7 Best Microphones Under $400 For Recording Vocals

Which is the best microphone for under $400

Well, that really depends on your application, budget, and personal taste. There are hundreds of excellent mics to choose from and a bewildering list of technical specs. We’re here to help you make that choice!

In this article, we will review 7 products to find out what is the best microphone for vocals under 400 dollars, and give you some useful insights to keep in mind when making your purchase.

Best Microphones Under $400

Comparison Table

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

1. Rode NT1-A

Microphone Specs:
  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: 1″ (25.4mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 137dB SPL
  • Self Noise: 5dB 
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 0.7 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Shock Mount, Pop Filter, 20′ Mic Cable, Dust Cover

If you’re looking for a good condenser mic for under 400 dollars to record vocals, the Rode NT1-A is a good choice whether you’re upgrading to your first XLR microphone or replacing an old one in your studio.

The NT1-A is a good, useful, no-frills mic. It is cardioid-only and has neither a pad nor a roll-off switch.

The Rode NT1-A is very well-built and sleekly designed. It has stainless steel construction and comes with a shockmount that feels tough.

This microphone has a sensitivity of -31.9dB which means it’s very good at picking up low noises. 

Combine that with a max SPL (the loudest sound the microphone can take without distorting) of 137 dB(SPL) and this microphone has a pretty great range that it can record without needing to do too much in post.

Why We Recommend It

For vocals, 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.

Weighing in at under 1lb (440g) and constructed from 6061 aluminum, the microphone body is nickel-plated for resistance against corrosion and then coated with a durable, hardwearing, military-grade ceramic scratch-resistant layer.

To its thousands of fans around the globe, however, the piece of resistance of the NT1 from a performance viewpoint is its flat, warm, natural frequency curve. Unlike many other mics in this space – including the NT1A – there’s virtually no coloration of sound resulting in a highly accurate recording of the original source.

The bass response is warm, the mid-range detailed, and the upper frequencies silky – without being harsh or over-emphasized.

If you wish to primarily record vocals, then NT1 is one of the best mics I have heard and it is reasonably affordable.

Pros

  • Very low noise.
  • Exquisite sound quality.
  • Built quality is excellent.
  • Good value.
  • Decent quality shock mount and pop shield.

Cons

  • Lack of pad makes close-mic’ing loud sources tricky.
  • Requires another device to provide phantom power.
  • Heavy due to all-metal body.

2. AKG Pro Audio C214

Microphone Specs:
  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: 1″ (25.4mm)
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 136dB (156dB w/Pad)
  • Output Impedance: 200 ohms
  • Self Noise: 13dB (A weighted)
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 0.62 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: H85 Shockmount, Metal Carry Case

The C214 is a fixed-cardioid large-diaphragm condenser microphone. The mic also features a switchable high-pass filter to reduce the proximity effect when close miking.

It also features an integrated capsule suspension that reduces mechanical noise and resonance, further improving sonic accuracy.

The all-metal die-cast body provides a high degree of RF-immunity and has a shock- and scratch-resistant matte greyish-blue finish with a rugged double mesh grille to protect the capsule. 

The C214 has incredibly low self-noise, at just 13dB(A), along with very high headroom, and will work with phantom power sources ranging from 12 to 52V.

The AKG C214 has conventional switches for -20 dB attenuation and a high-pass filter switch that rolls off bass below 160 Hz. 

It can handle sound pressure up to 156 dB with the attenuation pad switched on, and the hefty mic weighs a little over three pounds. A sturdy shock mount comes with the package.

Why We Recommend It

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 it also performs well on drums – particularly for overheads.

Its construction is complete with an all-metal body that allows you to travel with it. The grille is double-meshed to keep it hardy. 

The die-cast body prevents interference from radio frequencies. It’s also impact and scratch-resistant.

It also has an excellent dynamic range of 143dB, which gives it an impressive transient response. 

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

It can handle higher sound pressure levels up to a maximum of 136. It also has a plus 20-decibel pad switch.

These features lend it the same advantages as the more expensive microphone when it comes to the detail of the capture.

Pros

  • Durable and lightweight
  • Wide responsive diaphragm.
  • 1-inch high-end size.
  • Awesome dynamic and transient response.
  • Low autonomous noise.
  • The vocal intensity of the hard-hitting sound.
  • A shock, windscreen, and protective case for safety.

Cons

  • Not so great for electric bass.
  • Sound can color.

3. Stellar X3

Microphone Specs:
  • Capsule Type: Gold Sputtered 34mm K67 style
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Sensitivity: -31dB (0dB = 1V/Pa at 1kHz)
  • Impedance: 110 Ω
  • Max SPL for .5% THD: 135dB
  • Signal-to-Noise Ratio: 87dB (A-Weighted)
  • Equivalent Self Noise: <8dB (A-Weighted)
  • Power Requirement: 48V Phantom Power ±4
  • Weight: 440g 

The Stellar X3 emphasizes on warmth and body. This gives the microphone a very classical vintage tonality with just the slightest touch of presence for detail and resolution. 

The mic feels incredibly robust, quite heavy when in hand, and the black powder-coated paint makes for a sexy look.

The hand-tuned 34 mm K67 capsule is gold-sputtered and made from pure brass and Japanese Mylar at 3 microns (as opposed to the traditional 6-microns), which makes the microphone more sensitive with an improved signal to noise ratio. 

This is a versatile microphone and it can be used to track male and female vocals, acoustic guitar, and electric guitar. 

The microphone is quite detailed across all sources. There is a pristine and sophisticated quality here that is never harsh, yet still sounds beautiful in the top end of the frequency spectrum.

Why We Recommend It

The Stellar X3’s brand new transformerless JFET circuit handles transients well which makes it a great choice for drum overheads, acoustic guitar, and piano. 

Distortions are minimal, and, because of its transformerless nature, the circuit does not add any unwanted compression effect.

The mic also features a shockmount that is more reliable and because of its springless design, it will not resonate in your recordings. This shockmount is also able to reduce vibrations more effectively. 

Pros

  • Outstanding quality and performance for the money. 
  • Excellent 180-degree rejection.
  • Simple to set up.
  • Nice carry case provided.
  • Small and unwieldy.
  • Good output level. 

Cons

  • Shock mount is a bit rough to fix

4. Audio-Technica BP40 Dynamic Microphone

Microphone Specs:
  • Microphone Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-16kHz
  • Output Impedance: 450 ohms
  • Connector: XLR
  • Weight: 1.39 lbs.

The Audio-Technica BP40 Large-Diaphragm Dynamic Broadcast Microphone has a hyper-cardioid polar pattern for powerful off-axis rejection and a humbucking voice coil to reduce electromagnetic interference.

The BP40 delivers clear and articulate reproduction in any broadcast environment, thanks to its durable construction and beautiful waveform-inspired design. 

The multi-stage windshield provides outstanding internal pop filtering, while the optimized capsule positioning helps maintain a strong vocal presence even at a distance. 

A switchable 100 Hz high-pass filter is included with the BP40 broadcast microphone to provide even more pop protection.

Being a dynamic microphone, it picks up more sound from close range and doesn’t tend to capture much of the unwanted room noise which is often a problem with more sensitive condenser microphones. 

Why We Recommend It

In the studio, this one of the best dynamic microphones for under 400 dollars delivers on all fronts. 

For vocals, especially in loud rock and metal applications, the AT-BP40 produces a sound that is very much reminiscent of a warm condenser microphone but without the distortion that high sound pressure levels can create. 

This makes it ideal for a range of instrument uses too. Put it in front of a guitar amp and you’ll understand why it’s good to experiment with different microphones and positions. 

It will also work a treat for big, booming floor toms on a drum kit and even delivers the goods in front of a bass amp when the DI just isn’t giving you the natural characteristics you want.

The response is broadly flat and smooth below 1kHz, down to 100Hz, with a minor and broad lower-mid recession of a decibel or two. 

However, at 1kHz, the response steadily climbs to a conspicuous +10dB peak at 4kHz, after which a sequence of gradually receding HF peaks returns the sensitivity to unity by 15kHz. Above that frequency, the high end drops sharply, reaching -20dB at 20kHz.

Pros

  • Good protection from plosive popping.
  • Delivers a bright, crisp voice with a good definition.
  • Attractive styling.

Cons

  • Optional shockmount rattles and appears too stiff.

5. Warm Audio WA-47Jr

Microphone Specs:
  • Microphone Type: FET Transformerless Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Figure-8, Omnidirectional
  • Diaphragm Size: Dual large-diaphragm
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 147dB SPL, 157dB with pad
  • Output Impedance: 100 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 85dB (A weighted)
  • Self Noise: 9dB (A weighted)
  • Weight: 1.1 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Shockmount

The Warm Audio WA-47jr FET uses the same K47-style 34-mm diameter capsule with a 6-micron thick diaphragm as Warm’s WA-47 Tube condenser microphone. 

In place of the tube, electronics is a transformerless solid-state discrete FET (Field-Effect-Transistor) circuit. The Toshiba FET is surrounded by Wima film capacitors and Panasonic electrolytic types–all first-rate components.

The side-address WA-47jr features three polar patterns: Cardioid, Figure-of-Eight, and Omni-directional all switchable right on the front of the mic itself. 

There are switches for a gentle 70Hz high pass filter and a -10dB attenuator capsule pad on the back of the mic.

The mic weighs in at just under 500-grams and measures about 210-mm tall by 52-mm in diameter. Its self-noise is 9dBA, dynamic range specified at 138dBA and max SPL is rated at 147dB.

For lead vocals, this amazing mic that costs less than $400, produced a clear and articulated sound that seemed to fit into the mix well. It is crisp but not overly bright as a lot of new condenser mics are.

Why We Recommend It

The Microphone has a good hefty feel and very sturdy construction and weighs in just under a pound and measures a little over 8 inches tall by 2 inches in diameter. 

It has a self-noise of about 9dBA and the dynamic range is specified at 138dBA and max SPL is rated at 147dB, which is way more than most large diaphragm condenser microphones.

In the box you get the WA47Jr Microphone, a soft case to keep it clean and safe. I Microphone clip and a nice microphone cage with extra bands. 

On Vocals the microphone can give you enough of a bite to get you through a crowded mix, on the bass drum along with an interior drum mic this can give you a really full round bass drum sound. 

Guitar cabs seem to make the WA47jr shine, especially if you have a good room and utilize the figure-8 or Omni setting to pick up some of that ambiance. 

The same is true for acoustic guitars if you are looking for that nice smooth, round crisp sound.

Pros

  • Incredible value for money
  • Very durable 
  • Doesn’t have the harsh upper frequencies other mics in this price range have

Cons

  • Lacks a little body in the low-mids but EQ and Compression can easily fix that.

6. Shure SM7B

Microphone Specs:
  • Microphone Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-20kHz
  • Output Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Weight: 1.69 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Windscreen, Switch Cover Plate

The SM7B is undoubtedly one of the best microphones for under 400 dollars, and you’re paying for two things: professional performance and premium construction. 

It’s a pro-grade dynamic microphone, designed almost entirely with recording speech and vocal performances in mind. 

Visually, the Shure SM7B is hard to miss, sporting a sizable enamel aluminum and steel housing and an equally distinct dark gray windscreen. An efficient design, the microphone hangs from an integrated yoke complete with a three-pin XLR jack and a threaded nut for stand mounting.

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. 

It features plenty of advanced internal hardware to protect the cartridge and other components. Its internal air suspension shock apparatus greatly reduces mechanical noises that would otherwise make their way into recordings.

Why We Recommend It

The Shure SM7B’s clear design, inside and out, is to deliver honest, clean, and consistent audio reproduction. 

The rather large housing itself provides extra internal space below the capsule that allows for an extended low-frequency response. 

Underneath the windscreen, a spacious and rigid metal grille protects the capsule from bumps and impacts and, in close-talk applications, the windscreen can easily be swapped for an included thicker version to provide extra isolation from the air. 

The Shure SM7B is all about accuracy and consistency, which it delivers in spades. 

The frequency response this mic captures spans the entire audible spectrum from 20 Hz up to 20,000 Hz, with a slight scoop in the low-mids and gentle shaping on the top end, which makes it a good all-around choice for most musical and vocal sources. 

It can also withstand a maximum sound pressure level over a blistering 180 decibels, so it’s an ideal choice for placing in front of the loudest guitar amps and on the kits of heavy-hitting drummers.

One of the reasons the Shure SM7B is one of the best microphones for vocals is the two EQ switches on the rear, which allow for further shaping the microphone’s sound.

On voice, the SM7B is warm without being muddy and has a smooth top-end response with nary a trace of harshness. 

Pros

  • Effective on-board frequency response filters
  • Excellent vocal reproduction
  • Off-axis and internal noise rejection
  • Great build quality

Cons

  • Needs a good interface or preamp to get the best results

7. Blue Baby Bottle SL 

Microphone Specs:
  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: Large
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL: 134 dB SPL (0.5% THD @ 1kHz)
  • Output Impedance: 50 ohms
  • Weight: 0.9 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Shockmount, Wooden Case

The mic measures 222mm x 45mm x 135mm and it weighs a modest 350g and exposed metal is finished in a brushed satin effect, while the bottle body is sparkly black.

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 aluminum. In fact, every part of this mic has been designed to achieve maximum performance.

It has the nature of an affordable condenser mic because it sounds bright regardless of the sound source it had recorded. 

This could be percussions, drums, acoustic guitar, and even vocals. Despite all this, this mic does not sound hard or brittle in any instance due to the specifications of its hardware.

It requires 48V of phantom power to operate and Blue recommends using a high-quality preamp such as the Blue Robbie vacuum tube preamp.

Why We Recommend It

Even if the vocalist has a scratchy voice, the Baby Bottle will deliver balanced, warm, full-bodied audio that is not crispy at all, especially when used with a foam windscreen over the Baby Bottle’s head-basket. 

The Baby Bottle is a versatile mic that brings a lot to the table. 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. 

This mic has a frequency response of 20Hz-20kHz and an impressive SPL of 134dB. This allows it to handle even the loudest sounds from vocals, guitars through cabinets, or drums.

The Baby Bottle also has top or bottom EQ functions to ensure that you balance out your output. 

Even with this, the mic’s midrange and its dynamics are great. It has a low 50ohm output impedance allowing long cables to be used without problems.

Pros

  • High output.
  • Very quiet.
  • Resistant to mechanical noise.
  • Unusual and attractive styling.
  • Very affordable for this level of quality.

Cons

  • Pricey shock mount
  • The included pop filter may not be enough for professional use

Important Features To Consider Before Buying a Mic for Under $400

Here are some useful things to know and important features to consider when shopping for microphones for vocals, before we head on to our top picks.

1. Polar Pattern

When it comes to music recording, there are three basic polar patterns: cardioid (and its derivatives super-cardioid and hyper-cardioid), omnidirectional and figure 8.

Cardioid, super-cardioid, and hyper-cardioid patterns will only pick sound coming directly into the mic’s diaphragm and ignore most of the sound coming from behind it. 

These types are the most recommended when recording vocals, so we recommend sticking to them.

Omnidirectional, on the other hand, will pick sound in 360, that is, from every side of the microphone. 

Figure 8 will focus more on picking sounds from the front and the back and ignoring the sides of the mic. 

These particular types are more useful for recording room sounds and choirs.

2. Condenser Vs. Dynamic Microphone

A Condenser mic is better suited for studio usage and recording high-quality audio. Remember that aforementioned thin membrane? 

Well, that helps a condenser mic register sound more accurately than the heavy coils inside dynamic microphones. 

So the end result is more detail and great sound quality. They also offer higher output and lower noise compared to dynamic microphones.

Since dynamic mics are not as sensitive to background noise and high-frequency sounds, they are preferred in live performances. Additionally, they are more durable and don’t require dedicated external power. 

3. Diaphragm

The quality and size of the diaphragm is an important point to take into account when shopping for microphones. Small diaphragm condensers, for example, tend to sound thin and they’re not very recommended for vocals. However, they could work, depending on the singer’s voice.

Large diaphragms, as the name implies, are larger in size so they’re usually able to pick up more details and sound more natural across the frequency range. We recommend sticking to this type, especially if you opt for a condenser microphone.

4. Frequency Response

Frequency response refers to how well the microphone components can replicate the signals it receives.

The way in which a microphone will transmit the signal is measured is what we consider as a frequency response diagram. 

If a certain signal note tends to be much weaker than the amplifier, it is perceived as a tiny snap in the diagram. 

It is visualized as a small hump if it comes in stronger than it has been added.

Conclusion

In this article, we reviewed 7 products to find out what is the best microphone for vocals under 400 dollars. We hope we have helped you make your decision and learn more about these equipments. 

Hopefully, you now have some clarity on your search for the perfect microphone for you. These microphones will perform to a standard worthy of your work.

Take your pick! It is time to start creating!

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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