1. Mojave MA-200 Valve Studio Condenser Microphone Condenser, Tube, Large Diaphragm, Cardioid
The MA-200 is the microphone to get if you’re prepared to invest in a top-shelf microphone, but don’t feel the need to splash out 10+ grand on a restored vintage U47 or the like. Mojave are one of our favourite microphone companies here at Sounds Easy, and the MA-200 is a real point-of-difference for recording vocals. For under 2k you get a mic that rivals the U87 for clarity, but offers slightly more warmth and character - Which if you like the sound of, then it’s simply one of the best deals available. Mojave are owned by David Royer, so their design and build quality are both brilliant and impeccable.
2. Aston Origin Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone Condenser, Solid-State, Large Diaphragm, Cardioid
If you are looking for that elusive “cost-effective” large diaphragm condenser for a home or project studio, then check out the new Aston Origin. Designed and manufactured in the UK, you will not find a microphone built better for just under $500. The Origin sounds smooth. It has a pretty even frequency response, and there are no areas in particular that sound harsh or overly inaccurate. It also has an inbuilt pop filter, that if used sensibly can be a great way for a vocalist to get in close when you are after an intimate sounding recording. With its unique look, and clever design features the Aston Origin is definitely worth investigating.
3. Shure SM7B Large Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone Dynamic, Large Diaphragm, Cardioid
The only dynamic microphone in our top 5. Like the Neumann U87, the Shure SM7B is a tried and trusted microphone that nearly every commercial studio in the world will own. The SM7B made its name in broadcast circles as an announcers microphone. It has very detailed mid-frequency response making it great for speech, rapping and recording rock vocals. If you love the sound of an SM58 live, playing through a well tuned PA in a great venue, then the SM7B is the studio alternative.
Ear Trumpet Labs have a fantastic range of mid-range priced condenser microphones, that have been designed specifically for live use. Designed and built in the USA, and with their rustic steam punk design, these microphones have become poplar amongst the folk & Bluegrass music communities. The Josephine sounds great in the studio however, and has a surprisingly clear and refined sound quality. The microphone capsule itself is well isolated being suspended by springs in an eight inch copper ring, that serves as an effective shock mount. Josephine has a cardioid polar pattern, and given it’s intended use is for live performances, Josephine has outstanding off-axis rejection too.
5. Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone Condenser, Solid-State, Large Diaphragm, Cardioid/Figure-8/Omni
The Neumann U87 is a classic - found in studios the world over, it is one of the most versatile microphones for recording, and has been the benchmark that dozens of other microphone companies have aspired to whenever they have ventured into the large diaphragm condenser microphone market. The current model - U87 AI has a detailed and clean sound. A bright sonic character without sounding cheap or hi-fi. It has an extremely accurate frequency response across the high-mids and especially the low-mids. Many budget large diaphragm condensers struggle to capture low frequencies with the same accuracy as higher frequencies. For this reason it excels on both male and female vocals, and is neutral enough to be versatile across a broad range of styles. Being a multi-pattern microphone, it is also great for doubling backing vocals with more than one singer using the figure-8 or omni polar pattern for variation.