Best Budget XLR Microphone 2023; Top Cheap Mic Reviews
Here in this article “Best Budget XLR Microphone” we’ve rounded up 11 top cheap mics of various types, specifications. Below, you’ll find in-depth reviews of each, as well as a buying guide on what to look for when buying a XLR microphone.
Most of the professional microphones are XLR mics for a reason – these microphones offer better customization and adaptability. They need to be connected with a digital audio interface that converts the audio files into digital signals.
The XLR microphones have become the standard format in studios with their quality sound systems, and as a result, the majority of the best microphones are fitted with XLR connections.
This is also a drawback as XLR microphones dominate the market and have such a wide variety of uses, it can be quite a challenge to find the best budget XLR microphone for streaming, podcasting, singing or for recording in your home studio.
To help you pick out the best cheap/inexpensive XLR microphone from an ocean of choices, we have created this comprehensive guide where most of the microphones are priced under $200.
|TopTop Top||Shure SM58S||Best Overall||Capsule: Dynamic, Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Audio-Technica ATR2100x||Best Under $100||Capsule: Dynamic, Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||MXL Mics 770||Best XLR Condenser||Diaphragm: 0.87″ / 22.10 mm, Capsule: Condenser, Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
|Top||Audio-Technica AT2020||Best For Podcasting||Capsule: Condenser, Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
|Shure SM7B||Best For Streaming||Capsule: Dynamic, Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
|Blue Blackout Spark SL||Best For Recording||Diaphragm: .9” / 22.86, Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
|Shure PGA181-XLR||Best Side-Address Mic||Capsule: Electret Condenser, Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
|sE Electronics X1 A||Best Large Diaphragm XLR Mic||Capsule: Condenser, Diaphragm: 0.66″ (16.9mm), Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
|Shure PGA48||Best Under $50||Capsule: Dynamic, Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
|AKG Pro Audio P220||Best For Singing||Capsule: 1″ True Condenser, Polar Pattern: Cardioid||Buy on Amazon|
Table of Contents
- Budget XLR Microphone Reviews
- Budget XLR Microphone Buying Guide
Budget XLR Microphone Reviews
Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a recording veteran, the Shure SM58S microphone will suit your needs.
Shure SM58S has a durable build. Whatever you do with it, it is very unlikely to break.
The mic has a capsule wrapped in a ball-like screen, which also acts as an effective pop filter, and has an on/off switch.
The removable grille and metal construction exude quality and durability. Additionally, the frequency response bodes well for vocalists and podcasters alike.
The Shure SM58S is a cardioid, dynamic microphone that offers a frequency response of 50Hz to 15kHz.
It has an output impedance of 150 ohms and the mic is geared towards vocals, with a standard cardioid polar pattern working very well for stage use.
It weighs approximately 0.82lbs. It is 6.3-inches long and is 2-inches wide. The Shure SM58S comes with a carry case and a stand adapter.
Shure SM58S is one of the best budget XLR microphones for singing & live performances as it has several features that just make life on stage much easier.
For starters, there’s the built-in pop filter that actually works very well to reduce breath noise and those nasty plosives, while the inclusion of both Shure’s legendary pneumatic shock mount system and a zipper case adds to the overall value.
Since this is an XLR microphone, USB connection isn’t an option: you’ll need to pick up an XLR cable.
As a dynamic low-impedance mic (150Ω), it doesn’t require any phantom power. This means you don’t need something like the Cloudlifter preamp.
The Shure SM58S is one of the best cheap XLR microphones in its class. Its frequency response (50Hz-15kHz) is tailored to highlight vocals, hence the sloping bass attenuation from 40-100Hz.
This is to combat the proximity effect which is when the sound source is too close to the microphone causing bass frequencies to become exaggerated.
Another benefit of the de-emphasized low notes is how you can easily edit recordings in post-production if you elect to do so.
- Durable construction
- Cardioid pickup pattern
- Midrange recording emphasis
- Stand adapter and zipper pouch
- Internal shock mount reduces handling noise
- Ideal for live performances
Meant to be used as a handheld mic
Best Under $100
The Audio-Technica ATR2100-USB is a great cheap podcasting or streaming XLR microphone that will give you professional-quality sound.
The best feature about this microphone (besides the sound quality) is that it has both USB and XLR outputs so you can plug directly into your computer (via USB) or plug into a mixer (via XLR).
The ATR2100x-USB also offers a high-quality analog-to-digital converter (24-bit, up to 192 kHz) for excellent fidelity, and a headphone jack with level control for direct monitoring from the microphone.
Its cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of unwanted sounds from the sides and rear. The mic includes an on/off switch and comes with two 2 m (6.6′) USB cables (USB-C to USB-C, USB-C to USB-A) and a 3m (9.8′) XLRF-to-XLRM cable for maximum versatility. A sturdy tripod desk stand with folding legs is also included for use on tabletops.
With its headphone jack and level control, the mic lets you listen to the sound that’s being captured, without delay or manipulation.
With simple plug-and-play operation, the ATR2100x-USB is compatible with PC and Mac and works with your favorite DAW without the need for an audio interface.
This great dynamic XLR microphone for streaming features high-quality A/D conversion up to 192kHz sampling rate, low self-noise, and frequency range from 50Hz to 15kHz, the ATR2100x-USB has a pleasant and flattering tone, and its cardioid polar pattern does an excellent job of rejecting unwanted ambient noise that can ruin your recordings and live streams.
- Excellent mic for streaming and recording
- Durable metal construction
- Handheld – and comes with a desk stand
- Built in analog-to-digital converter (for USB)
- Easy to carry
- Mic stand is a bit flimsy
Best Condenser Microphone
MXL Mics 770
This sturdy small-diaphragm budget condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern is ideal for both single and multiple voice recordings.
While being a great choice for voice recording, the 770 is also good for capturing instruments such as pianos, strings, percussion, or brass. It brings affordability and quality.
This one of the best inexpensive XLR microphone comes in an attractive matte charcoal finish with gold lettering and trim, the MXL 770 is an affordable mic that doesn’t look cheap.
Under the refined exterior, the MXL 770 is fitted with a six-micron gold-sputtered diaphragm with a 0.87” capsule and a low-noise FET preamp.
There’s a frequency response range of 30Hz to 20kHz, with a decent max SPL of 137dB. Note that this mic comes with a standard XLR connection and will require 48v phantom power to power it.
The MXL 770 offers great sensitivity at 15mv/Pa and with an impedance of 150 ohms, it is quite powerful and provides perfect bass adequate for instrumental and vocal recording.
Around the back of the mic you will find a couple of switches. The first is the low-frequency roll-off and the other is the 10db pad, which both prove very useful.
The included shock mount is a great free add-on that prevents vibrations from the stand or the desk from reaching the mic and making their way into your recording.
The microphone also comes along with a hard plastic case, padded with foam for storing and protecting the microphone when not in use.
Since MXL 770 uses an XLR cable, you willneed a USB audiointerface into which you would plug the mic then plug the interface’s USB cable into your computer.
It looks great, it’s built to last and it delivers a sound that, quite frankly, belongs in a much higher price category.
This makes the MXL 770 an absolute bargain at this price. It’s perfect for beginners as much as it is professionals looking for a real bargain and – if you are looking to record instruments as well as vocals, this could be your best pick.
- Easy to use which makes it suitable for beginners
- Very clear and crisp sound
- An extremely sensitive and versatile microphone
- Has a sturdy construction and is built to last
- The hard case is comes with is high quality and protects the microphone thanks to the soft foam padding inside
- The quality of the shock mount is subpar
Best For Podcasting
The Audio-Technica AT2020 is one of those rare microphones that give you good sound quality but at a very affordable price. It works very well as a vocal microphone. It is able to really reproduce all the subtle changes in voice applications.
Because of its attention to acoustic detail, it is also perfect for recording acoustic guitars and other acoustic instruments.
This one of the best XLR microphone for streaming & gaming is built like a tank. It is quite a compact size at 9.6 inches long by 2.6 inches and weighs just one and a half pounds. It has an all-metal build, so it is a rugged mic and has a metal grille.
Not only a tough-looking microphone but also with a nice professional look. It has a pivoting, threaded stand mount, that can be detached if it is not needed.
The AT2020 uses an XLR cable and requires 48v of phantom power. If that sounds intimidating, this is not the mic for you. You’ll need a mixing board at the very least, or a dedicated voice recorded that accepts XLR input.
It has a cardioid pick-up pattern that makes it perfectly suited to capturing your vocals. The polarity is designed to be most sensitive directly in front of it. The magnetic field curves out and around ensuring that nothing behind it is registered.
It employs neodymium magnets to create its pick-up patterns. The diaphragm is well-engineered with realistic, well-tuned frequency response. It is sensitive but not overly so, this allows it to withstand high sound pressure levels (up to 144 decibels). It measures 0.63-inches and does a surprisingly good job, despite its smaller surface area.
It capably responds to spoken word, as well as sung, it is dynamically balanced to pick-up on nuances. With the gain levels suitably adjusted it can deal with a whisper or death metal screams, although you might want a decent pop shield to combat plosive sounds.
- Well engineered with robust build
- Good sound on vocals and instruments.
- High self noise
Best For Streaming
Shure SM7B, although a bit pricey, because of its amazing quality, it needs to be included in a list of the best XLR microphones that money can buy.
Many people believe that to get the best sound it is somewhat mandatory to use only the expensive condensers like Neumann and similar.
This microphone can easily prove them wrong. Three times cheaper than TLM 103 and 8 times cheaper than U37, it is capable of producing just as good, and in some occasions, even better results!
Having its own pros and cons, it resurrects the old topic of dynamics vs condensers, but in a nutshell, the sound quality of SM7B is exceptional.
This is the same microphone that the “King Of Pop” himself, Michael Jackson, used on his most successful album of all time to date, “Thriller”. This is one of the best microphones for voice overs, if not the best to use for vocals in its price range.
It’s an incredibly versatile microphone, with its wide, flat frequency response, and cardioid polar pattern, it’s perfect to be used in recording setups for recording vocals, instruments and even micing up amplifiers, where off-axis sound rejection is required to gain clarity in a recording take.
Also, with the addition of it’s bass roll-off and mid-range emphasis (presence boost) controls, it’s also been widely used in streaming, broadcasting, podcasting and video commentary, as it really provides a lovely rich, clean tone.
The microphone itself has a cardioid polar pattern, but with the assistance of the bass roll off and mid-range boost controls, the polar pattern changes accordingly, it has good frequency responsiveness.
The pre-installed pop filter effectively eliminates plosives and fricatives, meaning you can speak freely without monitoring how close you are to the recording capsule.
Shure also provides its A7WS detachable windscreen to further reduce plosives and produce a bassier-tone. To install the windscreen properly, refer to the included user guide as it requires the use of an included attachment piece.
Whether you record from a blanket fort or professional studio, you’re going to need a mic stand. Podcasters or streamers working from a desktop should consider a mounted boom arm instead.
No matter where you take the Shure SM7B, you need an XLR cable to plug into an audio interface or mixer.
As far as the microphone’s sound, it really does provide a clean overall sound. It must be noted that the microphone has a pronounced proximity effect, meaning that the low frequencies are not picked up as readily as soon as you’ve positioned yourself either off-axis or more than 2-3 inches away, on-axis.
None-the-less, like any microphone, positioning is key. And when you’re singing, speaking or using the microphone to mic up an instrument, when you hit that sweet spot, it really provides a lovely rich tone.
- Crystal clear natural sound
- Rich lows and extremely smooth highs
- High and low cut booster filters
- Works without pop filters and external shock mount
- Provides great sound isolation.
- Requires a decent mixer or preamp
Best For Recording
Blue Blackout Spark SL
The Blue Blackout Spark SL is amazing to look at and it’s even better to use, and more importantly, it comes complete with its own shock mount, a classy wood traveling case and full instructions for use in the studio or in place of your USB microphone.
It sports the unique lollipop shape that will be familiar to anyone with experience with Blue Microphones’ regular output and is certainly enough to turn a few heads.
This one of the best XLR microphone under $200 is kitted out with a custom designed JFET condenser capsule. This delivers consistent, detailed and transparent sound for a wide range of recording scenarios.
The cardioid-only polar pattern greatly reduces pickup of background noise. The microphone has a standard frequency response range of 20Hz to 20kHz, with a max SPL of 136dB.
These are enhanced by some on-mic features, such as the 100Hz low-cut filter switch to reduce unwanted rumble and boom, and the -20dB pad switch to keep things distortion-free.
Note that this mic features an XLR connection, so 48v phantom power is required to use it.
The design, features and lower max SPL all point to the fact that this is not the ideal mic for recording instruments.
Also, this is undoubtedly a vocalist’s mic and works particularly well for all kinds of speech, giving a rich, clear and focused sound to your voice, while eliminating background noise very well.
While singing is not out of the question, like instruments, there are better mics for that. Where the Blackout Spark SL shines is in its broadcasting output, making it ideal for talkers – voiceovers, gaming and podcasting in particular.
- Great looking
- XLR connection for pro use
- 100Hz high pass filter and -20dB pad
- Great mic response
- Awesome clarity
- May be a bit pricey for some
Best Side-Address Budget Mic
The Shure PGA181 is a side-address cardioid condenser microphone with a smooth frequency response with highly durable construction that delivers excellent sound.
It is a very unassuming microphone: all black with a lollipop-type head mounted atop a sturdy, cast-zinc conical body.
Construction feels solid and inspires confidence. Included with the mic are a stand holder, a soft carry case and an instruction booklet.
The PGA181’s element is an electret condenser requiring 48-volt phantom power. Frequency response is specified as 50 to 20,000 Hz (±5 dB), and the capsule is rated to handle SPLs up to 138 dB.
This is one of the best budget XLR microphone for home studio as with this microphone you’ll be primed to capture the true sound of acoustic instruments, vocals, percussion, amplifiers, and more.
It’s a versatile microphone which will fulfill most of your recording purposes when you don’t have a lot of microphones in your collection, as it promises great-sounding performance that you can count on for any session.
- Side-address condenser microphone
- Ideal for vocals, acoustic instruments, percussion, amplifiers & more
- Rugged design
Requires to be placed too close to the source
Best Large Diaphragm XLR Mic
sE Electronics X1 A
The sE iX1 A is a large-diaphragm XLR cardioid condenser microphone that sounds great with a well-balanced frequency response.
The X1 A comes with a clip and mic-stand thread adaptor, rather than a full shockmount.
The X1 A is designed around a 17mm capsule, which is half the size of the original X1’s K67-style capsule. At 17mm, the X1 A’s capsule is more or less at the midpoint of small-diaphragm and large-diaphragm condensers.
Theoretically, this smaller capsule gives it more accuracy with high frequencies, although it also loses some sensitivity and may have a higher self-noise.
The X1 A has an all-metal chassis with a premium finish. It feels sturdy, hefty, and the metal construction helps with rejection of electrical interference and noise.
It also has an integrated windscreen, which helps provide protection for the capsule as well as reduces the need for an external pop filter.
On the whole, this one of the best xlr mic for streaming sounds fantastically transparent, with a natural sound that’s not too overhyped.
Vocals-wise, it’s best on a male voice, although the midrange does sound a little more restricted and you may need to do a little fiddling with the EQ.
- Good value for money
- Great for streaming, voice overs and podcasts
- Large diaphragm
Sometimes may encounter feedback issues
Best XLR Microphone Under $50
The PGA48 is a sturdy microphone that captures clear, intelligible vocals and speech and is ready to plug in to any sound system or recording device with standard XLR microphone inputs.
The microphone has an industrial design that features a black metallic finish and classic silver ball grille. It’s a great choice for spoken word and karaoke performances.
It is tuned specifically for clarity in the standard speech frequency range and has an On/Off switch, allowing the user to quickly quiet the microphone when needed. A microphone clip, stand adapter, and zippered carrying pouch are also included.
- Good sound quality
- Value for money
- Great for vocals
- Solid built
Not good for instruments
Best For Singing
AKG Pro Audio P220
The P220 is a large-diaphragm true condenser XLR microphone offering a warm and clear sound for lead vocals, acoustic guitar and brass instruments.
A switchable bass-cut filter and attenuation pad make it perfectly suited for use on loud sound sources with sound pressure levels up to 155dB SPL. The rugged and roadworthy design also makes the P220 a perfect choice for on-stage applications.
This one of the best budget XLR microphone for home studio has a typically rugged and strong feel to it common to most AKG microphones and weighs 1.25 pounds. A tough all-metal die-cast chassis stores the condenser.
Tough enough to withstand use on a daily business with no problems. Finished in a matte black, it has a very clean, understated, and minimalistic look.
The microphone’s cardioid pattern helps focus audio capture in front of the capsule, reducing unwanted ambient sound from the other sides and back.
A low-cut filter at 300 Hz allows you to cut unwanted low end from your sources, while its selectable -20 dB pad allows the mic to handle SPLs up to 155 dB, allowing it to be placed in front of a variety of sources.
The P220’s frequency response is broad enough to capture a variety of sound sources, from the low yet powerful percussion of a bass drum to the chime of a triangle.
It’s also got a fantastic maximum SPL of 135 dB, stretching to 155 dB with the help of the attenuation pad. Whether you’re recording a violin solo or some heavy drumming, you can be sure the P220 is going to hold out.
The 3-pin XLR connector is gold-plated to ensure a quality connection that will last, Also,it has a spider design shock mount and also has a tough aluminum padded metal case.
This is a microphone with a multiplicity of uses. Although it is probably made essentially for studio use, its scope is wider than that. In the studio, it is obviously great for vocals, brass instruments, and even acoustic guitar.
A range of other instruments all fall within its range to produce great sound reproduction.
- Easy to use
- Good audio
- Durable, metallic build
Best For Voice Overs
Marantz Pro MPM1000
The Marantz Professional MPM-1000 is a large diaphragm XLR condenser mic perfect for voice acting, singing or even streaming.
This unit works wonders in particular settings and environments. As such, this product is a useful tool for the amateur and professional alike, whether you are a self-recording artist or a studio producer.
When it comes to podcasts, streaming, and YouTubing, Marantz Pro MPM-1000 stands proudly at the top. Many content creators out there favor the MPM-1000 for its convenient price, but also for its simplicity, sound quality, and durability.
At the heart of the MPM-1000 is a 18mm pure-aluminium-plated condenser capsule to facilitate a wide ranging frequency response (20 – 20,000Hz), high sensitivity (-38dB ± 2dB (0dB = 1V/Pa @ 1kHz)) and a fast transient response.
Whether it’s a voiceover for a multimedia project or a lead vocal on your latest masterpiece, Marantz Professional’s MPM-1000 fuses premium components with in-demand specifications to meet and exceed the rigorous demands of any recording scenario.
Thanks to an included windscreen, a purpose-designed shock-mount for mounting to a traditional mic-stand, a tripod stand, and even an XLR cable, all the core tools for seamless connectivity are thoughtfully included for instant recording and creative potential.
When combined with low self-noise (17dBA) and signal-to-noise ratio (77dB) specifications, pristine audio capture is guaranteed every time.
The Marantz Pro MPM-1000 has a standard cardioid pattern that provides the majority of sensitivity in front of the capsule, rejecting the sound directly behind the capsule. This makes it incredibly useful for streaming and gaming YouTubers who don’t want their videos to be cluttered with keyboard sounds and mouse clicks.
- Incredibly budget-friendly
- Ideal for streaming and gaming
- Delivers a clear tone without being harsh
- Comes with a shock mount
- Doesn’t have USB connectivity
Budget XLR Microphone Buying Guide
Searching for a new microphone can be a daunting task. The style and quality of microphones differs greatly, and the old standby that you get what you pay for isn’t necessarily true anymore.
Things To Consider When Buying A Budget XLR Microphone
Type Of Microphone
Dynamic Microphones: These are great when you need a directional microphone. They are mostly cardioid pick-up patterns. The best thing about these mics is that they reject the background noise, giving clear audio without coloration.
The microphones are the best choice if you have a home studio where you get lots of background noise that you don’t want to affect the audio quality of your recordings. Dynamic microphones are great for live performances, and also they don’t need phantom power.
Condenser Microphones: These are more sensitive microphones. They provide better frequency response and precise audio recordings.
These are excellent for studio recordings when you have a well-treated studio without any background noise. The condenser mics need phantom power to operate. Though it is not an issue as almost all digital audio interfaces provide the phantom power.
Polar patterns illustrate how a microphone reacts to sounds coming from different directions. There are several polar pattern types, such as Cardioid, Omnidirectional, Supercardioid & Figure-8.
For single instrument and vocal recording, the Cardioid polar pattern is ideal because of its noise reduction capability. This pattern captures everything in front of the capsule and rejects background noise from the back and sides. Omnidirectional and Figure-8 patterns are useful for capturing multiple instruments and sound sources.
Frequency response refers to the range of frequencies your microphone can accurately reproduce at an equal level. Understanding frequency response is one of your best tools when researching audio gear.
Simply put, frequency response shows how a microphone affects the way your voice sounds.
Impedance is a measure of a microphone’s resistance. Higher resistance in a microphone introduces hum and reduces high frequencies, making the recording sound noisy, or thin. Low-impedance, or low-Z, microphones allow long mic cable runs without introducing noise or reducing frequencies.
The function of a shock mount is to prevent vibration traveling up the mic stand from getting to the diaphragm of the mic. The shock mount is built in such a way that the microphone is protected from contact using suspensions.
Any contact with the microphone creates a low-frequency rumble, also called structure-borne noise. Structure-borne noise can be caused by wind, a moving cable, by stomping on the floor, a person passing by, etc.
We certainly don’t want that on our recording.
You can and should use a pop filter to reduce plosives (Ps, Ts, and Ks) when recording vocals, podcasts, voiceover, streaming, etc.
If the wind created by plosives hits the microphone’s membrane it can lead to 1) unpleasant low frequency artifacts in your recording and/or 2) distortion in your audio interface. A microphone pop filter can protect your microphone from plosives and ensure a clean recording.
A windscreen is the kind of “hat”, usually made of foam, that you put on the microphone basket. The main purpose of a windscreen, you guessed it, is to protect the capsule from wind blasts. Such foam windscreens, thus, are mainly designed for (open air) stage use and field recording.
If your microphone doesn’t come with an XLR cable, make sure you buy one.
Budget XLR Microphone – Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What is an XLR microphone?
XLR mics are the audio industry standard and are used by rock bands, radio stations, and podcasters around the world. They capture an analog signal using three-pronged male and female connectors, and most pro audio recording gear is designed for XLR microphones. In fact, most microphones on the market are XLR mics.
What does XLR mean?
XLR means “External Line Return.” XLR connectors were made-up to neatly communicate enormous electrical flows, while giving a steady connector to most kinds of acoustic gadgets, for example, speakers, blending comforts, enhancers, amplifiers, and different apparatuses recording.
What is the best cheap XLR microphone?
The best inexpensive XLR microphone is the Shure SM58S. This dynamic mouthpiece is an industry set for live execution; however, it likewise works fine to speak account receiver for vocalists and podcasters.
Are XLR mics better than USB?
They both have their own unique advantages. With USB microphones, there is no additional gear required since you can plug it right into your computer. This also makes them easier to set up and more affordable for new podcasters since you don’t have to purchase a mixer or USB interface.
XLR microphones give you a ton of flexibility. You can easily swap microphones, interfaces, cables, and stands to customize your podcast setup to fit your needs completely.
XLR microphones are a professional way to enhance the audio quality of your videos or recordings. They may not provide the simple plug and play setup like the USB microphones, but they have their advantages.
All options in our list of best cheap XLR microphones are carefully selected for your convenience and according to your budget and as you would have noticed, several of the microphones are priced at under $100.
If you think our list could benefit from another option, you should feel free to email us or comment below. We’re always looking to try out new recommendations and add them to our lists.
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