The types of microphones you use can greatly alter the quality and tones of your music, so you should definitely consider what kind of sound you are looking for before you make a purchase, especially considering that you could spend anywhere from $100-$5,000 on a single mic. I’m a firm believer that high price does not translate to a better sound, and as a novice recording engineer, you only need to understand the two main categories of mics: dynamic and condenser. Dynamic microphones are usually cheaper than condensers, require no external power, are capable of handling high sound pressure levels, and are built to be simple and sturdy. Condenser mics tend to be more expensive because they are much more sensitive to all frequencies, require an external power source, and are much more fragile due to their complex design. For a more in-depth comparison of these microphone types, check out this article on Make Use Of.
Here are three microphones that I believe are essential for home recording on a budget.
Shure SM57 (Dynamic)
The SM57 is one of the most popular microphones of all time, and for good reason. It is essentially the “Swiss army knife” for recording, and it is capable of recording just about everything including guitar amps, snare drums, and even vocals. The SM57 has a frequency range of 40 to 15,000 Hz, so it can capture mid to high range frequencies very well, and it is rugged enough to be heavily used for a lifetime. You can pick one up for about $100 here at Amazon.
Audio Technica AT2020 (Condenser)
When it comes to condenser mics, the AT2020 is an amazing deal. It provides a great frequency response of about 20-20,000 Hz and provides crisp and clear audio quality. This mic is great for vocals, and can be used for acoustic instruments and some percussion as well. For just around $100, this mic is an amazing value and a great choice for beginners. (Buy on Amazon)
Shure Beta 52 (Dynamic)
Designed for kick drums, the Beta 52 is an amazing low-end microphone. With a frequency response of 20Hz to 10kHz, a presence boost at 4kHz for extra “punch,” and the ability to withstand extremely high sound pressure levels, this mic is an obvious choice. It even works well for recording bass guitar amps if you prefer to not record with a direct input. The Beta 52 is a well-built and capable bass mic that you can pick up for less than $200 here on Amazon.
These are some of my favorite mics that I own, but what do you think? Did I miss something? What are some of your favorite budget microphones? Let me know in the comments!