Bang for Your Buck! Choosing The Best Microphone for The Affordable Price Under 100-200$ – Top 21 Picks

Choosing a microphone is one of the key components you need of voice-over equipment for a home studio. The microphone used will have a strong effect on the sound quality of your recordings. Professional audio engineers use many high-quality microphones in a recording studio for different purposes. For those on a limited budget, they need to start with one that they can afford. Here are my reviews of the 21 budget microphone and my recommendation of the best one with a few choices.

My Top PickBlue Snowball Gloss Black

Blue Snowball

What’s inside?

  • Choice of omnidirectional or cardioid polar patterns
  • 40 Hz to 18 kHz frequency response
  • 44.2 kHz/16-bit sample rate
  • Gloss black spherical design 325 mm circumference
  • USB connector

Killer features: Low price, excellent style, and performance

Check price on Amazon →

Check price on Blue →

Check price on B&H →

Check price on Guitar Center →

The Blue Snowball is my top pick for a condenser mic under 100$. It has a beautiful, classy, retro look. The polar pattern can be changed to allow omnidirectional pickup of sound coming toward the device from every direction or a more-focused cardioid pattern that does not pickup sound from behind the microphone.

Also GreatShure SM58-LC

Shure SM58

What’s inside?

  • Unidirectional polar pattern
  • Has an on-off switch
  • 50 Hz to 15 kHz frequency range
  • Classic black color
  • XLR connector

Killer feature: Very durable

Check price on Amazon →

Check price on B&H →

Check price on Sweetwater →

Check price on Guitar Center →

The Shure SM58 is my choice of a cardioid dynamic microphone under 100$. The pickup pattern is able to capture sounds from in front of the device and not those sounds coming from behind it. Roadies love this model because it is so durable. You can drop it, swing it around your head on its cable and it will probably still work. Shure products have been the music industry standard for decades.

Also GreatMXL R144

MXL R144

What’s inside?

  • Figure-8 bidirectional polar pattern
  • Compact size
  • Captures a smooth rich midrange sound
  • High sound pressure level (SPL) capability
  • Comes with a shock mount

Killer feature: Small size fits almost anywhere

Check price on Amazon →

Check price on B&H →

Check price on Reverb →

The MXL R144 is my choice of ribbon mic that is also great. It costs more than 100$ but among the ribbon models, its price is much cheaper.  The bidirectional polar pattern picks up both the instruments being recorded and the room sound. The high SPL makes it a good choice for a microphone used to record loud instruments like brass or amplified electric guitars. The shock mount helps prevent damage to the product.

5 Steps to Find a Microphone for Your Needs

For every model you add to your collection, you will want to go through a five-step process in your technical evaluation to make sure the product you buy is suitable for the purpose(s) you want it to perform. Depending on what you want to record, and in what setting, each technical specification is going to help you decide if it is the correct type of mic to use.

Buyer's Guide

It is very common for an audio engineer in a professional recording studio to spend quite a bit of consideration when selecting the mics used for a recording session. Professional studios have many microphones in their equipment inventory. If you are building a home studio, you may want to start with a general-purpose model for recording voice-overs or vocals, and add more if you plan to record live music.

Here are the five steps that I always take in my technical evaluation of a mic before I buy one:

Step 1. Choose a Connector Style

Wired models use either a USB or an XLR connector. Here is what you need to know about the difference. The key is to figure out the input style on the device you will use for the mic to connect to and make sure that it matches. There are also conversion cables, adaptors, and hubs that can be used to change one style to another. However, to avoid problems, it is best to make direct connections without using an adaptor.

USB Connector

A USB connector is used to connect to computer equipment. USB is a standard for most computer equipment and peripherals; however, be aware that there is more than one type of USB-connector style in a variety of shapes and sizes, which include USB-A, USB-B, USB-C, USB-mini (A or B), USB micro (A or B), USB Micro B Super Speed, and Lighting. These USB connectors are made so that the “male” end of the plug will when aligned properly, physically enter the “female” input jack.

XLR Connector

An XLR connector has been the standard for audio recording and sound reinforcement since the 1950s. In the old-school-style audio recording, the XLR3 cable is used extensively. The number 3 stands for the number of pins it contains. There are also XLR4 to XLR7 cables used for other purposes. A desirable feature of an XLR connector is that the male end of the cable and the female socket securely link with the help of a metal clasp. It makes an audible click sound when the connection made between the male plug and the female jack is secure.

A note about “phantom” power: Condenser microphones (discussed below) require a power source to work. This can be batteries or if plugged-in to a mixing board with an XLR cable, electrical power to the mic comes through one pin of the cable. This power is called “phantom” power. Use extreme caution if you plan to use a ribbon model like the one I reviewed because they are very delicate. A ribbon can be destroyed if accidentally plugged-in using an XLR cable to a source that has phantom power turned on.

You can read more details about How to choose a connection type: USB or XLR in my other review of voice-over mics.

Step 2. Choose a Microphone Type: Condenser or Dynamic

A condenser mic has a pick-up pattern that is more focused than the pick-up pattern of a dynamic one. If you want to capture all the sound in a room, a dynamic mic is your best choice. If instead, you want to capture only certain sounds, like the voice of a person or vocals, without picking up any background noise, then a condenser option is a better choice.

Condenser vs Dynamic

You can read more details about how to Choose a Microphone Type: Condenser or Dynamic.

Step 3. Choose a Diaphragm Size: Small or Large

The diaphragm serves the same function as the eardrum in the human ear. It captures the vibrations of the air that are created by the sound. A larger diaphragm captures more vibrations from the surrounding air. A smaller diaphragm is found in models that are highly-focused, such as a “shot-gun” mic, which has a very narrow pick-up pattern to avoid picking up room noise.

Small or Large Diaphragm

You can read more details about how to Choose a diaphragm size: small or large.

Step 4. Select a Microphone Pattern

A dynamic mic picks up sound almost equally from all directions. Condenser models offer different pickup patterns that are diagramed as a “polar” pattern showing the strength of the signal it can pick up coming from different angles to the mic head. A “cardioid” pick-up pattern is very popular for vocals. It has a pick-up pattern that is heart-shaped. This type focuses on picking up the sounds directly in front of the device and gets less audio input from the rear of the microphone.

Microphone Patterns

You can read more details about how to Select a Microphone Pattern.

Step 5. Understanding Frequency Response

Frequency response is a measurement of a mic’s ability to pick-up sound at different frequencies (tones). Human hearing has a range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz (1 kHz is 1,000 Hz). Each model is tested for its ability to accurately reproduce frequencies within the band of human hearing. Then, a chart is made showing this as a graph.

The low-end is in the range of 20-100 Hz for the bass, the mid-range at 100 Hz to 5 kHz is for vocals/instruments, and the high-end at 5 to 20 kHz is for higher-pitched sounds like cymbals. Mics sound differently when used to record different frequencies depending on how the device responds to those frequencies.

Frequency Response

You can read more details about how to Understanding Frequency Response.

Quick Summary

If you know these five basic steps to use when evaluating the technical specifications, you are going to pick the models that work for your needs. After that, the selection of mics for a specific recording project comes down to a fine-tuning using your ears as the judge to determine how you feel about the playback of a recording.

Finding the Best Budget Microphone

I separated my reviews into four categories:

  1. Large-Diaphragm Condenser;
  2. Small-Diaphragm Condenser;
  3. Dynamic;
  4. Ribbon.

I also indicate the type of connectors that the microphones have, which can be XLR, USB, and XLR plus USB.

Each category of mic is designed to use for a specific purpose. If you need a refresher about the differences between these four categories, watch this video:

Here is the list of the 21 Best Cheap Models I reviewed. Following this list are the detailed explanations of each mic’s features.

Best Budget Microphones
Audio-Technica AT2020

Professionals will appreciate this model.

Category: large-diaphragm condenser [XLR]
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →
 MXL V67G

For those who want to record warm sounding vocals and to speak directly into the mic.

Category: large-diaphragm condenser [XLR]
Amazon →MXL →B&H →
 AKG P120

Suitable for professional recording studios and home studios.

Category: large-diaphragm condenser [XLR]
Amazon →AKG →B&H →
Blue Snowball Gloss Black

For podcaster or someone who make voice-overs using software.

Category: large-diaphragm condenser [USB]
My choice among microphones under 100$
Amazon →Blue →B&H →
Samson Meteor

Good choice for those who need a compact portable device.

Category: large-diaphragm condenser [USB]
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →
Razer Seiren X

Perfect for gamers and live streamers.

Category: large-diaphragm condenser [USB]
Amazon →Razer →BestBuy →
AKG P170

For studio recording of instruments.

Category: small-diaphragm condenser [XLR]
Amazon →AKG →B&H →
MXL 770

Can be used for voice-overs, vocals, and recording instruments

Category: small-diaphragm condenser [XLR]
Amazon →B&H →Guitar Center →
 Shure PGA181

Good choice for a music recording studio operating on a limited budget.

Category: small-diaphragm condenser [XLR]
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →
 Samson Go

An improvement over the built-in mics found in laptops and still is small enough to be portable.

Category: small-diaphragm condenser [USB]
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →
Rode NT-USB-Mini

This mic is terrific for podcasting.

Category: small-diaphragm condenser [USB]
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →
 Blue Yeti Nano

An attractive model for doing podcasts.

Category: small-diaphragm condenser [USB]
Amazon →Blue →B&H →
Shure SM58-LC

Good for almost every live music performance and live recording use.

Category: dynamic [XLR]
My choice among dynamic microphones under 100$
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →
AKG D5

Designed for lead and backup vocals and made to be handheld.

Category: dynamic [XLR]
Amazon →AKG →B&H →
 Sennheiser E835

Made for vocalists giving live performances.

Category: dynamic [XLR]
Amazon →Sennheiser →B&H →
Sasmson Q2U

Best device recommended for Garageband users.

Category: dynamic [USB + XLR]
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →
Audio-Technica AT2005USB

Good starter choice for voice-overs and podcasts

Category: dynamic [USB + XLR]
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →
Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB

Good choice for those with devices that have a USB-C input.

Category: dynamic [USB + XLR]
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →
Nady RSM-5

Nice for recording instruments and pick up some of the room sounds

Category: ribbon
Amazon →B&H →Guitar Center →
MXL R144

This device helps broaden the tonal palette of instrument recordings.

Category: ribbon
My choice among cheap ribbon mics!
Amazon →B&H →Reverb →
Golden Age Project R1 MKII

Made for capturing a vintage style of recordings.

Category: ribbon
Amazon →B&H →SweetWater →

Best Low-Cost Condenser Mics

Dynamic microphones are popular for live performers to use during shows because of their rugged construction; however, for recording in a studio, especially for vocals, a condenser one is preferred. Large-diaphragm condenser models are a good choice for recording vocals because they capture every nuance with sonic details.

Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones under 100$ with XLR

These microphones are used with an audio interface or mic preamps so they are suitable for both beginners and professionals.

1. Audio-Technica AT2020

Audio-Technica has always made excellent condenser microphones. Condenser mics need an external power source (“phantom” power) to operate, which comes from the mixing board or preamp through the XLR connector cable.

Audio-Technica AT2020 Specifications
“With its studio-quality articulation and intelligibility, the AT2020 is ideal for musicians, streamers, podcasters, and other content creators.” – audio-technica.com

Features

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is designed for the professional recording studio. The cardioid polar pattern reduces sound pickup from the sides and the back of it. This improves the isolation of the sound entering the front, making it prominent with less background noise. It has a threaded stand mount that pivots. A soft protective pouch is included to use for safer storage.

Killer feature: Captures the full frequency range of human hearing.

Pros

  • Has a very wide frequency range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
  • Noise level 20 dB.
  • Front of mic is marked.
  • Cardioid polar pattern focuses sound pickup to the front of the model.
  • Comes with a mount and a 5/8 to 3/8 inch stand adapter

Cons

  • Needs phantom power to work.
  • Will not work with an XLR to USB cable connector.
  • Will not work with a USB sound card.
  • Needs to have a USB audio interface device (sold separately) to work with a computer.
  • Does not come with a cable.
Audio-Technica AT2020
Credits: audio-technica.com

Best for: Professionals who are willing to invest in XLR microphones are the ones that will appreciate this model. It is not suitable for hobbyists due to the need to also buy an XLR cable and an audio interface device. There are lower cost solutions for those you simply want to record voice-over to make YouTube video.

This video, produced by Podcastage, reviews the Audio-Technica AT2020.

The reviewer likes the build quality and says it is all metal, which feels substantial. The mount and adaptor are metal as well. The cardioid pickup pattern focuses on sound coming at the mic from the front and picks up less from other directions. The reviewer tests how the model captures voice at different distances and how it handles different volume levels of music.

Buying Options

2. MXL V67G

MXL V67G is a large capsule condenser microphone praised for its ability to capture “killer” vocals on top of a full audio mix.

MLX V67G Specifications
“Old school tube mellow” is the phrase most often used to describe the sound of the V67G from MXL.” – mxlmics.com

Features

This condenser mic is designed for recording vocals. It is a solid-state model made with Class A FET circuitry and a transformer that captures a clear, warm sound. It has a very attractive look with a distinctive vintage-style body and a gold-plated round grill.

Killer feature: The sound is described as “old-school” tube microphone mellow.

Pros

  • Frequency range of 30 Hz to 20kHz.
  • A good value for the price.
  • The vintage style is very attractive.
  • Comes with a leather carrying pouch.
  • Comes with a clip and a stand adaptor.

Cons

  • Requires phantom power to operate.
  • It is very easy to put dents in the grill.
  • This device performs badly in humid environments.
  • Somewhat fragile.
  • Lousy customer service from the manufacturer in China.
MLX V67G
Credits: mxlmics.com

Best for: This condenser microphone is suitable for those who want to record warm sounding vocals and is best when used for singing of speaking directly into the mic.

This review, produced by Podcastage, is for those who do not mind listening to an annoying audio nerd who is bleeped out for swearing every few seconds.

The reviewer tests it to demonstrate the cardioid polar pattern and show how little background noise it picks up. He shows how audio changes when moving its capsule around and how it sounds when speaking right into the mic and from four feet away. He records some awful singing and bad guitar playing 🙂

Buying Options

3. AKG P120

Musicians like to use AKG P120 to record vocals. It captures a warm sound when singing about six inches from the front of it.

AKG P120 Specifications
“The AKG P120 is a great choice for musicians interested in home recording… it offers great versatality in its sensitivity.” – akg.com

Features

AKG P120 has a unidirectional cardioid polar pattern. It picks up the full range of sounds that humans can hear. It can be used to record a very loud sound source of up to 150 dB without adding any distortion, such as a loud amplified electric guitar. It has a rugged all-metal body and is built well.

Killer feature: It has a built-in bass-cut filter and a switchable attenuation pad.

Pros

  • Very high maximum SPL of 150 dB.
  • Frequency range 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
  • Noise Level 19 dB.
  • Comes with a bass-cut filter and a switchable attenuation pad.
  • Comes with a clip.

Cons

  • Requires phantom power.
  • Work best when used with a shock mount (not included).
  • Like all condenser microphones, it is bit fragile.
  • Does not come with a carrying pouch.
  • Need to buy an XLR cable separately.
AKG P120
Credits: akg.com

Best for: Suitable for professional recording studios and home studios. To record voice-overs, vocals, and instruments.

This video, produced by Archie Beatz, shows how he tests the AKG P120 in his tricked-out home studio. He has many microphones, and he knows what he is talking about.

The reviewer shows how the cardioid polar pattern works, which is a heart-shaped pickup pattern. The model captures more sound when speaking into it than when speaking on the side and even less when he speaks at the back. This microphone is his favorite budget choice. He likes it more than his other mics, some of which cost up to $3,600. For a professional that could use anything he wants, that is an excellent recommendation.

Buying Options

Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones under 100$ with USB

This category is represented by wide variety of devices to choose from. There are models for recording vocals and musical instruments, and there are microphones for streamers and podcasters. I have chosen three of them.

4. Blue Snowball

Just looking at this product and you can immediately see that it is special. The model is housed within a glossy black sphere with the distinctive Blue logo in front. It is very attractive. It is also functional with the ability to switch between a cardioid pickup pattern, cardioid with -10dB pad, and an omnidirectional pattern.

Blue SnowBall Specifications
“Unique two-condenser-capsule design for capturing vocals, music, podcasts, gaming and more.” – bluemic.com

Features

Blue Snowball has two capsules. This allows it to have different pickup patterns. It is very easy to use for those recording using a Mac or a PC. All you have to do is take it out of the box, assemble the included desk stand and shock mount and plug it into your computer using the included USB cable.

Killer feature: The ability to switch between an omnidirectional and cardioid polar pattern.

Pros

  • Plug and play for both Mac and PC with no software driver download required.
  • USB 1.0 or 2.0 compatible with connector cable included.
  • Gets its power from the six-foot USB connector cable.
  • Stand and shock mount included.
  • Handles vocals and music recording well and suitable for podcasting.

Cons

  • The body is plastic.
  • It is difficult to avoid recording noise transferred by desk vibrations.
  • The omnidirectional setting adds tinny EQ to the sound.
Blue SnowBall
Credits: bluemic.com

Best for: Podcaster or someone who make voice-overs using computer software for recording and editing.

If you’re looking for the best microphone for creating YouTube content check out this article.

This video is a review by Podcastage that tests the sound quality of the model for voice, vocals, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar.

The reviewer changes the settings to show the difference between using this mic on the cardioid pickup pattern setting and the omnidirectional setting. He shows what the sound is like speaking directly into the microphone and from one, two, and three feet away. The reviewer says the cardioid pattern sounds natural and full. He thinks the omnidirectional pattern sounds tinny and adds too much noise. He does not think the omnidirectional setting is usable at all.

Buying Options

5. Samson Meteor Mic

I really like the design of the Samson Meteor Mic. It is very compact and yet powerful at the same time. This device is perfect for any audio recording situation. Just extend the legs, put it on a table, adjust the angle, connect the USB cable to your device, and you are good to go. It is a terrific choice for podcasting from any place that you conduct an interview.

Samson Meteor Mic Specifications
“Meteor Mic is designed to allow you to sound your best wherever your projects take you.” – samsontech.com

Features

The Samson Meteor Mic has a cardioid pickup pattern. It has on-microphone control to adjust playback volume and a handy mute button to cut off the mic recording easily. It comes with a USB connector cable that offers plug-and-play compatibility with no software drivers to download. It works with any computer equipment or audio interface devices that recognize USB audio inputs. It works with computers, laptops, tablets, and some smartphones.

Killer feature: Compact foldable legs to use for a stand.

Pros

  • Frequency response 20 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Large 25 mm diaphragm condenser
  • 16-bit, 44.1/48 kHz resolution
  • Built-in headphone jack on the device for zero-latency monitoring.
  • Comes in black, chrome, and black/red colors

Cons

  • Loose USB cable connections may cause a clicking sound when recording.
  • Some customers complain that it breaks after about three months that is not covered by a warranty.
  • If you need tech support from the manufacture it is very difficult to get help.
Samson Meteor Mic
Credits: samsontech.com

Best for: This model is a good choice for those who need a compact portable device that is easy to carry, setup, and use.

This is a product overview video produced by Samson Technologies, which is the manufacturer of the Meteor.

The presenter points out that this device is die-cast metal with an all-in-one design that includes the product and its stand as built-in fold-back legs. It is about hand-sized when the stand legs are closed and opens up to be about twice that size with the legs extended. The legs allow the microphone to be adjusted at any level on a desk. This model also can connect to a stand. It has a very large 25mm capsule, one of the largest available for a USB mic.

Buying Options

6. Razer Seiren X

Razer Seiren X is designed to use for live streaming podcasts and comes with a desk stand.

Razer Seiren X Specifications
“Most professional microphones sound great, but tend to be obstructive and too bulky for desks with limited space. Thanks to its compact and sleek form factor, the Razer Seirēn X delivers a superior audio broadcasting experience while remaining as subtle as possible.” – razer.com

Features

This model has a built-in shock mount to reduce the sound of any vibrations or bumps from being recorded. It also has built-in noise reduction and a supercardioid pickup pattern. This eliminates most of the background noise, which is perfect for live-streaming audio. It offers zero-latency monitoring without any annoying delay or echoes.

Killer feature: The supercardioid pattern only picks up sound directly in front of it.

Pros

  • Made from durable, yet lightweight, anodized aluminum.
  • Recommended by Twitch streamers and gamers.
  • The compact form factor makes it easier to take it along.
  • Has a mute switch and volume controls on the device.

Cons

  • There are no markings for the volume level so that take guessing where it is set.
  • The Seiren picks up the keyboard clicking when set next to a keyboard on a desk.
  • The supercardioid pickup pattern requires being very close to the mic.
Razer Seiren X
Credits: razer.com

Best for: This product is designed for gamers and live streamers.

This review video is produced by DetroitFury, who is often reviewing Razer gaming products.

It is made to be a direct competitor to another budget microphone, Blue Yeti. It works for gamers with minimal setup, just plug and play. The one problem is that when placed near the keyboard on a desk, it will easily pick up the keyboard clicking. It comes with an adjustable stand and a USB cable. The reviewer compares the Seiren to Blue Yeti. It does not have any markings for the mic volume settings, so that is not easy to work with. The reviewer likes Razer Seiren X for its lower price and compact size.

Buying Options

Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones under 100$ with XLR

Small-diaphragm XLR mics are better for recording instruments in your studio.

7. AKG PERCEPTION 170

AKG PERCEPTION 170 is designed to be used to record instruments such as drums, acoustic guitar, and strings.

AKG Perception 170 Specifications
“The P170 utilizes the experience of sound engineers from around the world and is considered an affordable alternative to the legendary AKG C451 B.” – akg.com

Features

The AKG Perception 170 is built to withstand heavy-duty use in a recording studio. It has a switchable attenuation pad for help in high SPL situations and can handle volumes up to 155 dB. Many audio engineers like to use these microphones to record drums, snares, high-hats, and cymbals. Its thin body makes it easy to mount on an arm stand and place it exactly where you want to record the sound.

Killer feature: Professional quality mic that is good for overheads.

Pros

  • The P170 is lightweight with a compact design.
  • It has a rugged metal body.
  • Cardioid pickup pattern reduces background noise.
  • Not sensitive to feedback sound.
  • Compares to the legendary AKG C451 B.

Cons

  • Best used for recording instruments.
  • Requires a phantom power source.
  • Requires an XLR cable (sold separately)
  • Lousy customer service from the manufacture in China.
AKG Perception 170
Credits: akg.com

Best for: This model is for studio recording of instruments.

This video produced by CaneMajor reviews the AKG Perception 170 with its 12.5 mm diaphragm and thin body. This style is commonly called a “pencil” microphone.

The reviewer says the use of this device is to directly record the sound of an instrument that is not run through an amplifier. Every instrument has a location where it produces the best sound. The compact narrow-body style allows it to be placed on a stand and positioned in a place where it can capture the best sound emanating from different instruments. He shows how it is used to record different types of flutes.

Buying Options

8. MXL 770

MXL 770 is professional-grade mic at a budget price.

MXL 770 Specifications
“The MXL 770 is a perfect combination of quality, flexibility, and value for both professional and home recording studios.” – mxlmics.com

Features

This condenser mic has a 20 mm gold-sputtered (six microns) diaphragm, which helps it capture a smooth high-end and solid bass with a frequency range of 30 Hz to 20 kHz. It has a nice cardioid pickup pattern. The sound can be adjusted with a –10dB attenuator switch and a high-pass filter.

Killer feature: The price makes this product worth considering for its performance.

Pros

  • Build quality is solid.
  • Comes with a durable plastic case with fitted foam.
  • Shock mount with extra elastics included.
  • A stand adaptor and XLR cable is included.
  • Has a bass roll-off switch and a -10dB pad switch.

Cons

  • Requires phantom power.
  • Shock mount is wobbly.
  • Picks up some background noise.
MXL 770
Credits: mxlmics.com

Best for: This is an all-purpose condenser microphone that can be used for voice-overs, vocals, and recording instruments.

This video is another review from the Audio Hotline where you can hear the opinion of an audio nerd about the MXL 770.

The reviewer gives many audio tests using his voice if you can stand listening to him ramble on about penises, singing off-key, and other nonsense. He shows how it sounds like if you use some EQ and sound compression. He plays guitar terribly. I keep watching his reviews because the information is good, while I wonder why he has over 11,000 subscribers on YouTube. There must be audio nerds out there who like his stupid jokes.

Buying Options

9. Shure PGA181

Shure PGA181 is designed to use for recording vocals and acoustic or amplified instruments.

Shure PGA181 Specifications
“Tailored microphone cartridge design for smooth and versatile reproduction of sound sources.” – shure.com

Features

This model is a black lollipop design with a cast-zinc, cone-shaped body. It is sturdy and weighs 13.5 ounces. It can be used to record a variety of instruments as well as vocals.

Killer feature: It has a tight cardioid pickup pattern,

Pros

  • Excellent Shure quality.
  • A versatile mic for most uses.
  • Handles volumes up to 138 dB
  • Includes a strand holder with soft plastic ribs to hold the microphone in place.
  • Comes with a zippered carrying pouch and a stand adapter.

Cons

  • Frequency range is only 50Hz to 20 kHZ, which means it misses some of the low end frequencies.
  • Requires phantom power.
  • Hard to see which part of the device is the front.
Shure PGA181
Credits: shure.com

Best for: The PGA181 is a good choice for a music recording studio operating on a limited budget.

This video review is by Chris Rettig, who bought this model to record his drum kit.

The reviewer first uses it to record toms, then his snare, kick drum, acoustic guitar, and then vocals. He is happy with his device because, for the price, it is a very good overall product that can be used effectively for many different purposes in the recording studio.

Buying Options

Small-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones under 100$ with USB

For the most part, these mics are compact and easy to be portable.

10. Samson Go Mic

The Samson Go Mic is the ultimate portable model. It is tiny and comes with all the accessories you might need.

Samson Go Specifications
“Perfect for recording podcasts, audio for video or laying down some vocal tracks, the Go Mic’s range of functionality extends beyond typical USB microphones.” – samsontech.com

Features

This microphone is small enough to fit in your hand. It has three choices of polar patterns to use for recording. A green light shows on the front of the model when the recording level is decent, and a red light shows when the sound is being clipped. It is plug-and-play compatible with a Mac and a PC with no software driver installation required.

Killer feature: The choice of pickup patterns are cardioid, cardioid at -10 dB, and omnidirectional.

Pros

  • Decent quality with a mixture of strong plastic parts and metal.
  • Comes with a foldable clip that also serves as a stand.
  • Very compact.
  • A zippered case is included.
  • Shows a red light as a warning when audio clipping is occurring.

Cons

  • The weight of the device causes it to move when using the clip as a stand on a table.
  • Comes with a mini-USB connector instead of the more modern micro-USB connector.
  • Works better with a pop filter.
  • The omnidirectional setting picks up lots of background noise and echo.
  • Low end response misses some of the bass frequencies.
Samson Go Mic
Credits: samsontech.com

Best for: This product is an improvement over the built-in mics found in laptops and still is small enough to be portable.

The video is produced by Pert von Panda, and he gives a very simple overview of Samson Go.

The review is quite funny because Peter says “carrotoid” instead of cardioid, so I guess this device has a setting to record orange vegetables?:) He also does not know that this model has three pickup pattern settings, which are cardioid, cardioid at -10 dB, and omnidirectional. At least you can be inspired if someone as good as Peter can use this model to make nice-sounding podcasts, you can too.

Buying Options

11. Rode NT-USB-Mini

Rode NT-USB-MINI is a small adorable device that looks like the baby of other Rode products.

Rode NT-USB-Mini Specifications
“The NT-USB Mini brings the pristine sound quality of RØDE’s world-class studio mics to a compact, easy-to-use desktop USB microphone.” – rode.com

Features

This device is designed to record directly to a computer or a tablet. It is easy to use by placing it on a desk and plugging it into a USB port on your laptop. Works with a MAC, PC, and tablets.

Killer feature: This model is good for podcasting, gaming, and even vocals.

Pros

  • No special external power is needed, simply connect it with the included USB cable.
  • It is plug-and-play with no software to download or install.
  • Comes with a magnetic desk stand that is detachable
  • Has a built-in pop filter.
  • Has a built-in studio-grade monitor amp for headphones with zero latency and volume control.

Cons

  • No shock mount option.
  • Included stand is very short.
  • Easier to use if mounted on a boom arm (sold separately).
  • The mic gain setting needs to be set in the audio recording software.
Rode NT-USB-Mini
Credits: rode.com

Best for: The NT-USB Mini is terrific for podcasting.

This review video produced by Sanjay C compares Rode NT-USB-Mini to a cheaper choice costing around $37 and to a much more expensive one that costs over $1,500 to see if the recording of the vocals is noticeably different.

The reviewer compares Rode NT-USB-Mini to the cheaper FIFine and the super expensive Peluso P12. He uses a song from Bruce Springsteen that he plays back with effects on the vocals and with a dry sound. The sound of the Rode NT-USB-Mini was quite good. It was better than the cheaper one and stood up well against the more expensive pick, although you can tell the difference. You get what you pay for.

Buying Options

12. Blue Yeti Nano

The Blue Yeti Nano is a USB plug-and-play Mac and PC compatible microphone.

Blue Yeti Nano Specifications
“Yeti Nano includes everything you need to stream your message with crystal clarity.” – bluemic.com

Features

It comes with a desk stand. It has a no latency headphone output jack on the mic, a headphone volume control, and a button to mute it. The mute button shows a red light when the device is muted and a green light when it is active.

Killer feature: This model is perfect for desktop use and only weighs 1.4 pounds.

Pros

  • Offers both cardioid and omnidirectional pickup patterns.
  • Compatible with a shock mount or boom arm.
  • Comes in five colors.
  • Comes with a desk stand
  • Has a one-year limited warranty

Cons

  • The tilt knobs on the stand do not tighten down well.
  • The Yeti Nano can be dented by transporting it on the stand if swivels and it hits the stand.
  • Mic gain is only controllable by the audio recording software.
  • Does not have micro USB connector just mini USB.
Blue Yeti Nano
Credits: bluemic.com

Best for: This product is very popular for doing podcasts where the model is shown because it is an attractive model.

This video produced by MrMobile compares the older version of Blue Yeti and the newer Blue Yeti Nano.

He likes it and tells how he used it at a trade show to record podcasts in poor quality audio environments. He says the model has very good recording quality for the price. He likes the Blue Yeti Nano because it is smaller than the older Blue Yeti and yet performs just as well and is very simple to use.

Buying Options

Best Cheap Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic mics can handle intense sound levels, such as recorded a live rock concert. They are rugged and built to withstand lots of abuse. A musician can yell into them, drop them, swing them around their head on a cable, and they will usually still work.

Dynamic Microphones under 100$ with XLR

XLR dynamic microphones are widely used by musicians and live performers.

13. Shure SM58-LC

The Shure SM58 is a music industry favorite for live performances.

Shure SM58 Specifications
“If you’ve ever heard someone sing or speak into a live microphone, there’s an excellent chance it was an SM58.” – shure.com

Features

This model can take extreme abuse and continue to work. There are videos online of using one as a hammer and one being run over by a bus, and still, it works afterward.

Killer feature: Every out-of-control rock star in the world has abused this microphone. It can take it.

Pros

  • Has an all metal body and all metal grill.
  • Comes with a clip and a 5/8 to 3/8 inch stand adapter.
  • A zippered carrying case is included.
  • Cardioid polar pattern.
  • Great value for the price.

Cons

  • Not good for delicate high-end sound due to frequency response upper limit of 15 kHz.
  • Has a low sensitivity.
  • Best sound comes from being right on top of it.
Shure SM58
Credits: shure.com

Best for: This all-purpose product is good for almost every live music performance and live recording use.

This video review by the Podcastage says that Shure SM58 is the favorite mic he uses.

The reviewer likes Shure SM58 because it sounds great when recording guitar and vocals and has background noise rejection. He likes this device so much that he owns four of them. He recommends that every recording studio have at least one. He demonstrates vocals, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar.

Buying Options

14. AKG D5

The AKG D5 is made for live performances. It is a direct competitor to Shure SM58.

AKG D5 Specifications
“The AKG D5 provides a nice alternative to the typical dynamic handheld microphone providing a more balanced tonal spectrum than some rival designs.” – theaudiomagazine.com

Features

It is very rugged. It is made from die-cast zinc-alloy metal with a steel mesh. It is made to be handheld by performance during live shows. The XLR connector is gold-plated for years of trouble-free service.

Killer feature: This mic handles above par gain before causing feedback.

Pros

  • Rugged and durable.
  • Captures a decent overall sound.
  • Has a balanced XLR output.
  • Comes with a clip.
  • Comes with a padded, zippered, carrying pouch.

Cons

  • There is no on/off button it.
  • Lacks sonic details that are picked up by other microphones.
  • Need to buy an XLR cable to use it.
  • Blurry mid-range frequencies.
  • Professional vocalists prefer a more sensitive model.
AKG D5
Credits: akg.com

Best for: This product is a workhorse and can handle abusive live performance environments just like Shure SM58 can.

This video review is produced by ReviewLamp. He describes the build and uses of AKG D5. He recommends using this model to plug it into a public address system.

He likes the recordings made with this microphone because of its supercardioid pickup pattern. He tests the quality by recording some voice-overs. He uses a windscreen that is purchased separately. The sound is very clear, and he prefers this product because of its tight pickup pattern.

Buying Options

15. Sennheiser E835

Sennheiser E835 is another very rugged dynamic mic that is a direct competitor to Shure SM58 and AKG D5.

Sennheiser E835 Specifications
“Gentle presence boost to even tonal response ensures clarity and projection.” – sennheiser.com

Features

A helpful feature of this model is its uniform frequency pickup pattern that maintains signal quality when a singer moves on and off-axis during a performance. It has a low proximity effect that allows the E835 to create clear bass and vocals when a singer is close to or further away from the microphone.

Killer feature: This product has an outstanding 10-year warranty covering all parts and labor.

Pros

  • Cardioid pickup pattern.
  • Produces a consistent sound quality.
  • Can handle high sound levels.
  • Optional on/off switch.
  • Superb feedback rejection.

Cons

  • Slighty heavier and larger than Shure SM58.
  • Not the best choice for ballad singers or those with softer voices.
Sennheiser E835
Credits: sennheiser.com

Best for: This model is made for vocalists giving live performances.

This review video from SonicSenseProAudio makes the comparison between the most popular dynamic microphones that cost around $100 each.

The reviewer compares Shure SM58, Sennheiser e835, AKG D5, and AUDIX OM2 to see how they stack up against each other. You can hear a female vocalist using all four mics for a side-by-side comparison with no EQ or other treatment of the recorded sound.

Buying Options

Dynamic Microphones under 100$ with XLR+USB

XLR+USB microphones let you choose to use them with an audio interface or plug it directly to your computer.

16. Samson Q2U

The Samson Q2U, with both XLR and USB outputs, allows both digital and analog sound capture in a single device.

Samson Q2U Specifications
“Q2U combines the convenience of digital and analog audio capture into one dynamic microphone.” – samsontech.com

Features

This is a popular low-cost model that can be used for live analog recording and digital recording. The USB connector is plug-and-play compatible with a Mac and PC. The XLR connector works with an audio interface or a mic preamp.

Killer feature: This model is the best USB mic recommended for Garageband users.

Pros

  • Connects directly to a computer using USB or to an audio interface that accepts XLR connectors.
  • Come with a clip, windscreen, and a desk stand with an extension.
  • An XLR and USB cable is included.
  • Both signal outputs can be used for a live performance and making a digital recording at the same time.
  • The Q2U has a 1/8 inch (3.5 mm) headphone output with volume control to directly monitor the sound.

Cons

  • Using a USB mic allows only one device at a time to be used for digital recording.
  • To record more than one mic output at the same time requires using an audio interface (sold separately).
  • There are latency problems when using USB and Bluetooth connected speakers.
  • Using the on/off switch causes a clicking sound.
Samson Q2U
Credits: samsontech.com

Best for: This product is an excellent choice for those that need to sometimes record digitally and other times record by using an analog signal.

The video review by EposVox describes the Q2U as his most favorite model.

The reviewer opens the box and shows the accessories. It has a built-in noise gate that reduces background noise to almost zero. He demonstrates how the air-conditioning sound in the background is not picked up when he is doing voice-overs.

Buying Options

17. Audio-Technica AT2005USB

The Audio-Technica AT2005USB is a decent dynamic mic that is not as rugged as some others in this category that cost a bit more.

Audio-Technica AT2005USB Specifications
“The microphone plugs right into your computer’s USB port, and functions seamlessly with your favorite recording software.” – audio-technica.com

Features

This model is a good choice for voice-overs, podcasts, and screencasts because it is easy to use right out of the box.

Killer feature: The AT2005 can be used as a digital USB mic or analog XLR one.

Pros

  • Offers a plug-and-play digital USB connection to a computer.
  • A simple tripod desk stand is included.
  • Comes with a USB and an XLR cable.
  • The product has a built-in headphone jack with headphone volume control.
  • Comes with a fake leather carrying pouch.

Cons

  • This choice is not good if you want to hide the microphone and not show it in a video of the speaker.
  • The stand is not height adjustable.
  • The stand has plastic threads and you must be careful you don’t strip them.
  • Has a proximity effect, which adds bass to the vocals when getting too close.
  • Best to use with a pop filter to remove plosives from the sound.
Audio-Technica AT2005USB
Credits: audio-technica.com

Best for: This is a good starter mic for voice-overs and podcasts.

This review video produced by Curtis Judd demonstrates how the AT2005USB sounds when used in a room with terrible acoustics.

The reviewer shows how to use it and how you need to get close to the device. He shows a test with a voiceover that is recorded using the USB connection when compared to the XLR connector with an audio interface.

Buying Options

18. Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB

Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB is a newer model of the ATR2100.

Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB Specifications
“This handheld dynamic microphone with smooth, extended frequency range is perfect for streaming, podcasting, conferencing, and other computer audio applications.” – audio-technica.com

Features

The major upgrade is that this new model works with USB-C, but that is pretty much the only change of significance from the older model.

Killer feature: This product has both a USB-C digital output and XLR analog output.

Pros

  • Durable and strong construction.
  • On/off switch on the device.
  • Built-in headphone jack and headphone volume control on the nicrophone.
  • A sturdy, folding legs, tripod, desk stand is included.
  • Comes with three cables” USB-C to USB-A, USB-C to USB-C, and XLRF to XLRM.

Cons

  • A little heavy for a handheld device, weighing 1.6 pounds.
  • The stand it comes with is made from cheap plastic.
  • Needs a windscreen or pop filter to record voice-overs properly.
Audio-Technica ATR2100x-USB
Credits: audio-technica.com

Best for: This is a good choice for those with devices that have a USB-C input.

This video review is produced by Pat Flynn. He compares an older model from this series that is now discontinued replaced with this newer model.

He tries to use the cheap stand, and he hates it. He twists it and breaks it easily. Then, he breaks it again. He does not want to use the stand anyway, so he does not care about it. He then records a test voice-over with it using Garageband software. He is not that impressed with this choice.

Buying Options

Best Cheap Ribbon Mics

Many ribbon microphones are very expensive, but there are models that can fit your budget.

Ribbon Microphone under 100$

I found one cheap ribbon mic that you will love.

19. Nady RSM-5

Nady RSM-5 is nice if you wish to record instruments and pick up some of the room sounds.

Nady RSM-5 Specifications
“Smooth, natural extended low and high ends, and detailed, realistic mids.” – nady.com

Features

Captures sound in equal amounts from behind and front. It creates a warm sound and captures vocals nicely.

Killer feature: This model captures the most realistic sound.

Pros

  • Figure-8 cardioid polar pattern.
  • Records a very accurate sound.
  • Comes with a blue protective cover.

Cons

  • Must store this mic upright.
  • Must use a pop filter for recording vocals.
  • Can be damaged by moisture and dust.
Nady RSM-5
Credits: nady.com

Best for: This product can be used to record a stereo image sound by turning it to the side and using another microphone on top of it on the perpendicular angle.

This video review is produced by Indigo Oak Studio.

The reviewer records some voice-over, amplified guitar, and acoustic guitar.

Buying Options

Ribbon Microphones under 200$

I decided to give you the opportunity to try ribbon microphones, which are more expensive than the ones I have already reviewed. However, if you want to experience them to the fullest, then I advise you to purchase the expensive option.

20. MXL R144

MXL R144 adds a warm jazz-like sound to vocals and recorded acoustic guitar.

MXL R144 Specifications
“Ribbon microphones are known for their rich, warm sound and have been used to capture some of the most legendary recordings in history.” – mxlmics.com

Features

This is a specialty model, best used for creating vintage-like recordings. It is good for capturing special darker tones and blending the sound with other models.

Killer feature: This is a cheap entry-level ribbon mic, so if you break it, you won’t go bankrupt.

Pros

  • All metal body and metal mesh.
  • Comes with a shock mount.
  • Add warm tones to vocals.

Cons

  • Ribbon microphones are very fragile and easy to break.
  • A plosive can break it.
  • Dropping it can break it
  • Using phantom power can break it.
  • Picks up background noise from vibrations.
MXL R144
Credits: mxlmics.com

Best for: This type of microphone is only useful for those who can take extremely good care of a mic.

This video review is produced by Podcastage.

He demonstrates how the R144 sounds in a treated sound room and an untreated room. He records guitar and vocals. He recommends blending a ribbon mic with a recording made by another dynamic microphone.

Buying Options

21. Golden Age Project R1 Mk II

Golden Age Project R1 Mk II is a passive ribbon mic with a figure-8 cardioid pickup pattern.

Golden Age Project R1 MKII Specifications
“The typical large and mellow ribbon sound quality with a very smooth top end and an extended low end.” – goldenageproject.com

Features

This product is more expensive at around $189 than the other models in the budget category, all $100 or less. If you want to pretend that you go back in time and record as they did in the 1940s, this is the device for that purpose.

Killer feature: It features 160 dB SPL handling so it will not get damaged by loud sounds like other ribbon models might be.

Pros

  • This R1 MKII records a mellow sound with a smooth high end.
  • Pickup sound from both in front and behind it but much less from the sides.
  • Has a 50 mm ribbon that is 2 microns thick.
  • Comes with a hanging storage bag to keep it in vertical position
  • Excellent sensitivity.

Cons

  • This mic is very fragile.
  • Must be stored upright to avoid damaging the ribbon.

Best for: This model is made for capturing a vintage style of recordings.

Golden Age Project R1 MKII
Credits: goldenageproject.com

The video review by gearwire reinforces how easily it can be damaged. You cannot drop it. You must use a pop filter for voice recordings, and phantom power left on by accident will destroy it.

He records some guitar sounds coming out of an amplifier. He then records some ukulele, violin, and acoustic guitar.

Buying Options

If you want a USB ribbon model try the MXL UR-1, which is the world’s first USB ribbon microphone.

Must-Haves

Here are some other Must-Haves for your cheap microphone to be able to use it properly.

Mic stands

A stand is necessary to hold the microphone in the proper position to capture the sound.

Cheap Mic Stands

Here are three choices of mic-stand styles:

  • Arm Stand: the Neewer arm stand is a suspension-boom scissor-arm stand.
  • Floor Stand: the Samson MK-10 floor stand is a classic tripod style that is collapsible.
  • Desk Stand: the On-Stage DS7200B desk stand is compact, adjustable and sturdy.

Other Items

  • Shock Mounts: the Neewer shock mounts are used to reduce unwanted noise from vibrations.
  • Pop Filter: the Neewer pop filter helps reduce the unwanted sound of plosives.
  • Audio Interface: the Focusrite Scarlett audio interface can be used for analog recordings.
  • Mic Preamp: the ART Tube MP mic preamp adds gain to the analog microphone inputs.

Other Budget Items for Your Mic

Useful Resources

Conclusion

I hope this was helpful when choosing a budget microphone. It is quite common to have at least one device in each of the four general categories. It is helpful to have an adequate mic designed for certain use if you plan to record different things. If you have an interest in models for recording voice-overs in a home studio, and you are not limited to buying only a cheap microphone, be sure to check out my detailed reviews of the listed mics.

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