8 Best Microphones For Home Studio On A Budget

These are the best microphones for home studio, especially if you are on a budget. 

8 best microphones for home studio

There are an amazing variety of microphones on the market today. For those of us who are working in our home studio on a fixed budget, it can be difficult to determine what mic is the best for my application. 

In this guide, we will look at the 8 of the best microphones for home studio use. These are intentionally picked for their quality and economy. 

Right out of the gate I want to tell you that my top pick is the Rode NT1. I have been using the NT1A for over 10 years now and I love everything about it. The NT1 is a significant improvement.

In this guide, we will explain some of the key things to look for when buying a mic for your home studio. We’ll also take a look at the different applications we can use each mic for. Our goal is to give you the information you need to determine what the best microphones for home studio use you should choose. 

Let’s jump into our top picks.

Our Top 8 Picks for Best Microphones For Home Studio

Here is the list of our top picks for microphones for your Home Studio applications. Although these are considered “budget” mics, all of these mics will deliver pro audio results. Let’s take a look. 

Rode NT1

  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Weight: 15.5 ounces
  • Connection: XLR
  • Type: Large Diaphragm Condenser

Rode initially started with the NT1 and it quickly became a favourite. A few years later the NT1A came out and took the industry by becoming the world’s most loved microphone. Now Rode has redesigned everything in the NT1A to create the improved Rode NT1.

What sets the NT1 apart from the crowd is the ultra-low noise. This microphone has been upgraded to knock off another 0.5dB from the NT1A, which had only 5dB of self-noise. When you are recording into your DAW you aren’t introducing a lot of hum and buzz that is very hard to remove. This gives you super clean recordings. 

The upgraded Rode NT1 has also dealt with the issue of external vibrations by suspending the transducer. All of this makes this mic the quietest microphone on the market. For a budget price! To add to the quiet, the NT1 comes with an SM6 shock mount that further eliminates external noise and vibration. 

I really enjoy the recordings I get from this mic. They are clear and present but not harsh. They have a vintage warmth to them too. I would highly recommend this mic as my top pick. 

Aston Origin

  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Weight: 1.25 pounds
  • Connection: XLR
  • Type: Large Diaphragm Condenser

This is definitely one of the most interesting mics on the list. The look of the Aston Origin is stylish but what is great about it is, the style has a function. The wave design that houses the mesh and capsule is actually designed to resist shock and prevent damage to the capsule. This eliminates the need for a cumbersome shock mount. 

Also, the erratic design of the mesh surrounding the capsule has a function. This erratic pattern creates a built-in pop filter. The bonus to this is that you can unbox this microphone and put it on a mic stand and you are ready to record. 

The mic has a -10dB pad switch and a low-cut at 80Hz. These are amazing if you are recording in a less than ideal location. The pad can eliminate a lot of surrounding noise by making the mic less sensitive. The low-cut can eliminate a lot of the environmental low-frequency hums. 

One of the drawbacks is that it is a little bit noisy and not as bassy as some of the others on the list. 

All in all, this mic has a very clear and defined sound with some warmth added in. It is vintage sounding and makes vocals and guitars sound great. 

Neumann TLM 102

  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Weight: 7.4 ounces
  • Connection: XLR
  • Type: Large Diaphragm Condenser

Neumann is arguably the most respected name when it comes to boutique high-end microphones. Neumann mics are the go-to for artists of all genres. The Neumann TLM 102 does not disappoint. This is a microphone that has all the build quality and sound that Neumann is known for at a mid-range price. 

One of the coolest things about this mic is the integrated pop filter. No need to mount an external pop filter. 

This mic is clean and crisp, with tons of warmth as well. It really does shine on vocal recordings. But it is equally able to record very true-to-life guitar and other acoustic instruments. The TLM 102 has very low self-noise at 12dB, so your recordings are free of a lot of unwanted hums and buzzing. 

The thing that sets this mic apart for me is that it is a total workhorse. It is so versatile because of the ability it has to record much louder instruments. It can handle sound pressure levels up to 144dB. This will give you the ability to record amps, brass, and even drums. 

It is a bit more money but in the long run, you save yourself from having to buy other mics. 

AKG Pro Audio C214

  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Weight: 1.76 pounds
  • Connection: XLR
  • Type: Large Diaphragm Condenser

The AKG Pro Audio C214 is the true all-arounder mic. Because it has a -20dB pad on it, it can withstand close micing of instruments up to 156dB. This is completely free of distortion. 

Part of it is also due to the fact that the large diaphragm is suspended in a shock mount inside the mic. 

The C214 is quite a quiet mic at 13dB of self-noise. It also has a low-cut at 160hz to alleviate unwanted hums and bass frequencies. 

It is the versatility that sets this mic apart from most. Because of the ability to withstand high sound pressure levels (SPL), the C214 is often used for drum overheads and micing guitar and bass amps. 

In the vocal range, I have found it to be quite harsh for my liking. It has a shimmery boost in the 12-13kHz range. But this mic will definitely work hard in the studio because of the many instruments you can record with it. 

Audio-Technica AT2035

  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Weight: 14.2 ounces
  • Connection: XLR
  • Type: Large Diaphragm Condenser

If you are looking for a good mic on a budget, or you are new to recording and want to just get a mic that does a good job, the AT2035 is that mic. It is the cheapest condenser mic on this list but that doesn’t stop this mic from being a great little workhorse in the studio. 

This mic has a very transparent and surprisingly true sound to it. For a low-budget mic, it maintains the warmth and clarity of the vocals. This alone makes the mic a worthwhile investment. 

The AT2035 has a low-cut switch that is set at 80dB for rolling off those low frequencies. It also has a -10dB pad to allow for close micing of louder sources. 

All in all this mic has what it takes to give you the vocal recording that you desire as well as being able to record most other instruments. If you are starting out in home recording, this is definitely one of the best microphones for a home studio on a budget. 

Shure SM7B

  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 50Hz to 20kHz
  • Weight: 1.69 lbs
  • Connection: XLR
  • Type: Dynamic

The Shure SM7B is the first dynamic mic on our list. This mic is specifically tailored for vocals. It shines in providing a balanced and true sound. With a perfect boost in the mid-range, the SM7B gives you a warm and rounded vocal. 

The integrated pop filter and detachable windscreen give you confidence that you won’t be recording nasty plosives in your recordings. The cardioid pattern also is designed really well and keeps out the majority of off-axis sound.

The yoke mounts for this mic is ideal for setting the directionality. The diaphragm is housed in a pneumatic shock mount so the self-noise is kept to a minimum. 

This mic is so popular for vocals that you will see it in most studios around the world. It is so good for high-energy rock vocals. Even Michael Jackson recorded the entire “Thriller” album on it. 

For a little bit more money, this mic is worth getting and is for sure one of the best microphones for home studio. 

Sennheiser MD 421 II

  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 30Hz to 17kHz
  • Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Connection: XLR
  • Type: Dynamic

If you are looking for a mic that can handle everything in the studio, then look no further than the Sennheiser MD421II. It is often heralded as the best all-around dynamic microphone. The MD421II can handle vocals, electric guitars and even drums. It is able to be used for close micing of loud sources where other mics would distort. 

The MD421II is a good vocal mic but it really shines in recording amps and drums. Its build is robust and feels like it can take a beating. Most likely this is why you will see it in the studio as well as on the stage. 

The one annoying thing about this mic is the clip. It is not as easy as others for placement and directionality. That being said, this is a superb mic to have in your arsenal, especially if you plan to record lots of different instruments.

Blue Yeti Pro USB Microphone

  • Polar pattern: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
  • Frequency response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Weight: 2.2 lbs
  • Connection: USB or XLR
  • Type: Multi Pattern Large Diaphragm Condenser

The Blue Yeti Pro USB is the only USB microphone on this list. This is a great solution for those who want to get into recording but haven’t yet been able to buy an audio interface. The Blue Yeti is a plug-and-play mic with a built-in audio converter. It can record up to 24-bit and 96 kHz to 192 kHz audio. Just plug in the USB and record to your DAW. 

The Blue Yeti Pro USB is a large-diaphragm condenser mic with multiple patterns. The patterns are easily switchable on the mic. This makes the Yeti very versatile and perfect for new home studio users. 

This mic is well made and has a really cool retro look. It is a capable mic that can give professional results at a lower price and a convenient setup. That’s why it deserves to be on the list of the best microphones for home studio. 

Guide for Buying a Microphone For Your Home Studio

A good reliable microphone is one of those essential pieces of gear that you need to buy for your home studio. Finding the best microphone for home studio set-up on a budget can be tricky. The first question to ask yourself is, “what am I going to be using the mic for?” Will I record vocals? Maybe some electric guitar? Do I want to record stringed instruments? 

The answer to these questions will determine what you should be looking for in a microphone for your home studio. 

Let’s take a look at the different kinds of mics and their intended use. Microphones come in 3 main categories:

  • Dynamic Microphones
  • Condenser Microphones
  • Ribbon Microphones 

Dynamic Microphones for Home Studio

Dynamic Microphones are usually the first mic that we think of when we think about live performances. In the home studio, they can be a huge asset. They are relatively inexpensive compared to the other 2 types and they are built strong and durable. 

One of the drawing factors of dynamic mics is that they can withstand sound levels that would destroy a condenser or ribbon mic. For this reason, they are great for recording:

  • Loud vocals (rock and rap for example)
  • Drums
  • Guitar Amps (bass and electric guitar)
  • Loud Horns

They are not as sensitive as other types of microphones. Where they lack sensitivity is in the higher frequencies. As a result, your recordings will sound warmer and more aggressive. In many cases, this is the desired effect. 

Dynamic microphones have a cardioid pattern. This means that the sound is very focused on the front of the mic. These mics pick up a little from the sides and virtually nothing from the back. This, coupled with the lower sensitivity overall, make them a great mic for home studios that are a “less than ideal” acoustic environment.  

Condenser Microphones for Home Studio

Condenser Mics are more complicated than dynamic mics. Condensers have a thin diaphragm that is positioned in front of a metal plate. This diaphragm is super sensitive to sound vibrations and this makes these mics exceptionally good at capturing the true essence of the original sound.

The trade-off is that these mics are much more prone to damage at high levels of sound. This is a minor thing especially if you take care of your mic. 

The condenser mics are much clearer sounding than the dynamic mics because they are able to pick up the high frequencies. It gives vocals an airy sense because of the high frequencies coming through. 

Condenser microphones are powerhouses in the studio. They can give you great recordings of:

  • Vocals
  • Acoustic Instruments
  • Overheads for Drums

Condenser mics also have the option of giving you multiple polar patterns, from cardioid to omnidirectional.  Here’s what the patterns look like.

It is important to note that condenser mics need an external power source. This is a dedicated power source called “phantom power”. It is +48V that is needed to power these mics. Fortunately, virtually all audio interfaces on the market today have phantom power that can be sent to the mic. Eliminating the need to buy an external device.

Ribbon Microphones for Home Studio

These are arguably the most sensitive of all the microphone types. Ribbon mics were used a lot in the past before the advent of dynamic and condenser mics. They use a very thin ribbon to capture the sound and the resulting sound is warm and clear. 

They aren’t used a lot in home studio applications as they are very pricey. Where you can see them being used is doubling with a dynamic mic to mic a guitar amp. As said before, dynamic mics don’t pick up the high frequencies very well so the addition of a ribbon mic gives more clarity and brings richness to the recording. They can be used for:

  • Electric Guitar Amp (paired with dynamic mic)
  • Vocals
  • Acoustic Instruments

Ribbon mics are always bi-directional so they should only be used in a well-treated room. If you are looking to add some retro vibes and some richness to your recordings, you should look into these. For starting out though, I would avoid them as they are prone to damage and more expensive. 

Tips for Recording Vocals in Your Home Studio

With whatever mic you choose to buy first, there are some tips that you can use to get the best out of the microphone. These tips will help you to minimize the factors that lead to bad recordings. 

Use a Pop Filter

When we speak and sing there are some consonants that create a puff of air from our mouths. These are called “plosives”. The consonants B, P, and T are mainly the worst offenders. These plosives can make your recording sound terrible and amateur. The air makes a huge pop and these pops are almost impossible to remove in editing.

However, using a pop filter will stop these unwanted sounds. They are relatively cheap and easy to install on your mic stand. 

Using a pop filter will help you to make cleaner and more professional sounding recordings for sure. 

Acoustic treatment

Many 1st time home studio builders overlook the importance of acoustic treatment in their room. Actually many long-time home studio enthusiasts ignore it too because it is an extra cost that is not as sexy as a new piece of gear. 

Honestly, treating your room to get rid of unwanted reverb and bass build-up will drastically change your recordings for the better. Without treatment of some kind, your recordings will have abrasive reverb that you can’t remove. 

There are ways to do it on a budget. You can make the panels yourself which will save money. Or you can make a DIY recording booth for really cheap. A recording booth will eliminate the reverb entirely. Either way, I would highly encourage you to put acoustic treatment as a high priority in your home studio. 

Mic Placement

Here is a tip that doesn’t cost you any money at all! By changing the position of the mic, you can change the sound of the recording drastically. Here are a few quick tips to get a better sound.

First, when you are recording vocals with a condenser mic, position the mic about 6 inches from the singer to start with. Based on the singer and the mic you are using you can move closer or further away to get to that sweet spot. 6 inches is not the rule, it’s the starting point. 

Second, make sure you are pointing the mic towards the most absorptive area in your room. This will help to minimize the reverb that comes back into the mic. On cardioid pattern mics the back of the mic is not sensitive and will not pick up as much of the reverb. 

When recording an acoustic guitar, you can change the sound of the guitar by where you place the mic. If you want a warmer, more bassy sound, then place the mic where the fretboard meets the soundhole. Consequently, if you want a thinner, more aggressive sound, place the mic closer to the bridge. 

Experiment with mic placement in all circumstances. Much of the heartache of fixing a bad recording can be stopped simply by putting the mic in the right place.

Do I Need A Preamp?

In most cases, you are not going to need an external preamp for your home studio. The reason for this is that audio interfaces these days are equipped with pretty good quality preamps. Obviously, some more expensive interfaces will have better preamps, but by and large, the internal preamps will get the job done. 

There are 2 reasons why you might want a preamp. The first reason is that you are using dynamic mics that are just not picking up enough through your interface, Then you will want something that will give you the volume you need. 

The second reason will be for the sound. External preamps colour the sound of the mic. Many people want the warm, rich sound of a certain preamp and that is totally great. These “good” sounding preamps are expensive so keep that in mind.

The Verdict

Buying the right mic for your home studio is a big commitment. Like I said earlier, I’ve been using the Rode NT1A for over 10 years. The Rode NT1 is a great improvement and my top pick.  When you find the mic that fits your budget, your needs, and your sound, you’ve found one more link in the chain to making great recordings for many years. 

For other home studio gear check out our guide to the best keyboard for music production. It is a great place to get started.