Finding great microphones for building a home studio, this could be a real challenge! I still remember the first time I’ve ever built a home recording studio. I was about 16 and I had a dream of becoming a music star. Man, the audio equipment was so expensive at that time (at least for my budget), so I had to do a lot of improvisation. Time flies and the home studio equipment got affordable, new audio interfaces and microphones were released, older mics got cheaper. If you want to upgrade your recording setup or you want to build your first recording studio, I’m going to recommend a list with great microphones for a home studio you can buy in 2017. The mics are in no particular order, and prices may vary, but one thing is certain: they are affordable and are of great quality.
Before starting with the greatest microphones on the market, I want to say that this list does not contains the cheapest mics you can buy. These microphones are affordable, but are not necessarily cheap. When I compiled the list, I had in mind the best ratio between price and quality. When you buy any of these mics you know that you made the best possible acquisition for that price.
Rode is a microphone produced in Australia, and this version, the NT2a, falls into the NT2000 line, which was very praised by the buyers. This condenser microphone has a large variety of selectable polar patterns, pads and switches that are incorporated directly into the mic. But, Rode NT2a is more than that, because in no matter what application you will use it for, it will capture the best possible sound. It’s perfect for vocals, but if you want to record instruments (a guitar), it’s the perfect choice. It is very quiet when it comes to self noise, and you will notice the perfect mid-range response, the clear low end and it has a great presence. You will find Rode-NT2a in most online stores under $400, you can’t buy anything better in that price range (maybe ACK C214). You can check this great recording setup that I love with its older brother, Rode NT1a.
AKG Perception 420
This microphone has the legendary quality of AKG mics, and this mic is the latest edition of the much praised Perception line of ACK microphones. Perception 420 features a -20dB pad switch and a bass cut filter switch that allows you to record your vocals without those unwanted low frequencies. This mic is under $200, and in that price range, it’s the best choice you can make. The package also contains a shock mount.
Neumann TLM 102
This TLM microphone brings the German engineering and quality into the world of recording studios. Let’s not forget that the legendary Neumann U87 is a trend setter and represents a standard bar for most recording microphones released today. But, U87 is not cheap at all (around $4000), and we can’t afford it for our home studio. That’s why Neumann decided to build a line of cheaper mics, but trying to maintain the sound quality of U87. The TLM 102 has so many features and it’s hard to talk about all of them in a brief description. The most important feature is the boast of the maximum sound pressure of 144dB, which allows you to record record very loud sound sources like drums and percussion. But, TLM 102 really shines when it comes to vocal recording. It’s clean, quiet, and captures the real presence of the voice with high accuracy. Buying this mic is not cheap, even for a home studio ($699), but if you want quality, you have to pay for it. Remember, we are aiming to get great microphones, not the cheapest ones!
If you have a budget of $400, and if you want a better mic than Perception 420, you should consider ACK C214. ACK manufacturer is building quality mics for over 50 years, and they finally decided to release a line of affordable mics for us, the home studio owners. C214 is the little brother of the well known ACK C414, a mic used by many professional studios out there. The ACK C214 combines the Back-Plate Technology created by ACK with the dual-capsule system found also in C414. I was reading few reviews for this particular microphone, and that combination of technology it’s not just for show, because everyone seems to have only good words about it. The only negative element I could find in the reviews was the low end recordings, and folks say that sometimes they seems thin. But that can depend on the audio interface they are using.
Audio Technica AT4040 Condenser Microphone
Although AT4040 is cheaper than the mics above, it needs to be in this list with the other great microphones of 2017. It was created for professional recording but also works great on live performances. It’s externally-polarized and its large diaphragm captures smooth, natural sounds. Ultra low nose, no low-frequency distortion.
MXL V69MEDT Large Diaphram Condenser Tube Microphone
This condenser microphone is different from all the other great microphones presented here, because it features a vintage tube sound. The grill is plated with 24K gold. If you plan to upgrade from a cheaper mic, but you don’t actually have to money to buy a $600 microphone, this is definitely your best option.
If you plan to buy studio equipment for your home studio, you can get poor quality mics at prices between $75 and $150, or you can spare extra dollars and get something that will really make the difference. For me, investing $400 in a quality mic is nothing compared to the love I have for making music at home. But, in the end, it’s not about finding the right items or the place where to buy studio equipment, it’s all up to you and your budget. If you can’t squeeze the budget, you just can’t, and you should get whatever you can afford. Better something than nothing, right?
Remember that a condenser mic requires a source of power (+48V Phantom Power) and remember that you should probably get a recording studio package for it, a mic stand and a pop filter.