Best Boundary Microphones [A Buying Guide in 2020]

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If the thought of getting the best boundary microphone ever crossed your mind, then you’re at the right place. 

Of course, this is a review of the best-rated boundary microphone. Still, it’s a bit foolish to jump into something you may not have any clear idea about.

So, what is a boundary microphone?

Well, you need these microphones if you want absolutely no intrusions. 

Unlike the various types of microphones, the boundary microphones have no stands. They are pretty much condenser microphones with either cardioid or super-cardioid polar pattern. But there are obvious differences there as well. 

Also, the diaphragm is mostly small for these options. 

These microphones have mounting points just a couple of feet away from the source. It can be either be the ceiling or the floor. Or it can be some other mounting point. 

And boundary microphones don’t need any comb filtering, which doesn’t have that great of a fidelity. 

Now comes the question of finding out the right options. 

Well, we obviously took that responsibility. So, here are your choices for the best value boundary microphones.  

Comparison for 2020: Best Boundary Microphones

Model NamePolar PatternDimensions (inches)
MXL AC404 USB Conference MicrophoneHemispheric4.3x3x2
Movo MC1000 Conference USB Microphone for Computer Desktop and LaptopSuper-Cardioid4.6×0.94×3.9
AKG PCC160 Professional Boundary Layer MicrophoneHalf super-cardioid9.7×4.9×2.8
Audix Dynamic MicrophoneHemi cardioid8x6x4
Audio-Technica PRO 44 Condenser Boundary MicrophoneCardioid3.3×5.6×2
CAD Audio USB U7 Boundary Condenser MicrophoneOmnidirectional6.2×8.5×3
Shure CVB-B/O Boundary Condenser MicrophoneOmnidirectional4×2.5×6.5
Audio-Technica PRO 42 Miniature Condenser Boundary MicrophoneCardioid3.3×5.6×2

So, you’ve had a quick look at the options; that’s great. But you can’t just stop there yet. 

Let’s take the journey together and find out what each feature of each product has in store for the average user, that being you. 

We did try our best to be as unbiased as possible to weed out these condenser boundary mics. We’ll leave the rest of the thinking to you. 

Our Top Boundary Mic Picks for 2020

MXL AC404 USB Conference Microphone

Product Overview 

Our top choice in the lineup for the best boundary microphone is the MXL AC404 USB Conference Microphone. Although MXL Mics aren’t that well-known in the audio space, they are pretty good at making decent microphones. 

And the AC404 Microphone is no different. It’s got all the right features that come doused with reliability and control. Also, the pricing is very aggressive, making it one of the very few options out there with such great features. 

Let’s start with the design. 

The shape and size of the AC404 aren’t very over the top. It’s a sleek design that will blend in with any setup. And the quality of the materials is more than decent. Overall, there’s not much to complain about the design. 

And what about the performance?

You have a 3-capsule boundary design that’s got 180-degree coverage. It does sound good on paper. 

But upon inspection, we found this feature to be one of the noteworthy ones. It offers great functionality with proper control. Add the self-gain optimization feature and you have a very decent microphone at hand. 

Amongst some of the other noteworthy features is the compatibility. The USB connectivity makes this microphone very easy to use with MAC and windows. This makes the overall functionality worthy of the investment. 

All in all, the features all mingle together to give you a solid overall experience. Although the feature set is fairly simple, the control and pricing make the entire package very intriguing. You can go for it with your eyes closed. 

Pros

  • A USB microphone that has proper build quality. 
  • It features a 3-capsule boundary design. 
  • You have a 16-bit converter that’s compatible with USB 2.0 (backward compatible with USB 3.0).  
  • The 40-Hz lower range of frequency is commendable. 
  • The design offers good 180-degree coverage. 
  • It can capture sound from a 25-feet radial area with proper control. 
  • You have automatic gain control that offers optimal performance. 
  • You have custom circuitry along with proper compatibility. 
  • Its design allows good coverage for courtrooms, conference rooms and more.  

Cons

  • You don’t have a mute button with this microphone. 

Movo MC1000 Conference USB Microphone for Computer Desktop and Laptop

Product Overview 

The MOVO MC1000 Conference USB Microphone has a lot of decent features in its arsenal. Apart from being an affordable choice for conferences and meetings, it also holds the capabilities to be a reliable microphone as well. 

So, what’s so special about the microphone?

Well, if you talk about the design, then there’s not much going on there. It’s a dome-like design that’s fairly robust. The black finish also doesn’t scream out to the user. All in all, it’s a small microphone that silently blends in with your setup. 

The performance is what the MC1000 is all about. 

You have a super-cardioid microphone that’s got a 180-degree coverage. And the advantage of this is the sound clarity, which is very clear and precise thanks to the narrower pickup field. Also, the frequency response helps out the cause as well. In short, the voice clarity is on par with other high-end choices out there. 

The headphone jack is another convenient feature you cannot miss. It increases the overall functionality by a great deal. 

If you’re looking for the best boundary microphone, then the MC1000 should make a place in your shopping list. The features and the pricing say it all.   

Pros

  • It comes with a highly durable design. 
  • You can easily get a 20-feet coverage without any disturbances. 
  • There is a headphone monitoring jack for optimal performance control. 
  • The 6.5-feet USB cable offers decent functionality. 
  • It’s only 250-grams, fairly lightweight. 
  • You have a 20-kHz max. frequency range, which is the usual standard. 
  • The super-cardioid polar pattern with a 180-degree spread offers decent audio. 

Cons

  • You won’t have the functionality to use it with computer speakers. 

AKG PCC160 Professional Boundary Layer Microphone

Product Overview 

AKG has been a top player in the audio consumer market for quite some time now. The precision and reliability of its products are simply amazing. And that’s all because of the care they put into their design and execution. 

The claim we made above holds true for the AKG PCC160 Boundary Layer Microphone

We won’t really talk about design much. It’s simple and low-profile and has good rigidity. You should be pretty happy with it. 

What matters the most is the performance. 

And that’s where the PCC160 shines the most. You have a customized condenser that’s got the PCC boundary technology. This plays a pivotal role in noise reduction, which is one of the strong suits of the PCC160. The audio quality is very decent overall. 

That’s pretty much all we had to say about the PCC160. If you want good audio for a large conference room, you have the option to pick it up as your own. But you may want to weigh in all the features. 

From where we stand, we believe it’s a fair deal. 

Pros

  • The frequency range can go as low as 40-Hz. 
  • It features an electret condenser that comes with the PCC boundary technology. 
  • The half super-cardioid polar pattern is capable of offering decent audio. 
  • The overall build quality is on point. 
  • You’ve got improved gain-before-feedback that allows better noise reduction. 
  • It’s a highly suitable option for large conference halls and theaters.  

Cons

  • There is a noticeable hissing or crackling noise. 

Audix Dynamic Microphone

Product Overview 

When it comes to the best boundary Microphone, Audix should make the list. The Audix dynamic microphone isn’t anything spectacular. Still, when you compare the price to performance ratio of other similar products, you’ll see what we’re talking about. 

The design is very simple. The build quality is commendable as well. In short, the design is sleek and doesn’t have too many surprises. 

The overall feature set is pretty refined here. The audio quality is great thanks to the proper tolerance levels and sensitivity. All in all, you are pretty much getting all the bells and whistles. 

So, if you’re interested to have something polished and convenient in your office space for recording, then you should check it out. 

Pros

  • It’s got good sensitivity at long ranges. 
  • You can go as low as 50-Hz with a peak of 18-kHz. 
  • The microphone cable has a decent 25-inch length. 
  • The level of tolerance is decent overall. 
  • You have a die-cast zinc shell, which is a sign of decent build quality. 
  • It’s a well-suited option for both stage and studio applications.   

Cons

  • The ambient noise pickup can be reduced. 

Audio-Technica PRO 44 Condenser Boundary Microphone

Product Overview 

The PRO 44 Condenser Boundary Microphone from Audio-Technica comes with a lot of decent features. 

It’s pretty much a big brother to the PRO 42, which has a lot of the features found in the PRO 44. 

And there’s really no discernable difference between the two. It’s got a low-profile shell with rugged construction. Also, the small diaphragm allows for crisp and clear audio quality, which is one of its strong suits. 

If you like the PRO 44, then the PRO 42 will be to your liking as well. If you’re curious, you can check out the specs. 

Pros

  • One of the best low-footprint boundary microphones, satisfactory build quality. 
  • It’s going to last you long thanks to the superior build quality. 
  • The internal electronics offer good functionality as a whole. 
  • You’ve got a 7.6-meter cable that increases the overall usability. 
  • The diaphragm is small and doesn’t have any noticeable weight to it. 
  • It will work well on podiums, conferences and lecture halls. 

Cons

  • You may need a mixer to control the gain accuracy. 

CAD Audio USB U7 Boundary Condenser Microphone

Product Overview

CAD Audio has been around for a long time now. And over the years, they’ve managed to dish out a lot of decent products, the USB U7 Condenser Microphone to be amongst the bunch. 

So, what’s so special about the U7? 

The design is pretty unique to say the very least. And that actually complements the compactness of this condenser microphone. And the build quality is fair as well. Overall, the outer shell has a very satisfactory feeling to it. 

As for the performance, there’s a lot to like about the U7. You’re getting good sensitivity and a good frequency range. Both of these features provide decent functionality overall. Also, you cannot forget the USB power, which is one of the reasons why it’s such a suitable choice to use with your laptop. 

The compatibility with MAC and PC is one of its strong suits, making it one of the few options to be suitable for classrooms and seminar halls. It’s also a highly suitable option for your home as well. 

All in all, if you factor in all the features, then you’ll see why the U7 can be your next boundary microphone. Make sure to take a closer look at it before making any decision. 

Pros

  • There’s special attention to the frequency response. 
  • You get full 360-degree coverage. 
  • The design is fairly low-profile and is solid overall. 
  • The sensitivity is right on point. 
  • The perfect choice for both home and office. 
  • It features proper compatibility with both Windows and MAC. 

Cons

  • The audio accuracy could be better. 

Shure CVB-B/O Boundary Condenser Microphone

Product Overview 

Shure is one of the best microphone brands out there. There shouldn’t be any doubt in anyone’s mind about the quality of service. As a matter of fact, the creative nature of their service is what makes them one of the top players in the game. 

And the Shure CVB-B/O Condenser Microphone does justice to the above-mentioned claim. 

First of all, the design is the first thing that stands out. It’s very low-profile and has a bit of flair to it. There’s nothing flashy about the aesthetics. It’s sleek and black, there’s really nothing out of the ordinary. Still, the design is one of the best there is. 

And what about the performance?

Despite the small-scale form-factor, the RF signal rejection is very decent as a whole. This results in better audio that’s clear and concise. The frequency response offers decent functionality largely thanks to its ability to hold composure. 

Furthermore, the high resistance to radio signals is another noteworthy feature. Once you factor in all of these, you will find yourself to be the owner of a solid boundary microphone. 

And that’s pretty much all there is to it. Considering the price, we believe you are getting a fair deal. Do check it out if you want something that’s clean and precise.   

Pros

  • It’s a fairly portable design, decent build quality. 
  • The design complements desktop and podium use. 
  • Comm-Shield technology offers good radio frequency rejection capabilities. 
  • The frequency response offers good transient capturing capabilities. 
  • The design adds a fashion statement to your setup. 

Cons

  • The cable is a bit stiff. 

Audio-Technica PRO 42 Miniature Condenser Boundary Microphone

Product Overview 

The Audio-Technica PRO 42 Condenser Boundary Microphone is our very last offering in this review for the best boundary microphone. It’s clearly not the best in the world. But the overall feature set makes it a solid choice for an intermediate level user. 

One of the strong suits of the PRO 42 is the design. It’s very rugged and does compliment the aesthetics a bit. The portability factor also holds true for it as the dimensions are fairly smaller than the competition. 

As for the performance, there are no major complaints here. The sound signature is smooth and crisp. The audio details are proper as well. Also, thanks to the well-thought-out design, there isn’t too much ambient disturbance. 

Other features include low-profile diaphragm and proper electrical internals. Both of these increase the overall functionality by a great deal. Overall, it’s a full-on package that’s got true potential.   

In conclusion, if you really want something that’s portable and offers decent usability, then the Audio-Technica PRO 42 can be the right option for you. Do check it out if you’re interested. 

Pros

  • The design portability is satisfactory, very low-profile overall. 
  • The diaphragm mass is on the low, which is satisfactory. 
  • The condenser element offers good overall usability. 
  • The build quality is on par with other high-end options. 
  • The audio quality is on point. 
  • There’s no need for any external power module.  

Cons

  • The cable attachment can be hard to handle at times. 

How to Buy a Boundary Microphone: Knowing the Right Things

Things should be pretty clear by now if you’re on the hunt for the best boundary microphone. We also have a strong belief that many of you have already chosen an option. 

But there are those of you out there who are keen to try out their luck. They want to try something different. 

And that’s perfectly fine. The sign of a true professional is to experiment with different options (you could start by experimenting with one of our recommendations!). But you’d make a fool of yourself if you don’t know the things that matter. 

Here is a list of things that will help you buy the right microphone. 

We’re well aware that this review is about boundary microphones. But what we are about to talk to you about will make a difference on whatever mic you want to buy. 

The Brand Value: A Necessity 

If you’re someone with a decent budget and don’t want any compromises, then a proper brand will come to your aid. 

Brand value is an important weighing factor whenever you’re looking for a microphone. 

The best brands always offer the best services. They don’t just offer quality products. As a matter of fact, they stand by their products and are committed to helping the customers in any way possible. 

So not only are you getting a boost of confidence in getting the right microphone, but you’re also purchasing the reliability with it. 

Here is a list of some popular microphone brands out there (in no particular order):

  • Rode Microphones
  • Blue Microphones 
  • Audio-Technica 
  • Shure 
  • AKG
  • Movo
  • Audix
  • MXL etc.  

The Pricing: A Forethought 

No matter what anyone tells you-pricing matters. 

You could buy a decent microphone for less than 40 dollars. The pricing can go up to 200+ dollars. 

One of the simple rules of thumb is to simply plan on a price point (we did say it a lot of times). This will eliminate unnecessary options. From there, you could weigh the features and move on from there. 

The Feature Set: How Do you Make a Decision

There are a lot of factors involved in the feature set. 

There are two things: the features you need and the features you don’t need. But before you can even start with the breaking of features, you need to have a clear idea about the following: 

The Applications

You need to have a clear idea about how you’re going to use your microphone. There are certain scenarios: 

You could be using it for a board room meeting (the main use case for a boundary microphone). Or you could use it for recording vocals for your stream. 

Both of these use cases have specific needs. So, you may want to look at the features of the options you have in your mind. 

There is also the studio purpose, which often requires ambient mic placement. The feature set you need for that purpose is entirely different and requires special attention, you get the idea. 

The Pickup Pattern

Depending on the application, you need to find the right microphone with the right polar pattern. 

For instance, the board meeting and the streaming microphones pretty much have a unidirectional or cardioid polar pattern. These are either condense or dynamic microphones. You now have to choose an option that suits you. 

And if you’re going for studio operation, then an omnidirectional polar pattern may be highly suitable for you. Studio production often requires the presence of an ambient environment.  

The Frequency Response and Sample Rate

Whatever brand you choose to go with, make sure it can respond to a wider frequency range. There are brands out there that are doing a really good job of making sure their microphones can respond to wider frequency ranges. 

And the sample rate needs to be proper as well. Anything below 24-kHz isn’t an acceptable range. If you want clear audio, then you must be willing to shed a couple of bucks in favor of a better sample rating. 

And there is the matter of Sound Pressure Level or SPL, which needs addressing as well.  In general, the reference is 0.5% distortion at 1-kHz. 

The Accessories 

You should always pay special attention to the number of accessories you are getting, especially if you’re paying a premium. 

So, before making the final purchase, make sure to check if there’s anything extra. Considerations like these always bear fruit. 

FAQ

Q: What are the possible use cases for a boundary microphone?

Ans.: There are a lot of things you can do with a boundary microphone:

  • You can use a boundary microphone to record the complete audio within a room. 
  • You can use it as a piano microphone
  • You can use it as media for body check audio. 

Apart from these three, there are other use cases out there. 

Q: What exactly is a cardioid microphone?

Ans.: A cardioid microphone has a sound pickup pattern that’s almost the shape of a heart. In short, the sensitivity has the distinct shape of a heart. 

A cardioid microphone is only capable of picking up noise from a certain side. You can call it one-sided or unidirectional, as the sound pickup is only limited to one side only. This allows for better sound isolation, which is often a requirement for vocals. 

Q: When would you need an omnidirectional microphone?

Ans.: An omnidirectional microphone is capable of capturing sound from the surroundings. And that’s also one of its main disadvantages. 

If you’re focusing on a particular scenario where only the vocalist needs picking, then an omnidirectional microphone may not be the wisest choice. Although it is picking up the noise, it’s picking it up from all directions. And that’s when the problems occur, as there is a noticeable amount of background noise. 

Q: Is there a way to test the polarity of a microphone?

Ans.: It’s very simple really. All you have to do is put a probe on the outer shell and another probe on either of the two terminals of the microphone. If the multimeter gives you a beep back, then you’re on the negative terminal. 

The above-mentioned method is a popular way of making sure which terminal you’re on. 

Q: Is there a way to check the microphone?

Ans.: If you mean if the microphone is working correctly or not, then yes, there is. 

All you have to do is select the ‘Do nothing’ button on the radio button (depending on your gear, steps may vary). Then once you restart your system, you need to check the recording panel to see if the bars are swinging or not. If they are not swinging, you have a problem with your setup. 

Otherwise, all is hunky-dory!

Q: Is there a difference between cardioid and super-cardioid pickup pattern?

Ans.: There is a slight distinction. 

The super-cardioid polar pattern is tighter than the cardioid pickup. In simple terms, it has better rejection capabilities from the sides. So, it only picks up what’s directly at the front. Anything else gets rejected.  

Q: What is the proper way to place mics for recording piano audio?

Ans.: All you need to do is put two boundary condenser microphones at three strategic positions. One should be 3-feet in front of the piano in either X or Y position. Another needs to be 5-feet from the ground. 

Q: What things should you keep in mind for piano recording? 

Ans.: There are certain things you need to keep in mind: 

  • The place has to be roomy enough for a proper flow of audio. 
  • The microphone diaphragm needs to be fragile enough. 
  • The lid of the piano should be open for a fuller audio signature. 
  • One microphone should be close to the string and the other one should place at a decent distance to cancel out any ambiance artifacts. 
  • The mic that’s further away should have a minimum 3-time distance from the closest microphone. 

Q: What do you mean by the XY placement? 

Ans.: It’s a simple measure of putting two microphones as close as possible to each other. Their diaphragms shouldn’t touch. But they have to be as close as possible. 

Q: Is there something called ‘ambient mic placement’?

Ans.: Ambient mic placement is the practice of covering the entire sound of the room rather than the audio source. If you want a natural setup, then this type of placement can come in handy. 

Closing Remarks 

If you’ve made it this far, then congratulations, you’ve taken a whole lot of information. It’s clearly going to help you buy the best boundary microphone

But there are those of you out there who still aren’t convinced. You still don’t know which boundary microphone brand is better. 

In a perfectly sound world, we would ask you to go with one of our options (we are still doing so!). But if you want to try out your luck, you may want to go through the buying guide and the FAQ section. Both of these sections have specific designs to help you out. 

But, if you don’t want to go through all the trouble, then you should go for the best brand that’s out there. Ask your friends, take some advice from your fellow professionals. That should give you a nice starting ground. 

And that’s pretty much all we have to say right now. We hope you find our efforts useful. 

Peace!