The MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone scored high marks in every category and is our top pick. This high end microphone has some features that really set it apart from other condenser microphones. It increases the overall sound quality and reduces the number of takes you have to do to get the finished product you want. You won’t have to worry about recording unwanted noises that can ruin a recording. It can also read where you are in relation to the microphone and eliminate sounds from the opposite side from which you are standing.
Condenser Microphone Reviews
Because every singer is different, every microphone has been built with a different person in mind. While it’s easy to list off condenser microphones in order of their level of quality, at the end of the day, it will come down to you to decide which particular product will most cater to what it is you plan on achieving with your new microphone. We spent over 30 hours researching and testing 12 different condenser microphones and found that sound quality, added features, and ease of use were most important. In this review, we’ll list off three of the best condenser microphones on the market, letting you decide which one best suits your needs. The microphones in question have been ranked on the basis of their sound quality, ease of use and added features. If you’re still having trouble deciding, you can always check out the buyer’s guide below for additional information.
The MXL 770 is likely a much more suitable option for you if you find yourself averted to the above microphone’s steep price, which is quite understandable, being that many of us don’t have one hundred and fifty dollars laying around to spend on a microphone. Despite coming in at half the price, the MXL 770 carries with it an equally great level of quality in terms of covering the basics. This gives it a much better cost-to-quality ratio than the above product. But this all sounds too good to be true. If it’s so great, why does it come at such a lower price? What’s the catch?
The catch is that you can expect the MXL 770 to be void of any of the advanced features found in the microphone we just covered. Now, this may sound like a bad thing. However, it’s worth noting that when you’re trying to save money on a microphone purchase, you’re going to have to make some sacrifices. As it turns out, the exclusion of additional features is exactly where you want to see such sacrifices being made. This is because you can be sure that your new microphone will still cover all of the basics as it should, showing a high degree of quality by all standard metrics. After all, what’s the use of fancy features if you still can’t come out with a finished product that sounds good? If you’re trying to save money on your next microphone purchase, the MXL 770 is the type of product you want to see. At the end of the day, it still gives off a great sound and has no apparent downsides, making it suitable for a wide variety of folks.
The Audio-Technica AT2035 is easily one of the most high-end products of its type currently on the market. It comes with a few features which immediately set it apart from other condenser microphones in ways which we can all appreciate, as they not only increase the overall level of sound quality of anything that passes through the mic, but can even make your life easier through requiring you take less takes to get the finished product that you’re after. Of course, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you’re singing or which features you’re looking for in a mic, this is a type of product we can all make use of in some way or another.
One example of its great features is its ability to refrain from recording noises that you don’t want to hear. One way through which it achieves this is its ability to refrain from picking up on “plosives,” a term coined to refer to the many unintentional sounds made by a singer. Examples of such sounds include teeth knocking together as well as sharp breaths. It doesn’t matter what your current level of skill is in regards to your singing ability; this is an issue that we’re all going to experience at some point or another, as these sounds come naturally and are made by all of the best singers across the globe, whether intentionally or otherwise. As such, while this may not directly increase overall sound quality in the traditional sense, it can certainly leave you a whole lot happier with your results. Not only that, but you’ll find yourself batter able to recover from mistakes, being that less of them will show up in a recording.
Another way the Audio-Technica AT2035 reduces unwanted noises is in its ability to “sense” where you are while singing. For example, if you’re standing to the right of the microphone while singing, any noise coming from the left of the microphone will be emitted from the finished product. Likewise, if you’re standing to the left of the microphone, anything coming in from the right side will be omitted. This offers a huge advantage that most mics simply do not. All in all, the Audio-Technica AT2035 is great, not only in the quality of the sounds it produces, but in the neat tricks it uses to cover up mistakes made on account of human error or environmental factors, easily making it the best product of its type.
The LyxPro LCD-20 is similar to the above microphone we just covered in that it is quite agreeably-priced when stacked up to other microphones of a similar quality. Once again, this gives a great sense of value through the product’s cost-to-quality ratio. Although it doesn’t come with any noticeable features that would set its list of specifications apart from that of many similar microphones, its sound quality is of a level which not only trumps that of other microphones within the LyxPro LCD-20’s price range, but within the condenser microphone market as a whole. This makes it an excellent choice if you simply want to get some quality recording done without the hassle or price inherent in fancier models.
Once again, this effect is achieved through the exclusion of many features which may be deemed as luxurious and, depending on your own personal preferences and requirements in a microphone, downright unnecessary. As previously stated, this is exactly what you want to see when trying to be frugal about grabbing yourself a new mic, as you can rest assured knowing that the mic in question will live up to all of the standard metrics of quality while still going for a reasonable price.
– Darius Spieth
Summary of Our Top Picks When you simply want to get some quality recording done, you can truly get away with any of the three condenser microphones above. However, by knowing which model is most likely to cater to your needs, you’ll find you can come out with a product which offers a much better finished result with a lot less effort. For example, if you’re looking to get a professional-grade recording with the least amount of effort possible, the first model we covered is easily your best choice due to its ability to net you with just the sound you’re looking for by eliminating many of the unwanted noises which may be present during recording. However, you can expect to pay a premium for such a luxury.
However, if you’d rather save a bit of money, a bit extra hard work and dedication is all it takes to make either of the two other microphones on the above list work for you. Not only do they carry with them the same level of recording quality, they come at half the price as the first product on the above list. Because they sacrifice on any additional features and focus purely on covering the basics, you’ll find they both give you an excellent cost-to-quality ratio.
If, after carefully considering the above options, you just can’t seem to find a mic that works for you, you can always try your hand at shopping around both online and at your local music store(s). However, because I can’t be there to offer tips as to whether or not any given product is worth your while, you’ll need to make some careful considerations before finalizing a purchase if you’d like to come out with the best product for you. However, I can help you figure out just what it is you should be looking for in your next condenser microphone. Keep some of the following considerations in mind while shopping to make sure you come out with the best possible microphone for your needs.
What level of quality are you looking for?
One of the microphones we covered earlier comes with a feature which blocks out noises that you just don’t want showing up on your recording. While such a feature isn’t exactly mandatory, it will prove to be a huge helping hand if you’re after a professional-level end result, as it will not only offer a better sound quality, but will make your life a whole lot easier while trying to get a sound you feel comfortable with.
On the other hand, if you’re recording a few demos to show some people in the business (who won’t grade you on the quality of your equipment), or are simply recording something to memorize it so you can record it professionally at a later date, such a feature will prove to be nothing more than a money pit. It’s probably best you only opt for such a feature if you never plan on recording the song again. If you do, worrying about small details like this won’t really make much of a difference in the end.
How long should your cord be?
You can never go too big, but it’s pretty easy to go too small. Just to be safe, it can’t hurt to take some measurements of the area in which you plan on doing your recording. With a measuring tape, measure the length between the area where you plan on putting your mic and the area where you plan on actually plugging it in. Just to be safe, it can’t hurt to add another three feet onto this number. If you’re unsure of just where it is your recording may take you, it might be a better idea to opt for a longer cord than you think you’ll need. Ten feet should always suffice.
Common Condenser Microphone Features
Although there is a lot of subjectivity in determining whether or not any given feature found in a condenser microphone is of any value, there are a couple features which you should always look out for, as these will always be a great indicator of quality and will likely come in handy at some point or another. When shopping, try keeping an eye out for products which include the below features to ensure you’re getting the best product possible.
A Good Sound Quality – This might sound obvious, though it’s not always easy to pick out. It can be easy to assume that the most expensive mics have the highest recording quality, though this is not even close to the truth. Always take a look at user reviews. If everyone attests that a mic has a poor sound quality, immediately move onto the next one. Otherwise, you can achieve an equally poor quality with a five-dollar computer mic (which I would recommend over a condenser with poor sound quality any day).
Durable Joints – A joint, in this sense, refers to where the cord attaches to the rest of the unit. Joints are often the first thing to break in all mics. If you’re shopping around in person and can see a mic on display, try wiggling its joint (though never tug it or aggressively wiggle it, or you may find yourself paying for more mics than you had planned on).
Getting a mic which exhibits one of more of the two above features is always a good idea. Outside of this; however, you’ll need to decide for yourself whether or not any given mic is most suited toward your needs. With the advice laid forth in the above buyer’s guide, doing so will be a breeze.
Darius is our Electronics, Tools and Music writer. He's a self-proclaimed music geek who loves laying down tracks in his spare time. Darius worked for a well-known tool company for 7 years before joining the ThoroughlyReviewed.com team.