15 Of The Best Studio Microphones Under $500!

15 Of The Best Studio Microphones Under $500!
The best studio microphones may not be what you think!

It’s a common belief that really expensive microphones and multi-million dollar studios are necessary to achieve a professional sound.

Luckily, when it comes to the best studio microphones that’s not entirely true anymore!

Having access to a lot of expensive equipment definitely improves the recording process…

… but you would be surprised by how many hit songs have been recorded in bedrooms or closets.

If you don’t believe it, you can check out these 15 legendary albums that were recorded in bedrooms, kitchens, and garages.

This is great news for producers, because honestly a majority of them have at least a modest budget to invest with.

And now, we want to help you invest that budget wisely!

Because of that, we’ve put together a list of the top 15 best studio microphones under $500.

[WARNING -  While looking at the list you will find a lot of technical words like polar patterns, transducers, and frequency response.

Don’t let this confuse you. These words may sound intimidating, but the concepts behind them are actually quite simple.

To get the most out of this article, Shure has an incredible educational content section that will teach you everything you need to know about the technicalities of microphones in general.

Or if you prefer to watch videos instead of reading, Pro Audio Lands has an incredible YouTube playlist called Microphones 101 that will also teach you everything you need to know.]

Let’s get started!

1. Shure SM58-C [99 USD]

pngbase64432ef4d063923a39Cymatics-shure-best microphone

    • Dynamic Microphone

    • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

    • Frequency Response: 50 Hz - 15 kHz

    • 150-300 ohms

Complete specifications are available at the Shure’s website.

We're almost positive you've seen this mic before...if not several times, at least once - even if you don't know it!

It’s basically everywhere.

… studios, live performances, schools, outdoor events, you name it.

This dynamic microphone simply gets the job done.

If your budget is tight and you are desperate for a good microphone, this mic is PERFECT for you.

The Shure SM58-C comes with a zipper bag and a mic stand adapter that will work with any standard microphone stand.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t come with an XLR cable when you buy it, so make sure you have one.

This studio microphone is truly the gold standard in durability.

(Check this video by Shure where they LITERALLY run over it with a bus)

2. Audio Technica AT2035 [149 USD]

cymatics-audio-technica-best microphone

    • Condenser Microphone

    • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

    • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz

    • Impedance: 150 ohms

Complete specifications are available at the Audio Technica Website.

This microphone comes with an incredible R5-type case and a shock mount.

The AT2035 looks almost identical to its little brother, the AT2020, but it comes with a much larger capsule inside of it.

Equipped with two switches, this mic has plenty of on-board controls.

The first switch is a low frequency roll-off (high pass filter)

The second switch does a -10 dB cut to the input signal without having to make any changes with your audio interface.

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This microphone has been widely used since the late 90’s and has an extremely clean signal path.

3. Rode NT1-A [229 USD]

cymatics-rhode-best microphone

    • Condenser Microphone

    • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

    • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz

    • Impedance: 100 ohms

Complete specifications are available at the RODE website.

“This mic is worth every cent! This mic has such an incredible dynamic range that it'll catch everything from blaring cymbals to a vocal breath ten feet away! I've used it for all my vocal and guitar tracks and have even been surprised with it's piano capability!”

- Travis Cullman from Sweetwater.

This beautiful microphone comes with a shock mount, a pop filter, a dust cover and a 20’ XLR cable.

The RODE NT1-A requires 24 or 48V phantom power from your audio interface to function

(Just as a side note, almost every condenser microphone requires phantom power. If you don’t know what 48V phantom power is, don’t worry! Shure explains it perfectly over here)

One of the best, but EXTREMELY overlooked features of the RODE NT1-A is that it comes with a 10-year warranty!

We have personally used and tested this microphone extensively and we can vouch for how awesome it is.

One of the things that impressed has us the most about this mic was its long pickup range.

With the great quality and fantastic bundle, this mic is a STEAL!

4. Blue Microphones Bluebird SL [299 USD]

cymatics-bluebird-best microphone

    • Condenser Microphone

    • Cardioid Polar Pattern

    • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz

    • Impedance: 50 ohm

Complete specifications are available at the Blue Mic’s website.

This microphone is possibly one of the best looking microphones in the whole “under $500” price range.

But looks aren’t just everything this mic has to offer - no matter the input source, it sounds downright amazing.

The Bluebird SL comes with two switches as well. A low frequency roll off and a -20 dB cut to the input signal.

“Musician’s Friend” did an incredible review about this microphone that will most likely convince you to buy this beautiful piece of equipment.

5. AKG C214 [349 USD]

cymatics-AKG-best microphone

    • Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

    • Cardioid Polar Pattern

    • Frequency Response: 20 Hz- 20 kHz

    • Impedance: 200 ohms

Full specifications are available at the AKG website.

This microphone can handle an impressive 156 dB SPF input signal, while adding a slight boost to all frequencies above 14 kHz.

This mic is the perfect tool to record acoustic performances, but that shouldn’t stop you from using it anywhere else.

The AKG C214 is astoundingly detailed for its price, and we believe it shouldn’t be as overlooked as it currently is.

Gearslutz, one of the most popular websites for pro audio has great community reviews about the AKG C214 here.

6. Shure SM7B [399 USD]

cymatics-sm7b-best microphone

    • Dynamic Microphone

    • Frequency Response: 50 Hz - 20 kHz

    • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

    • Impedance: 15o ohms

Complete specifications are available at the Shure website.

This studio microphone is used in many recording applications, and there’s a good reason for this.

It’s one of the easiest ones to use while meeting all of the pro audio expectations.

Most dynamic microphones can handle any task they’re given...

But the Shure SM7B takes that definition to the next level. You can find this microphone in multiple podcasts, talk shows, and radio stations.

But it can definitely be used for music as well...

Check out this quick interview with Serj Tankian of System Of A Down, where he mentions the Shure SM7B as one of his go-to microphones.

7. Sennheiser MD 421-II [379 USD]

cymatics-sennheiser-best microphone

    • Dynamic Microphone

    • Frequency Response: 30 Hz - 17 kHz

    • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

    • Impedance: 200 ohms

Complete specifications are available at the Sennheiser website.

This modest looking microphone is one of the most desired ones out there. Every major studio has at LEAST a couple of these.

This microphone excels at recording guitar amps, bass amps and drum sets.

Most microphones in the market only have one fixed bass roll off switch. The MD 421-II microphone has five different bass roll off settings.

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Because of this, this microphone can provide a wide range of tones.

Combine it with any other microphone in your recordings to achieve unique sound qualities that one microphone would never be able to provide.

8. sE Electronics Voodoo VR1 [399 USD]

cymatics-vr1-best microphone

    • Ribbon Microphone

    • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 18 kHz

    • Polar Pattern: Figure 8

    • Impedance: 300 ohms

Complete specifications are available at the sE Electronics website.

"I’m a songwriter, not an engineer, and whatever gets me there the quickest is what I’m going to use. That’s why I like this microphone - it’s a no-brainer!"
- Steve Stevens, guitarist (Billy Idol) sE Electronics & sE Electronics Artist

Professional recording engineers typically use ribbon microphones as “body microphones” because of their lack of high end frequencies.

Low frequencies are said to be the “body” of any given sound.

But what does that mean?

It means that it’s usually a good idea to use ribbon microphones in conjunction with any other type of studio microphone(s) so you have a full frequency spectrum range while comping your recordings.

(Comping is a technique that every modern producer should know about. If you don’t know what comping is you can learn about it over here.)

Thanks to its superb design and engineering, you don’t have to worry too much about this with the VR1 - it can record frequencies up to 18 kHz.

It’s one of the few ribbon mics in the market that is able to capture a broad spectrum of high frequencies.

9. Shure Beta 181 [499 USD]

cymatics-shure-beta-best microphone

    • Pencil Condenser Microphone

    • Polar Pattern: Figure 8, Cardioid & Omni

    • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz

    • Impedance: 110 ohms

Complete specifications are available at the Shure website.

So far in this list, all the studio microphones we have mentioned have a fixed pickup polar pattern.

This is one of the strongest arguments in favor of the Shure Beta 181.

Equipped with 3 different cartridges that you can change at any given time, you have the possibility to turn your Shure 181 into a Figure 8, Cardioid or Omnidirectional microphone.

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Shure recommends to use this studio microphone either as a piano overhead mic, to track acoustic instruments OR for a Mid/Side recording technique.

Universal Audio explains the basics of mid/side recording over here.

The omnidirectional cartridge makes this mic excel at recording ambiences, rooms and even whole ensembles.

10. Blue Microphones Hummingbird [299 USD]

cymatics-hummingbird-best microphone

    • Condenser Microphone

    • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

    • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz

    • Impedance: 50 ohms

Complete specifications are available at the Blue mic’s website.

We truly believe that Blue makes some of the most aesthetically pleasing and eccentric studio microphones out there, hands down.

This retro looking small diaphragm condenser mic is a powerhouse for its price range.

One of Blue’s microphones main philosophies is that mic placement is EVERYTHING while recording.

Different mic placement positions can alter the sound of a recording drastically, and moving an entire mic setup can be a daunting task at times.

Especially when you’re in a studio and have to move around rooms!

The Hummingbird’s capsule rotates 180º degrees enabling it to go from a pencil to side-address and anywhere in between. Your imagination is the limit.

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11. Blue Microphones Baby Bottle SL [399 USD]

cymatics-baby-bottle-best microphone

    • Condenser Microphone

    • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

    • Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz

    • Impedance: 50 ohms

Complete specifications are available at Blue mic’s website.

If you think you’ve had enough of Blue’s microphones, here's the Baby Bottle SL.

They speak for themselves - Blue mics are truly phenomenal.

This microphone comes with a bass roll off switch and a -20 dB cut to the input signal.

If you are looking primarily for a classic vintage sound, while still having a lot of versatility, this is the best studio microphone you are looking for.

“The soul and swagger of Baby Bottle SL all starts with Blue’s proprietary, hand-tuned capsule. The robust, gold-sputtered Mylar diaphragm features a machined brass backplate design that creates the signature warmth and presence Baby Bottle SL is known for. And custom Class-A discret circuitry makes it the quietest mic in its class.”

- Blue Microphones

12. Telefunken M81 [249 USD]

cymatics-telefunken-best microphone

    • Dynamic Microphone

    • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid

    • Frequency Response: 50 Hz - 18 kHz

    • Impedance: 325 ohms

Complete specifications are available at Telefunken’s website.

This microphone has a contoured body which makes it extremely nice to handle.

Bundled with a storage bag and a mic clip that will fit any standard microphone stand, the accessories are perfect for a mic of this caliber.

Designed primarily as a hand held microphone for live situations, this mic could still be used in just about any setting.

Nonetheless, there’s a smaller version that allows for easy mic positioning, something very useful while recording drums, for example.

cymatics-telefunken-mini-best microphone
Image by Front End Audio.

This microphone has a small proximity effect, - something that's very desirable.

(If you don’t know about the proximity effect, you can read about it here)

This mic is a higher end direct competitor to the Shure SM58, so as you can imagine - this one is also built like a tank.

13. Cascade Fathead II [195 USD]

cymatics-fathead-best microphone

    • Ribbon Microphone

    • Polar Pattern: Figure 8

    • Frequency Response: 25 Hz - 16 kHz

    • Impedance: 200 ohms

Complete specifications are available at Cascade Microphone’s website.

Ribbon microphones were the industry standard for recording and broadcasting from about 1920 to 1950. You've DEFINITELY seen one of them somewhere in an old movie.

They have a distinctive vintage sound, and that’s exactly what recording engineers look for at certain times.

They have also become cheaper with time, and this studio microphone is arguably the best ribbon microphone in the market within the price range.

This beautiful microphone comes with a wooden box, a shock mount and a metal carry case.

YouTuber and guitarist Leon Todd made a video earlier this year where he showcases the amazing sound of this ribbon mic, you can check it out here.

14. Beyerdynamic M 88 TG [399 USD]

cymatics-beyerdynamic-best microphone

    • Dynamic Microphone

    • Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid

    • Frequency Response: 30 Hz - 20 kHz

    • Impedance: 200 ohms

Complete specifications are available at Beyerdynamic’s website.

The Beyerdynamic M 88 TG  has been around since the 1960’s.

The pure fact that this mic has been around for that long should vouch for it’s quality. It’s a classic.

This studio microphone has quite an incredible rear and side sound pickup rejection.

The Beyerdynamic M88 TG is capable of handling really loud input signals, making it a great multi purpose microphone.

This microphone also has an incredible mid-range clarity for a dynamic microphone.

It can borderline compete with a lot of condenser microphones out there, Beyerdynamic did a superb job while designing this microphone.

“Sound engineers have found that the lightning-fast transient response of the microphone reproduces the complex sound patterns of this instrument resulting in the tight `thump` without the need for complex signal processing. “

- Beyerdynamic

15. Avantone CV-28 [449 USD]

cymatics-avantone-best microphone

    • Tube Condenser Microphone

    • Polar Patterns: Omnidirectional, Cardioid and Hypercardioid

    • Frequency Response: 25 Hz to 25 kHz

Complete specifications are available at Avantone’s website.

Tube microphones are really expensive and delicate, but we had to find one within the price range and put it in our list.

One of the most iconic tube mics is the AKG C12. But almost nobody can realistically afford one (they’re worth 6,000 USD!).

This Avantone CV-28 is a much cheaper alternative to the AKG C12.

This mic comes with a padded wooden box, a shock mount, a dedicated power supply and 3 interchangeable capsules with different polar patterns.

There are barely any video reviews about this studio microphone out there, but...

If you feel like polishing your German language and want to see what this whole microphone package looks like, check out this video by Bax Music.


On this list we have 5 dynamic, 7 condenser, 2 ribbon, and 1 tube condenser microphone that we are sure will give you the results you are looking for!

But honestly, picking the best studio microphones comes down to finding out what is right for you.

So, here are a few key points that are worth taking from this list:

    • Condenser microphones will give you a clean recording, but some of them can’t handle very loud input signals.

    • Dynamic microphones can handle any task, but they excel at live performances and recording loud input signals.

    • Ribbon microphones add a vintage vibe to your recording. They are also very delicate and need to be handled with a lot of care.

    • Tube condenser microphones are usually the most expensive ones. They add color to your recording and are even more delicate than ribbon microphones.

    • Understanding how your microphone picks up sound is crucial to achieve professional sounding recordings (Polar Patterns).

As you can see, even with a budget of under $500 you can still find the best studio microphone for your musical needs!

We listed the best ones in our opinion, but now we want to hear from YOU!

Which mic is your personal favorite, or what microphone would you recommend to other producers?

Let us know in the comments below!