Recording quality audio doesn’t have to be rocket science… but it should be a priority.
Regardless of the type of project you’re involved in, you are going to need quality audio to make a good impression… which is why finding the best microphones for recording on the market, in your price range, is one of the first steps in putting together your equipment list.
A high quality recording microphone doesn’t have to set you back thousands of dollars. In fact, you can find plenty of great options well under the $1,000 mark that will get you up and running with everything you need.
The main thing to keep in mind, though, is that finding the right mic for the job is an essential step on the road to success.
Whether you are a singer-songwriter, a YouTuber, a podcaster, a vlogger, a videographer, etc… you need to have a quality mic to capture quality audio.
And the best way to find the right mic for you is to look at the features, vs. the price.
That can, however, be a daunting task. So we’ve done the hard work for you!
Here are the 18 best recording microphones under $529.
The Avantone Pro CV-12 was really a no-brainer for our microphones top pick. When recording vocals it comes through with smooth, colorful tones… while it captures acoustic guitar sounds with natural, vibrant flavor. It also boasts 9 selectable polar patterns… making it a versatile option!
In This Article
- Top Pick: Avantone Pro CV-12
- Runner-Up: AKG C214
- Best Budget Pick: Audio-Technica AT2020
- Best USB Pick: Apogee Mic Plus
- Best Handheld Pick: Audio-Technica AE540
Other Recording Microphones We Reviewed
Top Pick Avantone Pro CV-12
Runner Up AKG C214
Best Budget Pick Audio-Technica AT2020
Best USB Pick Apogee Mic Plus
Best Handheld Pick Audio-Technica AE540
Our Top Pick:
The Avantone Pro CV-12 is our top pick, and it was an easy one to make. The microphone scores off the charts in terms of performance, versatility, build quality, and personalization features. It can also be used in vocal recording and instruments, which adds even more value to the product as a whole.
Right off the bat, the Avantone Pro CV-12 microphone impresses with its large-diaphragm tube condenser. Although it may look odd for a microphone, it is one of the best microphones under $529 in terms of versatility.
The CV-12 boasts nine polar patterns which allow it to be quite adaptable to every musician’s needs. The microphone is capable of recording rich, colorful vocals… though it can also handle acoustic instrument recordings with impressive accuracy.
It’s also great to see that the microphone comes with some premium accessories, such as a shock mount, a metal road case, and a vintage-looking wooden box. The shock mount is essential for reducing vibration noise, and the metal case provides even more protection on top of the already durable aluminum housing.
A power supply is also included in the price, which adds even more value to the bundle. As far as the raw specs go, the CV-12 looks even better thanks to its 20Hz to 20kHz frequency response range, 80Hz bass roll-off, -10dB pad, and max SPL of 136dB.
Avantone Pro CV-12 Key Features
- Premium build quality
- Nine polar patterns
- Dynamic frequency response
- Pad and bass roll-off switch
- Included power supply
- Gold-plated Mylar capsules
- 136dB max SPL
Our Runner Up
The AKG Pro Audio C214 condenser microphone is another fan favorite, a microphone that offers high-end recording features and sufficient versatility to satisfy even the most picky artists. The C214 has been designed mostly for voice recordings.
As such, it has an impressive dynamic range and ultra-low self-noise. It can handle both close-up soft and loud recordings too. You can use the C214 in front of high-output sources rated up to 156dB SPL.
One of the most impressive features is the integrated suspension. Although many dynamic mics may have this, few possess it to the same level as the C214. The suspension reduces mechanical and vibrational noises.
For the reduction of proximity effects, the C214 boasts a 20 dB attenuator and low-cut filter. This takes care of plosives and unwanted breathing sounds. The overall build quality is equally impressive, as the die-cast body can hold its own against rough handling.
AKG Pro C214 Key Features
- Die-cast metal body
- Dynamic range
- Ultralow noise
- 156 dB SPL
- Bass-cut filter
- Integrated suspension
Best Budget Pick
The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a condenser microphone that never ceases to impress. It’s one of the most affordable and best microphones that can offer decent SPL handling, as well as extended frequency response.
This mic can be the perfect fit for a home studio, although it has the performance to work in a professional studio setting too. The custom-made diaphragm features a low mass, which gives the microphone an impressive frequency response range and fast transient response for its price range.
The cardioid pickup pattern helps to minimize the pickup of side and rear noise. This enhanced noise isolation maintains the clarity of the vocals, and gives you professional-level results with the Audio-Technica AT2020.
Audio-Technica AT2020 Key Features
- Above-average SPL handling
- Dynamic range
- Fast transient response
- Cardioid polar pickup pattern
Best USB Pick
USB microphones can be just as efficient as XLR microphones when it comes to recording. The Apogee MIC Plus is a great example of how technology has improved over the years. The digital connection allows for impressive sound quality of up to 24-bit and 96kHz. The cardioids polar pickup pattern offers good noise isolation, and also improves recording clarity.
Another great advantage of the Apogee MIC Plus is its zero-latency recording and headphone monitoring. Inexperienced users may also get a kick out of using this mic, as it comes already calibrated for vocal recordings.
If you know your way around a studio, you can start to tinker with the mic’s preamp gain to improve its precision and get the exact result you’re looking for. You can also make use of the LED indicators when you’re adjusting the blend mode and input level.
On top of all this, the Apogee MIC Plus also works with both Windows and Apple devices. This, coupled with its rather compact size, means that you can use it to record your material anywhere, anytime.
Apogee MIC Plus Key Features
- 46 dB preamp gain
- Zero latency monitoring
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Configured and optimized for vocal recordings
- Blend control
Best Handheld Pick
Our favorite handheld recording mic, the Audio-Technica AE5400, is a truly impressive piece. It has the same premium large diaphragm as the one featured in the hugely popular AT4050 microphone. However, the AE5400 is considerably cheaper, while offering similar recording capabilities.
That’s Not All
While it’s true that in terms of features the AE5400 is not as “loaded” as others in its price range, it’s price-to-performance ratio still makes it one of the best microphones. The mic comes with a high-end anti-shock system which ensures a quiet performance, as well as good noise cancellation.
The design also features a double-sided PCB with surface-mount components. This, together with the quality grounding technology, should take care of most electrical noise or distortions. Optimized for the midrange, the AE5400 is a very good vocal mic and drum mic that only needs precise positioning to capture low or high-output sources in great detail.
Audio-Technica AE5400 Key Features
- Large true condenser diaphragm design
- Double-sided PCB
- 147 dB max SPL
- Wide frequency response range
- Built-in anti-shock system
Recording microphones have multiple uses. You don’t have to be a musician or own a studio in order to buy a recording microphone.
You may want to buy a mic if you want to do freelance work as a voice actor, work on voiceovers, or even if you want to record a podcast and wow your audience with impeccable sound quality.
There are a number of important features to consider before making a microphone purchase. Doing your homework beforehand can save you a lot of trouble and hassle. Plus, it will result in a better mic, which will give you superior sound-quality as you record videos, music, podcasts, etc.
Here are the most important features to consider…
- Condenser Microphones: There’s not enough praise in the world to indicate just how good condenser microphones are for vocal and instrument recordings. These microphones scream high-fidelity and come in various shapes, sizes, and styles.
- Noise Management Noise management is often offered in the form of built-in filters, external accessories, or a combination of both. Depending on your vocal range and recording instruments, the various types of filters will affect your recording differently.However, it’s almost imperative to have at least a good pop filter in a mic if you want to minimize noise. A good anti-shock and anti-vibration system should also be a top priority to reduce mechanical and vibrational noises.
- Polar Patterns The cardioid polar pattern is often considered the best in the business. But, as you may have noticed, there are plenty of recording microphones with adjustable polar patterns. Depending on what you want to record, sometimes it may be desirable to capture some background noises too, for a more natural and open sound.That said, be mindful when using omnidirectional or figure-8 cardioid patterns. They may make the positioning a lot trickier if you lack studio experience.
Which recording microphone is best for vocals?
The cardioid microphone is often regarded as the best solution for vocal recording. Due to the nature of its design, this type of microphone focuses all of its attention in the direction of the speaker, and records little if nothing from the side and rear, thus minimizing background noise.
We really love the Avantone Pro CV-12 for vocals, but it can also be used for instruments.
What recording microphone to buy?
This ultimately depends on what you want to record. Most people want home studio microphones for vocal recording. But instruments are also recorded on microphones.
Because of this, there is no answer that can satisfy every need across the board. Some recording microphones are optimized for vocals, some are optimized for instruments, and others can do a bit of both, even if they may not excel in either department.
Again, check out the Avantone Pro CV-12. If you’re looking for a well-rounded mic that will get you by in most types of situations, you really can’t go wrong with that one.
What’s the best microphone for recording vocals on computer?
If you would rather record in home studios, then you would probably be best-served by a USB microphone. A USB mic can be used with computers and laptops running on both Windows and iOS platforms. Although not everyone chooses to go this route, a USB recording microphone can offer a swift and convenient solution with plenty of personalization features, including zero-latency monitoring.
Need a plug-and-play USB mic that’ll actually deliver quality sound? Check out the Apogee Mic Plus.
Other Recording Microphones We Reviewed: Mini Reviews
Because recording microphones come in a variety of sizes, designs, and combinations of features, we thought it’d be best to also list a couple more microphones that we reviewed and fell just short of our top five.
The microphone also features a wind filter and a built-in blast filter and even reduced vibration noise thanks to its internal shock mount.
- 45Hz – 18kHz
- Continuous Variable D functionality
- Steel case material
- 180-degree off-axis background noise rejection
- Blast and wind filters
To deal with proximity effects, the SM7B relies on its built-in pop filter which takes care of most breathing sounds. On top of that, the mic also boasts optimized shielding to deal with interference.
- Wide frequency response
- Built-in pop filter
- Graphic display for presence boost
- Can record vocals and instruments
- Air suspension shock isolation
It features a five-position bass roll-off switch and highly effective feedback rejection. While the mic holder may not be of premium quality, this is compensated by the clear sound reproduction and easy handling.
- Rugged build
- 5-position roll-off switch
- Feedback rejection
- Easy to use
It features a transformerless circuitry in order to eliminate low-frequency distortion and to offer a faster transient response. The AT4033/CL also offers an open acoustical environment, through its unique design should mitigate internal reflections.
- Symmetrical housing
- 2-micron gold diaphragm
- Transformerless circuitry
- Noise and vibration isolation
It features a built-in pop filter, pads, among others, and it also has a flat wide frequency response range.
- 20Hz – 20kHz
- Three polar pickup patterns
- Pad switches
- Built-in pop filter
- Low-cut filter
It has a large 24k gold-plated diaphragm which creates a very warm sound. It also features good vibrational noise protection, even if it’s not as feature-loaded as other similarly priced dynamic mics.
- 24k gold-plated diaphragm
- Large diaphragm capsule
- Internal shock-mount
- Cardioid condenser mic
It has a dual recording feature for bright or warm recordings and features a solid state preamp too, along with pad and roll-off filters. Although it requires a phantom power supply and a more complex setup, the power supply is also included in the price.
- Dual-diaphragm design
- Built-in solid state preamp
- Roll-off filter
- Vintage design and sound
- Phantom power supply included
It has low distortion and a built-in shock mount to further improve the quality of the recording.
- Vintage tone
- Low self-noise
- Pad and high-pass switch
- Stealth shock mount
It also boasts a low-cut feature as well as very low self-noise.
- Built-in pop filter
- Low-cut feature
- Ultra-low noise
- 10-year warranty
- On-air LED indicator
That said, the mic features a transformerless preamp, a subsonic filter, and the three-position pad and low-frequency filter can deal with high pressure levels and background noise.
- Subsonic filter
- Omnidirectional polar pattern
- Pad and low-frequency filter switches
- Gold-plated connectors
- Fast transient response
It has a simple design but also a sturdy build. It also comes with a bunch of accessories that improve the recording quality.
- Pop filter, shock mount, and dust cover included
- Flat response
- High-pass filter
- Three polar pickup patterns
- On-board filter switches
It also features simple on-board controls, a desk stand, a ring mount, and a long USB cable.
- USB connectivity
- Headphone monitoring
- External pop filter
- Tripod desk stand
- Flat frequency response
It comes with a pop shield and shock mount and an extended dynamic mic range typically reserved for high-end microphones.
- Pop shield
- Shock mount
- Extended dynamic mic range
- Low-noise mic
Finding the best microphones for professional use or home studios doesn’t have to be rocket science.
But you do need to stick to the features you need. If you get focused and buy a mic that is specifically designed for what you have to do, then you can usually get a lot more mic for a lot less money.
Value for your money is the key!
We absolutely loved the Avantone Pro CV-12. In the sub $500 price-range, it just can’t be beat.
And of course, if budget constraints apply, you should absolutely check out the Audio-Technica AT2020.
But at the end of the day, the objective is to keep creating. So grab a mic, hit the studio, and get back to what you know and love.
Buying a quality mic and moving on to creating is an important step in the journey!