Question: Can cheap microphones still deliver professional sound quality on stage or in the studio?
Well the answer is…absolutely. If you know the difference between the good ones and bad ones.
So for this post, here’s what I have for you:
My list of my 6 favorite cheap microphones under $200, in each of the following categories:
So here we go…
#1: A Cheap Condenser Mic for Vocals
If you’re recording vocals (which most of you are), a large diagrphagm condenser microphone is exactly what you want.
Typically though, this style of microphone can be extremely expensive, sometimes as much as $5000.
Normally you’d want to spend at least $500 here, so on a list of cheap microphones, it’s tough to find any decent options.
But there are a few good rare exceptions under $200 if you look hard enough.
And in that small group, of exceptions, there’s none more affordable, and more respected than the Audio-Technica AT2020.
The endless number of positive reviews don’t lie. This mic is awesome.
Now as a back up your large diaphragm condenser mic, you’ll want one of these as well…
#2: A Cheap Dynamic Mic for Vocals
As the standard choice for live performing, this style of dynamic mic also makes a great secondary option for vocals in the studio.
And in this category of microphones, it makes little sense to look any further than the industry standard Shure SM58.
Some readers might be disappointed that I went with the most obvious choice.
Are there cheaper options? Absolutely. But every one of them is just a poor imitation of this classic.
Are there better sounding dynamic mic options? Maybe. Yet there are loads of rich rock stars who might disagree.
Go with the SM58. You won’t regret it.
#3: A Small Diaphragm Condenser Matched Pair
Now that you’ve got vocals covered, the next task is recording your instruments.
For cymbals, or any acoustic stringed instrument like the ukulele or acoustic guitar…
The standard mic tool is a small diaphragm condenser matched pair, so you can record in stereo.
Once again, a quality pair of these mics is often extremely expensive, and most of the cheap ones sound awful.
However…the Samson C02 is one of the rare exceptions.
You wouldn’t think mics at this price could have almost universally positive reviews…and you wouldn’t think that Samson, a company not well-known for their amazing microphones, would be the makers of such an impressive product.
Yet somehow, for the cost, there’s no pair of cheap microphones that come close to the Samson C02.
For an even cheaper mic in this category, check out the Behringer C-02 as well.
If you record electric guitar cabinets, keyboards, or drums…
You’ll definitely need at least one, but likely several…all-purpose dynamic mics.
And the good news is: in this one category, the cheapest option, and the best option, is the same thing: the Shure SM57.
Pro studios typically have a half dozen or more on hand. Stage setups have even more.
So for your home studio, you’ll probably want at least one.
#5: A Cheap Bass Microphone
While the Shure SM57 works great on snares and toms…
The one drum it is definitely NOT equipped to handle is the kick drum.
This same is true for bass guitar cabinets as well.
For this task, a special type of dynamic mic is needed…one specifically designed to pick up the lowest frequencies.
Now for some reason, the price of virtually every bass mic hovers right around $200. And all of them are about equally regarded in their reputations.
But among this list, the only one significantly cheaper is the Sennheiser e602 II. So on a list cheap microphones, it’s the obvious winner in this category.
#6: A Multi-Pattern Mic
And that is…multi-pattern mics.
You see, as you get more advanced with recording, you’ll learn more about the different microphone polar patterns, and how each one is ideal under certain conditions.
The problem is, most microphones have only ONE polar pattern, which means that you’ll need several microphones to cover each polar pattern.
Unless of course, you have a multi-pattern mic. In which case, you can have them all covered in just one mic.
Normally these are among the most expensive types of microphones you can buy…but just like with every other category on this list, there ARE exceptions.
And the one I recommend first, is the Studio Projects B3.
So that wraps up our list of the top cheap microphones. Hope you found it useful.