Many of us have dreamt of setting up a home studio and lose ourselves in the world of recording, mixing, or just fooling around with the gear and go creative. For aspiring musicians and vocalists who are trying to leave a mark on social media by uploading their singing skills or a professional who is looking to record high-end vocals, the difference between a good and a great cover lies greatly in the quality and response of the microphone you are using. Here we will look at condenser microphones, what makes them a great recording tool, and some of the best mics available in the Indian market.
Condenser microphones have an excellent frequency response with low noise making them ideal for studio recordings desiring high sound quality. It is built differently than a dynamic microphone and hence is costlier, but that does mean improved performance even in the high-frequency range.
Things to look out for while buying a USB condenser microphone
Depending on your use of the device, the surrounding environment, and the specifics you have in mind for its use, various factors must be considered before buying a condenser mic.
1. Proximity sensitivity
If you are a live streamer or podcaster, chances are you will often move around in your seat and drift away from the microphone. If you are using a low-end microphone, this will cause breaks in your voice, and the recorded voice will have low volume and clarity. Microphones with a proximity sensitivity of 3 to 15 inches allow for recording a clear voice even when you face away from the microphone.
2. Pickup Pattern
The pickup pattern indicates roughly the direction from which the mic picks up the sound. Knowing the pickup pattern is extremely important before buying a microphone since it determines the type of use and the setting in which the microphone can be used. Many condenser microphones have a selectable pickup pattern. The pickup patterns are classified into various categories.
There is the “omnidirectional” pattern which picks up sound evenly in all directions. It is best suited for capturing ambient sounds or a group of instruments and singers. This is the most versatile pattern used in almost all scenarios, but it also records noise which becomes a problem.
Then there is the unidirectional microphone that only picks up sound from a particular direction. This has the advantage of reducing noise and is application-specific. They can be used in recording vocals in the studio or live streams.
There are also various subcategories of pickup patterns that are highly directed at a particular use. Being aware of them can have an added advantage for selecting the best mic for the purpose you have in mind.
Cardioid microphones are semi omnidirectional microphones that capture sound mostly coming from the front. The pickup area around the mic resembles that of a heart, with the sound from the back being suppressed and increasing towards the front. The noise isn’t completely suppressed in the sides of this pickup pattern.
3. Frequency Response
In simple terms, the frequency response of a microphone means which particular frequency or frequency range the device will pick up and which frequencies the microphone will miss.
The response of your microphone to certain frequencies hugely decides the type of application the mic will have, and it should be a very important factor in deciding your choice of a condenser microphone.
The frequency response will vary significantly for recording vocals and instruments as the human voice rarely registers very high pitches. However, if you want to record an instrument that can go to very high pitches, the microphone set up in the studio must have a high-frequency response.
4. Dynamic Range
Dynamic range decides the sound level that you can record in a condenser microphone without losing the frequency response at that particular level.
A good condenser mic will have a very good dynamic response across all the frequency ranges and volume levels without generating noise. A good response across the entire dynamic range is possible only if the quality of the microphone is good.
5. Power Supply
There are two options for a condenser microphone when it comes to the power supply. Either you can have a dedicated power supply or a phantom power supply.
A phantom power supply powers the microphone without an external power supply by sending DC power to the microphone using the XLR cable. Suppose you are looking for mobile applications of the microphone, or you don’t want another bulky component like a power supply lying around on the studio floor; in that case, a phantom power supply option is a perfect alternative.
Best USB Condenser Microphones available in India
Now that we have seen some basic guides to buying a condenser microphone. Let’s look at some products to see how they fare in various areas and working scenarios.
|USB Condenser Microphones||Frequency Range||Polar Pattern||Resolution||Capsule||On Amazon|
|Rode NT-USB Condenser Microphone||20Hz - 20kHz||Cardioid||16-bit||0.50"||Check Price|
|Samson Technologies G-Track Pro Professional USB Microphone||50Hz–20kHz||Cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional||24-bit||Dual 1"||Check Price|
|Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording and Streaming||20Hz - 20kHz||Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo||16-bit||3 Blue-proprietary 14mm condenser capsules||Check Price|
|AKG Lyra C44-USB||20Hz – 20kHz||Selectable; Front, Front & Back, Tight Stereo and Wide Stereo||24-bit||4 proprietary, permanently polarized back plate, condenser capsules||Check Price|
|JBL Commercial CSUM10 USB Condenser Microphone||50 Hz to 18KHz||Cardioid, Omnidirectional||24 Bit||2 x 14mm||Check Price|
1. Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone
The Rode NT is an amazing USB condenser microphone that surely towers over its competitors in the same price range. The microphone is easy to operate as it requires no additional drivers to operate and doesn’t compromise on any features either.
The design and sound quality are excellent, with clear studio-quality sounds. The device comes with a cardioid capsule responsible for the fantastic sound quality, and there is surprisingly very little vibration noise from the tripod.
The dynamic range is impressive, with clear recordings of faint and loud noises, and is suitable for any type of vocal range. The extended frequency response above 10kHz gives a crisp and clear audio recording. All of this comes with the additional benefit of a simple USB interface.
Some added features include monitor volume and gain control, an output jack for headphones, and a very low noise threshold. Overall this microphone beats any of its competitors by a long shot and gives the best value for the money you have invested and maybe a little more. Also, this is one of the Best USB condenser microphones available in India.
2. Samson Technologies G-Track Pro Professional USB Microphone
This Samsung microphone comes packed with features that are a dream come true for any home studio owner or podcaster. This device is a condenser microphone, audio interface, and mixer all in one! The possibilities of such a setup are limitless.
You can record your vocals and simultaneously plug in an instrument like a keyboard or a guitar into the mic to record into the DAW. The microphones sound awesome while recording audio of all frequency ranges and recording acoustic instruments with excellent results.
The audio interface allows high-quality record options for instruments like bass guitar and keyboard. The separate gain knobs for mic, instruments, and monitor makes it as good as any daw device.
For the price range, it is a feature-packed device that delivers the performance of a high-quality condenser mic and an audio interface, making it versatile enough for many applications like audio recording, podcasting, streaming, etc.
3. Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording and Streaming
The Blue Yeti USB microphone is not for everyone! Yes, it is a condenser microphone, and yes, it is relatively cheaper than the rest of the products mentioned so far. But this price drop comes at the cost of targeting a specific buyer base, the streamers.
This device is best for those who do podcasts, stream on youtube or Twitch and make general video content. The USB-enabled feature makes it super easy to plug in and play without any hassle and doesn’t require phantom power to operate, thus serving the most basic need of a content creator.
The sound quality is amazing to stream as the mic doesn’t drop any audio. But as it was designed keeping in mind the streaming and gaming community, the noise performance while using along a DAW isn’t that impressive. This doesn’t mean that it can’t be used to record vocals or instruments as it has got a setting for it in each case. Also, there might be a slight delay in the input. So if you are an avid gamer searching for the perfect mic for you, look no further.
4. AKG Lyra C44-USB Condenser Microphone
When we think of a USB mic, sound quality is always the point we worry about the most. This sleek and vintage-looking microphone does its best to shatter that norm.
The AKG Lyra is a great USB microphone with flexibility in use that can be applied across all formats, ranging from audio recording in DAWs, streaming, or using a gaming microphone and podcasting.
The plug-and-play feature ensures that even the most non-tech-savvy user will be able to plug and play it in their respective software.
The features include a well-built and premium design which comes with its stand, a 3.5mm jack to plug in your headphones to be used as monitors, a volume button, and 4 different recording settings which can be used for studio recording to a simple podcast recording.
The mic is an excellent budget-friendly product for those looking to get the most out of your bucks.
5. JBL Commercial CSUM10 Condenser USB Microphone
We all know the thrust worthiness of JBL when it comes to making audio devices. The CSUM10 is not any different from what we would thus expect—packed with all the features we expect from a condenser mic yet, not burning a hole in the customer’s pocket.
This budget-friendly device is the perfect choice for those new to the studio field or maybe wanna dabble in it a bit.
This doesn’t mean that it compromises on any areas. It delivers the pristine quality sounds for gamers, vloggers, and even studio recordings, with omnidirectional and cardioid patterns that make recording instruments and ambient sounds alike.
In short, this is a good choice for beginners and entry-level musicians who want to set up a budget home studio. Also, the device is a USB variant, so it won’t get easier than this to set it up.
Looking for a good quality condenser microphone will come at a price that is sure to make you think twice. Still, the investment is worthwhile considering the long-term benefits regarding built and sound quality.
Though USB condenser mics have always been frowned upon, recent technological developments have increased their reliability and sound quality. And the best part is that a casual user can now set up a cheap studio at home or stream from the computer without compromising the sound quality and getting the real deal.