If you ask anyone about which part of a song they hear first, their answer, in all probability, will be Vocals. This makes the quality of recorded vocal very important to the overall mix.
While instruments can be recorded in several different ways, there is only one way to record vocals – by using a microphone.
Condenser microphones have been traditionally used for this purpose.
But while you are looking for a condenser mic for your studio, you must be wondering which one to pick that will be perfect for your requirements.
BUMP: Looking to set up a Budget Home Recording Studio?
Check this Ultimate Guide to Setup your next Budget Home Recording Studio!!!
This is where you should consider some essential factors while buying a mic, like sensitivity, frequency response, the polar pattern, and more.
Our Top Picks for the Best USB Condenser Microphones in India
Maono AU-A04 (Best Budget)
Blue Yeti (Our Winner!!)
HyperX SoloCast (Best for Podcasts)
Our Top Picks for the Best XLR Condenser Microphones for Vocals in India:
RODE NT1A (Low Noise)
Want to dig deeper? Let’s get started…..
Condenser vs. Dynamic – Which is the Better Microphone for Recording Vocals?
Both Dynamic and Condenser mics are used for recording vocals. However, there are some advantages of using condenser mics in a studio environment. These are as follows:
As stated earlier, Condenser mics have a larger output signal. This means that with the same level of input, the output of a condenser is much higher than that of a dynamic mic. Therefore, even the softest of vocals is captured.
Better Frequency response
An ideal microphone should have a flat frequency response, i.e., it should have the same output gain for all frequencies. While it is impossible to have a perfectly flat frequency response, condenser mics have a much flatter response than dynamic mics.
Condenser microphones have an extended frequency range when compared to dynamic microphones. Condensers have a light diaphragm that is able to capture higher frequencies better. They also tend to have more gain in the lower frequency registers.
Due to these two factors, condensers mics can record with more clarity and presence.
USB vs. XLR, Which is Right for Me?
Why USB is better than XLR?
If you want a mic for recording podcasts or vocal and instrumental music, then a USB condenser mic can be very handy. USB mics have several advantages over conventional XLR mics:
- They do not need an audio interface to connect to a computer
- USB mics are standalone devices that can be powered by the USB port of a computer
- They are less expensive than their XLR counterparts
USB mics have an Analog-to-Digital converter built inside of them. Therefore, the output Digital Audio can be read and understood by your computer or any other digital device.
Why XLR is better than USB?
On the other hand, if you want to seriously get into music recording, then you should consider an XLR mic for the following reasons:
- XLR mics have much better noise rejection.
- Multiple XLR mics can be used with an audio interface.
- Audio interfaces are much better at sampling than USB mics resulting in higher audio quality.
5 Best USB CONDENSER MICROPHONES in India
Top Budget USB Condenser Mics for Vocals
Some of the best USB condenser mics available in the market are listed below:
Maono has been challenging the best budget microphones in the Indian market for quite some time now. Their microphones are well-liked because of their excellent build quality and low self-noise. The entire kit of the AU-A04 has everything that you will need to start recording – an adjustable mic table stand, a shock mount to reduce noise from vibrations, a wind filter for outdoor use, a pop-filter, and a USB-B type to USB-A type cable for connection.
This mic is plug and play, which means that you simply need to plug it in when you need to record and unplug it when not required. On the latest operating systems like Windows 10 etc., it automatically installs the driver on first use. Therefore, beginners will have no problems setting it up.
The audio quality is clean, and the mic captures a lot of details. The noise rejection capabilities are impressive despite having a smaller diaphragm. It has a cardioid polar pattern that is highly directional and will reject sounds at the back.
This mic is great for recording podcasts, vocals, and instruments like guitar and piano that have high-frequency overtones.
|Accessories||Stand, shock mount, cable tie, cable, wind filter, pop filter|
Fifine T669 will give any budget USB mic a run for its money. In terms of features, this mic is one of the best budget mics out there. It comes with a full kit that includes a mic table stand, a shock mount, wind filter, pop filter, and even a small tripod mount. You can simply plug it into a PC to begin recording. Everything needed to set up the mic comes with the kit itself.
If you are using the newer generation operating systems, then the drivers for this mic will be installed automatically once you plug it in. You can either set the mic on the stand if you want to adjust its position during the recording or mount it on the tripod for a quick setup. If you use the tripod, however, the mic may capture some rumbles from vibrations on the table due to the absence of the shock mount.
The audio quality is pretty clear and studio-like. However, the T669 falls short in the self-noise area. It tends to capture some self-noise, and its background noise rejection capabilities are not very impressive. The gain knob in the front is very handy to control the signal level.
This mic is excellent for recording podcasts but not so much for recording vocal or instrumental music.
|Gain Knob||Volume control|
|Accessories||Stand, tripod, shock mount, cable tie, cable, wind filter, pop filter|
If you are looking for a high-quality podcast microphone on a budget, then HyperX SoloCast will surely impress you. With its tap-to-mute functionality, this mic is a great choice to start with your podcasts. Of course, if you are looking to mount it on a boom arm, then you will need to buy it separately. This one on Amazon will fit it perfectly.
This mic is plug-and-play, and its drivers will install automatically on your system. The stand can be bent 90 degrees but does not come with a shock mount. Therefore, strong vibrations on the table will most likely be captured by the microphone.
This mic has excellent audio quality and captures every little detail in the voice. The noise rejection capability of this mic is very impressive. Once the mic is online, it indicates the same with an LED in front. If you tap on the top of the mic, it will get muted. This feature is very handy during podcasts as it does not produce any clicking sounds in the recorded track.
If you want a versatile mic that records studio-quality audio, then the NT-USB mini from Rode is a great option to look at. It is good for recording podcasts, music, and instruments. With a headphone out for monitoring, you can eliminate any kind of latency issues that your computer may present to you.
This great-looking mic gets installed pretty smoothly on any platform. However, it does not come with a kit. You only get a magnetic mic stand that attaches at the bottom. You can also use standard microphone arms with this mic. Surprisingly, you get a handy leather pouch that use can use to carry the mic around when you travel.
The Rode NT series is famous for its low self-noise capabilities. The NT Mini also does not disappoint in this category. The recorded audio sounds clear, full, and warm.
|Gain Knob||Volume control|
The Blue Yeti has been considered to be the best USB condenser mic for the longest time now. The best thing about the Blue Yeti is that it stands at around 1ft when placed on a table. Therefore, you will find it much more comfortable to speak into.
The Blue Yeti USB Mic is very simple to set up. All you need to do is plug it in using the provided USB cable. It also has a headphone-out using which you can monitor your recording. What distinguishes the Blue Yeti USB mic from others in this category is that it has 4 different types of pickup patterns – cardioid, stereo mode, omnidirectional and bi-directional. The build quality of this mic is exceptional. You can also use it with standard microphone stands like this one on Amazon.
The selectable pickup patterns make this a truly versatile mic that you can use for recording vocals, podcasts, musical instruments, and much more. And although the selected pickup pattern will affect the tone of the recorded audio, the Blue Yeti delivers a generally full and rich sound. Its noise rejection capability is pretty good, but the mic can be a little too sensitive when set at high gains.
|Pickup/Polar Pattern||Cardoid, Omni-Directional, Di-Directional|
|Gain Knob||Volume control|
5 Best XLR CONDENSER MICROPHONES in India for Voice Recording on a Budget
Large-diaphragm condenser microphones are most suitable for recording vocals in a studio environment.
Large-diaphragm condensers make the vocals sound big and attractive with an extended bass and high-frequency response. They also have a lower self-noise when compared to small diaphragm microphones.
Top Budget XLR Condenser Mics for Vocals
Here are a few of the top budget condenser mics for vocals, available in India:
If you are on a really tight budget but want a microphone that can capture studio-quality audio, then AKGP120 should fit your bill. In terms of build quality, it does not feel like a budget mic at all.
In fact, it has an all-metal chassis with a metal grill to protect the diaphragm inside and feels quite heavy in the hands.
The P120 has a cardoid polar pattern. Therefore, it can be used for multi-mic applications as it is good at rejecting sounds from its rear and sides.
The only downside is that it picks up a bit more background noise as compared to other microphones on this list. On the other hand, a high SPL of 130dB ensures that this mic can be used for very loud sound sources too.
This microphone can be powered using Phantom-power voltage of 44-50V. Inadequate input voltage might introduce unwanted hissing or crackling noises in the output.
The front of the microphone house two switches – a low-frequency cut-off filter and a -20dB pad switch (that unlocks a SPL of 150dB).
This microphone is suitable for male and female vocals. It provides ample depth and soothing high-end for female vocals. Overall, this is a great budget mic to start your home studio with.
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level(SPL)||130dB (150dB with pad switch on)|
|Output Impedance||200 ohm|
|Load Impedance||>1 kOhm|
|Power Requirements||44-50V Phantom Power|
|Pad Switch||Yes (-20dB)|
|High Pass Filter||Yes (Roll off below 300Hz)|
AT2020 is one of the most popular budget condenser microphones in the world due to its clarity and tonal characteristics. It has an all-metal build with a metal grill.
Underneath the metal grill is another wired mesh that is meant to act as a pop-filter. It looks sturdy and feels substantially heavy in the hands.
This mic has a cardoid polar pattern that is broader than usual. This means that it picks up some of the room ambience. This could either be good or bad depending upon the application. In order to eliminate some of the ambience, the room needs to be acoustically treated.
Although it has a smaller diaphragm, the AT2020 has a broad frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz. Therefore, it is also good at picking up low frequencies.
It also provides a slight boost at frequencies of 5Khz and higher for bell tonal characteristics. Self-noise is low but somewhat apparent at high gains.
The AT2020 has a balanced XLR connection and requires Phantom power for operation. This microphone is really good for recording all kinds of vocals due to its extended frequency range and near-flat response.
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level(SPL)||144dB|
|Output Impedance||100 ohm|
|Power Requirements||48V Phantom Power|
|High Pass Filter||No|
|Value for Money||High|
AKG has some of the best microphones in the market. The P220 is an entry-level mic that lives up to the name. It has a really hefty metal build that can take substantial abuse. It also feels very heavy in the hands.
This mic has a cardoid pattern and is good at rejecting sounds from the rear axis and sides. It has pick up frequencies between 20Hz and 20kHz and has a good low-end response. The P220 can sound a bit harsh in the higher frequency ranges though.
It also has a high pass filter switch that rolls off frequencies below 300Hz. This finds application in minimalizing proximity effect (when low-end gets a boost in gain if the source is too close).
The mic also features a -20dB pad switch to reduce sensitivity in noisier environments. It also has a high SPL, which makes it suitable for live performances as well. However, the self-noise can be a bother for some people.
The AKG P220 has a balanced XLR connection and comes with a shock mount to minimalize disturbances from vibrations. It requires Phantom power for operation and, therefore, the use of an audio interface is recommended.
Overall, the P220 is a good vocal mic for people with a relatively heavier voice. Husky and high-pitched vocals could end up sounding a bit harsh. Although, some people might find that appealing.
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level(SPL)||155dB|
|Output Impedance||200 ohm|
|Load Impedance||>1k ohm|
|Power Requirements||44-52V Phantom Power|
|High Pass Filter||Yes(Roll off below 300Hz)|
|Value for Money||Medium|
Another one from Audio Technica is the AT2035. This is the golden standard for budget condenser microphones. With a thick metal chassis, the AT2035 is built like a tank and can withstand substantial abuse.
The AT2035 has a cardoid polar pattern but is more directional than the AT2020, making it better at rejecting room ambience. Its frequency response covers the entire human hearing range of 20Hz-20kHz.
In addition, the AT2020 has a -10dB pad switch that can reduce sensitivity for applications in loud environments like live performances.
It is also equipped with a high pass filter that rolls off frequencies below 80Hz for minimizing low rumbling noises and proximity effect. It also has very low self-noise.
The AT2035 has balanced XLR output and requires 48V Phantom power to operate. The use of an audio interface is recommended for optimum results.
This microphone is a true all-rounder and is not only meant for vocals but also a wide variety of applications such as gaming, recording instruments, etc.
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level(SPL)||148dB|
|Output Impedance||120 ohm|
|Power Requirements||11-52V Phantom Power|
|High Pass Filter||Yes(Roll-off below 80Hz)|
|Value for Money||Very High|
The Rode NT1 A is another popular microphone choice for vocals. It has a sturdy stainless-steel build and feels heavy. The capsule has a gold-plating and is covered by a tough metal grid.
The NT1A has a very directional cardoid polar pattern. Hence, it can be deployed for multi-mic applications. It picks up sounds for a frequency range of 20Hz-20kKz. That is all you will ever need. It is also advertised as the quietest condenser ever and rightly so.
It has an incredibly low self-noise. Very sensitive and is excellent at picking up softer sounds that might escape other mics.
The mic has a nearly flat frequency response with a slight bump at higher frequencies. It might sound a bit harsh for some really high-pitched vocals.
The NT1-A has a balanced XLR output. It can operate on both 24V and 48V Phantom power.
|Maximum Sound Pressure Level(SPL)||132dB|
|Output Impedance||100 ohm|
|Power Requirements||24V or 48V Phantom Power|
|High Pass Filter||Yes(Roll-off below 80Hz)|
|Value for Money||Medium|
In terms of price, the AKG P120 is simply unbeatable!!
But if you want a microphone that is truly value for money, then the Audio Technica AT2035 is the clear winner.
With the depth and clarity in its sound and its warm tonal characteristics, which is not overtly harsh but full-sounding, it is clearly the best budget condenser mic for recording vocals.
What to Look For
Buying a condenser microphone for the first time can be confusing. This is because a microphone is associated with a lot of technical terms.
Following are some simple explanations of the jargons that are usually thrown around in microphone manuals:
Types Of Microphones:
Primarily, there are two kinds of microphones that are used for recording vocals – Dynamic and Condenser. These microphones are vastly different from each other in terms of sensitivity and frequency response.
Condenser microphones require external power (Phantom Power) to operate. They are, therefore, classified as Active Microphones.
Dynamic microphones, on the other hand, operate without any external power but have a weaker output signal that requires amplification. Hence, they are called passive microphones.
- Dynamic microphone
Dynamic microphones work by the principle of Electromagnetic induction. Here, a metallic diaphragm is made to vibrate using sound waves inside the field of a magnet. This generates an electrical signal.
Therefore, dynamic microphones do not require any external power source. However, the generated signal requires some sort of amplification to become usable.
Dynamic microphones are very robust in terms of construction. They can handle a lot of abuse and, hence, are preferred for on-stage use.
They can also handle very loud input signals and do not get distorted easily. Their simple construction also makes them very inexpensive.
- Condenser microphone
Condenser microphones have a capacitor, or in simpler terms, two parallel metal plates with a gap in-between. The gap changes with sound waves and, in turn, varies the capacitance and the voltage across it.
This is coupled with an impedance converter that pumps energy into the circuit to generate a high output signal. The condenser mics, thus require an external power source to function.
Condenser microphones have a more delicate construction. However, due to the large output signal, they are able to capture the sound in more detail, especially the high frequencies.
This makes them suitable for recording vocals. Condenser microphones are usually classified in two types – Large Diaphragm and Small diaphragm.
- Large Diaphragm
Large Diaphragm condenser mics have a membrane with a diameter of 1-inch or more. These microphones are larger in size. They also produce more output. Large-diaphragm microphones also have a lower self-noise ratio.
These microphones are better suited for recording sounds that have low transients, for instance, vocals.
- Small Diaphragm
Small Diaphragm condensers have a smaller membrane. They are usually pencil-shaped and smaller in size as compared to Large Diaphragm mics.
These microphones have a sharper transient response. They can capture very high frequencies (well beyond human hearing). Small diaphragm condensers are suitable for recording instruments such as the acoustic guitar.
Condenser mics are not as robust as Dynamic mics. However, there are plenty of condenser mics with a sturdy, all-metal build that protects the delicate electronics inside. It is especially important to consider the build if you are planning to use the microphone for live performances.
This is one of the most important things to be looked at while buying any microphone. Let’s begin with what a polar pattern actually is. It is the diagrammatic representation of the spatial gain distribution of the microphone for different frequencies.
In other words, a polar pattern represents how much of which frequencies the microphone captures when the source of sound is placed at different positions around the microphone.
There are several different kinds of polar patterns. The most common ones are as below:
An omni-directional microphone is equally sensitive to sounds coming from all directions surrounding the microphone. This means that the microphone will capture the same level of sound at every equidistant point around it.
Inherently, every microphone is omni-directional. They are engineered to become directional in order to suit particular applications.
They are useful when a single mic is required to capture many sound sources, for instance, a choir. A disadvantage of omni-directional mics is that they also capture unwanted reverb and room ambience.
- Cardoid or Heart-shaped
This is the most common polar pattern for most microphones. Cardoid polar pattern microphones are more sensitive to sounds in front and less sensitive at the sides and rear.
These can be further sub-divided into super and hyper-cardoid patterns where the rejection from rear and sides is increased even further.
Cardoid mics are useful in applications where there are separate microphones for each instrument/sound source. They are also good at rejecting unwanted room reverb and ambience.
- Bi-directional or Figure-of-8:
Figure-of-8 pattern mics are more sensitive at the front and rear. They reject sounds from its sides.
These microphones are suitable for recording stereo sound. They are also convenient for recording two vocalists or a vocalist and an instrument placed diametrically opposite to each other.
Some microphones give you the option of switching between different polar patterns. Such microphones are really versatile and can be used for a wide range of applications.
Frequency response is the output gain of the microphone for different frequency ranges. An ideal microphone is considered to have a flat frequency response.
In terms of sensitivity, this would mean that the microphone is equally sensitive to all frequencies. This would result in an even output.
In reality, however, it is not possible to achieve a perfectly flat frequency response. The flatter it is, the better.
As discussed before, Condenser mics have high sensitivity. This means that they have a higher output for the same input signal as compared to dynamic mics. Sensitivity varies from microphone to microphone.
The lower the number, more is the gain from the connected pre-amp to compensate.
Self-noise in a microphone is defined as the amount of noise output without the presence of any external input signal. Condenser microphones, by design tend to have some self-noise.
The ratio of the desired gain and the self-noise is called the Signal-to-Noise-Ratio. From the definition, it is obvious that a good microphone will have a higher SNR.
Maximum SPL is the number of input decibels (unit of sound level) that a microphone can tolerate before it begins to distort. This specification is important in case of a condenser mic as they are more sensitive.
This is also useful in case you are planning to use your microphone in a live performance where the sound levels are high. Needless to say, the higher the SPL, the better.
Simply put, impedance is the amount of resistance that an electrical circuit offers to the flowing current. In case of microphones, there are two kinds of impedances – Output Impedance and Load Impedance.
Output impedance is the impedance of the microphone itself. The lower this number, the better it is. However, this specification is important only if you are planning to use very long cables with it. Longer cables add to the impedance of the mic and can cause degradation of the signal in case the total impedance is too high.
Load impedance, on the other hand, is the impedance of the pre-amp that is to be connected with the microphone for optimum results.
BUMP: Looking for an Audio Interface for your studio?
Here are the 5 best Audio Interfaces on a Budget in India!!!
By rule of thumb, the impedance of the pre-amp should at least be equal to the rated load impedance. A pre-amp with a lower impedance than the load impedance of the microphone can impact its SPL.
As stated earlier, Condensers are active microphones. Therefore, they require external power to operate. This power is termed as Phantom Power. Most condensers operate either on 24V or 48V DC Phantom power.
Pre-amps, mixer board or audio interfaces with built-in phantom power can be used for this purpose.
In case you only want to connect your microphone, you should go for a USB Condenser. They not only contain internal power circuitry but also have built-in Analog-to-Digital converter. Therefore, they can be directly connected to a computer using a USB port.
How to use a Condenser MIC?
Unlike a dynamic mic, a condenser cannot be plugged into your recording device directly. This is because a condenser mic requires external power to operate.
Typically, all condenser mics, with an XLR connection (Check out this great XLR cable for condenser mics on Amazon), require 48V phantom power. Phantom Power can be provided by pre-amps, mixer boards, or audio interfaces.
For recording purposes, it is more convenient to use an Audio Interface with built-in Phantom Power. This is because, even after it is powered up, it outputs an analog signal that needs to be converted into a digital signal which is understandable by a computer.
It is also necessary to keep in mind that a Condenser mic generates an analog output.
So, in order to connect it to a computer, you will require some kind of Analog-to-Digital converter or ADC. An ADC can either be a computer’s sound card (which generally has limited capabilities) or an external audio interface.
Bus-powered USB condenser mics, however, can be directly plugged into a computer as they have built-in ADCs and power circuitry. They are, obviously, more expensive than their XLR counterparts.
Can Condenser Mics be used On-Stage?
Traditionally, Dynamic microphones have been used on stage. There are several advantages of doing so. Dynamic mics are more robust in construction. They can take a lot of abuse and falls.
Also, they are capable of handling really loud sounds without distorting. Most importantly, the low sensitivity of dynamic microphones makes them less prone to on-stage feedback.
Condensers, on the contrary, have a fragile build. They are not usually built to take falls. Moreover, higher sensitivity often makes them prone to feedback.
Some modern condensers, however, are built with a tough exterior that can protect its delicate innards.
Also, these days, condensers come with a built-in padding switch that can lower sensitivity when activated. This reduces the chances of feedback. With such improvements, the use of Condenser mics on-stage is not very uncommon nowadays.
Few Words of Advice
Microphones sound different for different kinds of vocals. Therefore, before choosing a microphone, it is important to keep in mind, the vocal tone that is going to be recorded. The final output also depends upon the quality of the interface.
The acoustics of the room in which the recording shall take place will also have a major impact.
This is why it is always advised to get your recording room acoustically treated (Check out this great Acoustic Foam on Amazon). This is because, no matter how good your microphone is, a bad-sounding room will always impact the quality of the recorded audio.