Microphones are an essential tool for any musician, streamer or content creator, but how much does a good mic cost and, more importantly, how can you tell if it is any good?
As a general rule, the lowest price point for a good microphone is between $100 to $250. Although microphones can range from $20 to $20,000, to start recording good sounds consistently, a starting cost of around $100 should produce good sound.
Having used a wide variety of microphones throughout my career that have ranged in cost from less than $100 to over $5000, I have learnt that there is much more to picking a good microphone than just looking at the cost.
In this article, I will cover:
- How much does a good microphone cost?
- What is the cheapest, good quality microphone?
- How expensive can a good microphone be?
- How can I tell if a microphone is good?
How Much Does A Good Microphone Cost?
This is a question that many people have, and it’s not a straightforward question to answer as audio recording is so subjective.
As a general rule, the starting price range for a good microphone can be anywhere from $100 to $250.
But what does that mean for the average person? What does a good microphone even do?
A good microphone will pick up a variety of sounds, from your voice to the instruments you’re playing. They can also be used for things like streaming and podcasting.
If you’re looking to get started with recording, then a good starting point would be a microphone that costs around $100. This should be able to give you good sound quality that you can work with.
Of course, if you’re looking for a more professional setup, then you’ll be looking at a higher price point. But even then, there are plenty of options available to suit your needs and budget.
Great microphones appear in the $500 – $2500 price range. Although it is often argued that an average member of the public will not hear the difference between certain microphones, professional music producers and audiophiles will.
What Is The Cheapest Good Quality Microphone?
There are a lot of different microphones on the market, and they come in all shapes and sizes. Some microphones are more expensive than others, but there are some great options available for those on a budget.
From my experience, one of the most affordable and amazing quality microphones for less than $100 is the MXL 990 Condenser Mic.
Given the price of around $100, I am always impressed by what this microphone can do.
Condenser microphones need an external power supply, called phantom power, to operate. If you have an audio interface, you need to ensure it can provide this phantom power supply in order to run your microphone.
If you do not have a 48V phantom power supply, you will need to get one to run a condenser microphone, which will be a hidden cost that drives up the price.
If you are on a very limited budget, a workaround is to choose a USB powered microphone.
In recent years, USB powered microphones have started to sound excellent. Many streamers and podcasters use USB microphones to record voices.
The Rode NT-USB Mini Condenser Microphone is a great plug-and-play solution for less than $100.
This microphone produces warm sounding voice recordings at a great price with no extra kit needed.
How Expensive Can A Good Microphone Be?
Some microphones are more expensive than others, and there are a variety of factors that can affect the price. A high-quality microphone will provide clearer sound and be less likely to pick up background noise.
Typically, an expensive microphone can range in price from $2000 to $20,000. For example, the Sony C800G can reach prices of $15,000. Some vintage microphones from the 1950s and 1960s can go even higher than $15,000.
Many people consider quality and suitability above all else. As a result, they will regard a high-quality $15,000 microphone as reasonably priced rather than ‘expensive’.
Here is a list of microphone users alongside an appropriate, good-quality microphone that meets their needs. You can see there is a significant range of costs:
|Microphone User||Microphone Model||Cost Range (approx)|
|Gigging Rock Band||Shure SM58||$125|
|Semi-Pro Studio||AKG C414||$900|
|Professional Music Producer||Neumann U87||$3200|
|Streamer||Blue Yeti X||$190|
|Professional Podcaster||Shure MV7||$300|
How Can I Tell If A Microphone Is Good?
There are a few things to consider when assessing the quality of a microphone. By considering the following three factors, in particular, you can establish if the microphone is worth purchasing:
1. Sound Quality
The most important thing is to listen to the sound that the microphone produces. Make sure that the microphone is picking up the sound accurately and with no distortion.
The priority is to ensure the sound is clean and clear.
When trying to access the quality of a microphone, it can really help to compare different microphones at the same time.
If possible, record a similar sound with different microphones using the same setup. By critically listening back to the recordings, you can judge if you like the sound quality of a microphone.
You may find that some microphones sound crystal clear while others sound muddy despite being in the same price range.
2. Frequency Response
Another thing to look at is the frequency response of the microphone. This measures how well the microphone can reproduce different frequencies of sound.
A good quality microphone will have a wide frequency response, meaning that it can accurately reproduce high and low frequencies.
If you are just interested in a microphone for a specific task, for example, recording vocals, ensure that the microphone is designed for this and can reproduce sounds well in the vocal frequency range.
Finally, look at the sensitivity of the microphone. This measures how much sound the microphone can pick up.
A higher sensitivity means that the microphone will be more sensitive to sound, and it may pick up unwanted noise from the surrounding environment. In this instance, you need to ensure that you are using this microphone in a soundproofed or studio environment.
Some of the most expensive microphones on the market are incredibly sensitive. With such microphones, you need a quiet and professional recording studio environment to get the most from the microphone.
There is little point in using a $3000 microphone in a DIY budget home studio as any household noises such as the rumble of your home central heating or your neighbour mowing their lawn will be picked up.
There are a lot of different microphones on the market, and it can be difficult to determine which one is right for you.
With such advances in technology, it is possible to get a great sound microphone for less than $100.
At the end of the day, the best microphone will depend on your recording needs and recording environment. There is little point in over-spending if your needs are met with a cheaper microphone.
With most brands and audio technology on the market today, sticking to a microphone in the $100 to $250 range will produce good results and cover the needs of most recording musicians and content creators.