There are many microphones on the market today but only a few household microphone brands. It’s easy to overlook some amazing but lesser-known microphone manufacturers when looking for the perfect mic for a job.
The top 11 best microphones brands you’ve likely never heard of:
- Audio Engineering Associates (AEA)
- Applied Microphone Technology (AMT)
- Bock Audio
- Coles Electroacoustics
- Heil Sound
- Mojave Audio
- Neat Microphones
- Solomon Design
- Warm Audio
In this article, we’ll get into each of these lesser-known microphone brands to see what they’re all about.
If you’re looking for a full list of microphone manufacturers, click here!
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Without further ado, let’s get into our top 11 best microphone brands you’ve likely never hear of!
AEA (Audio Engineering Associates)
Audio Engineering Associates started out as a ribbon microphone servicing and repair shop. They originally focused their business on the re-ribboning and restructuring of old vintage ribbon mics (notably the famous RCA 44).
By 1998, after having worked on so many RCA 44 microphones, AEA had the means of producing 100% of the parts of the legendary microphone. This was the initial spark that got AEA into the design and manufacturing of their very own microphones. The first of which was the AEA R44C, a ribbon microphone that is an exact replica of the legendary RCA 44BX.
Since then, AEA have been expanding into the engineering and manufacture of new ribbon microphone. Each AEA microphone is built with purpose and a unique application and function. The company simultaneously is forward-thinking with their microphone technologies and traditional, using the same RCA principles that got them to where they are now.
AEA’s most famous microphone is their first: the R44C. The R44C was introduced in 1998 and launched AEA into the microphone manufacturing business. As previously mentioned, this microphone is an exact replica of the great RCA 44BX ribbon microphone of 1940. Like the microphone it clones, the R44C is an ideal choice to capture the tone of any voice or instrument while imparting a legendary ribbon sound and character.
AEA was founded in 1976 by Wes Dooley and Bob Gerbracht in Pasadena, California, USA. The company in headquartered in Padadena, California, USA.
AMT (Applied Microphone Technology)
Applied Microphone Technology has a goal of reproducing sound in the most pure, natural, and uncoloured manner possible. They strive to produce microphones that capture the sound of an instrument the way the musician intends the instrument to be heard.
AMT believes the best way to reproduce the sound of any particular instrument is to understand that instrument fully and design a microphone transducer based on the instrument. This belief has yielded a large catalog of instrument-specific microphones. AMT never compromises sound for convenience, and this shows in the quality of their microphones, which go deep rather than wide.
Because each microphone in AMT’s catalog is so application specific, I’d like to go a bit broad on their “most notable microphones.”
Let’s take a quick look at the Quantum 7 wireless series. This wireless system boasts 100 different radio frequency channels and is programmable to work legally in any part of the world. The Q7 works with any past or present AMT microphones that include a disconnect (D.C.T.), which happen to be most.
The versatility and solid performance of the AMT Quantum 7 wireless series make it a truly remarkable microphone system. Wireless is indeed the way to go with many live instruments on stage. The Q7 wireless combined instrument-specific AMT microphones will yield a sound reinforcement that reproduces the sound of instruments in the way they were intended to sound.
Applied Microphone Technology was founded in 1986 by Martin Paglione in New Jersey, USA. The company is headquartered in Sparta Township, New Jersey, USA.
Audix is perhaps best known for their drum microphones. Outside of the drummer demographic (and those who record drummers), Audix may be a relatively unknown microphone brand.
Audix is a microphone brand focused on innovative design, performance, quality, durability and value. Though perhaps they are not talked about as much as Shure or AKG, those who know Audix recognize them for their rugged and high-performance microphones.
Audix boasts a wide range of microphones and is a customer-focused company that takes feedback and turns it into ingenuity.
The D6 is likely the first microphone to come to mind when thinking of Audix Microphones. This dynamic instrument microphone is best known for the amazing results it produces on kick drums due to its superb low-frequency response. However, the D6 is designed to work with many bass instruments and the human voice for stage, studio, and broadcast applications.
The Audix D6 is lightweight, compact, and easy to position. It features a VLM (Very Low Mass) diaphragm (an Audix trademark), which puts it way above most other dynamic mics in terms of accuracy in its sound reproduction.
Audix was founded in 1984 by Cliff Castle, Fred Bigeh and Cindy Bigeh in Redwood City, California, USA. The company is headquartered in Wilsonville, Oregon, USA.
Bock Audio is a “new vintage” microphone manufacturer. The company was started by David Bock in 2007 after having spent the previous three decades maintaining and repairing vintage microphones at the famous Ocean Way, Hyde Street and Hit Factory recording studios as well as designing a manufacturing new vintage mics at [the better known] Soundelux.
Bock Audio not only manufactures high-end vintage-style microphones, but also runs like the old microphone production shops to the 1930s and 1940s. The microphones of Bock Audio are handcrafted and produced in very small batches with careful attention to each and every detail.
Bock microphones are built to last, providing the highest level of performance that meets or exceeds that of the classics.
The Bock 251 is a high end, modern version of the legendary vintage Telefunken Ela-M 251 microphone.
It uses a proprietary CK12-style capsule hand-made to David Bock’s specifications by MBHO and a New Old Stock 6201 tube. This give the Bock Audio 251 its three polar patterns (cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional) and “classic Ela-M 251” sound, respectively.
Though the Bock Audio 251 is not an exact clone of the original Telefunken Ela-M 251, it sounds and performs the same and is a fraction of the cost (if you could even find an Ela-M 251 for sale).
Bock Audio was founded in 2007 by David Bock in Los Angeles, California, USA. To this day, the company is headquartered in Los Angeles, California, USA.
Although the Coles 4038 (designed and patented by the BBC in the 1950s) is a legendary ribbon microphone, Coles Electroacoustics is not a particularly well-known brand in the microphone world.
Coles Electroacoustics has a small line of very impressive ribbon microphones that, unfortunately, do not get the global recognition they deserve.
This is likely since Coles Electroacoustics has primarily designed and manufactured microphones for the BBC in the UK for over 49 years. That being said, their microphones do find their way out of the UK and have been accepted in studio, radio and television broadcast throughout the sound recording industry.
The Coles 4038 Studio Ribbon Microphone is a British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) design. Since its introduction in the 1950s, this legendary microphone has been relied upon in many studios in the UK and around the world.
Coles Electroacoustics was founded in 1964 by two employees of the British telecom company Standard Telephones and Cables named Colin and Les. The company is headquartered in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, England, UK.
Heil Sound is a big name in the world of live sound reinforcement microphones. It is also the only microphone manufacturer to have an exhibit in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. That being said, if you’re not working in the field of live sound, you may have never heard of Heil Sound before.
Heil Sound is a world-class company the specializes in the design and manufacture of industry-leading cardioid dynamic microphones. With a very specific focus, Heil Sound has produced a wide product line of durable, elegant, and affordable microphones.
Heil microphones were originally designed for the live performance venue (from the concert stage to the church and everywhere in between) but have since been found in recording studios and broadcast facilities worldwide.
The PR 40 is known by professionals as the “thoroughbred work-horse” of professional sound recording and reinforcement.
This dynamic microphone boasts an incredibly natural frequency response from 28 Hz – 18k Hz. A response this wide is a feat in and of itself for a dynamic mic. Its low mass diaphragm, custom magnet metals, and double mesh screen make it equally as excellent on a kick drum as on the human voice.
Heil Sound was founded in 1966 by Bob Heil in Fairview Heights, Illinois, USA. To this day, the company is headquartered in Fairview Heights, Illinois, USA.
MBHO is a company that develops and manufactures high-end microphones and microphone parts.
95% of each product is handmade by the MBHO team to the highest quality possible. MBHO’s chief engineer, Manfred Schneider, learned and worked with the famous Dr. Schoeps of Schoeps Mikrofone, which played a major role in the success and quality of MBHO.
On top of their many incredible microphones, MBHO provides microphones parts for many microphone manufacturers, such as:
The MBNM 410 is a small diaphragm condenser with an omnidirectional polar pattern. Its compact and intricate design provides a natural sounding frequency and transient response, and yields a great sound.
This microphone rivals the high-end small diaphragm pencil microphones on the market in sound quality while blowing them out of the water with its entry-level price point.
Haun Microphones was founded in 1962 by Herbert Haun in Obrigheim, Germany. The company is still headquartered in Obrigheim, Germany.
Mojave Audio started in 1985 in a garage in Fullerton, California by none other than David Royer (of Royer Labs fame). Mojave Audio is certainly not as popular as David’s other company, and so it deserves a spot on this list.
Mojave Audio specializes in professional studio-grade large diaphragm condenser microphones of both FET and Tube varieties. Though Mojave’s product line is small, the microphones in it are very impressive.
The company invests in a hybrid of high-quality domestic and overseas microphone parts that allow for microphones that are both top-of-the-line and affordable. These parts include Jensen transformers; military-grade NOS tubes; industry-leading FETs; and custom-made resistors.
Released in 2016, the MA-50 became Mojave Audio’s entry-level microphone and first transformerless mic.
The MA-50 is a large diaphragm condenser with a cardioid polar pattern. It features the same K67 capsule as the higher-end Mojave’s MA-200 and MA-201 FET microphones.
The MA-50 is perhaps the best sounding transformerless condenser and costs a fraction of the price of many high-end microphones.
Mojave Audio was officially founded in 2005 by David Royer in Burbank, California, USA. The company is headquartered in Burbank, California, USA.
Neat Microphones is a division of Gibson Brands musical instrument company.
Although somewhat unknown, Neat Microphones should become popular in the coming years. Not only is the microphone company part of Gibson Brands, but it is also backed by two big names in the microphone manufacturing industry: Skipper Wise and Martins Saulespurens (the two co-founders of the very popular Blue Microphones).
Neat’s mission is to continuously improve its microphone technology, producing high-quality, easy-to-use microphones for both professionals and consumers.
The King Bee was introduced in 2015 and is Neat’s premier studio microphone.
This large-diaphragm FET condenser microphone set the stage for Neat Microphones as a quality microphone manufacturer. The King Bee has a cardioid polar pattern and sounds excellent on a wide variety of sound sources. It’s a superb multipurpose mic.
Neat Microphones was launched in 2014 by Gibson Brands and named Skipper Wise (of Blue Microphone fame) their president. Neat Microphones is headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, USA.
Solomon Design is a one-man operation by Henry French. The company specializes in sub-microphones for recording drums.
Solomon took the old trick of turning a speaker into a microphone and really ran with it, producing microphones that are capable of capturing the extended low-end of large percussion instruments at half the price and half the weight of the other “speaker mics” on the market.
The LoFReQ is Solomon’s first and flagship microphone. It effectively reproduces the low-end and sub-bass frequencies of kick drums and other large percussive instruments. The main selling points are the LoFReQ’s high output, light weight, and low price point.
Solomon Design was founded in 2015 by Henry French in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.. The company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA.
Warm Audio has the worthy goal of helping aspiring musicians & engineers gain access to fully professional recording equipment. WA does this by developing and manufacturing professional-grade equipment at reasonable costs. Along with microphones, Warm Audio also produces analog mic preamps, compressors, and equalizers.
Warm audio carefully chooses its microphone parts from select suppliers to ensure the highest of quality while remaining in the budgets its customers. This process allows them to run a boutique-style shop that provides top-of-the-line mics are affordable price points.
The WA-47 was introduced in 2018. It is an all vacuum tube, transformer balanced, multi-pattern, large diaphragm condenser microphone. The WA-47 is based on the legendary Neumann and Telefunken U47s and has the benefit of being at least 1/10th of the price.
The WA-47 boasts 9 selectable polar patterns via its vintage k47 style capsule; a smooth, clean output with its Slovak Republic JJ 5751 vacuum tube; and a natural sounding extended frequency response via its TAB-Funkenwerk (AMI) USA transformer.
Warm Audio was founded in 2011 by Bryce Young in his garage in Austin, Texas, USA. The company is headquartered in Austin, Texas, USA.
What is the most common type of microphone? The most common type of microphone transducer is the electret JFET condenser. These transducers are found in studio microphones, lavalier mics, cell phones, laptops, hearing aids, and many other household devices in our day-to-day lives.
What are the different types of microphones? There are many different types of microphones. The most common are moving-coil and ribbon dynamics as well as electret, tube, RF, and “true” condensers. Other microphone transducer types include: