Entry-Level Microphones for your Home Studio

One of the most cherished pieces of gear that a recording artist can own is the sensory piece of hardware that connects reality to the electrical and digital realm; the microphone. Like most audio hardware and instruments, each make and model has its own flavour, so that leaves a recording artist with tough decisions to make when it comes to choosing one.

The best way to find what you're looking for is to understand what your goals are, and to know what the mic sounds like. In other words, if you have the opportunity, do a mic shootout!

Nevertheless, if this isn't an option, there are a few legendary (and affordable) entry-level mics that you should know about. I round up five of them, including details of some of their specs, costs, features, and their most common uses.

 

Number 5

SHURE SM57

Dynamic / Cardioid

40 – 15,000 Hz

$129 CAD

This mic has proven to be so reliable (even when abused) that it is an industry standard for live sound. Moreover, its wide frequency response makes it capable of being used for recording vocals and many different instruments, including guitars and drums.

 

Number 4

SHURE SM58

Dynamic / Cardioid

50 – 15,000 Hz

$129 CAD

Similar to the SM57, the SM58 is widely known for its durability and reliability. But unlike the SM57, the SM58 was designed to enhance vocals and performs best for this purpose. The wire mesh cover contributes to the durability of the device, but also acts like an effective 'pop filter' to help mediate those plosives.

 

Number 3

AT 2020

Condenser / Cardioid

40 – 20,000 Hz

$122 CAD

The AT 2020 is the most affordable entry-level ‘professional’ microphone on the market and, despite the low price, it is a very good mic. It's worth noting, however, that this is a condenser mic and will require phantom power to record. This can be solved using an audio interface which can provide the 48v you need.

The frequency response of the AT 2020 is wide and flat and is most recommended for recording vocals and instruments that perform best in the middle of the spectrum.

 

Number 2

Sennheiser MD 421

Dynamic / Cardioid

30 – 17,000 Hz

$449 CAD

The MD 421 is another very versatile dynamic mic. Dipping into 30 Hz makes this microphone perform best when recording drums, but it is often used for recording many other instruments, including guitars, and even some vocals. Adding to its versatility, this mic comes with a 5-position bass roll-off switch, which allows you to attenuate low frequencies at various settings.

 

Number 1

Rode NT1A

Condenser / Cardioid

20 – 20,000 Hz

$299 CAD

Just like the AT 2020, this mic is a condenser and will require phantom power to operate. That being said, the NT1-A is a studio favourite for recording vocals, but, in part due to its ability to handle high SPLs, it is also often chosen to record percussion and can also be used to record guitars.

 

There you have it, that’s five of the many great microphones out there. Each are excellent choices if you're considering purchasing one.

Things to Consider

Explore what you're mostly going to be using it for and go from there. Are you going to be recording hip hop vocals? The SM-58 might be the mic for you. Recording percussion? Try out the MD-421. Once you pick up one of these mics, have fun experimenting with the many different ways you can use it for recording.

 

Author: Dimitri Marshall