6 Best Condenser Mics of 2023

Condenser mics are a must-have for all musicians, podcasters, voiceover actors, multimedia journalists, and creatives – they are the gold standard for recording audio.

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If you’re looking for a condenser microphone that will help you take your audio recordings to the next level, then you’ve come to the right place.

In this article, we’ll explore condenser mics of all budgets so you can pick the best condenser mic for your recording and streaming needs.

All of the condenser microphones we picked are professional-grade but will still be great picks for beginner podcasters and singer-songwriters.

Our favorite mic is the Audio Technica AT2020 mic, a tried and true option for all singer-songwriters and creatives. It’s reliable and affordable, and the sound quality is close to high-end picks.

We also threw in some high-end microphones for anyone looking to upgrade their home studio as well.

Get ready to take your audio recordings to the next level!

Quick Summary of the Best Condenser Mics

  1. Audio-Technica AT2020 (Best XLR Mic Under $100)
  2. Blue Microphones Yeti Multi-pattern USB Condenser Microphone (Best USB Mic for Streaming)
  3. AKG P120 (Best Budget XLR Mic for Vocals)
  4. Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ (Best Budget USB Mic for Vocals)
  5. Neumann U 87 (A High-End XLR Mic for Vocals)
  6. Shure SM86 (A Singer-Songwriter Favorite)

Best Condenser Mics

1. Best XLR Mic Under $100 – Audio-Technica AT2020

best condenser mic at2020 xlr


  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Connectivity: XLR

Audio Technica’s AT2020 is the best of the best when it comes to versatile and budget condenser microphones. AT2020 is often used for vocals, acoustic guitar, podcasting, and VO work.

Since the condenser microphone has a cardioid pattern, it’ll best be suited for one person or instruments that can handle high SPL.

The Audio Technica mic is well-built and is made from durable materials and can withstand travel and years of use. This mic is a favorite amongst singer-songwriters, podcasters, and all types of industry professionals.

We love using this Audio Technica mic with acoustic instruments and are happy that it remains a budget-friendly mic after all these years.

If you want a mic you can use for years and have a quality mic you can recommend to your musician friends, this is the perfect Audio Technica mic. The reputation of Audio Technica is beyond perfect.

2. Best USB Condenser Mic for Streaming – Blue Microphones Yeti Multi-pattern USB Condenser Microphone

blue yeti best condenser mic


  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Connectivity: USB

The Blue Yeti has become a streamer and podcaster favorite for its convenience and high-quality sound. The USB mic is a plug-and play-mic, meaning all you have to do is plug it into your laptop or computer. No additional audio interfaces are needed. Great for beginners, and professionals who like a quick and easy setup.

It’s super versatile, as there are switchable polar patterns. Use cardioid when recording by yourself and omnidirectional when recording with friends.

The Yeti has a wide frequency response, an amazing brand reputation, and comes with an adjustable stand, making your home setup super easy to record from.

We love how easy this condenser microphone is to use with MacBooks and Windows laptops.

3. Best Budget XLR Mic for Vocals – AKG P120

best condenser mic akg120


  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Connectivity: XLR

If you’re looking to record vocals on a budget we recommend this cardioid mic from AKG. The P120 has a large diaphragm for a warm tone, which is exactly what you’ll want for smooth vocals.

You can use it for vocals but also for acoustic instruments — piano, drum overheads, and more. It can handle high sound pressure levels without distortion.

This condenser microphone is under $80, which is sort of wild. The quality is amazing — sound and build-wise. It’s made from sturdy metal so it can withstand traveling and everyday use.

We love this condenser microphone for home recording and streaming on socials. If you plan on streaming music, whether it’s on Facebook or Twitch, your audience will be very pleased with the sound quality.

AKG has a wonderful brand reputation, and artists from all genres are always on the hunt for AKG mics to record albums. They are truly a respected brand in the industry.

4. Best Budget USB Condenser Microphone for Vocals – Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

best condenser mic at2020 usb


  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Connectivity: USB

Buying an XLR mic can be inconvenient if you aren’t into the idea of using an audio interface or external devices to record. We highly recommend a USB mic for a simple setup.

Audio Technica’s AT2020 USB mic is top-tier, and you’ll enjoy it for recording at home and on the go.

It is a cardioid pickup pattern mic, so keep in mind this is going to work best for one person recording vocals or instruments. It records details accurately, making it a wonderful pick for music production on a budget.

We are big fans of how versatile it is and also use it for podcasting and voiceover work. Journalists and actors should consider this mic for remote work. It comes with a desk stand, USB Cable, a mic stand adapter, and a soft pouch.

5. A High-End XLR Mic for Vocals – Neumann U 87

best condenser mic


  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omni, Figure-8
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Connectivity: XLR

If you’re a singer-songwriter looking to level up their mic, it may be time to stretch your budget on a Neumann U 87. This high-end mic has a large-diaphragm design for smooth and extended frequency response, giving you organic and accurate recordings.

The U 87 has been the gold standard for many, many years. Engineers, producers, and musicians are big fans of this mic. Many of your favorite records have probably been recorded with this same microphone.

It’ll remain king, so if you invest in this mic, it’ll be a splurge you won’t regret. It’s made from durable materials and captures detail, unlike no other mic.

The U 87 is pretty versatile — it has 3 polar patterns, cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure 8. You can record alone, with instruments (thanks to the high SPL), or even with friends for podcasting or music, this mic will come in handy in a variety of situations.

6. A Singer-Songwriter Favorite – Shure SM86

best condenser mic


  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-18kHz
  • Connectivity: XLR

We had to include a solid Shure mic on this list. This handheld condenser mic is a great mic for recording vocals. You can also take it on tour, while a dynamic mic is a great tour option, you may also like this mic for live performances if you have softer vocals.

However, it’s made to be able to handle high sound pressure levels for those powerful performances.

More reason to take this condenser microphone on tour is the feedback rejection. It can focus on your voice and reject feedback from monitors and speakers.

The SM86 is built to last too, so if you’re looking for a durable mic that can withstand years of use and travel, this is a great pick!

Many singers and guitarists are saying it’s the best mic for touring, so if you play guitar (and also sing) you’ll want to consider this condenser microphone.

Best Condenser Microphones Buyer’s Guide

Buying a condenser mic is a great decision if you’re looking to record vocals — whether it’s for singing, podcasting, or streaming, a condenser mic will be a terrific pick for home recording studios.

Below are the features you should consider before picking out condenser mics.

Diaphragm Type in Condenser Microphones

Condenser mics have small or large diaphragms, small diaphragms have a fast response and are great for capturing detailed sounds from acoustic instruments. Large diaphragms are warm and smooth, great for capturing a warm tone (such as sounds from vocals).

Polar Patterns

Polar patterns you’ll come across are cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8. Cardioid patterns pick up sound directly in front of the mic, omnidirectional mics pick up sounds from all directions, and figure-8 mics pick up sound from the front and back and reject noise from the sides.

Frequency Response

A frequency response with a flat frequency response between 20 Hz to 20 kHz is common and best for accurate audio reproduction.

Sensitivity & SPL Handling

Sensitivity is how responsive a mic is to a sound and sound pressure level handling refers to the mic’s ability to handle loud sound sources without distortion (think drums and recording guitar).

Condenser Mic Connectivity

Think of connectivity, do you want a USB mic to use with your laptop or an XLR mic to set up with an audio interface? As for power supply, condenser mics often need phantom power to operate.

Condenser Mic Build Quality & Durability

Consider durability, some brands like Shure are known for their top-quality mics that can handle drops, and some mics have quality internal components and shock mounts to minimize handling noise.

Best Condenser Mics Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is the Difference Between a Condenser Microphone and a Dynamic Microphone?

Condenser microphones and dynamic mics are two common types of microphones. Condenser microphones are known for their sensitivity and accuracy in capturing detailed sound, which is great for recording and capturing vocals, dynamic mics are great for live performances. They can handle higher sound pressure levels from strong vocals and acoustic instruments.

Do I Need Phantom Power for a Condenser Microphone?

Most condenser microphones require phantom power to operate, but some will be powered by batteries or use USB connectivity.

What Polar Pattern Should I Choose for My Condenser Microphone?

Cardioid is best for solo vocals or instruments, omnidirectional is best for group recordings since it captures sound from all directions, and figure-8 is useful for picking up sound from opposite directions.


So which is the best condenser mic for you? All of these mics capture sound great, but if you want to reject as much unwanted background noise as possible for solo vocals, we recommend a cardioid mic.

A good quality mic that’ll make a good condenser mic for your home recording studio is the AT2020. Whether you get an XLR or USB mic, it will exceed expectations. However, you’ll want to go with the USB condenser mic for easy setup.

If you want a multi-pattern mic because you might record with others, consider the Neumann U 87. It’s very pricey, but if you want to record like the pros, it’ll be a good investment for your career.

It’ll do a great job recording acoustic guitar, drum overheads, and other instruments that need a mic and can handle high SPL. It’s one mic you’ll never part with.

Photo Courtesy Sweetwater

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