12 Best Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones Under $500


Large-diaphragm condenser (LDC) microphones are the mic type of choice for recording studio vocals and voiceover. This fact alone makes LDCs very popular since the human voice is one of if not the most recorded sound source in the world. Of course, voice is only one of many applications the LDCs excel on.

Large-diaphragm condensers range greatly in their price points and their popularity has influenced a considerable number of different models. In this article, we’re going to cut through the noise and focus on the best large-diaphragm condenser microphones that cost less than $500.

My New Microphone’s top 12 best large-diaphragm condenser microphones under $500 are:

This article will present to you a concise definition of a large-diaphragm condenser; the factors than make a great LDC, and, of course, the top 12 best large-diaphragm condensers under $500 according to My New Microphone.

TO JUMP AHEAD TO THE TOP 12 BEST LARGE-DIAPHRAGM CONDENSER MICROPHONES UNDER $500, CLICK HERE!

Shure, AKG, Blue, Audio-Technica and Rode are featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

Warm Audio is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You’ve Likely Never Heard Of.


What Is A Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone?

A large-diaphragm condenser microphone, as the name suggests, is a condenser microphone with a relatively large diaphragm. Let’s break each of these definitions down.

At What Size Is A Diaphragm Considered Large?

Generally speaking, large-diaphragm condenser microphones have a diaphragm diameter of 1 inch (25.4 mm) or more. This is a loose definition though, and some microphones act like LDCs with diaphragm diameters under 1 inch.

What Is A Condenser Microphone?

A condenser microphone is an active mic built around a capsule element that works via electrostatic principles. In fact, the electrostatic transducer element (the capsule that is responsible for producing audio that mimics the sound waves at the microphone) is the defining component of a condenser microphone.

The condenser capsule acts as a parallel-plate capacitor with the front plate being the movable diaphragm and the backplate being stationary. A fixed electrical charge must be applied across the plates, either permanently via electret material or externally via a polarizing voltage. In order to maintain a fixed charge, the capsule must also have incredibly high electrical impedance to avoid “leakage.”

Once charged, any diaphragm movement will alter the capacitance between the plates and cause a proportionate voltage. A diaphragm moving back and forth will produce an AC voltage across the capsule which is effectively the mic signal.

The high impedance of this mic signal must be dropped in order to effectively travel through the mic circuitry and through a mic cable to the preamplifier. An impedance converter is required immediately after the capsule. These ICs are either tube-based (as is the case with tube condenser mics) or transistor-based (as is the case with FET/solid-state condenser mics).

For a detailed description of the differences between solid-state and tube condenser mics, check out My New Microphone’s article What Are The Differences Between Tube & FET Microphones?

Large-diaphragm condenser mics are distinguished from small-diaphragm condenser microphones. How much of a factor is diaphragm size in a microphone? The following table will display the notable differences between LDCs and SDCs:

 Small-Diaphragm Condenser MicrophonesLarge-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
Diaphragm Size1/2" (12.7 mm) or less1" (25.4 mm) or more
Transient ResponseMore accurateLess accurate
Frequency ResponseFlatter and more extendedMore coloured especially in the high-end
Address TypeTop or sideTypically side
Polar PatternsAny polar pattern. Very consistentAny polar pattern. Less consistent
SensitivityHighHigh
Self-NoiseMoreLess
PriceCheap to very expensiveInexpensive to very expensive

What Factors Make A Great Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone?

Allow me to preface this section by stating that each microphone model will have its own inherent characteristic and sound. An LDC that may outperform its contemporaries in one application may not be the best choice in other situations.

That being said, there are a few factors that we should take note of when searching for a high-quality large-diaphragm condenser:

  • Wide frequency response.
  • Accurate transient response.
  • Low self-noise.
  • High sensitivity.
  • Versatility.
  • Price.

Wide Frequency Response

The audible frequency spectrum for humans is universally accepted as being 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz (cycles/second). A wide microphone frequency response will be sensitive across most if not all of this range. Some condenser microphones, particularly those tasked with sound measurement, have a frequency response that extends beyond the 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz audible range.

Additionally, microphone frequency responses that are “flat” (equally sensitive across all frequencies within the range) are often preferred because they yield more natural results that represent a truer sound.

Of course, a perfectly flat curve isn’t always best. Having some variation in frequency-specific sensitivity gives a microphone character and makes it better suited to certain sound sources.

To learn more about microphone frequency, check out my articles Complete Guide To Microphone Frequency Response (With Mic Examples) and What Are Coloured And Flat Microphone Frequency Responses?

Accurate Transient Response

Transients are the fast changes in sound pressure that accompany the initial attack of a sound source. The most obvious way to describe a transient is the initial hit of a percussive instrument. A snare drum, for example, has a very strong transient as the stick strikes the skin.

Transient information plays a major role in defining a sound. A microphone capsule is responsible for accurately capturing these transients and, therefore, representing the sound source as accurately as possible.

The internal amplifier and output circuits of the LDC also play a significant part in transient response. Tube electronics and transformer-coupled outputs tend to shape and smooth the transient information (which often yields a pleasant compressed sound) while FET electronics and transformerless outputs are typically more transparent and precise when it comes to transient response.

A deeper explanation of microphone transient response is available in my article What Is Microphone Transient Response & Why Is It Important?

Low Self-Noise

Self-noise is an inherent quality of active microphones that have internal amplifying circuitry.

Fortunately, compared to SDCs, LDCs tend to have lower self-noise ratings. It is relatively easy to achieve unnoticeable amounts of self-noise within large-diaphragm condenser microphones. However, it is still an important specification to look out for, especially when choosing an LDC for quieter studio applications.

A low self-noise means a better signal-to-noise ratio and a greater dynamic range. It also means the mic will be more sensitive to the quietest, most subtle changes in a sound wave.

Any self-noise rating under 10 dBA is practically unnoticeable in most situations. A self-noise below 15 dBA is considered good in most active microphones.

For more information on microphone self-noise, check out my article What Is Microphone Self-Noise? (Equivalent Noise Level).

High Sensitivity

Condenser microphones are cherished for their high sensitivity. Sensitivity can be thought of in two ways.

The first definition of sensitivity is the mic’s ability to pick up the subtle nuances of a room and sound source. In environments that are properly acoustically treated, a more sensitive microphone will capture a more detailed and realistic representation of the intended sound source.

The second definition is the sensitivity rating we find on a mic’s datasheet. This rating refers to the microphone’s output level when the mic is subjected to a certain sound pressure level. Condenser mics tend toward high sensitivity ratings due to their internal impedance converting and amplifier circuits.

Microphones with a high sensitivity rating will require less preamp gain and will, therefore, be less reliant on the preamp and more consistent in their performance.

To learn more about the microphone sensitivity rating, check out my articles What Is Microphone Sensitivity? An In-Depth Description and What Is A Good Microphone Sensitivity Rating?

Versatility

Versatility is not critical to performance but it makes a large-diaphragm condenser microphone that much more usable inside and out of the studio.

Versatility in a solid-state condenser could mean any of the following:

  • Multiple switchable polar patterns.
  • High-pass filters.
  • Passive attenuation devices.
  • Alternate circuit paths.

To learn more about the aforementioned versatility factors, check out the following My New Microphone articles:

• The Complete Guide To Microphone Polar Patterns
• What Is A Microphone High-Pass Filter And Why Use One?
• What Is A Microphone Attenuation Pad And What Does It Do?

Price

As the title suggests, the price of a large-diaphragm condenser microphone on this list must be under $500. The currency referenced in the prices is the United States Dollar (USD).


A Few Extra Notes

A few last words before we get started.

The microphones on this list have been selected based on the following:

  • Personal experience.
  • Outreach to mentors and their opinions.
  • Forum research.
  • Price point.
  • Product descriptions, sales pages and datasheets.

Remember that this list is simply my opinion and is certainly not an end-all-be-all. I would fully expect the next person to have a different list than me and, in that spirit, I anticipate you may disagree with some of the items on this list.

That being said, I believe the following microphones are excellent examples of budget-friendly large-diaphragm condensers that perform above their price range. With that said, I hope you enjoy reading through my take on the top 12 best large-diaphragm condenser microphones under $500.


Top 12 Best Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones Under $500

Once again, the top 12 best large-diaphragm condenser microphones under $500 according to My New Microphone are:


Shure KSM32/CG

Shure is perhaps best-known for its incredibly popular moving-coil dynamic microphones. The company also produces many high-quality yet affordable condenser microphones.

The Shure KSM32/CG (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is one such example of an excellent large-diaphragm condenser at a reasonable price point.

Shure KSM32/CG
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Self-noise: 13 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 16.6 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters:
    -6 dB/octave below 115 Hz
    -18 dB/octave below 80 Hz
  • Pads:
    -15 dB (via switch on microphone)

Right off the bat, we have a microphone in the “grey area” of what constitutes a large-diaphragm condenser microphone. Contrary to the definition given above, the diaphragm diameter of Shure’s KSM32/CG is actually 3/4″ (19 mm) rather than an inch or more. That being said, the microphone acts like an LDC will some added benefits of a smaller diaphragm.

This cost-effective microphone is designed around a single-diaphragm cardioid capsule. It incorporates a 3/4″ gold-sputtered 2.5-micron Mylar diaphragm in its design.

The capsule exudes an accurate transient response and its smaller size yields a more consistent cardioid polar pattern and an extended, flat high-end frequency response.

To keep costs low, Shure produced its KSM32 (as it did with all KSM mics) with Class A amplifier electronics and without an output transformer. A quality transformer capable of benefitting this microphone would have brought the price of the mic beyond the range of this article.

The solid-state, transformerless circuitry within the KSM32 maintains a clean transparent sound in this large-diaphragm condenser. It allows the capsule to truly shine and deliver a genuine sonic picture of the intended sound source.

Shure designed its KSM32 with the intention of stage and studio use. Its rugged construction and solid-state components make it durable and its wide-open response to sound allows it to excel on most practical sound sources.

Shure sells its KSM32/CG with two accessories: a swivel mount and a padded zippered carrying case.

Shure is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.


AKG C 214

The AKG C 214 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is a stripped-down cardioid-only version of AKG’s successful modern C 414s. More specifically, the C 214 has the same sonic character as the XLII model (based on the famous C 414 B-XLS) but goes without the optional polar patterns and only has a single diaphragm.

AKG C 214
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Self-noise: 13 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 20 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters:
    -6 dB/octave @ 160Hz (via switch on microphone)
  • Pads:
    -20 dB (via switch on microphone)

The capsule of the AKG C 214 is somewhat similar to the legendary CK12 capsule of the original C 414 mics, however, it is fundamentally very different.

The 214’s edge-terminated capsule is actually an electret design with a single 1-inch diaphragm. This capsule yields a comparable sound to the classic C 414 B-XLS at a fraction of the cost and with modernized components.

The 214 capsule yields an accurate transient response; a wide frequency response with a relatively flat curve, and a cardioid pattern than borders on a wide cardioid pattern. AKG designed the microphone to host its capsule on an integrated suspension to reduce mechanical noise and improve durability.

The FET amplifier circuit and transformerless design do give off more self-noise than the higher-end C 414s but 13 dBA is still low enough not to cause issues. As for the amp performance, the 214’s internal circuit outputs a clean signal with the slightest bit of bright modern colouration.

A high-pass filter and pad offer some versatility to this microphone. The pad allows the mic to be positioned closer to loud sound sources. The high-pass filter is capable of cancelling out the proximity effect that comes with close-miking while also ridding of unwanted low-end rumble in the mic signal.

The AKG C 214 is a great choice for miking acoustic guitar; guitar amps/cabinets; hand percussion, and around a drum kit. Its durable design is perfect for the stage and the studio alike.

If there’s extra room in your budget, the AKG C 414 XLS and XLII are two incredible modern LDCs worth checking out. The C 214 is a budget option based on these awesome mics. They each boast 9 selectable polar patterns; 3 high-pass filter options, and 3 pad options. These highly versatile mics also excel on vocals but can accommodate many more vocal styles and vocal recording techniques.

Each new purchase of an AKG C 214 comes with an AKG H85 universal shock mount and ships inside a metal carrying case.

AKG is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The AKG C 214 is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

• Top 10 Best Microphones Under $500 for Recording Vocals
• Top 12 Best Microphones Under $1,000 for Recording Vocals

The AKG C 414 microphones that inspired the C 214 are featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

• 50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones)

• Top 11 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals
• Top 11 Best Solid-State/FET Condenser Microphones
• Top 12 Best Vintage Microphones (And Their Best Clones)


Warm Audio WA-14

Warm Audio also pays tribute to the legendary AKG C 414 family with the Warm Audio WA-14 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video).

This microphone is a large-diaphragm solid-state condenser with 3 selectable polar pattern options.

Warm Audio WA-14
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional (via switch on microphone)
  • Self-noise: 14 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 10 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters: N/A
  • Pads:
    -10 dB (via switch on microphone)
    -20 dB (via switch on microphone)

The WA-14 is built around the WA-12-B-60V, its custom all-brass CK-12 style capsule. This edge-terminated capsule’s sound is comparable to the smoothness and warmth of the original CK-12. The truth is that the sound that made the CK12 famous is elusive to all manufacturers.

The modernized WA-12-B-60V features newer production techniques that lower material and manufacturing costs while maintaining a vintage essence in the capsule’s sound.

A present midrange, beefy low-end, and sparkly top-end are to be expected of the WA-14 even if the price tag would suggest otherwise.

The solid-state amplifier circuit boosts the capsule signal with clarity and transparency while the custom CineMag output transformer further colours the output to thicken the low-end and help the WA-14 sound like a punchy vintage classic.

Vocals, acoustic/electric guitars, bass, drums/percussion, strings, and orchestral groups are just a few of the highlight applications of the Warm Audio WA-14. Try this microphone on any source in the studio or stage and I’m certain you’ll find great results.

Though the mic does away with the high-pass filters that are part of the AKG C 414 design, the WA-14 does have two pads. Engaging these pads allows us to position the LDC closer to the intended sound source with less risk of distorting the mic signal.

The WA-14 comes with a shock mount and simple mic clip and it’s own protective pouch.

Warm Audio is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You’ve Likely Never Heard Of.


Warm Audio WA-47 Jr

Here’s another microphone from Warm Audio. The Warm Audio WA-47 Jr (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is a tribute to the legendary Neumann U 47 tube condenser. It is the stripped-down transformerless FET version of Warm Audio’s WA-47, a transformer-coupled tube mic reproduction of the same legendary Neumann microphone.

Warm Audio WA-47 Jr
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional (via switch on microphone)
  • Self-noise: 9 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 10 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters:
    -12 dB/octave @ 70Hz (via switch on microphone)
  • Pads:
    -10 dB (via switch on microphone)

The WA-47 Jr is centred around its custom K47-style capsule reproduction. This capsule, known as the WA-47-B-80v, actually approximates the sound of original K47 very well, emulating the sonic character with modern material and production techniques to lower the overall cost.

Combine the vintage-style capsule with a transparent solid-state transformerless amplifier circuit and we get a modern-sounding version of a classic. The WA-47 Jr has character and a certain weight that is not always apparent in transformerless mics.

Each of the three polar patterns is consistent across the microphone’s wide frequency response. The presence boost in each of the patterns makes this microphone an excellent choice for vocals in particular.

The pad and high-pass filter switched boost this microphone’s versatility, allowing for more mic positions without the risk of overloading the circuitry or muddying the sound with proximity effect.

For the price, the Warm Audio WA-47 Jr is tough to beat!

This microphone ships with a custom shock mount, hard mount, and zipper storage pouch.

The original Neumann U 47 is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

• 50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones)
• Top 12 Best Vintage Microphones (And Their Best Clones)

• Top 11 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals


Avantone CV-12

The Avantone CV-12 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is a tribute to one of the all-time greatest microphones in history: the AKG C 12.

It is a multi-pattern large-diaphragm tube condenser reminiscent of the best vintage microphones in the world.

Avantone CV-12
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz +/- 3dB
  • Polar pattern: 9 patterns selectable (via switch on PS-12 power supply)
  • Self-noise: 17 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 17.8 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters:
    -6 dB/octave @ 80Hz (via switch on microphone)
  • Pads:
    -10 dB (via switch on microphone)

The versatile Avantone CV-12 microphone excels in the studio environment, producing professional results with a warm, pleasing sonic character.

Designed around a CK 12-style capsule, the CV-12 produces an accurate representation of the intended sound source in its audio signal.

Its 6072A tube and transformer-coupled output circuit give the CV-12 a wonderful sound quality reminiscent of the great tubes mics of the 1950s and 1960s. This modern microphone comes at a discount price, emulating the vintage character that would magnitudes more in a mic from the 50s or 60s.

This mic includes a custom shock mount and an 80 Hz high-pass filter to help reduce unwanted low-end noise. The response of this microphone is pleasantly accurate while still allowing vocals and other sources to shine in the high-end and have significant authority in the midrange and low-end.

For the price, we really can’t go wrong with the Avantone CV-12’s professional results. It sounds amazing on vocal and also excels on acoustic guitar, mandolin, drum overheads, room mic, piano and a multitude of other instruments in the studio.

The CV-12 comes brand-new in a padded wooden box and includes a suspension shock mount; dedicated power supply and power cable, and aluminum flight case. In addition to all this, Avantone supplies a 5-year warranty.

The original AKG C 12 is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

• 50 Best Microphones Of All Time (With Alternate Versions & Clones)
• Top 12 Best Vintage Microphones (And Their Best Clones)

• Top 11 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals


Blue Baby Bottle SL

The Blue Baby Bottle SL (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is Blue’s reproduction of its original Baby Bottle. Both microphones are smaller, non-modular versions of the Blue Bottle microphone and are evocative of classic vintage microphone character.

Blue Baby Bottle
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Self-noise: 10.8 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 39.8 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters:
    -12 dB/octave @ 100Hz (via switch on microphone)
  • Pads:
    -20 dB (via switch on microphone)

The large-diaphragm of the Blue Baby Bottle SL is made of 6-micron Mylar film, sputtered with a mixture of pure gold and aluminum. It is part of a greater side-address capsule inside a spherical grill.

Though the mic is marketed as having a cardioid polar pattern, the response graph insinuates a supercardioid polar response.

The capsule captures a wide range of frequencies with a strong low-end and natural high-end. This microphone’s rich and smooth sound takes us back to the days of vintage tube mics.

The rich sound of the Baby Bottle can be utilized on nearly any sound source and with nearly all miking techniques due to its high-pass filter and -20dB pad.

As for the amplifier circuit, custom Class-A discreet circuitry makes the SL one of the quietest mic in its class. For a transformerless output, this microphone has some serious personality.

Blue suggests that the Blue Bottle shines the most when used on male and female vocals; acoustic and electric guitar; strings; piano, and drums.

Each new purchase of a Blue Baby Bottle SL comes with a custom-made shock mount and a gorgeous wooden storage box.

Blue Microphones is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.


Lewitt LCT 440 PURE

The Lewitt LCT 440 PURE (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is a large-diaphragm condenser designed to be a jack-of-all-trades in the studio. What it lacks in optional features and application-specific purpose it makes up for in neutrality and natural-sounding output.

Lewitt LCT 440 PURE
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Self-noise: 7 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 27.4 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters: N/A
  • Pads: N/A

The 440 PURE is a simple microphone designed around a single-diaphragm K67-style capsule. This capsule yields a consistent cardioid polar pattern that only squeezes at 8 kHz and above. Its frequency and transient response are neutral and transparent and work to yield a natural-sounding capture of the intended sound source.

This mic doesn’t feature any special switches to alter its sound. Rather, the design has focused on a stellar-sounding microphone capable of working on everything at a very attractive price.

The amplifier circuit of the 440 PURE represents the mic’s name well, outputting a pure, uncoloured signal that has a strong low-end and a clean smooth high-end.

Lewitt includes its proprietary shock mount, magnetic pop filter, windscreen and transport bag with each new purchase of its LCT 440 PURE large-diaphragm condenser microphone.


sE Electronics sE4400a

The sE Electronics sE4400a (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is aesthetically recollective of the aforementioned AKG C 414 family though this multi-pattern LDC is a different beast altogether.

sE Electronics sE4400a
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid, hypercardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional
  • Self-noise: 16 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 25.12 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters:
    -6 dB/octave @ 60 Hz (via switch on microphone)
    -6 dB/octave @ 120Hz (via switch on microphone)
  • Pads:
    -10 dB (via switch on microphone)
    -20 dB (via switch on microphone)

The 4400a is built around the dual-diaphragm version of sE’s 2200a centre-terminated capsule. The 4400a’s hand-crafted capture features 2 one-inch gold-plated Mylar diaphragms.

Each of the 4 polar pattern options yields a natural-sound flat frequency response with a slight boost in the upper frequencies. The cardioid, hypercardioid and bidirectional patterns are very consistent across this frequency response while the omnidirectional pattern veers toward figure-8 at high frequencies.

The thin diaphragm is very reactive to transients and the mic does a superb job of recreating these transients in the mic signal.

The overall sound of the 4400a can be championed as being full and true of the sound source while offering a detailed top-end that is precise but never harsh.

The thin design of this microphone allows it easy access into difficult miking positions such as on drums and flush against guitar cabinets. With a rugged design, the 4400a is actually a perfect contender for those jobs in and out of the studio. To further the compact mic design, the custom elastic shock mount allows for great flexibility in positioning this microphone.

As far as applications go, the sky is the limit for the highly versatile sE4400a. It is particularly effective on vocals, guitars, toms, overheads, classical pianos, and strings.

sE Electronics sells its sE4400a in a steel-reinforced black aluminum flight case with the custom elastic shock mount.


Audio-Technica AT4040

The Audio-Technica AT4040 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is a large-diaphragm FET condenser microphone with a fixed cardioid polar pattern and a low-noise, transformerless output circuit.

Audio-Technica AT4040
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Self-noise: 12 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 25.1 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters:
    -12 dB/octave @ 80 Hz (via switch on microphone)
  • Pads:
    -10 dB (via switch on microphone)

The AT4040 is another microphone that finds itself in the grey area between SDC and LDC with a diaphragm diameter of 20.4 mm (short of 1″ or 25.4 mm). However, this mic acts more like an LDC than an SDC and so it’s classified as such.

Its natural-sounding capsule is placed within a sonically open head basket and captures sound with accuracy.

The frequency response is somewhat bright in this microphone but acts to add detail to the top-end rather than cause harshness in the mic signal. The bottom end is also well-defined and present in the mic’s output.

As for circuitry, the modern surface-mounted components yield a transparent sound with little to no colouration.

The result of this microphone construction is a clean, crisp mic that sounds neutral and natural on whatever source you put it in front of. When close-miking loud sources, utilize the pad and HPF to mitigate distortion and proximity effect in order to maintain the clarity this mic provides.

This mic is really nothing extraordinary. It’s simply a solid microphone for an excellent price and deserves a mention in this article.

Audio-Technica’s AT4040 comes stock with an AT8449a shock mount for 5/8″-27 threaded stands; a microphone dust cover, and a protective carrying case.

Audio-Technica is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.


Aston Microphones Spirit

The Aston Microphones Spirit (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is not an overly popular mic but is, in my opinion, a great value LDC microphone for under $500. The Spirit is Aston Microphones’ “pro mic option.”

Aston Microphones Spirit
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz +/-3dB
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid, omnidirectional and bidirectional
  • Self-noise: 14 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 23.7 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters:
    -12 dB/octave @ 80 Hz (via switch on microphone)
  • Pads:
    -10 dB (via switch on microphone)
    -20 dB (via switch on microphone)

The Spirit’s 1” gold evaporated capsule delivers a wonderfully wide frequency response and transient response that reacts to sound pressure variation with great precision.

A three-way switch on the mic body selects between omnidirectional, cardioid and bidirectional polar patterns. Two selectable pads and a high-pass filter improve upon the already versatile nature of this multi-pattern condenser mic.

The transformer-based output circuit of the Spirit yields a revealing and polished sound with a detailed low-end and smooth refined top-end.

Though the Aston Spirit is capable enough to use on any instrument, it is particularly effective on acoustic stringed instruments and vocals.

Recordings benefit greatly from the Spirit’s detailed high-end with added harmonic content. The added air and space in the upper-end of the Spirit’s response is not at the expense of harshness or over-brightness.

Its transparency is remarkable, allowing even the slightest nuances of a sound source to shine through in its output signal.

The Spirit does not come with any included accessories but does hold a 3-year warranty.


Rode NT1-A

The Rode NT1-A (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is a large-diaphragm solid-state electret condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern. It is one of the best-valued mics in the lower price points, coming in well below the $500 cut off of this article.

Rode NT1-A
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Self-noise: 5 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 25 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters: N/A
  • Pads: N/A

At a relatively low price point, the NT1-A still excels as an LCD microphone. It’s incredibly low self-noise (5 dBA) and its clean transient response allows it to capture sound with only the slightest colouration. This colouration acts to brighten the signal and is very useful on darker sound sources.

The edge-terminated large-diaphragm capsule of the Rode NT1-A yields a bright frequency response and a consistent cardioid polar pattern. The transparency of the surface-mounted amp circuit components gives this microphone a clean and clear sound with modest manufacturing costs.

Whether you’re running a project or pro studio, the NT1-A is a great, simple, and affordable large-diaphragm condenser mic you can depend on.

With a new purchase of the NT1-A, Rode includes a custom studio-grade pop filter and shock mount along with a premium 20′ microphone cable, dust cover, and a downloadable instructional video. The mic, when bought brand-new, is covered by Rode’s industry-leading 10-year warranty.

Rode is featured in My New Microphone’s Top 11 Best Microphone Brands You Should Know And Use.

The Rode NT1-A is featured in the following My New Microphone articles:

• Top 20 Best Microphones For Podcasting (All Budgets)
• Top 10 Best Microphones Under $500 for Recording Vocals
• Top 12 Best Microphones Under $1,000 for Recording Vocals
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Rode NT1000

The Rode NT1000 (link to compare prices on Amazon and B&H Photo/Video) is the solid-state version of the renowned Rode NTK tube condenser microphone.

Rode NT1000
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20,000 Hz
  • Polar pattern: Cardioid
  • Self-noise: 6 dBA
  • Sensitivity: 16 mV/Pa
  • High-pass filters: N/A
  • Pads: N/A

Starting with the capsule, Rode’s NT1000 utilizes the same HF2 capsule as the NTK tube microphone. This edge-terminated capsule is externally-biased and has a single 1″ diaphragm.

This capsule presents a consistent fixed cardioid polar pattern and a relatively bright but smooth frequency response. Its transient response is spot on in terms of capturing the true nature of its intended sound sources.

The NT1000 design does away with the vacuum tube electronics and replaces the amp circuit with solid-state components. This change in design yields a slightly more accurate but sterile sound and also saves money on manufacturing and material costs.

These savings, of course, translate to the consumer and the NT1000 is a great value microphone at its price point.

Being a simple but versatile mic, the NT1000 is cherished by its users as a microphone for grand piano, drum overheads and, like many LDCs, vocals!

The Rode NT1000 comes with a stand mount and a protective zip pouch and when bought brand-new, it is covered by Rode’s 10-year warranty.


This article has been approved in accordance with the My New Microphone Editorial Policy.


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