Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Under $500

Welcome to Part 2 of our Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone article. In this article I will review the best condenser mics in the price range of $200 – $500.

This is Part 2 of our 4-part Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone article. If you have just landed here and would rather look at lower budget condenser microphones (under $100 or $200) then you can read Part 1 of this article.

If you have a slightly higher budget to spend on a quality microphone you can skip to Part 3 of this article, where I review the best large diaphragm condenser mics under $1000.  

Also, if quality really matters to you, there’s Part 4 of this article for you, where I have reviewed the crème de la crème, the top-end large diaphragm condenser microphones which are priced between $1000 – $5000.

So, let’s begin with our list of 8 Best Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphones Under $500

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

1. Rode NT1-A

The NT1-A Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone from RODE is a 1″ cardioid condenser microphone. It has a self-noise level of 5 dB-A, making it a great choice for a vocal microphone, as well as for recording guitars and percussion instruments.

The Rode NT1-A is perfect for someone looking to make their first solid investment into a microphone. Whether you’re recording yourself for a podcast or you are looking for a top microphone for voice overs, this mic gets the job done.

The NT1-A is commonly regarded as one of the quietest studio microphones available that’s still realistically priced for the average person. Low ambient noise is important in voice recording, because if your mic is too noisy it can result in a messy recording.

The NT1 has a sleek, fuss-free and clean design – with no switches for bass roll off or a pad. It is finished in a very dark shade of grey. 

The machined aluminium body is nickel-plated to resist corrosion, while a military-grade ceramic coating makes the whole finish resistant to scratches or marks. 

The NT1 has a sleek, fuss-free and clean design – with no switches for bass roll off or a pad. It is finished in a very dark shade of grey. 

The machined aluminium body is nickel-plated to resist corrosion, while a military-grade ceramic coating makes the whole finish resistant to scratches or marks. 

When it comes to recording vocals for voice over actors, the NT1 is crisp and detailed, with plenty of warm low-end body in the mix and nothing absent or poking out in the midrange. 

There is an airy clarity in the top end and the double-meshed pop shield is both unobtrusive and effective.

The Rode NT1-A is a condenser microphone, and like many condenser microphones requires a little more power to get it working. 

That’s where phantom power comes into play. You’ll need a recorder like the Zoom H5 or an interface like the Scarlett 2i2 that can provide that extra +48V of power that we affectionately call phantom power. Though +24V will also power this mic adequately.

The Rode NT1-A is a cardioid mic, meaning that its polar pattern, or the directions in which it picks up sounds, is in a heart-shape. 

This is great again as a good pattern for vocals and recording voice overs as it won’t pick up any of the sound coming from behind the microphone reducing background noise in your final recording.

Pros:
  • Detailed sound
  • Very low self-noise
  • Well suited to voice overs & acoustic instruments
  • Good results for the price
Cons:
  • Highs can be harsh

2. LEWITT LCT 440 PURE

The LCT-440-Pure Single-Pattern, Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone from Lewitt is the company’s top-of-the-line microphone that combines technology packed into a sturdy, stylish, and compact housing. 

The 1″ transducer and 3-micron, gold-sputtered, Mylar-diaphragm capsule can be used for a variety of applications and delivers a level of detail and very low self-noise in capturing audio.

The LCT 440 PURE  is dressed in matte black with a dual-layered gloss black headbasket. Inside, there’s one of LEWITT’s dayglow-green-rimmed 1” cardioid capsules with a 3-micron gold-sputtered diaphragm.

The mic has no buttons or switches of any sort. It also features a slimmed-down accessory package; rather than coming in a briefcase like previous models, it ships in a cardboard box with a vinyl pouch. 

It does, however, still include a slightly smaller version of the excellent LEWITT open-front shockmount, as well as a windscreen and a magnetically-attached pop filter.

best large diaphragm condenser microphone for drums

LCT 440 PURE has a sensitivity of 23.1 mV/Pa (–32.7 dBV), a signal-to-noise ratio of 87 dBA, an equivalent noise level of 7 dBA, and a maximum SPL of 140 dB. Its frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz, fairly flat and neutral in the lows and mids with a boosted mid and high section that rises gently at 1.250 Hz with a 3.5 dB peak at 4 kHz and another 5 dB peak at 13 kHz.

Although this response is boosted in the midrange and highs, it’s still significantly more gentle than many of today’s bright condenser mics, which can peak out at 9 to 12 dB around 12 kHz.

The shockmount is worthy of mention as it holds the mic very securely via a twist-lock yoke, which fits around the stem of the mic, and the design of which means the elastic elements won’t fall off. 

The shallow shape cradles the mic without obstructing it, while the pop shield clips onto the mount via integral magnets. Though it sits fairly close to the mic grille, it seems to avoid all but the most determined popping.

Pros:
  • Affordable.
  • Amazing accessories.
  • Awesome sound quality.
  • Sounds good on instruments & voice.
  • Great at background noise cancelling
Cons:
  • Not USB powered

3. Audio-Technica AT4040

The Audio-Technica AT4040 is a large diaphragm, condenser mic with a cardioid pick-up pattern and a smooth, uncolored sound. This mic will work for any situation, both for home and professional studios alike. 

Conversations or singing, instruments, percussions or drums – there’s nothing it cannot handle. With the pad on, it can record even the loudest sounds with minimum distortion.

Its one-inch capsule employs a carefully tensioned, gold-sputtered diaphragm to provide “a smooth, natural sonic characteristic” and the surface-mount preamplifier electronics have been designed to provide low noise and a wide dynamic range, with a high SPL capability.

The AT4040 microphone is a large mic, measuring 6.7 inches in length and 2.1 inches in diameter. It comes with its own shock mount and overall it is a solid build.

You’ll also notice just how quiet the AT4040 is. The signal to noise ratio is a very good 12dB SPL, shifting the noise floor to get rid of a lot of the white noise that muddies up gain-y recordings. 

It uses a cardioid pick-up pattern (a heart shape in front of the capsule) and offers exceptional off-axis rejection.

The AT4040 also uses a USB connection, which is not only more sturdy and reliable, but also future-proofs the mic for any studio upgrades you want to do in the future. 

When you’re working with USB, you can still record good audio but you’re drastically limited in what other components you can use.

When put to use, the AT4040 reveals just how versatile it is. Vocals are clear and bright, well defined and present just enough warmth in the right places.

The AT4040 is great at recording instruments. Guitars & the grand piano sound natural and convincing, while results are similar when recording amps as well. 

Due to its high SPL handling, the AT4040 can also be successfully employed as a solid drum microphone as well.

Overall the AT4040 SM is an excellent, well-specified and well-equipped microphone, offered at an attractive price.

More importantly, it’s versatile enough to grow with you, no matter what you’d like to do in this space. This is an investment microphone that you can count on delivering solid results for years to come.

Pros:
  • Great sound quality
  • Perfect for recording vocals and instruments
  • Perfectly suitable for piano recordings
  • Comes with a shock mount
Cons:
  • High-frequency response irregularities

4. Bluebird SL

The Bluebird is a Cardioid pattern condenser mic. The capsule is covered with a gold Mylar sputtered membrane, like their higher priced models. A -20dB pad and a 100Hz hi-pass filter are the only adjustable variables, which keeps things simple, yet tweakable.

The Bluebird has been designed to suit a wide range of applications. This amazing large diaphragm condenser microphone under $500 is a true general-purpose mic, equally at home recording vocals, electric or acoustic guitars, drums, percussion, piano, brass, strings, and so on. However, it has been optimised for fairly close placement — the contribution of the proximity effect is required to reproduce an accurate bass response.

Every component of Bluebird SL is specially designed to deliver modern, crystal-clear tone. The hand-built capsule utilizes a fine, gold-sputtered Mylar diaphragm that delivers superior resonance at higher frequencies to help vocals cut through the mix. 

best large diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone

The sculpted rear backplate ensures balanced sound across the entire frequency spectrum. And discrete Class-A circuitry maximizes the accuracy of your sound.

It’s also a transformer-less design, meaning there’s no extra circuit path that can color the signal, or add any extraneous noise — perfect for clean vocal takes. 

With a max SPL of 138db, this best large diaphragm condenser microphone for electric guitar can handle just about any volume thrown at it. The frequency response is 20Hz-20 KHz, meaning a very high frequency range to capture both high and extremely low ends without difficulty or loss of fidelity.

In addition, the microphone is supplied in a smart wooden box, microphone cables, plus a specially designed Birdcage cradle shockmount and a metal-mesh pop filter.

Pros:
  • Tight overall response
  • Tunable
  • Excellent in loud volume situations
  • Excellent versatile mid-range microphone
  • Great for vocals, instruments & speech
Cons:
  • Shockmount could have been better

5. AKG Pro Audio C214

The AKG C214 Large Diaphragm Microphone is a premium-grade condenser microphone designed for multiple recording applications. The AKG C214 provides an affordable alternative for the high-end C414 family. The microphone utilises a high-end one-inch capsule with an integrated suspension for optimal audio performance.

Although mostly used for recording vocals, the AKG C214’s ability to capture sonic nuances has made it a favorite mic for recording acoustic guitars.

The mic comes with a top quality case, a wind screen and a shock-mount. The shock-mount has a simple design and seems nearly indestructible. The mic is made of an all-metal die-cast body and is coated in a scratch-resistant finish. The recessed switches are solid, yet you can easily move them with a thumb or fingernail. 

The 1-inch, edge-terminated capsule is mounted on an integrated suspension and housed in a double-mesh grille, promising high-RF immunity with little impact on acoustic performance.

For a large diaphragm condenser mic, the AKG C214 has an impressively high max SPL of 156dB (with the built-in pad), which makes this mic capable of handling loud acoustic guitar strumming and is even known to work quite well with guitar amps.

The general consensus for this mic is that it’s solidly built, reliable and gives you more quality than what you actually pay for.

Being a large diaphragm condenser, this mic can handle a wide variety of sound sources, even those with increased low frequencies – so you’re actually getting an all around mic and not just a good mic for acoustic guitars.

The C214 works well with vocals and speech, piano and organ and acoustic/electric guitars, but not quite as well with electric bass. 

It’s recommended for recording strings, such as double bass, violin or cello, and some say it’s one of the best large diaphragm microphone for drums – particularly for overheads.

The self-noise is very low, as it needs to be with a larger diaphragm, and the headroom is very generous.

This model also sports a bass roll-off switch to ensure you don’t get any low-end rumbles, preventing background noise that might spoil your recording. The roll-off is attenuated at 160Hz, allowing you to mic a cab at closer proximity, or place it near to the floor without any vibrations transferred.

The frequency response curve is flat from 60Hz up to 1kHz, giving it a very accurate and solid bottom end. It dips between 1kHz and 2.5kHz, down by a couple of dB at 2kHz, helping to prevent electric guitars from sounding too shrill, for instance, before rising again.

Pros:
  • Durably built
  • Retro aesthetics
  • Large diaphragm with good sensitivity
  • High-end 1-inch capsule
  • Impressive dynamic response
  • Great transient response
  • Low self-noise
  • High SPL handling
Cons:
  • Some may find the sound to be a bit brighter compared to other mics

6. CAD Audio Equitek E100S

The CAD Equitek E100S as it’s officially called, is a side-address, large-diaphragm FET condenser with a nickel-plated 1 inch capsule, an 80 Hz hi-pass filter and a 10 dB pad. 

It has a fixed supercardioid polar pattern and the lowest self-noise ratings of pretty much any mic: 3.7 dB (measured with the capsule swapped for a fixed capacitor, known as the “capacitor substitution” method).

The microphone has a fixed supercardioid polar pattern and requires standard 48V phantom power. 

Front‑panel toggle switches select a 10dB pad and an 80Hz, first‑order, high‑pass filter. 

The new one‑inch, nickel‑plated capsule drives a bespoke differential Quadra‑FET impedance-conversion stage, which is the key to its stunning low‑noise performance.

The mic is supplied in a surprisingly deep but stylish cherry‑stained wooden storage box with a foam‑lined interior, and comes complete with a pair of replacement rubber bands for the integral shockmount. 

best large diaphragm condenser microphone under 500

The shockmount has been described as a ‘stealth mount’, because it fits so snugly and cleverly around the mic body, but its neat design ensures that the maximum compliance is perpendicular to the diaphragm — as it needs to be for effective isolation.

While one of the highlights is that low, low self-noise level, the E100S offers a very tight performance, providing you know how to get the best out of it. 

Recording vocals is what this mic does best, adding a layer of richness and warmth that many users want with a studio condenser mic. 

It’s well-balanced, but still offers a satisfying vintage tint.

It’s pretty flat, to the point where you shouldn’t run into compatibility issues with different vocalists. 

Similar rules apply when recording instruments, while the large SPL allows this mic to handle whatever you can throw at it – from acoustic guitars to powerful electric amps.

Pros:
  • Gentle HF roll‑off provides smooth but detailed sound.
  • Integrated and very effective shockmount.
  • Supercardioid pattern useful for minimising spill.
Cons:
  • Grille is not the most efficient plosive stopper

7. Rode NT2A 

The NT2-A Studio Solution Package from RODE includes the NT2-A multi-pattern condenser microphone, the SM6 shock mount and pop filter, a 10′ XLR cable, and a dust cover.

The rode NT2A is a professional, large diaphragm, 1″ inch capsule studio microphone, renowned for its reliability, affordability and high-quality sound. 

The NT2A is a studio-grade condenser microphone manufactured by Rode. It operates with a pressure gradient transducer, which means it has an inner membrane, responsive to the pressure differential (gradient) from both sides of the microphone (front and back).

The NT2A has three-position pick-up patterns which can be switched between via a toggle-switch, located at the top of the microphone’s interface. 

This switch allows the microphone to change between a cardioid, figure 8 and omnidirectional pickup pattern, making it incredibly versatile no matter where the sound source is located.

The microphone also has a 3-position HPF (High Pass Filter), which allows users to select between Flat (no filtering), 40Hz (removing unwanted frequencies below 40Hz) and 80Hz (removing unwanted frequencies below 80Hz).

The NT2A manages a spectacular 147dB maximum SPL without the pads switched in, and up to 157dB with the 10dB pad in.

best large diaphragm condenser microphone

The sound of NT2A is very neutral, with a smooth tonal balance right across the spectrum. In cardioid mode it sounds detailed at the top end without being harsh, and the lower end of the vocal range comes over as solid and well-focused with the required degree of depth and authority. 

Clearly the broad, subtle presence peak helps bring out the detail without allowing the sound to become aggressive, but the use of the sweet-sounding K2 capsule must also contribute a lot to the sound of this mic

There’s likely no audio source the NT2-A can’t handle. That’s a general truism for most flat mics since, if frequency reproduction is faithful and detailed across most of the audible spectrum, then you’re going to get a signal that represents your source accurately.

The extremely low noise floor of this mic means that quiet signals remain usable. With some boosting after recording, these passages aren’t likely to fade into electronic hiss, but you’ll also need a quiet recording space, since the NT2-A is sensitive.

Pros:
  • Multiple polar patterns
  • Very easy to use and setup
  • Extremely clear and detailed audio
  • Well built, rugged design
Cons:
  • Microphone might be a bit heavy

8. Blue Baby Bottle SL

The microphone is 222mm long and 45mm in diameter, and the ‘bottle’ part containing the amplifier electronics is about 135mm long. The microphone weighs a modest 350g and exposed metal is finished in a brushed satin effect, while the bottle body is a sparkly black.

Blue’s hand-tuned, gold-sputtered, brass back-plated Mylar diaphragm starts the party, coupled with discrete electronics, Class A circuitry, a 100 Hz HPF (-12 dB/octave) and -20 dB pad. 

The end result is best-in-class self-noise of about 10 dB, SPL handling of up to 134 dB and full bandwidth frequency response. A shock mount and wooden storage box completes the package.

The frequency response is 20Hz-20 KHz, meaning a very high frequency range, and with a Max SPL of 134db, it can handle extreme amounts of volume thrown at it. Simply put, close miking is not an issue.

It demonstrates a very neutral character in its sound and is very strong in the mid-range frequencies. 

This will make it suitable for recording vocals, drums, and acoustic instruments. Electric and Bass guitars through speakers are also within its remit. But its use will also extend to those instruments considered a bit tricky to record well, such as the sax, flutes, and some stringed instruments.

Its versatility makes it a microphone worth consideration for the home or smaller studio where a variety of uses are very important.

The hand-built microphone capsule is housed behind a spherical dual-mesh metal grille, and comprises a one-inch diameter, six-micron thick mylar-film diaphragm sputtered with a mixture of gold and aluminium. 

This capsule assembly is supported above the ‘bottle’ of the mic on a slender stalk, minimising potential reflections from the rest of the body and possibly allowing the capsule to be placed where bulkier mics could not be used.

Blue suggests this mic for any acoustic sound source: strings, horns, as well as drums. A pair of these would make an excellent overhead pair for a drum kit, as they can definitely handle the higher volumes, with plenty of definition.

Pros:
  • Well balanced microphone
  • Versatile 
  • Great on acoustic and electric instruments
  • Very quiet
  • Resistant to mechanical noise
  • Attractive styling
Cons:
  • Requires a bit of effort in setting it up

If you didn’t find what you were looking for, then below are the links for other 3 parts of this article where I review more condenser mics in different price categories.

Written by:
AJ Mani
AJ Mani

AJ has been intimately involved with music for more than 25 years as a composer, electronic musician, guitarist, writer, music software developer, and keyboard technician.

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