaphragm condenser.
There are options for all price points, too. Here, we’ve narrowed down your selections for the best large diaphragm condenser microphone and have highlighted our top pick, a close runner-up, and our best budget pick.
Looking for the best large diaphragm condenser microphones for your studio?
Dive in and find out which ones are best!
Top Pick: AKG Pro Audio C214
If you are looking for a mic you can use while recording a series of instruments in your studio, the AKG Pro Audio C214 is a great option. This is our pick for the best large diaphragm condenser microphone for a number of reasons.
First, it was designed as an alternative to AKG’s higher-end large-diaphragm condenser mic. It uses the same one-inch dual capsule as the more expensive variant. This capsule, which is on an integrated suspension, aids in the reduction of any mechanical noise. It uses a 20dB switchable attenuation pad, so it can record loud sources up to a total of 156dB SPL.
(Starting your home studio setup with an iPad? Check out our list of the 9 Best Microphones For iPad here!)
This mic has just the one pickup pattern, which is cardioid. However, it does come with the spider suspension mount, along with a foam widescreen. All of that comes packed in its carrying case, which is made from metal for easy and reliable transport.
The body of this mic is all metal, so you get a high degree of RF-immunity. In addition, the matte grey/blue finish is resistant to both scratches and shock, and helps to keep the capsule protected. The self-noise on this mic is really quite low, at just 13dB. You’ll also enjoy a headroom that is really high, and you can work with phantom power that ranges from 12 to 52V.
You won’t have any proximity effect when you record close-up given the bass-cut filter. This product captures sound by combining one capsule of the dual-capsule system with the AKG Back-Plate Technology. Use this product with speech and vocals, acoustic and electric guitars, piano, and organ.
The AKG Pro Audio C214 isn’t really intended for use with electric bass, but you can use it for double bass, cello, violin, or drums.
AKG Pro Audio C214 Key Features:
- Bass cut filter 160 Hz
- A bandwidth of 20 to 20000 Hz
- Electrical Impedance of 200 Ohms
- Voltage 9 to 52 V
- Signal to Noise 81 dB-A
Runner Up: Shure PGA27-LC
This runner-up option is still of really high quality, and can be used even by professionals. The Shure PGA27-LC is one of the most versatile microphones you can find. This is a side-address condenser mic that can also be used effectively by vocalists. That side-address direction makes this not only useful for vocalists, but also for those who use string instruments, including the guitar.
You will enjoy strong lows and clear highs with this mic. It uses a cardioid pattern that picks up great audio without including any of the unwanted background noise. There is a -15dB switchable attenuator, which provides increased SPL versatility.
The design of the mic is industrial looking with a grille and black metallic finish. It’s a visually appealing design overall, with great construction and durability, even when used constantly and rigorously. You can also keep it protected in the padded case that comes with it.
Along with the zippered case, you’ll also get a shock mount with the Shure PGA27-LC so that you can enjoy increased stability when setting up. The mount will also help you minimize any mechanical noise you don’t want. These accessories come standard with your purchase, so you don’t have to spend any additional cash to get the results you want.
Shure PGA27-LC Key Features:
- Shock mount included
- Strong lows and clear highs
- High SPL threshold
- Requires phantom power
- Industrial design
Best Budget Pick: MXL 440
The MXL 440 is easy on your wallet, while still producing great sound for just about all studio applications. Despite the small price tag, you can still use it for pretty much any application where a more expensive large diaphragm condenser microphone could be used. Use this with just vocals, or with a wide variety of instruments. Use it while recording pop, country, rock, and R&B music.
As is the case with condenser mics, this one is quite sensitive, taking note of very subtle details. It has a frequency response ranging from 30Hz to 20kHz. The polar pattern is cardioid, and it has a sensitivity of 15mV/Pa. The output impedance is 200 ohms, and the equivalent noise is 20dB. You won’t realize that you paid such little money for this budget pick once you see the results you get.
The MXL 440 is also black with a gold print and metal finish. It weighs just 1.2 pounds for easy transport and requires 48V Phantom power.
MXL 440 Key Features:
- Sensitivity of 15mV/Pa
- Equivalent noise of 20dB
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Range of frequency response 30 Hz to 20kHz.
- 2.08 inches x 7.08 inches in size
Investing in a large-diaphragm condenser mic is a great idea for virtually any recording session. In addition, if you plan on only purchasing one microphone for your studio, this is the type to get. You can use it with vocal performances, drums, piano, and a whole host of acoustic instruments.
(Looking for a USB mic instead? Check out our list of the 9 Best USB Microphones for Vocals here!)
Large-diaphragm condenser mics are considered the most versatile and useful microphones you can purchase, especially if you are looking for your very first microphone to buy. These are known for their sensitivity, which is what makes them so useful for recording acoustic guitar or your voice. They can even be used for making voiceover tracks. With all they have to offer, it can be challenging to narrow down which ones might be best for you.
Any one of the three options we’ve highlighted here would be a great addition to your studio, but our top choice for the best large-diaphragm condenser microphone is the AKG Pro Audio C214 for many reasons. It not only looks great, is scratch- and shock-resistant, but it also performs at a high professional level. You’ll also enjoy a reduction in mechanical noise, as well as no proximity effect.
Our other two options will also make for a great addition to any studio, and none of the three options here will break the bank, either. With these, you can easily enjoy great sound and impressive studio recordings for less money than you think.