Mike’s Top 10 Condenser Podcasting Microphones:
For the Top 10 Dynamic Microphones, click here.
Types of MicrophonesThere are basically two types of microphones most podcasters and internet content creators run in to: dynamic or condenser. Dynamic microphones tend to be more common and popular in podcasting and broadcasting because they are more rugged and tend to reject ambient noise better than condensers. Condenser microphones are considered more sensitive and they often produce a warmer and brighter sound, which is why condensers are often found in recording studios. One is not better than the other, but I think it is commonly thought that dynamic microphones tend to be flat and straightforward, while condenser microphones produce a more pleasing and richer sound, but both are very capable of producing quality sound.
Caveat: I am not a sound engineer, but I love podcasting and audio and frequently find myself reading the B&H & Sweetwater catalog for fun. I have a thing for microphones. This is a Top 10 list of microphones I think are a good all around mix for both new and experienced podcasters and creators.
I have not tried a lot of the condenser microphones on this list, but I am a nerd who reads a lot online, so I’m pretty confident in my curated selection, but I love feedback and learning from you.
Call To Action:
I am very much a student, so if you have experience with these microphones or recommendations for others that should be on the list, please let me know in the comments or email me (Please, I love hearing from you).
What are Condenser Microphones?
Condenser Microphones are the second most common type of microphone that can be used for podcasting, but they tend to be more sensitive and do not do as good of a job at rejecting room noise. They are built with precision and compared to dynamic mics they are not nearly as rugged or tough to be the go-to ‘roadie’ microphone. Condensers tend to be better suited for studios that are acoustically treated (there are exceptions, of course). Condenser microphones require +48v phantom power, which most mixers and audio interfaces have with a click of a button.
Most lavalier microphones, Shotgun Microphones, iOS Microphones (earbuds…) & USB Microphones (Blue Yeti) are condenser microphones. You will also find a ton a low-priced condenser microphones on Amazon by AKG, Samson, MXL and Blue that will work for beginners and YouTubers and frankly are better than nothing.
Phantom Power Required?
What are Dynamic Microphones?
Dynamic microphones are probably the most common type of microphone.The Sound Reinforcement Handbook compares dynamic microphones to miniature loudspeakers because of how they are built. They are used by radio announcers, broadcasters, musicians and podcasters because they do an excellent job of only picking up sound right in front of the mic and rejecting the ambient or room noise. . The other reason they are so popular in broadcasting and especially with musicians onstage (Shure SM58 in particular) is that they are really tough and reliable and not to mention, they sound good.
References: For two very good and comprehensive Microphone Reviews that cover some of these microphones more in-depth, check out:
Marco Arment (Overcast Founder): Mega Microphone Review
Chase Reeves from Fizzle: Microphone Shoot Out
Top 10 Condenser Microphones for Podcasting
1. Neumann TLM102 Condenser Microphone
Neumann microphones are legendary (as in U87 legendary). The TLM102 is small and comes in Nickel or Black and is a large diaphragm microphone so it’s going to be more sensitive which is a good thing for the voice but in an untreated room it’s going to pick up a lot of unwanted ambient noises. The TLM102 is a Neumann so the quality is there, but to do the $700 price tag justice you’ll want to make sure you sound treat your room and be sure to use the Neumann ShockMount and pop filter with this mic.
2. Shure Beta 87A
This handheld microphone is high on my wishlist and Marco Arment among many others I’ve come across really love this microphone. It is a condenser with all the qualities of a dynamic in that it does a great job of rejecting ambient noise, while producing a nice rich sound with plenty of high end.
A solid choice for podcasters and one that is on my short list.
3. Rode NT-1 Kit
I own this microphone and love it. I bought it before I really understood about dynamics vs. condenser for podcasting, so I eventually swapped it out for the Shure SM7b, but I still use the Rode NT1 when I play guitar and sing and this mic just has something about it that I love. I feel like a better musician and singer because it has such a warm and rich tone to it. I bought the kit which came with a shock mount and pop filter which are really well made, but I do find the whole unit a little bulky, which has nothing to do with the great sound.
Rode also boasts that this is one of the quietist condenser microphones, so if you really want a condenser, this would be a mic that I would gladly recommend. I’ve recorded several episodes with this mic. I find the SM7B, much more forgiving to my environment, but I am a fan of Rode in general and definitely this NT1.
4. Audio-Technica AT875R Shotgun Mic
I was familiar with this microphone as it has a good reputation for video as it has a great price point for a quality shotgun microphone (sub $200). It is short (under 7″) and was built for video and broadcasting and like many quality shotgun microphones it rejects rear noise well and really concentrates on picking up what is right in front.
It may seem like an unlikely choice for podcasting, but some of the most popular voiceover microphones are shotgun microphones (Sennheiser MKH416)and Chase Reeves from Fizzle is an audio guy and picked this as #1 in his Microphone Shootout, so it’s worth a serious look, especially for the podcaster who shoots a lot of videos..
5. Shure PGA27-LC Large-Diaphragm Side Address:
Another small form factor microphone by one of my favorite companies, Shure. This is a side address microphone meaning you must speak into the side of the microphone instead of directly into it like many dynamic microphones.
The PGA27 was made for vocals and acoustic performances and it is large diaphragm so it is going to be more sensitive to your voice and to external room noises, but this microphone is a good bang for the buck at $199 and does include shockmount and case.
6. Shure MV51 Digital Large-Diaphragm (USB & Lightning)
I am intrigued by the new Motiv lineup of digital microphones by one of my favorite companies, Shure. The Motiv microphones are condenser microphones designed for use with iOS devices and producing high quality sound. The MV51 is the big dog of the lineup and one of the benefits of this mic is that you can use it directly with an iOS device by using a lightning connector or plug directly into your computer via USB cable. It’s a large diaphragm condenser packed in a small, but cool retro body. It also has 5 built in presets (Speech, Singing, Flat, Acoustic Instrument, Loud) and auto adjusts for EQ, compression, gain and limiting. Audio control freaks may not like this as much, but for convenience and quality, this lineup is on my list. I’ve heard mixed reviews on it, but mostly positive.
7. Rode NT-USB Condenser Microphone (USB):
Rode quality studio microphone with the convenience of USB and a headphone output. Compatible with iPad/iOS and comes with shockmount and tripod stand. This has a great reputation as an all around good condenser USB mic that won’t break the bank. I’d put this in the Blue Yeti Pro range of solid multi-purpose content creator microphones.
8. Blue Yeti Pro USB & XLR. ($239) / Blue Yeti Silver USB Only ($129)
The poor Blue Yeti. Loved and hated by many. I think it is a good microphone. The problem is mic technique. Many people use it incorrectly as it comes with 3 handy pickup patterns (cardioid, stereo bi-directional & omnidirectional) and you just have to know where the sweet spot is and it’s a good microphone. Podcast purists and sound engineers tend to be in the non-fan category and general content creators and podcasters and tutorial makers and gamers who just want to get sound recorded and have a retro cool looking microphone, love the Blue Yeti. I personally think most of the haters have never actually used it but just listening to the majority of podcasters who don’t love it. Blue makes really high quality microphones, so the quality of the Blue Yeti is solid. It was my first USB microphone and I still own it and like it. If nothing else it is a great paperweight and makes a solid Instagram model
9. Audio-Technica AT2020 USB PLUS
Side address USB condenser mic and is a great budget option built for podcasters and voice artists with price and quality in mind. It’s based of the very popular AT2020 only this newer version has the convenience of USB and has headphone monitoring in realtime. Good option for many who want a USB condenser with the quality of Audio Technica and good price point ($130).
10. Audio Technica ATR2500 USB Condenser
Sub-$100 USB condenser built for podcasters. This made the list because I heard the Product Manager for Audio Technica on The Podcast Engineering School say that he preferred this microphone over the podcaster-famous ATR2100 even though the 2100 is dynamic and the 2500 is condenser. They both have the convenience of XLR & USB with a headphone port. The AT2500 could be the perfect option for those wanting to test the podcast waters without investing too much, but knowing you’ll get a quality product made by Audio Technica.