The Best Budget Microphones To Get Started

Buying microphones for your microphone collection can be an exciting adventure, but finding the best budget microphones to get started with recording or live sound can seem like a difficult task.  That pesky salesman at the music store will almost always try to push you to a more expensive microphone insisting, "This is the one you want."  However, that salesman doesn't care at all that you may be on a tight budget.  Before looking at our suggestions for the best budget microphones, let's first take a look at some important considerations about microphones.

Qualities Of A Microphone

There are three main classifications of microphones, which are dynamic, condenser, and ribbon.  Ribbon microphones are often very expensive and very fragile.  Don't get me wrong, they have an awesome sound quality, but I wouldn't suggest starting out with one of these.  Condenser Neumann U87 Large Condenser microphonemicrophones have a lot of cool, unique uses, but they can often be a little pricey too.  Dynamic microphones are usually the best budget microphones because they are a little more affordable and more durable.  More on the different types of microphones can be found here.

Frequency response is incredibly important when choosing the instrument that you use the microphone on.  We have listed out the instruments we suggest for each of these microphones, but to further understand audio frequency and how to choose the instrument for the mic, check out our article here.

Each microphone has a polar pattern that describes the density of the microphone.  We will tell you what the polar pattern of each of the following microphones is.  This can be a little bit of a confusing topic if you are a beginner.  We have an article that we wrote in great detail the different polar patterns that can be found here.

For this article, the most important focus is to get that microphone in your hands so you can start recording.  You will notice that most of these microphones are manufactured by Shure.  Shure makes great microphones, and better yet, they are affordable!  Let's take a look at our suggestions for the best budget microphones and the instrument suggested for its use.  (The following products contain affiliate links.  This means at no additional cost to you, I get paid if you click through and make a purchase)

Best Budget Microphones For Recording A Band

Best Budget Microphones For Vocals

Shure BETA 58

Just an all around great mic for vocals

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz – 16kHz

Shure BETA 57

An instrument mic, but is great for gravely or screaming vocals

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-16kHz

Best Budget Microphones For Guitar

Shure BETA 57

Great starter mic on guitar cabs.  After building mic collection, still can be used paired with other instrument mics.

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-16kHz

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Best Budget Method For Recording Bass Guitar

BSS AR-133 DI Box

Okay, so this isn't a mic, but just plug your bass guitar into this bad boy then to your interface, and you'll see why this is the best way.

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Best Budget Microphones for Drum Kit

Shure BETA 57

Use these on your snare and toms and they will pick up the sound great

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-16kHz

Shure BETA 52

Use this on your bass drum, and it will sound awesome

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 10,000Hz

Microphones Tips

Especially when recording drums, be cautious of a problem called "phase cancellation."  This can completely ruin a mix, and leave you incredibly frustrated.  Even with one of these "best budget microphones", the recording can be ruined if this occurs.  We have an article that we explain more thoroughly what phase cancellation is and how to avoid it here.

When you are ready to explore more into using different microphones for your recording set-up, using instrument microphones on guitar amps, vocals, and drums, there are several options available which can help you use different techniques to have a more established sound as a producer.  These will also widen your bag of tricks to use to diversify your mixes.

What Extra Equipment Is Needed With Your Best Budget Microphones

Now that we have covered some great budget microphones to get you started with your home studio, it is important to know what other itemsXLR Cable For The Best Budget Microphones you need.  First and foremost,  all of these microphones and even the DI box use XLR cables.  The XLR cables are what will connect your microphones to your audio interface.

This brings us to our next important item that you need to make sure is included in your budget for your home studio.  The audio interface is a very important part of your home studio rig.  Even the greatest, most expensive microphones won't sound great if you have a cheap interface.

Lastly, your audio interface will convert the signal and send it to your computer which includes your DAW.  Of course this is what you spend most of your time working on in the recording/mixing process.

The reason we needed to discuss these different components of what makes your studio functional is to always keep in mind your budget.  The biggest mistake I made when I recorded my first album for a client was that I spent too much of my budget on my DAW and interface, leaving my microphone options to suffer.  The result?  I ended up with weak sounding guitars, and I couldn't fix it in post.  I was embarrassed by this mix.

How To Add Possibilities To The Best Budget Microphones

Even with the microphones and DI box mentioned in this article, there are so many techniques and processes that can help you craft the sound recorded.  Among these can be tools which are very cheap to very expensive.

  • Compression:  This can be an expensive measure to get the most out of your sound depending on the compressor used.  However, using a touch of compression on mixes will help get a great sound from these microphones.
  • Plugins:  If you need to cut cost anymore, there are tons of plugins available which can help you EQ, add reverb, and compression to a mix.  If you are just starting out, I suggest to use a couple plugins as they are more budget friendly.

Bu combining great microphones, techniques, and useful tools. You will be able to get the most out of these best budget microphones and create mixes that help you stand out.

Why These Microphones Made The List

If you are still wondering why we chose these items for the best budget microphones, I'll be happy to explain.  As I said previously in this article, Best Budget Microphones On Guitar AmpShure makes very affordable, but high quality microphones.  The Shure SM57 is an instrument microphone and is the most popular used microphone for both drums and guitar amps.

Guitar amps typically use the Shure SM57 in addition to another microphone to get a certain type of effect by blending the two together.  This can produce a very full sound.  By this, I am saying that you will not grow out of using the SM57.  Instead, you will just grow your collection to use with it.

Additionally, the 57 always sounds great on drums.  You will probably advance to invensting into drum overheads to control your cymbal sounds better.  However, the 57 microphones are always a great choice on the drums themselves.  This of course includes the 52 for the bass drum.

Using a DI box on bass guitar is a wise choice most of the time, but it depends on the type of bass player you have.  Using the DI box will avoid any popping sounds.  If you have a finger playing bass player, it's not as much of a problem.  Or, if you are recording a funky bass, you might notShure 7B Best Budget Microphone Possibility want to use the DI box.  If this is the case, you can easily use the Shure 52 to mic the amp.  Otherwise, a DI box is a great option to have.

When it comes to vocals, every singer is so different that it is difficult to say what microphone is best on what.  For example, the SM7B is known to be a broadcasting microphone.  However, Michael Jackson used this microphone in recording his vocals.  Recording vocals is where the creativity of the producer really shines.  That said, the SM58 is an affordable microphone that produces a good sound.  Therefore, it is a great starter mic.

Recalculating The Inventory Of Best Budget Microphones

Now that we have a list of what the best budget microphones are, we need to figure out how many mics are needed for recording a band.  Let's assume you have an audio interface that has at least 4 or 5 XLR inputs and you're ready to record separate tracks for the band, this is what you will need if using what I suggested:

  • 3 or 4 Shure Beta 57's (Depending on if a drumset is a 4 piece or 5 piece)
  • 1 Shure Beta 52
  • 1 BSS DI Box
  • Optional 1 Shure Beta 58 (Depending on the vocalist)

The Next Steps

If you need any help picking out the microphones that are best for your set up, or are ready to progress to the next, feel free to contact us through our contact us page found here.