Top and Best Budget Mics for Premium Acoustic Guitar Recordings
Acoustic guitars have long been considered the most accessible instrument currently available. But without a quality, reliable microphone, you are going to be drastically limited!
Having a reliable microphone can help you get the best out of your instrument.
Below, you’ll find our top three pro-level microphones for recording acoustic guitar. We have highlighted our overall top pick, as well as a close runner-up and a budget pick for those who are looking to find good sound on a limited budget.
Any of these three microphones could easily be considered the best mic for recording acoustic guitar.
Top Pick: Shure SM81-LC Microphone
The Shure SM81-LC Microphone is built with extensive use in mind. It can withstand regular and rigorous studio and stage use without losing any of its quality or durability. This mic is a unidirectional condenser microphone, which is ideal for sound reinforcement, broadcasting, and studio recording. It is the true standard for recording when it comes to acoustic instruments… particularly cymbals, piano, and guitar.
This microphone has a frequency response of 0 Hz to 20 kHz. There is a high output and a low noise clipping level, as well as phantom powering. It also offers a selectable low-frequency response. The available switch positions are -6 decibel/octave below 100 Hz, flat, and -18 decibel/octave below 80 Hz.
The microphone is made from steel for added durability, and offers low distortion over a large range of load impedances. It has stainless steel screens and a vinyl metallic paint finish. It also has low RF susceptibility, and its output impedance is rated at 150 ohms. Its recommended minimum load impedance is 800 ohms.
The Shure SM81-LC operates on phantom power. It also performs over a large range of humidity conditions and temperature. Given the wide range of available conditions, you don’t have to reserve your recordings in a studio. Weather and humidity aren’t really factors. It also comes with an attenuator-switch lock, case for storage and carrying, foam windscreen, and swivel adapter. All you’ll need is a cable, and you’re ready to go!
(Check out our post on The Importance Of Good Cables to go along with it!)
Shure SM81- LC Microphone Key Features:
- Low noise and high output clipping level
- Low RF susceptibility
- Phantom powering
- Steel construction
- Usable in a range of humidity conditions and temperatures
Runner Up: Neumann KM 184 MT Microphone
At first glance, the Neumann KM 184 MT appears quite lightweight and small. While that is true when it comes to size, it really does deliver when it comes to overall quality and performance. In fact, the actual size could be considered a misrepresentation of the sound it produces.
This product continues the reputation of other Neumann products, with its ear-pleasing sound production. It really can rival the sensitivity of much larger diaphragm microphones, while also managing to retain high SPL handling. It has a frequency range of 20kHz to 20Hz, which is quite similar to that offered by large-diaphragm microphones. However, you’ll enjoy a more detailed sound.
This microphone is known for its hi-hat applications, as well as for being a drum overhead. It offers a frequency response that is smooth and flat. Even though this is a +48V Phantom-powered tubeless microphone, it still maintains tube fullness and warmth. It is clear and detailed across a variety of frequencies.
(Looking for a vocal mic? Check out our list of the 9 Best USB Microphones for Vocals here!)
It also requires very little, if any, EQ. It needs even less when using a great instrument. Its applications are quite versatile. You aren’t really limited in your recording environment or location. It has a great build and construction, which you can feel right away when you handle it. Plus, this set comes with two, so you can record in stereo!
In addition, its operation and clarity are of professional-grade, even when being used on high SPL instruments. The Neumann KM 184 MT is now available with cardioid, omnidirectional, hyper-cardioid, and stereo sets.
Neumann KM 184 MT Microphone Key Features:
- Small and lightweight
- Requires no EQ, if any
- Accurate, balanced, and very sensitive
Budget Pick: AKG Perception 170 Microphone
The AKG Perception 170 Microphone is a small-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone offered at a very attractive price. It offers a switchable 20dB pad, which is perfect for recording with instruments with high SPL. This is our budget pick because of its price, but it really does deliver in many areas, including clarity and overall sound.
This mic is great for the recording of percussion, overheads, and acoustic guitar along with other stringed instruments. You’ll enjoy a great deal of clarity and transient response with it, as well. The flat response means that you’ll hear the recording of your acoustic instruments as if you were right in the room with them. The quality is pretty impressive for a budget product.
Despite being our budget pick for the best mic for recording acoustic guitar, you’ll enjoy great rejection from behind as well as very low noise and clean sound. The end result rivals that of much more expensive microphones, though it doesn’t offer quite the same level of versatility.
The construction is also quite durable, especially for a budget-friendly option. Even though it is durably constructed, it is very lightweight and offers easy operation and use. Given that it is so lightweight, it can also easily be suspended above an instrument, if needed for recording.
The AKG Perception 170 Microphone is a good option if you are recording in a home studio rather than an alternative setting. However, at this price point, you really can’t go wrong.
AKG Perception 170 Microphone Key Features:
- Very lightweight at just 10.6 ounces
- Durable construction
- Great clarity
- Good transient response
Any one of the three pro-level microphones highlighted above could easily be considered the best mic for recording acoustic guitar. They offer great sound and strong durability. All of them have features that would easily make them our top choice. However, our top pick is the Shure SM81-LC Microphone for good reasons.
This mic is built to last, even when used regularly and rigorously, and will maintain its professional sound. It will maintain its performance in a variety of temperature changes, as well as in different levels of humidity. It has low RF susceptibility, low noise, and high output clipping level.
This cardioid condenser microphone offers a clear and transparent sound that pleases experts and users everywhere. It is really second to none, though any of the three options highlighted here would be a great choice when recording acoustic guitar.