Best Microphone For Vocals Under $100 – Our Top 7 Picks

Looking to record your voice at home? Want something to record that new song, or maybe the intro to your new podcast? You’re going to need a microphone, and you probably don’t want to break the bank to get one. So I’m here to help you find the best microphone for vocals under $100, but before I do, let’s go over a few things you need to keep in mind, no matter what you eventually decide.

Pattern

Also called “Polar Pattern”, this represents the way that the microphone picks up sound. Most people think that mics only pick up the sound that is in front of them, but that’s not the case. The most common pattern used today is Cardioid, which picks up sound coming from the front, while trying to eliminate the sounds coming from the rear (the pattern looks a bit like an upside down heart, hence the name). The other common pattern offered here is Omni-directional which, just like it sounds, picks up sound from everywhere.

Frequency Response

The human ear can hear sounds from 20Hz all the way up to 20kHz, though we lose the ability to hear higher frequencies as we age. Ever heard of businesses that play sounds to keep kids away at night? They do this by playing tones at high frequencies (typically 15kHz and higher) which younger people can hear yet older people can’t hear, you know, like a dog whistle.

Phantom Power

This last one is necessary for many microphones and you need to know whether your own gear has the option to provide phantom power or not. Usually this will come from your audio interface. Simply put: if you have a mic that needs Phantom Power and you have no way of supplying it, you don’t have a mic.


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Here are the 7 Best Microphones For Vocals Under $100

Audio Technica AT2020

When it comes to recording at home, the Audio Technica AT2020 really shines. The AT2020 is a perfect place to start when looking for an option to record at home, and it handles more than just vocals. With low self-noise and an included adjustable mount stand, this microphone can handle your acoustic guitar just as well as it can handle your podcast.

From a trusted name in audio, the AT2020 serves as the perfect starting point for the market. Offering you multiple recording options and an entry level price point, you can get a nice bit of gear that will help you grow your sound into something unique.

Tech Specs

  • Pattern:  Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40-20kHz
  • Max Input Sound Level: 136dB
  • Phantom Power Requirements: 48V
  • Output: XLR

I use the AT2020 myself when I’m at home, and I can’t say enough about the way that it handles subtleties on par with much more expensive gear. If you’re not sure what your needs are, the AT2020 is probably what you’re looking for.


Behringer C-1

The Behringer C-1 is where affordability and performance combine. This microphone offers some of the same benefits as the AT2020 but at an even lower price. The C-1 is usable both in studio and in live sound settings and does an exceptional job at handling sibilance. Sibilance is the “s” sound in speech and in many cases, the sound that slurs and pops from speakers. 

On the other side of the sibilance spectrum, this mic can be a bit noisy. It doesn’t handle the nuances of lower sounds quite as well as some of the others on this list. While that might not be a big deal for many, it might be a deal-breaker for some.

Tech Specs

  • Pattern:  Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40-20kHz
  • Max Input Sound Level: 136dB
  • Phantom Power Requirements: 48V
  • Output: XLR

If you’re going to be recording guitar amps, cymbals or a screaming vocalist on a budget, this is the mic for you. If you want to start your own ASMR podcast, you’re better off spending a little more money and finding something else.


AKG P120 High-Performance

AKG’s P120 High-Performance condenser microphone sets itself apart with a pair of features that help wrangle quality audio from troublesome situations: Bass roll-off @ 300Hz and a 20dB pad. The Bass roll-off will change the frequency response from 20Hz up to 300Hz, allowing you to eliminate annoying hum in the low end and the 20dB pad brings the upper level of the Max Input SPL to 150dB. Conveniently, both features are selectable. 

The combination of selectable recording levels, and the ability to change the low end puts the P120 in a different class than many of the static mics on this list. Everyone loves choices, and the P120 puts the power in your hands.

Tech Specs

  • Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20-20kHz
  • Max Input Sound Level: 150db
  • Phantom Power Requirements: 48V
  • Output: XLR

Do you have problems with bass noise on your audio? Are you trying to record louder sounds without sacrificing quality? If the answer to either of these questions is yes, the P120 just might be for you.


Blue Yeti Nano

The Blue Yeti Nano is another microphone that separates itself from the crowd by offering a few unique features. The first is the fact that this is the only mic on the list that is a USB microphone by default, rather than using an XLR connection (XLR-USB cables are available). The second is the Omni option for the polar pattern. The Omni pattern allows the mic to pick up sound in an entire room, recording the entirety of a 360° space.

The Blue Yeti Nano is a favorite of many podcasters and YouTube stars, not only because it plugs directly into your computer, but because of its ease of use. The Nano has many features that can be controlled by software and is compatible with many streaming services and applications.

Tech Specs

  • Pattern:  Cardioid / Omni
  • Frequency Response: 20-20kHz
  • Max Input Sound Level: 120dB
  • Phantom Power Requirements: None
  • Output: USB

Starting your own podcast or YouTube channel? Want the whole world to hear your band playing in your basement? The Omni pattern will capture it all, and the USB connector makes it easy to plug and play.


MXL 990

With a vintage look, the MXL 990 stands out from the crowd. Champagne finish and a fat body, the 990 looks like it’s been around the block a few times, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s past its prime. With the ability to reproduce silky smooth highs up to 20kHz and tight lows down to 30Hz, the 990 is more than a pretty face.

The MXL 990 can be paired with the MSL SMP-1 stand and pop filter, and this helps to keep the sibilance a little more under control than the microphone’s own casing. The plosives (those ‘p’ and ‘f’ sounds) might still need a little work though, as neither the pop filter nor the screen do much to bring them under control.

Tech Specs

  • Pattern: Cardioid 
  • Frequency Response: 30-20kHz
  • Max Input Sound Level: 130dB
  • Phantom Power Requirements: 48V
  • Output: XLR

If you want something to show off that looks cool and vintage, this just might be the mic for you. Of course, looks shouldn’t be the main thing when buying a mic, so lucky for you this mic also delivers the goods.


Shure SM57

The Shure SM57 is mainly thought of as an instrumental microphone and has been ubiquitous with live sound for decades. This little mic is mainly used for recording guitar amps, snare drums, onstage gear or anything else you can throw at it.

The SM57 is a dynamic microphone (instead of a condenser mic like most on this list) and it can handle sound levels that are, frankly, unsafe. While the upper ranges of the audio spectrum (+15kHz) fall away, the SM57 can handle just about anything without distorting.

Tech Specs

  • Pattern:  Dynamic Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40-15kHz
  • Max Input Sound Level: N/A
  • Phantom Power Requirements: None
  • Output: XLR

From capturing an amplifier on stage to trying to record a shuttle taking off, if your job is going to be loud, look no further than the Shure SM57. There’s a reason you find these on stages all over the world.


Shure SM58

The sister microphone to the Shure SM57, the Shure SM58 is the microphone you’re most likely to see your favorite artist singing into on stage. Quality, consistency and durability are what the SM58 prides itself on, and you’re going to get all three in spades. 

If there is something that really stands out about the SM58, its durability. This mic is built for stage performance as well as studio work, and this work horse pulls its weight no matter where you put it… or drop it …or throw it down the stairs – it’s still going to work.

Tech Specs

  • Pattern:  Dynamic Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50-15kHz
  • Max Input Sound Level: 180dB
  • Phantom Power Requirements: None
  • Output: XLR

There is a reason why you see this microphone everywhere, it works. It just works. If you’re in need of something to capture vocals no matter where you are, this is the mic that you’re looking for.


Conclusion

The main question from the beginning comes back here: What are you looking for? If you want a USB mic, it’s clearly the Blue Yeti. If you’re mainly working in live sound, you want a Shure (and probably a couple of both).  If you need a great all rounder for recording in the home studio, The AT2020 has you covered.

Other Resources

Gearing up your home studio? We also have buyer guides on:

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