5 Wallet-Friendly Microphones We Love Around the Office

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We’ve done a few microphone buying guides, to be sure. But this one has a special place in our hearts: Below, you’ll find a list of wallet-friendly microphones we use here at B&H on a somewhat regular basis. We don’t just recommend these mics—we love using them, and we hope you get a kick out of them too!

Shure SM7B Microphone

The SM7B is a microphone with a storied sound. Its progenitor, the SM7, was famously used by Michael Jackson on Thriller. Thanks to the podcast boom, we’ve seen this mic proliferate anew, since it’s quite suited to voice-overs and interviews. It sports a frequency response that extends into the low end, ensuring a fullness to spoken vocals. The built-in pop filter fights against plosives, and the mic can handle high SPLs with ease.

In our recording practices here at B&H, we’ve been happy with the SM7B’s on all manner of vocals; we’re specifically pleased with how hard it is to distort the capsule during recording, and how easily it responds to processing in the mix.

Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone

Aston Origin

We’ve been using this microphone since its debut, and we find its frequency response exactly what you’d want from a large-diaphragm condenser: warm in the lows/low-mids, smooth in the high-end, and relatively unexaggerated on the mids. Multiple members of our team have used the Origin on vocals, acoustic guitars, and brass instruments.

With its flattering cardioid polar pattern and wallet-friendly price, this is a great microphone for project studios. It holds its own against more pricey microphones, thanks to aspects of its construction, including its 1" gold-evaporated capsule, transformer-less circuitry, and other mechanics that ensure smooth, clear signal capture.

Aston Microphones Origin Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Shure KSM8/B Dualdyne Dynamic Microphone

The Shure KSM8/B made a bit of a splash in the live-sound world with its introduction. What separates it from the pack is its dual-diaphragm design that essentially curtails the proximity effect. Now, what is the proximity effect, you may ask? The proximity effect manifests itself in an increased presence of low- and low-mid frequencies as you move closer to a microphone’s capsule. It’s prevalent in many mics.

If singers have good microphone technique, they’ve probably learned how to use the proximity effect to their advantage. But many singers don’t have good mic technique—especially if they’re new to recording. Enter the KSM8/B, which mitigates this issue.

Not many of us on the B&H audio team are singers, but we are all engineers, so the KSM8/B is something we’ve come to enjoy. On- or off-axis, positioned close or relatively far away, the mic exhibits a marked consistency across the frequency spectrum. This makes the mixing process easier on our end—we don’t have to “mult” a phrase into a different track to deal with tonal inconsistency, or employ EQ matching in preparing the vocal for a mix. Also, the high-end of this microphone is remarkably smooth for a dynamic capsule, devoid of the resonant spikes one often finds in lesser dynamics.

Shure KSM8/B Dualdyne Dynamic Handheld Vocal Microphone

Royer R-10 Large Element Ribbon Mic

Royer ribbon mics. I write it, you salivate. Well, some of you do anyway. For those who don’t, let’s discuss:

Ribbon microphones—at least the good ones—exhibit a warm response without being boomy, as well as an evenness across the frequency capture without being boring or dull. But there are drawbacks to ribbons, especially in the wallet-friendly category. They can break easily. Heck, you can break them easily if you accidentally hit the phantom power switch. And the cheaper ones often produce a woofy, bassy resonance that obscures all else.

Among the pantheons of ribbons toward which we direct our lustful eye is the Royer 121, a mic that exhibits a tonal consistency to which we strive, and thus, constitutes a microphone for which we often save. Yes, it can be cost-prohibitive.

Enter the Royer R-10, a large-element ribbon microphone coming in at a price easier to justify. Like the flagship Royers, the SPL-handling is exceptional and the tone is warm. Tonally, this microphone stands up to other Royers—and if you don’t believe me, you can hear shootouts online. We love this mic on guitar cabinets, brass sections, and the appropriate vocal. It’s a little brighter and a touch more mid-forward than the Royer 121, but that can be a good thing if used correctly.

Royer Labs R-10 Large-Element Ribbon Microphone

Audio-Technica AT-4050

This may be the least wallet-friendly item on our list, but arguably it’s also the most versatile. Why? Its selectable polar-pattern allows it to shine on both multiple sources and multiple scenarios. With omnidirectional, figure-8, and cardioid options available, this large diaphragm condenser lets you get different timbres and tones. You can also position the mic in all sorts of situations, using figure-8 to minimize reflections on the sides, or omnidirectional to pick up sound all around the capsule.

Thanks to its high SPL handling, the AT4050 can be used on anything from vocals to toms. The switchable pad and high-pass filter help further its functionality. I myself have used two AT-4050s as overheads on drum sets to great effect; the mic is one of my go-to mics when working with high-pitched vocals sung primarily in falsetto.

For those working in project studios, we recommend this mic highly because of its tonal versatility: provided your room is treated well, you can record one vocal in cardioid, another figure-8, and a third in omnidirectional, achieving three differently colored vocal takes before you’ve touched an EQ.

Audio-Technica AT4050 Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone

Honorable Mention: Shure SM57-LC

No list of affordable microphones would be complete without mentioning the Shure SM57-LC. This microphone virtually defines the concept of a workhorse microphone, because it can be used on pretty much every instrument. It’s suitable for recording and live scenarios—so suitable it’s been used on the podium of every U.S. president since old Baines himself, LBJ.

We surely use the Shure SM57 as often as we can. The only reason we haven’t included it in our top five is because the mic’s place in history is already secure; we wanted to give space to others. Still, if you’re a recording engineer, and you have some small birthday checks coming your way from uncles, aunts, grandparents, and the like, it might be wise to pool those paltry sums together and pick up this mic.

That about does it for our little listicle here. Now, let’s turn the tables over to you: What are some of your favorite wallet-friendly microphones? Let us know below!

Shure SM57-LC Microphone

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