Best 19 Microphones For Beginners; The Complete Guide!

Have you ever walked into one of those huge music stores with the intention of buying a microphone only to be overwhelmed by the sheer number they have to offer?

I know that for anyone who is just starting out it might be tough to know which microphone to get.

In this article I will list all of the essential home studio microphones every beginner should at least consider investing in.

But first I think that it’s important to go over the different types of microphones, what they are generally used for, their polar patterns, what the PAD and High-Pass filter switches do, etc.

This will not only give you a better understanding of which ones you should invest in, but more importantly which ones you shouldn’t spend your money on.

It will also save you a lot of time and money down the line, so unless you are familiar with the different mic types, what the different polar patterns are, etc. don’t skip this.

I will also go over what microphones are the best ones for each purpose and at the end of this article I will list my three top picks for any beginner.

Types of Microphones and their Uses

The types of microphones generally used in recording studios, especially home studios, are Condenser and Dynamic microphones, but there’s also Ribbon mics which have their place.

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones can have large or small diaphragms.

Large diaphragm condenser mics are the ones you generally vocalists using in a studio environment since they are excellent for recording vocals.

Small diaphragm condenser mics, often called pencil microphones, are generally used to record instruments such as acoustic guitar, piano, drum overheads, etc.

Condenser microphones work better than dynamic microphones at picking up higher frequency ranges.

Why is this?

They use a small and light diaphragm.

Higher frequencies generate less energy than lower frequencies, which means that it’s harder for them to generate enough power to move mass.

Since the diaphragm is so light, it can capture those high frequencies easily.

Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones use a wire coil and magnet to create the audio signal.

The diaphragm is attached to the coil.

The soundwaves make the diaphragm vibrate which makes the coil move forwards and backwards past the magnet generating current.

Dynamic microphones are better at recording lower frequencies than condensers.

Why is this?

Low frequency waves are bigger and generate more energy than the higher ones.

This means that they can make the coil inside the dynamic mic move a lot easier.

This is why dynamic microphones tend to be used, in general, to record guitar cabinets, drum kits, etc.

Internal Circuitry

Since the diaphragm in a condenser mic is so small it can’t generate enough voltage through movement alone.

Dynamic microphones are capable of this because of their larger mass, but condensers aren’t.

This is why Condenser Microphones are called “active” microphones, because they require an external power source called “phantom power” to amplify the voltage.

There is a benefit to this; thanks to phantom power, condenser mics can achieve higher gain.

This means that they can record softer sounds more clearly, something that dynamic mics can’t do as well.

Microphone Polar Patterns

Cardioid is very directional and only picks up sound from the front while rejecting sounds coming from the sides and the back.

Supercardioid is even more directional meaning that it will pick up even less sound from the sides and the back than the cardioid pattern.

Omnidirectional means that it will pick up sound from every direction.

Bidirectional, or figure 8, picks up sounds in a figure 8 pattern.

99% of the microphones you will ever use in your home studio, or even for podcasting, creating YouTube videos, etc. especially if you’re a complete newbie, will have a cardioid polar pattern.

There’s no need to get too fancy…

Durability

Dynamic microphones win here by a mile…

The lighter diaphragms in condenser microphones are more fragile, which means that higher Sound Pressure Levels (SPL) can damage them.

Dynamic microphones have virtually no SPL limit which is why they are ideal for recording loud sources.

Not only are the diaphragms stronger, but so is their overall design.

If you drop a condenser mic on the ground… say goodbye to its diaphragm, while on the other hand you could drop a dynamic mic several times and it will still sound perfect.

Gain before generating Feedback

Dynamic mics are less prone to feedback because they are less sensitive than condenser mics.

This is the reason why you see them on live shows so much.

So, if you’re a complete beginner and are looking for a mic to record at home but also to use during band practice or live shows… get a dynamic one.

PAD and High-Pass filter

Some of the microphones on this list also provide a PAD and/or a high-pass filter (HPF) which can be really useful.

While not essential, both can help you achieve better sounding recordings.

A PAD simply reduces the level of the incoming signal to stop the microphone circuitry from overloading and distorting.

Basically, you use it to record really loud sources.

A High-Pass filter, often called low-cut, attenuates the lower frequencies and lets the higher ones through.

They are really useful when you’re recording and there’s some low-frequency rumble going one, like the sound of an air-conditioner, which you want to keep out of the recording.

Engaging the HPF will get rid, or at least attenuate those kinds of sounds.

Prices

The difference in price is quite a lot actually…

Dynamic mics are generally a lot more affordable ranging from $20 to about $500.

Condenser mics, on the other hand, start out pretty cheap as well but the higher-end ones can cost over 5 grand each.

The great thing is that there are plenty of high-quality options out there at a very affordable price.

There’s no need to break the bank in order to sound great!

Which one is better?

Both microphone types have their place.

Many seem to think that condensers are the BETTER alternative for home studios, but this isn’t true at all.

Dynamic microphones are more durable and are way better for live performances, but they can record music just as well as condensers can.

It all depends on what you are recording and what kind of sound you are going for.

If you’ve ever been to a music studio then you know that they use a wide variety of microphones and for good reason…

No ONE mic is perfect at recording everything…

That’s why it is advisable to own a couple and use them accordingly.

Lastly, let’s take a quick look at another category of mics…

Ribbon Microphones

Ribbon microphones have their place and shouldn’t be ignored, but I wouldn’t recommend them for absolute beginners.

They use an aluminum ribbon instead of a diaphragm to capture sound.

These microphones have an excellent high-frequency sensitivity and are generally described to be able to capture sound exactly the way our ears hear.

The reason I’m not recommending them for beginners is their high price range, plus they have a very strong proximity effect.

This means that when you get close in, you are getting a big bass boost which can be hard to manage.

Moving on…

Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

On this list I have decided to put two Audio-Technica microphones simply because they are excellent, both in quality and cost-efficiency.

Note: All microphones in this entire article will be listed from cheapest to most expensive.

Audio-Technica AT2020

The AT2020 is probably the best-known budget large diaphragm condenser microphone out there.

You can find at least a couple of them in every studio, which means that they should be more than enough for any beginner who is building their first home recording studio, especially if they’re on a budget.

The build quality is excellent, as you would expect from any Audio-Technica microphone. It should last you a very long time!

The Audio-Technica AT2020 has a Cardioid pickup pattern which means that it will mostly pick up sound from the front while rejecting sound from the back and the sides.

This is the pattern that you will be using most of the time.

It has a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz which is standard for almost every large diaphragm condenser microphone out there.

The recording quality is excellent, especially considering the price and it has some crispiness to it which I like.

Of course, something like the AT4040 is going to sound better, but if you’re new to the recording scene then I think that the AT2020 should be more than enough.

With a huge number of positive reviews on Amazon, I don’t think you can go wrong with the AT2020.

Note: Just like every other condenser microphone, the AT2020 requires phantom power to work which almost every audio interface on the market provides.

If you’re looking for good Audio Interfaces, make sure to read this entire article on that topic.

What comes in the box?

  • The Audio-Technica AT2020 Mic
  • A storage Pouch
  • Microphone Clip

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20Khz
  • SPL: 144dB
  • Impedance: 100 ohms
  • Sensitivity: -37dB (14.1mV)
  • Self Noise: 20dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Rode NT1

The Rode NT1 is a fantastic mic which, if you’re thinking about purchasing high-quality gear right from the get-go for your home studio, should be considered.

The sound quality is absolutely fantastic.

It has a fairly flat frequency response which just some rounded cuts at 20-30Hz and 16k-20kHz.

The low end isn’t boomy at all while the higher notes don’t sound shrill or anything.

One thing I like a lot about the Rode NT1 is the pop filter.

This is a double-layer pop filter which is excellent at reducing plosives, and I mean excellent!

Most large diaphragm condenser microphones don’t even provide a regular pop filter, much less one that’s even better than most pop filters out there.

This microphone also comes with a high-quality shock mount.

The cons? Well, the pop filter can only be placed directly on top of the shock mount, which means that this pop filter can only be used with this specific microphone.

The Rode NT1 can run on both 24v or 48v Phantom Power.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Rode NT1 Microphone
  • A Microphone Pouch
  • The shock-mount
  • And the Pop Filter

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • SPL: 132dB
  • Sensitivity: -29.0dB
  • Self Noise: 4.5dB

Like I mentioned earlier, the Rode NT1 is a great microphone for anyone who is not only just getting into music recording, but also for more experienced users.

You can check the current prices on Amazon here.

Audio-Technica AT4040

Now we’ve arrived at the one microphone that I consider to be the best large diaphragm condenser microphone under $300; The Audio-Technica AT4040.

The build quality is extremely good, which means that if you take good care of it, it should last you literally forever.

One huge plus about the AT4040 is that it comes with two switches on the back which are: A High-pass Filter, which rolls lower frequencies off at about 80Hz at 12dB/octave, and a -10dB PAD in case you are recording a really loud source.

The low end sounds great, not muddy or anything and if for some reason it sounds a bit boomy, just engage the high-pass filter and problem solved!

It also comes with a slight boost at the “presence” and “air” frequencies which makes it sound really open.

The great thing about the AT4040 is that it’s already a top tier microphone.

If you invest in one, then you won’t ever need to upgrade, unless you simply want to purchase another microphone to have more.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Audio-Technica AT4040 Microphone
  • Shock mount with 5/8 to 3/8-inch microphone-stand adaptor
  • Storage Pouch

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20Khz
  • SPL: 145dB or 155dB (with PAD engaged)
  • Impedance: 100 ohms
  • Sensitivity: -32dB (25.1mV)
  • Self Noise: 12dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones

Small Diaphragm condenser microphones are commonly used to record acoustic instruments such as acoustic or classical guitar, as well as piano, choirs, and drum overheads.

In most cases I’d recommend getting a stereo pair, which simply means getting two identical microphones more commonly referred to as “matched pairs”.

This is because they will allow you to create some cool stereo sounds which can’t be achieved with just one microphone.

Behringer C-4

The Behringer C-4 pair is certainly good for beginners for the simple fact that you can get the pair for dirt cheap.

If you never recorded with a stereo pair and aren’t really sure whether or not you are going to record a lot with them, then start with these ones and see how you like them.

After this you can upgrade to better alternatives.

The build quality is pretty good plus the finish is non-reflective, meaning that during live performances it will eliminate unwanted glares and reflections.

They have a slight boost between 1kHz and 8kHz, which gives you a slightly brighter sound which is useful especially for recording overheads.

The Behringer C-4 aren’t the best microphones on this list but considering that you get both of them plus the carrying case, mic-stand adapters, windscreens and more for such a low price, is fantastic.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Behringer C-4 microphones
  • Transport case
  • Stereo bar for mounting both mics
  • Windscreens
  • Stand adapters

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • SPL: max 136dB
  • Impedance: 75 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -38dB
  • Self-Noise: not specified

For anyone who is on a budget or who just wants to try out some small diaphragm condenser microphones, the Behringer C-4 are a great choice.

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Neewer NW-410

Neewer NW-410
Neewer NW-410

The first thing you will notice about the Neewer NW-410 is that they come with interchangeable capsules.

This is great because if one gets damaged, you simply replace it.

But there’s more;

Not only are the capsules interchangeable but they offer three different pickup patterns which are; Cardioid, Omnidirectional and Supercardioid.

All of these capsules come included, but should one get damaged you can simply purchase another one and screw it on.

Included with these microphones you also get two foam windscreens, two microphone clips as well as a pretty cool aluminum carrying case.

I consider the Neewer NW-410 to be the best all-rounders when it comes to stereo pair microphones.

The price is very affordable, and the overall quality is very good, plus they come with a lot of extras which most other microphones don’t.

What comes in the Box?

  • 2 x Pencil Stick Microphone
  • 2 x Cardioid Capsules
  • 2 x Omni Capsules
  • 2 x Super Cardioid Capsules
  • 2 x Microphone Clip
  • 2 x Foam Windscreen
  • 1 x Aluminum Carrying Case

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Uni/super/omni-directional
  • Frequency Response: 30Hz-18 kHz
  • Sensitivity: -38±3dB
  • SPL Max: 135dB
  • Output Impedance: 100Ω
  • Self-Noise: 24dB A

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Avantone CK-1

Avantone CK-1
Avantone CK-1

The Avantone CK-1 are a definite step up when compared to the previous two ones, the issue is that they don’t sell as pairs and just the one microphones costs quite a lot more than the other two pairs.

However, if you really want to get a good small diaphragm condenser microphone that won’t break the bank, this one’s it.

The body has a really nice-looking red finish and the build quality of the entire microphone is fantastic.

It comes in a wooden box, which is much better than the box where the Neewer NW-410 pair come in.

The Avantone CK-1 also comes with interchangeable capsules which feature Cardioid, Hypercardioid and Omnidirectional pickup patterns.

Also included is the shock mount (not microphone clip) which will reduce vibrations transmitted to the microphone from footsteps or any other source by quite a lot.

Lastly, this microphone provides a High-Pass filter at 80Hz and a -10dB attenuation PAD.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Avantone CK-1 Microphone
  • Shockmount
  • Cardioid, Hypercardioid and Omnidirectional Capsules

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid and Omnidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 25Hz – 20kHz
  • SPL: max 138dB
  • Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -36
  • Self-Noise: 17dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

All-Purpose Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones are the ones that can be used to record literally anything; from vocals, to electric guitars, drum kits, etc.

These are the most versatile mics out there mainly because they have a higher tolerance to feedback and picking up unwanted noises.

This means that they are great for recording at home or in studios as well as for playing live.

Shure SM48

The Shure SM48 is an incredibly affordable microphone which is very similar to the famous SM58.

The build quality is very good and robust, just like the SM57 and SM58. You probably could drop it hundreds of times and it would still work fine.

There are two models you can get; one with an On/Off switch and one without it.

It comes with a built-in pop filter which does work quite nicely, but if you plan on using it to record and not for live performances, then I’d recommend getting an external pop filter.

Even though it costs about a third of what the SM58 does, the sound quality is almost identical for both microphones.

It doesn’t sound as bright and crispy as the SM58 does, but considering the extremely low price, it’s an excellent alternative.

The Shure SM48 also comes with a bass roll-off which help control the proximity effect as well as a mid-boost.

The mid-boost helps the vocals to better cut through the mix.

This mic provides good feedback- and handling noise rejection. It’s also good at rejecting off-axis sound.

For anyone who is on a very tight budget or who simply needs some extra microphones for something like backup vocals, band practice, or karaoke, then the Shure SM48 might be a very smart investment.

What you get in the Box

  • The Shure SM48 Microphone
  • Microphone Stand Clip
  • Carrying Pouch

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz – 14kHz
  • SPL: No real issues with Dynamic microphones
  • Impedance: 150 Ohms

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Shure SM58 and SM57

Both of these microphones have been the standard in the recording industry for decades now.

The SM58 is still used to this day by a lot of famous artists during live performances and sometimes even in the studio to record vocals.

The same goes for the SM57, which is essentially the same microphone just with a different grille design, which is more commonly used to record electric guitar cabinets, drums, and other instruments.

The Shure SM58 is preferred for vocals because the grille acts as a pop filter, which the one in the SM57 doesn’t.

The build quality is just fantastic, nothing could harm these microphones, which is why they are so good for live shows.

Just like with the SM48, the Shure SM57 and SM58 also come with a bass roll-off which helps control the proximity effect as well as a mid-boost, which allows the vocals to better cut through the mix.

What comes in the Box?

  • Shure SM58 or SM57 (depending on which one you buy)
  • Mic Clip
  • Storage Pouch

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz – 15kHz
  • SPL: No real issues with Dynamic microphones
  • Impedance: 300 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -56dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here: Shure SM58 and Shure SM57.

Sennheiser E609

The Sennheiser E609 is a great microphone for recording instrument cabinets.

This is because of the shape of this microphone which doesn’t require a mic stand. You can simply hang it in front of the cabinet and that’s it.

Note: The front part of the mic needs to be facing the speaker.

This microphone has a Supercardioid polar pattern, which means that it won’t pick up as much sound from the sides and the back.

The build quality is quite good, but if you compare it side by side to the Shure SM57 you will find that it’s not on par.

Still, not a huge difference.

However, when we take a look at how it sounds, especially when recording guitar cabinets, it does sound fantastic.

The low end is really tight and not muddy at all while the high end really opens up.

Even better than the SM57 in my honest opinion.

This is a great investment for two reasons; it sounds absolutely fantastic and it doesn’t require a mic stand which makes it that more versatile.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Sennheiser E609 Microphone
  • Mic Clip
  • Storage Pouch

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz – 15kHz
  • SPL: No real issues with Dynamic microphones
  • Impedance: 350 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -56.5dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Bass and Kick-Drum Microphones

Some microphones are designed with a specific purpose in mind and in this case, it’s recording low frequency instruments.

These microphones can be used both to record kick-drums and bass guitar cabinets.

They tend to be quite cheap, but they are very capable of achieving great sounding recordings.

Note: If you want to know more about which microphones you should get to record a full drum kit, keep on reading since I will cover this near the end of the article.

Sennheiser e602-II

This is a neat little microphone which sounds great when inserted inside the kick-drum, especially when placed close to the head where the beater is hitting.

This creates a great sounding and punchy recording which helps the kick-drum better cut through the mix.

Like all dynamic microphones, it can withstand almost anything… it can take a beating and still sound great!

The build quality is excellent. It’s got an aluminum body with a metal grille which has a built-in pop filter to avoid plosives.

It features a low-end enhancement which brings out the details on the low frequencies.

It can also be used with floor toms, tubas, and many other low frequency instruments.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Sennheiser e602-II Microphone
  • Storage Pouch

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 16kHz
  • SPL: No real issues with Dynamic microphones
  • Impedance: 350 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -72dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

AKG D112 MKII

The AKG D112 MKII is probably the most used kick-drum mic of all time.

It’s an industry standard for people who are on a budget but don’t want to sacrifice the quality of their sound.

Even though it’s not the cheapest microphone out there, it’s probably the most cost-effective one for recording low frequency instruments.

Not only is it the go-to kick-drum microphone, but a lot of people also use it to record electric bass cabinets with great success.

Blending the recorded bass signal with a direct signal can yield amazing results, which simply adds some flexibility to your tone.

The build quality, just like with the previous mic, is excellent… you could drop it a hundred times and it would still sound great!

What comes in the Box?

  • The AKG D112 MKII Microphone

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 17kHz
  • SPL: over 160dB
  • Impedance: 210 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -55dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Shure Beta 52A

If you really want to purchase a microphone that won’t need to be replaced EVER, then the Shure Beta 52A might be for you.

It’s more expensive than the previous two and if you’re a beginner you might be hesitant to spend your hard-earned cash on it, but you will have a top-tier microphone which you can use forever.

The build quality is excellent, like all Shure products, even better than the one of the AKG 112 and the Sennheiser e602-II.

It’s super heavy which is something that I love. It doesn’t feel cheap at all!

It sounds very punchy, which I really like for kick-drums, and it also has some really nice mids to it as well.

Right out of the box it already sounds quite good, but add some EQ, compression and a Gate and you will be impressed.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Shure Beta 52A Microphone
  • Storage Pouch
  • 5/8” to 3/8” (Euro) Thread Adapter

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 10kHz
  • SPL: 174dB
  • Impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -64dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Multi-Pattern Microphones

Multi-pattern microphones are the ones that feature more than one pattern which can be selected via a control.

These are very versatile microphones that allow you to record in many different ways.

MXL 770X

The MXL 770X is the MXL 770’s big brother which includes an upgraded diaphragm and extra polar patterns.

The polar patterns are; Cardioid, Omnidirectional and Bidirectional.

It also comes with a -10dB PAD which comes in handy if you’re recording a really hot source, and a High-Pass Filter.

A huge pro about this mic, especially for beginners, is that it comes with an XLR cable, Shock Mount, Pop Filter and a microfiber cleaning cloth.

The MXL 770X is the multi-pattern mic I’d recommend the most simply because it’s so cost-effective.

It sounds amazing and it comes with a lot of extras, it’s definitely worth checking out.

What comes in the Box?

  • The XML 770X Microphone
  • Microfiber cleaning cloth
  • XLR Cable
  • Shock Mount
  • Pop Filter

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omni-Directional and Bi-Directional.
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • SPL: 130/140dB
  • Impedance: 220 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -35dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Behringer B-2 Pro

Just like the previous mic on this list, the XML 770X, the Behringer B-2 also features three different polar patterns which can be selected independently.

These patterns are; Cardioid, Omnidirectional and Bidirectional (figure eight).

It also comes with a PAD switch and a high-pass filter!

The build quality is pretty good, comparable to the XML 770X.

The Behringer B-2 is a good alternative for anyone who wants to add another microphone to their collection.

It comes with a very high-quality aluminum storage case, a shock-mount and a foam windscreen (not as good as a regular pop filter).

The audio quality is also very good.

The only thing I found is that since it has a high frequency boost, it can end up sounding kind of shrill, which I really don’t like that much.

This is why I wouldn’t recommend it AS much to record something like an acoustic guitar.

When recording electric guitar, especially with distortion, it sounded fantastic!

The issue with this high boost is that it can accentuate breath noises, mouth noises, it may sound more sibilant.

All in all, it’s a very good microphone considering the price.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Behringer B-2 Microphone
  • Shock Mount
  • Foam Windscreen
  • The Storage box is excellent
  • PAD and HPF

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omni-Directional and Bi-Directional.
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • SPL: 138dB Max
  • Impedance: 100 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -35dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Audio-Technica AT2050

Just like all the other Audio-Technica microphones I listed, the AT2050 has an amazing build quality.

When you look at the front you can see a switch that will allow you to choose between three different polar patterns: Cardioid, OmniDirectional and BiDirectional.

On the back you will find a -10dB PAD and a High-Pass Filter that will roll off lower frequencies from 80Hz downwards.

The thing I like so much about multi-pattern microphones is that they are very versatile…

You can record your singing or your acoustic guitar using the cardioid pattern.

If you want, you can use another cardioid mic and use the bi-directional pattern on this one to create some awesome mid-side recordings.

I have another article where I talk about mid-side recording and how to do it properly.

The omni polar pattern is also very useful to record podcasts and band rehearsals where you don’t want to mic up every instrument.

What comes in the Box?

  • The AT2050 Microphone
  • Shock Mount
  • A Padded leather pouch

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omni-Directional and Bi-Directional.
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • SPL: max 149dB – 159dB (with PAD engaged)
  • Impedance: 120 Ohms
  • Sensitivity: -42dB
  • Self Noise: 17dB

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

USB Microphones

While using an Audio Interface with XLR microphones is certainly better and provides a much more versatile setup overall, it might make sense for a complete beginner to learn using a USB microphone.

They don’t require an Audio Interface which makes it a lot more affordable.

You plug them in and that’s it, they are ready to be used.

However, I’d recommend getting at least one of these two Audio Interfaces that I mention in this article because a USB Mic will only allow you to record one track at a time.

Some of the most affordable Interfaces out there provide at least 4 inputs, giving you a lot more options.

Moving on…

Blue Yeti

This is by far the most famous and top-selling USB microphone on the market.

The Blue Yeti is generally used by Podcasters, Youtubers and some musicians.

It offers 4 different pickup patterns; Cardioid, Stereo, Omnidirectional and Bidirectional.

This microphone also comes with a Gain control, mute button and a zero-latency headphone output.

The reason the Blue Yeti is a good option for recording music is, apart from its good sound quality, that it can record in stereo.

Why is this useful?

When recording acoustic instruments like acoustic- or classical guitar, we usually do this using two pencil condenser microphones which, when combined, give us a stereo recording.

A similar effect can be achieved by just using the Blue Yeti.

When considering all the patterns this microphone provides, I think it’s fair to say that the Blue Yeti is the most versatile USB Microphone available, especially for the price.

I did, however, write an article where I compare the Audio-Technica AT2020+, next one on the list, to the Blue Yeti where I concluded that the Blue Yeti is more versatile but the AT2020+ sounds a bit better.

What do you get in the Box?

  • The Blue Yeti Microphone
  • USB Cable

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern; Cardioid, stereo, omni- and bidirectional
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz- 20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 48kHz/16-bit
  • Max SPL: 120dB
  • Weight: 1.2 lbs

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Audio-Technica AT2020+

The USB version of the Audio-Technica AT2020 is just as good as the XLR AT2020 with the advantage of being a plug n’ play microphone which works both on Windows and Mac OS.

It comes with a built-in headphone jack with a volume control that allows you to directly monitor your microphone signal with no delay.

It also offers a mix control that blends microphone- and pre-recorded audio.

The AT2020+ is quite small and light, which makes it ideal for taking on the road.

Just like all the Audio-Technica microphones, the AT2020+ is extremely well built.

When holding it in my hand it doesn’t feel like a cheap product at all, quite the opposite actually, which is something I really like.

The sound quality is excellent, especially for the price. The only thing is that it sounds a bit crispy at times.

But this can be fixed in post without any issues if you don’t like it.

If you’re looking for an affordable and great sounding USB microphone and don’t really need the extra pickup patterns, absolutely go for the AT2020+.

What do you get in the Box?

  • The Audio-Technica AT2020+ USB microphone
  • Tripod desk stand
  • USB cable
  • Storage Pouch

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz- 20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 44.1kHz – 48kHz/16-bit
  • Weight: 386g

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

Rode NT USB

The Rode NT USB is an excellent Condenser USB cardioid microphone.

Rode is known for making extremely high-quality equipment at reasonable prices, just like Audio-Technica, and the Rode NT USB is no exception to this.

It comes with a pop filter, which is extremely good, a tripod desk stand, a ring mount and a storage pouch.

The two controls on the side are for the headphone volume, which gives you the ability to do some zero-latency monitoring, and the Direct Mix control between the mic input and the source output.

This microphone is ideal for recording singing and musical performances in addition to spoken applications such as podcasting and voice-over.

It works on Windows and Mac OS based computers, as well as the Apple iPad.

Just like the AT2020+, the Rode NT USB sounds incredibly good and can record vocals, acoustic guitars, etc. with excellent audio quality.

What do you get in the Box?

  • The Rode NT USB microphone
  • Tripod desk stand
  • Ring Mount
  • USB cable
  • Storage Pouch

Specifications

  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz- 20kHz
  • Sample Rate: 48kHz/16-bit
  • Weight: 1.14lb

Check the current prices on Amazon here.

 

This concludes the list of microphones; however, each type of microphone is generally used for a specific purpose, which I will cover next…

This will help you better decide what kind of mic to get based on what instrument you’re going to be recording, or if your plan is to do some podcasting or YouTube videos.

Microphones Based on Purpose

Like I just mentioned, every instrument tends to be recorded in a certain way with specific mics, however, nothing is completely set in stone here.

If you like the way a dynamic microphone makes your acoustic guitar sound, then by all means, use that one.

But here is a general guideline…

Recording Vocals

My absolute top recommendation would be the Audio-Technica AT4040… if you have the budget for it.

Otherwise go with the Audio-Technica AT2020 which, to the untrained ear, will sound almost identical.

Lastly, if you plan on also doing some live gigs, the Shure SM58 is a fantastic choice.

If you decided to go for a USB mic instead, then get the Audio-Technica AT2020+ for vocals.

Recording Acoustic and Classical Guitar

The best recordings of acoustic guitars are generally done with stereo pair microphones, which are just two small diaphragm condenser mics.

The best one would be the Avantone CK-1.

Note: You would need to purchase two since they don’t sell in pairs, which can be quite pricy.

If you just want to try out a pair to see how you like it without breaking the bank, then the Behringer C-4 are your best bet.

Another typical way of recording acoustic and classical guitar is by using one large diaphragm condenser microphone.

In this case I’d recommend the same two I recommended for the vocals; The AT4040 and the AT2020.

When it comes to choosing a USB mic to record acoustic and classical guitars, definitely go with the Blue Yeti since it provides the Stereo pattern.

Recording Piano

Pianos are typically recorded with stereo pairs.

My recommendations would be the same stereo pair microphones I listed for acoustic and classical guitar.

Recording Electric Guitar

I already mentioned earlier that electric guitar cabinets tend to be recorded using dynamic microphones.

The two that I recommend are the Shure SM57 and the Sennheiser E609.

Recording Bass Guitar

Even though most of the times people record bass directly on-to the DAW, sometimes it’s great to use a real amp with a good mic.

If you decide to go for this option, then I’d recommend the AKG D112 MKII for the simple fact that it sounds absolutely fantastic and is very cost-efficient.

Recording Drums

Drums are a bit more complicated since you need loads of microphones to properly mic it up.

If you want the simplest solution, then just get a stereo pair like the Behringer C-4 and use those mics as overheads.

Another great alternative is to use a cardioid large diaphragm condenser microphone and place it right in front of the drum kit.

Any of the stereo pairs and condenser microphones I mentioned will work perfectly.

Versatility

If you need a really versatile microphone, then I’d recommend a multi-pattern one.

The Blue Yeti, if you decided to go for a USB mic, or the MXL 770X if you want an XLR mic.

The best three microphones for absolute beginners

These are the microphones that I’d recommend for anyone who is on a tight budget and is a complete newbie;

The Audio-Technica AT2020 simply because it sounds extremely good and is very affordable. Remember that this one is an XLR microphone which means that you’ll need an Audio Interface with Phantom Power.

The Blue Yeti for anyone who doesn’t have an Audio Interface or who doesn’t want to spend that extra money, since it works through USB. Plus, it’s got all those pickup patterns which are useful.

The Shure SM58; Again, you will need an Audio Interface to record with this one. The great thing is that it can also be used for live performances since it’s a dynamic microphone.

Conclusion

I know this is an extensive list where I talk about a lot of microphones, but I hope you now have a better understanding of which one to purchase that will suit your needs.

The last three I just listed are great for any beginner, just remember that with USB microphones you can only record one track at a time.

If you want to do some multi-track recording, like recording acoustic guitar and vocals simultaneously, then an affordable audio interface plus two microphones like the AT2020 can be a great place to start.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

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