Before you go on to buy the best condenser mic for your setup, there are a couple of things you should know.
No, we will not be talking about any steps on how you can end up with a condenser microphone that will take care of all your needs. That will come later on.
For now, let’s just talk about the basics- what is a condenser microphone and why should you even consider one?
For starters, condenser microphones are commercial-grade options that can make a lot of difference in your streams. Of course, they are a bit on the pricey side. Still, they make a lot of sense if you’re into instruments and want the best possible audio output.
Another noteworthy feature of a condenser microphone is its transient response, which is fairly accurate and diverse (depending on the model you’re getting of course). This allows the condenser mics to offers seamless outputs in terms of vocals and instrumentals, enabling the user to be more creative with his streams.
With so many options in the market, we took it upon ourselves to come up with a few options which we prefer.
We will be going through the features of each option and see if they are truly worth it (we already know they are!).
Before that here’s a quick look at the offerings!
Best Condenser Microphones – Our Top Picks for 2021
|Model Name||Pickup Pattern||Dimensions|
|Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ USB Microphone||Cardioid||6.4x2x2-inch|
|MXL Mics 770 Condenser Microphone||Cardioid||12x4x8-inch|
|Rode NT1-A Anniversary VocalCondenser Microphone Package||Cardioid||15.25×4.5×11-inch|
|AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone||Cardioid||11.3×8.6×3.9-inch|
|Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Microphone||Cardioid||9.8×4.6×2.6-inch|
|Rode NTK Premium Tube Condenser Microphone||Cardioid||26x6x13-inch|
Now that you’ve had a good look at our choices, it’s time to dive into the roots of the products themselves. We’ve done our best to dissect each feature and see whether or not they’re viable enough.
So, we would ask you to bear with us and have some faith!
The Best Condenser Mic Choices for 2021
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ USB Microphone
Audio Technica (many of you probably know the name) is a famous name in the media industry. Although they are not the best microphone in the world by any means, we think it is the best condenser mic.
But we will need to solidify our claims by telling you about the features, right?
Well, we will come to that in a bit. For now, let’s have a look at the design of the AT2020USB+, which is, of course, our choice for 2021.
The design is very simple. Still, you will find that there’s a certain flair about the design. Although it’s not the best-looking thing in the world, it’s certainly one of the cleanest looking microphones you will find.
So, how do the features stack up?
For starters, you are getting a 48-kHz sample rate, which is pretty much a standard to have that clean audio you need for streaming. You also have mixing controls that allow you to be more creative with your mind. If you think of these two features together, you’ll see that it makes a lot of sense.
And you cannot forget about the headphone amplifier, which increases the overall usability by a great deal. Compatibility is another noteworthy feature, which is pretty seamless across different systems.
So, should you consider it?
The Audio Technica AT2020USB+ comes with a lot of neat features that have just the right amount of balance. And the pricing is really fair as well. Despite the minor driver issue, we believe you should get this microphone with your eyes closed. There’s really nothing to nitpick here. It’s a really nice package deal you’re getting.
- It features a robust build quality.
- The 16-bit/48-kHz sample rate is more than enough to give you a competitive edge.
- You get proper mixing capabilities to allow you to mix your pre-recorded sessions.
- The internal headphone amplifier offers superior audio with crisp details.
- It features good compatibility with both MAC and Windows.
- The support for a wide frequency range is a plus.
- There is a minor issue with the internal driver.
MXL Mics 770 Condenser Microphone
The MXL 770 condenser microphone wasn’t supposed to be on our list for the best microphone for streaming.
But once we tested out the features, we found it to be a very solid option indeed. Whether you want to stream casually or record your guitar talents, the 770 will certainly have your back.
As far as the design goes, then there’s really not much going on there. But one of the noteworthy features of the MXL 770 is its form factor, which is very suitable for travel purposes.
And the weight is just around a pound. Overall, it’s a clean design that’s got no surprises.
Now come the features of the microphone regarding the performance.
For starters, we found the frequency range to be very satisfactory, which can go as low as 30-Hz. This will help you with a low-frequency response. Other than that, the FET-based pre-amplification offers decent balance and control, which does increase the overall functionality.
The cardioid polar pattern of the 0.87-inch capsule does a great job of filtering out ambient noise. Pair that with the low-frequency roll-off feature. Then you have a solid microphone for vocals and instrumentals that offer rich and clear audio.
In conclusion, all we would like to add is this- if you are someone who wants to set them apart, then this microphone will certainly make a good impression of you in front of your virtual audience.
You should certainly check it out.
- The design is very compact along with decent build quality.
- It’s got good bass response thanks to solid internal drivers.
- The audio clarity is noteworthy.
- You do get the low-frequency roll-off feature, which eliminates unwanted noises.
- It’s got a frequency range of 30-Hz to 20-kHz, which is pretty much a standard.
- A solid choice for vocals and instrumentals as well.
- The isolation stand design isn’t up to the mark.
Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Condenser Microphone Package
Henry Freedman and Peter Freedman were obsessed with creating an audio product that would reach the average consumer. They wanted to come up with something that made a difference in the life of an average Joe who, one day, wished to become famous.
That’s how Freedman Electronics started back in 1967. It’s now known as Rode Microphones, which is still trying to make the ‘nobody’ in the society to become something more.
And the Rode NT1-A is clearly a testament to the dream of Rode Microphones.
The Rode NT1-A is a microphone that’s more about the performance than the design. And there’s really nothing to talk about the design. It’s a regular looking microphone which comes with all the capabilities to become your next studio mic.
It’s one of the quietest microphones out there. You only have a self-noise of 5-dB, which is very convenient considering the current standards.
Once you pair that with a transformer-free circuitry, you’ll find it to be very effective in a fragile environment. The internal shock mounts also help with the audio quality, making it the perfect option for both vocals and instrumentals.
The frequency response is pretty accurate-going down to as low as 20-Hz. When you add the true condenser functionality, then you’ll find it to be a very intriguing option.
So, should you even consider this microphone?
For starters, the price to performance per feature is right on point. You are essentially getting what you pay for. And the isolation issue is addressable as well, which makes it a really solid option to pass on.
All we can say is this:
Don’t let it pass away. You should certainly give it a fair chance in your mind’s telescope.
- The 1-inch capsule design is complemented by a plated diaphragm design.
- It can support wider dynamic ranges.
- The 5-dB self-noise is along with a transformerless surface mount circuitry that offers more than decent functionality.
- You are getting a true condenser cardioid mic that’s got an internal shock mounting capability.
- The 20-Hz low-frequency sensitivity comes as an added bonus.
- It comes with a pop-shield that feels very premium.
- There is a slight isolation issue, which sometimes makes the audio sound tin-like.
AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
AKG has been around for more than half a century, starting its journey back in 1947. It may not have been that great of a deal back then, it’s certainly a big deal now.
The company started out with one mission in mind-How do we make AKG synonymous to ‘Sound’? Back in the day, they may not have created the hype they wanted. But now, in 2021, AKG is a household name for professionals in the audio industry.
And the AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Condenser Microphone holds this claim from AKG. The only difference here is that it’s an option for your home studio, destined to bring out your inner creativity.
The design is fairly small and simple. You only get the AKG branding at the front, which isn’t that big of a deal. It doesn’t scream at your face if that’s what you wanted to know.
The dynamic range is superior to other relevant competition. And it’s all thanks to the solid internals and suspension system. Both of them are very effective in bringing clear audio to the table without the excess noise.
You also have a 20-dB attenuator and a bass-cut filter. Both of these functionalities offer great value when it comes to close-range audio recording, making it a highly suitable option for live streaming. And the sophistication of the features also allows it to be a solid choice for instrument recording as well.
Overall, despite some cheap parts, you are getting a really good deal for the price. So, there’s really no point in leaving it for later. If you’re someone who wants solid audio quality with very little compromise, then this microphone will certainly help you out.
- It features a very small footprint along with acceptable build quality.
- The audio quality feels premium, it’s got a good balance to it as a whole.
- It features a 156-dB sound pressure level, which is really handy.
- It’s good for a wide dynamic range, sensitive to low audio levels.
- You get a bass-cut filter to have control over the proximity.
- The 20-dB attenuator along with the integrated suspension offers good support for proper audio recording.
- There are some cheap-feeling parts here and there, which is unacceptable for the price.
Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Microphone
The Neuman TLM 102 Condenser Microphone comes with a lot of decent features that a modern-day streamer would appreciate. It’s got the perfect mix of things, allowing it to be one of the best choices for a home studio microphone.
It comes in a fairly compact package with a large diaphragm. So, despite the small footprint, you will be getting studio-grade audio. The design complements the entire performance by a good deal.
Then you have the performance to talk about, which is very professional-like as a whole. SPL support is very decent. Also, having an XLR connector is always a welcome bonus.
If you combine the internal and external features, then you’ll find the TLM 102 to be a very decent choice. So, if you are interested in having a professional microphone, whatever the price may be, then you can check it out.
- The design is relatively compact, comes with a comparatively large-diaphragm than some of the other models.
- It only comes at around 200-grams, which is decent.
- It’s got support for an SPL range of 144-dB, with a signal to noise ratio of 73-dB, which is fair compared to other competitors out there.
- The transformer-less circuit design is both a standard and a convenient feature.
- You get a 6-kHz silence presence boost, which is an added bonus.
- The pricing is a bit too high.
Rode NTK Premium Tube Condenser Microphone
When it comes to the best condenser microphone, you don’t have the option to cut corners. It is the very reason why we put the Rode NTK premium tube condenser microphone on our list.
You have a fairly simple and portable design that will blend in very easily. But that’s not the point we are trying to make here.
We are more interested in offering you the details of the performance.
You have shock mounts and RF rejection feature. Both these features have the right amount of consistency, giving you just the right amount of clarity you need. Also, the hand-picked triode valves make their case very strong by offering professional output.
All in all, there’s not too much to dislike about the Rode NTK. Sure, the pricing isn’t that great. But you are pretty much getting all the premium features anyway.
Do check it out if you’re interested.
- It comes with a 1-inch capsule, you get hand-picked triode valves as well.
- There is a dedicated power supply with internal shock mounts, which is a very convenient package.
- You are getting the high RF rejection feature, which then gets complemented by the low audio sensitivity.
- The build quality is on point.
- The sound quality is fairly rich with very little artifacts.
- A very solid choice for single instrument audio recording.
- The pricing per feature isn’t great.
How to Buy the Best Condenser Mic: Getting through the Loopholes
If you want the best condenser mic for your home studio, then there are certain things you need to watch out for.
Of course, you can go with any of our options and be done with it. But if you want to do some experimentation to find out which has the better audio quality, then you should have some idea about the following:
The Sound Pressure Levels (SPL)
If you’re going for higher audio levels, then you should keep an eye out for the SPL ratings. It will tell you if the microphone will offer the level of loudness you need.
Weight and Dimensions
If you’re an artist on-the-move, then you may want to look at the weight and dimensions of the microphone. But, if performance is a major concern for you (which is the case most of the time), you can ignore it.
It’s a simple measure that will determine how clear the audio is. The rule of thumb is simple. The higher the sampling rate, the better. In general, you shouldn’t go with anything less than 24-kHz.
Pricing is always a concern. What you can do is target a particular price point. This will eliminate all the unnecessary options.
Q: Why should I choose a condenser option for my vocals?
Ans.: Condenser microphones have very good sensitivity and pickup. Although they are not the cheapest options out there, they are still on top of their high-fidelity audio quality. High-fidelity results in a good frequency response, which is something you’d want to set yourself apart.
Q: What’s the difference between a condenser and a dynamic mic?
Ans.: Condenser microphone isn’t that great for higher audio levels. They have special coils inside to amplify the audio further. You can’t expect something like this from a condenser mic, which is more suited for the low audio.
Q: What’s phantom power?
Ans.: Simply put, it’s the power requirements for a condenser mic. Whether you’re running a USB option or not, you’ll need phantom power to run the microphone. It’s simply because of the fairly high input impedance output.
Q: Do Dynamic microphones need phantom power?
Ans.: Dynamic audio mics are passive in nature. So, they often don’t need any external power.
Q: Are there any advantages with a cardioid pickup microphone?
Ans.: Cardioid microphones are very good at eliminating the background noise. They only capture audio from one side, so the ambient disturbances are cut off.
We would like to extend our gratitude for being with us this far. We know it’s not exactly been the easiest journey, with so much information to take in.
Still, if you’ve managed to catch the gist of the best condenser mic review, then you shouldn’t have any problems navigating through the choices and grabbing a streaming mic that works for you.
In case you’re using a condenser microphone for game streaming, then you may want to go for a trusted brand. With such a competitive market these days, it’s really hard not to get into the world of streaming. Going with a reputed brand may be costly initially, but it will offer a competitive edge overall.
We don’t want to rant any further. We hope you find what you’re looking for.