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The Top Condenser Microphones of 2018

by Troy Rice
Man recording on microphone


The Top Condenser Microphones of 2018

A Kutthouze Take On Things

Back in the day I use to pick the microphones we used strictly on look and price, never mind what I was using it for, or any of the stuff that really gets you good sound, if it looked good and was heavy and not too far from $100, it was on. After a time of actually listening to the product…. Let’s just say I started listening to the salesman and ease dropping on customer conversations, and things got better… a lot better.

ALSO Keep in mind…. I’m not a great writer.

Now here I am trying to let you know 25 years later in 2018, what it looks like to me as to what the top 10 is. Im not going to get into the technical stuff, but I will get into what a condenser mic is supposed to do in another post. So let’s get started..

A condenser mic is used mostly for recording.

A dynamic mic is mostly used for live performances.

BUT… There are some that can be used for both, live and studio.

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AKG P220 Vocal

AKG produces all types of mics, one of their notables being the P220 Vocal Condenser Microphone.  This microphone is highly sensitive and a 155-decibel max Sound Pressure Level (SPL), and a wide frequency range from 20k to 20k hertz and a flat frequency response throughout the entire range.

This min is a condenser mic with a cardioid pickup pattern and a bass roll-off switch.  It does not have a built-in power source so you need phantom power to get things going. This mic is good for picking up deep sound without adding anything extra to it. AKG P220 Vocal

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Audio-Technica AT2035

The Audio-Technica AT2035 Studio Condenser Microphone has a large diaphragm to allow for a natural sound even from deep, low noises because of it cardioid pickup pattern that helps reduce interference from external sounds coming from the side or behind the mic. Which helps the mic concentrate on what’s in front of the mic, you.

This Audio-Technica AT2035 has a flat response frequency range of 20k to 20k hertz.  Has a SPL of 136 decibels, so it picks up loud sounds without damaging it internally.  It can be used for both live and studio recordings. Audio-Technica AT2035 

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Blue Snowball iCE

The is a USB Condenser Microphone that you can connect directly to your computer.  Very good for podcasts, narration, vocal, or instrument recording. It Does not require any software to work and can plug directly to your computer.

This microphone has a flat response frequency range of 20k to 20k hertz and a cardioid pickup pattern for decreased interference. It has a 16-bit professional quality USB audio capability, making it far better than a typical built-in mic. The microphone comes with a USB cable and a desktop stand in most cases.

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Audio-Technica AT2020

This Microphone sets the standard with its stringent quality and consistency, this sets it apart from other mics in its class. It has a low mass diaphragm custom engineered for extended frequency response and the best transient response of many. This microphone handles high SPLs with ease. The AT2020 Is a good affordable condenser microphone. Audio-Technica AT2020

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AKG C214

 AKG’s C214 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that is aimed at the home studio musician. It uses the same capsule as AKG’s C414B microphone – which is often considered a “must-have” mic in top studios – however the cost has been reduced by limiting the microphone to one polar pattern. The C 214 delivers a highly detailed, up-front sound and its cardioid polar pattern makes it a perfect choice for solo vocal and instrumental recordings.

The C214 has very low noise and accurately picks up subtle nuances and transients in vocal recordings. It also produces great results on acoustic guitar, producing a bright and articulate sound. It has a low-cut switch that’s effective at removing any excessive bass frequencies. The microphone features a pad switch for recording louder sources and it requires phantom power from a desk or preamp. It comes packaged with a suspension mount and a foam windscreen; all neatly packaged in a metal carrying case. AKG C214

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Neumann TLM102

the TLM102 is one of Neumann's most affordable condenser microphones, with its significantly smaller size and stripped-down features. But don't let its compact size stop you from considering this top-rated mic, because it carries over the brand's renowned sound and build quality at a more accessible price point.

Despite its relatively small size, the Neumann TLM 102 is a large-diaphragm condenser mic with transformerless capacitor, giving it the same clarity and quiet operation as more expensive mics.

It also features a cost-effective edge-terminated diaphragm that increases the max SPL without compromising sound quality. It is stripped down to just basic functionality, having a single Cardioid pattern with no attenuation pads or filter-switches. And while versatility is reduced, the straightforward operation makes it very easy to setup and use, described by some experts as the ideal no-frills grab-and-go mic for vocal recording. Neumann TLM102Neumann's

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Shure SM27-SC

The Shure's SM27-SC (Studio Configuration) - includes ShureLock™ rubber shockmount (p/n A27SM) and a black velveteen pouch. The Shure SM27-SC is a versatile cardioid condenser microphone that won't break the bank. It is a revision and upgrade of the KSM27, and shares the same edge-terminated single-diaphragm capsule. The capsule membrane measures 25mm in diameter and is made of 2.5-micron, gold-plated Mylar. A dual-diaphragm version of this capsule can be found in the KSM44, KSM44A, and KSM42. The mic has a 3-position high-pass filter, and is great for voice recording. Shure SM27-SC

Image result for Blue Microphones Spark SL Microphone

Blue Microphones Spark SL Microphone

Housed on top of the satin red housing is a well-guarded condenser capsule that functions in a cardioid pattern. The only variables are a 100Hz Hi-pass filter, as well as a -20Db Pad.

It’s fairly universal, working well with pretty much any acoustic instrument application we tossed its way, as well as electric guitars and vocals. Positioning is key, although finding that sweet spot isn’t all that hard with the Spark SL. For example, with an acoustic guitar that may have a lot of high end, simply point the capsule closer to the fretboard areas, and slide the mic back a bit for great results.

Vocals work in the same manner, with a nice proximity effect that can really help give a singer the ability to “play” the mic. Position the vocalist back a bit from the capsule in the booth, and it opens up a lot. Leaning into it actually offers up more nuances, and doesn’t cloud things or get too bass-heavy. The hi-pass filter really keeps those low overtones at bay, while not adding any hiss or noise. Much appreciated at the sub-$200 level.



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