The 12 Best Budget Microphones for 2023


If you’re on a budget but want to get recording – don’t worry, you won’t have to settle for something subpar. In 2023, there are plenty of high-quality mics available. But what are some of the best budget microphones?

In this article, we’ll take you through twelve of our top picks. From vocal mics to instrument mics, and even microphones for podcasting and streaming. Whatever you want out of your microphone we have something for you.

In a hurry?

Shure SM58 Dynamic Cardioid Vocal MicrophoneBest mic for vocals.Check the current price
SubZero SZC-300 Condenser MicrophoneBest mic for instruments.Check the current price
Sennheiser Profile USB Condenser MicrophoneBet mic for podcasts.Check the current price
Mackie EM-USB USB Condenser MicrophoneBest mic for streaming. Check the current price

Best budget microphones for vocals

Shure PGA58 Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone

Best budget live vocal microphone

Shure PGA58 Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone with XLR CableMicrophone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: XLR

The Shure PGA58 is a brilliant option for capturing live vocals with confidence. It has a focused cardioid polar pattern that reduces the amount of background noise picked up on stage. This means it only picks up what is right in front of it without any gig-ruining feedback.

Its frequency response is specifically tailored to the human vocal range, so you’re sure to get both clean and clear sound in any situation. As well as this, distracting ‘pop’ noises are avoided using its steel mesh grille.

This microphone also has a built-in mute button – so performers have instant control over whether they’ll be heard or not without having to rely on any sound engineers. And it will stand the test of time too, with Shure’s renowned build quality.

If you’re looking for an ideal first mic to use live, this is a great option. Not only is it affordable, but it also sounds great and is made by one of the most well-regarded audio brands in the world.

Shop now | Shure PGA58 Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone with XLR Cable

SubZero VX01 Vocal Microphone

Best for recording vocals at home

SubZero VX01 Vocal Microphone with Accessory PackMicrophone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: XLR

The SubZero VX01 is an ideal choice if you want to record vocals at home. Because of its 34mm large diaphragm, it can capture any type of singer or speaker with the quality you need.

From the low end to the mid-range to the high frequencies – the VX01 captures it all with incredible accuracy with its 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response and high sensitivity. And the cardioid polar pattern makes sure the recording is focused on your vocals and minimises any potential background noise.

To guarantee great vocal sound it comes with a pop shield, therefore reducing the risk of plosives. And the shock mount will prevent accidental knocks and bumps from getting in the way of capturing your best performance.

But it’s not just great for vocals – you can also use it to record instruments too. So if you’re recording music at home, this could be a great all-in-one solution for you to use. And the included XLR cable means you’re ready to plug it into your audio interface straight away.

Shop now | SubZero VX01 Vocal Microphone with Accessory Pack

Shure SM58 Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Microphone

Best for live and in the studio

Shure SM58 Dynamic Cardioid Vocal MicrophoneMicrophone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: XLR

The Shure SM58, while being an industry standard and widely used in professional contexts, is remarkably affordable. It has been sold by Shure for over 50 years after first being released in 1966, which gives an indication of how well-regarded it is.

It’s ideal for use in live contexts but is as equally at home in the recording studio. In fact, it’s the microphone used by the Smashing Pumpkins on most of their recordings.

The SM58 uses a uniform cardioid polar pattern – capturing vocals as intended while avoiding picking up any unwanted background noise. This is especially important in a noisy onstage environment where you just want to pick up singers and not the screaming guitar amp behind them.

You’ll find that this mic will last you for years too. It has a highly rugged construction that will take all the knocks that touring equipment gets over the years. If you get an SM58, it is an investment for life.

Shop now | Shure SM58 Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Microphone

Best budget microphones for instruments

Shure SM57 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Best for live instrument capture

Shure SM57 Dynamic Instrument MicrophoneMicrophone Type: Dynamic

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: XLR

The Shure SM57 has been part of Shure’s roster of microphones since 1965. And for good reason. It’s a dynamic instrument microphone designed to be able to handle high sound pressure levels with ease.

This iconic mic is especially good for capturing instruments in live performance. Whether it’s a saxophone or a snare, the SM57 can handle it. With its contoured frequency response, it’s easy to get clean audio for your live sound mix all the time.

Plus, it’s made to last. Sometimes microphones get knocked around in live performances. The SM57 is made to withstand this. You won’t need to worry about a drummer accidentally whacking it or a guitarist swinging around into it. The Shure SM57 will keep on going.

And it will only capture the sound you want thanks to a uniform cardioid polar pattern that picks up what’s in front of it – nothing else. And it will capture what you want without distortion, no matter how loud you go.

The SM57 can even be used for vocals if you want. Why do you think every US president since Lyndon B Johnson has used it for speeches? And this is all while being super affordable too.

Shop now | Shure SM57 Dynamic Instrument Microphone

SubZero SZC-300 Condenser Microphone

Best for recording instruments at home

SubZero SZC-300 Condenser MicrophoneMicrophone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Uni-Directional Cardioid

Connection Type: XLR

The SubZero SZC-300 is a condenser microphone that’s ideal for capturing instruments in home recordings. With its large diaphragm condenser capsule and wide frequency range, you’re sure to capture every facet of your instrument.

Thanks to its low-distortion FET circuitry, the SZC-300 can record your instruments with accuracy and brilliant tonal quality. So – even before mixing – you’ll get great recordings to work with. And this also guarantees low self-noise, perfect for those delicate recordings.

Using a cardioid polar pattern, it picks up the main source while rejecting unwanted background noise. So, when you want to capture your instrument and nothing else, that’s what it will do.

And if you want a complete setup straight out of the box, why not grab the studio stand pack? That way you have everything you need to position the mic perfectly for your instrument.

Shop now | SubZero SZC-300 Condenser Microphone

AKG P120 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Best for accurate instrument capture

AKG P120 Large Diaphragm Condenser MicrophoneMicrophone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: XLR

The AKG P120 is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that excels in accurately capturing instruments in home studios. It has a large diaphragm condenser capsule that can record everything from drums to pianos, from guitars to strings – all equally well.

It has a cardioid polar pattern, so only what is in front of it gets captured. And any unwanted noise is, therefore, rejected. Perfect for focused recordings in the studio.

With its wide frequency range, it can capture every last detail of the instruments you throw at it. There’s also a bass-cut filter built in – so if bass rumble is a problem for you, it can be a problem no more. And the switchable attenuation pad allows you to record instruments with higher SPL levels without the worry of distortion.

Better still, thanks to its rugged all-metal body, the AKG P120 is made to last. So with its combination of low cost and quality, this mic is the perfect addition to your home studio to record instruments in the best way possible.

Shop now | AKG P120 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Best budget microphones for podcasts

Thronmax Mdrill Zone XLR with Shock Mount

Best for multiple mic setups

Thronmax Mdrill Zone XLR with Shock MountMicrophone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: XLR

The Thronmax Mdrill Zone is one of the cheapest mics on this list. This makes it ideal if you need a multiple-mic setup for your podcast. And let’s face it: you aren’t likely doing a one-person podcast.

Despite its low price, the Mdrill Zone will give you the pristine capture you need for making great podcasts. It has a comprehensive 25Hz – 20kHz frequency range and a focused cardioid polar pattern. So, everything you say will be captured with clarity and with minimal background noise.

What makes the Mdrill Zone particularly unique at this price point is its built-in VERTIGRAIN technology. This means the mic has circuitry that allows it to capture with outstanding precision. So every little detail of your voice is heard with an increase of clarity of up to 10 per cent.

This is made possible with the custom 25mm condenser capsule – with the vertical grille preventing sound scattering. So, more sound waves are captured than other mics. Great for getting your point across in a heated podcast debate.

Shop now | Thronmax Mdrill Zone XLR with Shock Mount

Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Best all-rounder podcasting mic

Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser MicrophoneMicrophone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: XLR

The Audio Technica AT2020 is a great way to ensure your podcast will sound great all the time. Because of its custom-engineered low-mass diaphragm, you’ll get pristine vocals that will be super intelligible to your podcast audience.

The excellent frequency response between 20 Hz and 20kHz ensures next-level clarity. Then the cardioid polar pattern reduces the occurrence of unwanted ambient noise and keeps the capture focused on you and not anything else.

It has an XLR connection, so it’s easy to connect to your audio interface, should you have one. Plus, the included pivoting threaded stand mount attaches super easily to your microphone stand.

With extremely high SPL handling, even the loudest podcast guests can be handled with this microphone. And because of its low operating noise, you can record the quietest speech without having any distracting interferences crop up.

Shop now | Audio Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Sennheiser Profile USB Condenser Microphone

Best for easy podcast setup

Sennheiser Profile USB Condenser MicrophoneMicrophone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: USB

The Sennheiser Profile uses a USB connection. So if you want to get podcasting right away and you don’t have an audio interface then this mic is for you.

This microphone has a cardioid polar pattern and a 20 to 20,000 Hz frequency range, so will capture your vocals with crystal clarity. As a result, everything you say on your podcast will be super easy for your audience to hear.

As well as this, the Profile USB has a built-in tabletop stand. This has an adjustable tilt which makes it incredibly easy to capture as much of your voice as possible. You also get onboard controls for gain and muting – great for live recording scenarios.

Another great feature is the built-in headphone output. With its onboard adjustable volume, this will ensure that your podcast sounds great, especially if you’re going to be recording for an hour or maybe more.

Shop now | Sennheiser Profile USB Condenser Microphone

Best budget microphones for gaming/streaming

Rode NT-USB Mini Condenser Microphone

Best streaming mic for in-depth sound control

Rode NT-USB Mini Condenser MicrophoneMicrophone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: USB

The Rode NT-USB is a comprehensive microphone – ideal for getting great sound on your stream. Because of its high-grade condenser capsule, you’ll get crystal-clear sound and your audience will hear every word you say.

One great feature of this mic is the built-in DSP processing. This gives you control of four pro processers: a compressor, noise gate, APHEX Aural exciter, and Big Bottom. The noise gate is particularly good for streaming as it will stop background noise when you’re not talking.

If you’re looking to stream with more people, the NT-USB Mini has a great feature: you can connect up to four NT-USB Minis together to a single computer. This gives you the option for guests without any hassle.

Plus, it’s convenient to use. The USB connectivity means all you have to do is plug in and you can get streaming. And the built-in desktop stand means you don’t need any extra purchases to get the perfect mic positioning.

Shop now | Rode NT-USB Mini Condenser Microphone

Mackie EM-USB USB Condenser Microphone

Best mic for new streamers

Mackie EM-USB USB Condenser MicrophoneMicrophone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: USB

The Mackie EM-USB is an ideal choice for capturing your voice on stream. Because of its USB connectivity and included tripod – you can set it up with minimal effort and focus on other elements of your stream, knowing that you’ll get great sound.

One ideal feature for streaming is the onboard gain control. This means you can adjust your sound on the fly – and there’s even a mute button for when you need to take a moment away from your viewers.

You’ll be able to make sure the sound is just right too, with latency-free headphone monitoring. Just plug your headphones straight into the EM-USB and you’ll hear the mic’s capture. And that capture is crystal clear – thanks to the EM-USB’s focused pickup pattern that keeps background noise to a minimum.

The EM-USB also comes with a comprehensive pro software package to take your streaming sound to the next level. This includes Pro Tools First Waveform OEM and even two plugin bundles.

Shop now | Mackie EM-USB USB Condenser Microphone

Shure MOTIV MV5 USB Microphone, Silver

Best on-camera streaming mic

Shure MOTIV MV5 USB Microphone, SilverMicrophone Type: Condenser

Polar Pattern: Cardioid

Connection Type: USB

The Shure MOTIV MV5 is a cool-looking microphone. And when you’re streaming, sometimes the look of your microphone is as important as the sound quality. Its ball design and streamlined stand will give your streaming setup an awesome vintage look.

It plugs straight into your device via USB, so there’s no messing around when you want to get streaming. And it has a condenser capsule, with an adjustable 20Hz – 20kHz frequency response, so your vocals will always be loud and clear for your avid fans.

One great feature of the MV5 is its zero-latency monitoring. This is important when streaming – you need to know what you sound like in real-time, right? And there are even onboard mute and volume controls – which is super convenient for when you’re mid-stream.

On top of all this, the MV5 is compatible with Shure’s innovative ShurePlus MOTIV app. This is a free download for iOS which lets you adjust mic gain, shape EQ, and add compression and limiting. So, you can make sure you always sound just right.

Shop now | Shure MOTIV MV5 USB Microphone, Silver

What to look for when choosing the right microphone

When choosing the right microphone, there are several things you need to look for.

Firstly, you should consider what application you need your microphone for. Are you using it live? Or are you recording in a studio? For example, dynamic mics are often (but not always) suited to live situations, while condenser mics are more often found in the studio.

A microphone’s pickup pattern is important to consider. This refers to the area a microphone picks up. The most common one is cardioid, which picks up sound directly in front of it. You’ll probably get this pattern for a variety of use cases – whereas other pickup patterns are more suitable for specific use cases.

You should also consider what extra gear you might need. If your microphone has an XLR connection, you’ll be able to plug it into most audio interfaces and mixers. But what if you want to record straight to your computer without any fuss? In this case, a USB microphone would be better.

Other things to consider are sensitivity (how much volume can your microphone take?), onboard controls (do you want less or more?), and even the way the mic looks (if you’re streaming you want it to look good on camera).

Audio Technica AT2020


Do I really need an expensive mic?

You don’t need an expensive microphone to capture great recordings. Many of the most famous recordings in history have been captured with some of the microphones on this list. How you position and use a microphone also has a lot to do with recording quality – so cheaper mics are more than valid to use.

Which mic is best for beginners?

USB microphones are great for beginners. This is because they can plug directly into your computer without the need for an audio interface. However, if you want a microphone for live sound, classic live mics like the Shure SM58 are great for when you’re starting out.

What do I need for a microphone setup?

For a microphone setup, you need:

  • A microphone
  • A microphone cable (either XLR or USB)
  • A microphone stand
  • A pop filter
  • An audio interface, laptop, or mixer to plug into (depending on your setup)

Final thoughts

There’s a wide range of budget microphones available in 2023, many suited to different purposes.

The Shure SM58 is great for live vocals, while the SubZero SZC-300 is ideal for live instrument capture. You might use the Thronmax Mdrill Zone for podcasting or speak to your stream with the Mackie EM-USB.

Whatever you need, there’s a great mic out there. And if our list of the best budget microphones has shown anything, it’s that you don’t need to sell your organs to get great capture. You can do it on a budget.

Want to learn more about microphones? Check out some of these related articles:


Content Editor - Live Sound

Rowan Evans writes and edits live sound content for Gear4Music. He has a degree in audio technology and has engineered for everything from musicals to country bands. He also loves writing music, making noise in all corners of York on most nights of the week.



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