Best UK Condenser Microphone
Updated: March 2020
Here are our top ranked picks in the category of best condenser microphone for sale in the UK.
#1 Selection: Score = 95%
#2: Best Quality Alternative
#3: Top For Customer Reviews
Condenser Microphones: A Buyer’s Guide
Whether you’re in the studio or are performing live, chances are you’re going to need a good quality microphone. Singers, guitarists and even drummers depend on a variety of microphone tech to make sure they get their recordings perfect and their performances as crisp and as clear as possible.
For that reason, many people will shop around for the best possible microphones for their individual needs.
Microphones can generally be split into two types – dynamic, and condenser. In this buying guide, we will be looking at condenser microphones, which tend to be better for studio recording. They also tend to be a little more intricate in terms of design and technology over dynamic models.
However, both options have their positives and negatives. But when buying a condenser microphone for the first time, what should you really be looking for? What are some of the main factors and features people compare and contrast when buying the perfect mic?
As always, we are here to help break things down for you. Not all microphone buying has to be tricky or strenuous! Once you know what you’re looking for, filtering out the perfect models will seem like a breeze. At the end of the guide, we will also help you along with a few frequently asked questions. You may even be asking yourself these questions while shopping!
What Are Condenser Microphones?
Before you invest in a condenser microphone, it makes sense to know a little bit about the technology. This can get quite intricate, but don’t worry, as we’ll make sure to offer you the basics. We want to help you make the right decision, but at the same time, we’re not in the habit of confusing our readers!
Condenser microphones work by converting sound waves into energy. They do this through an intricate series of metal plates. All condenser mics need a power source, meaning that you will often find these microphones need plugging into an outlet or socket. Many people choose condenser mics for the studio because they can be very flexible.
Why Buy a Condenser Microphone?
If you’re struggling to pick between condenser and dynamic microphones, don’t worry. The main difference lies in sensitivity. Condenser microphones are much more sensitive to sound waves, meaning that if you are looking for a crisper, more intuitive sound, they are going to be an ideal purchase for you.
Many people prefer dynamic microphones for performance, particularly as they can offer a lot of bass and power.
However, there is nothing to say you can’t use either dynamic or condenser mics in the studio for recording. They work wonderfully well for recording singing, instruments and spoken word. In fact, many people choose condenser mics first when looking for exceptional sound quality.
This can often mean that you end up paying more, but if sound quality is important to you, then it’s well worth the investment.
Condenser microphones offer higher frequency responses, which means, generally, they could pick up on more sound, or at least more sensitive noise. That’s why many people working in studios almost exclusively use condensers.
Things to Look For
Not all condenser microphones do the same thing, and not all of them are of the same standard. That’s why there can be so much difference in pricing and packaging online. However, before you start purchasing any microphones, you should consider what you need to look for in the perfect unit.
Think about what you are going to use a microphone for and be ready to compare and contrast the finer details.
If you’ve never come across polar patterns before, don’t worry. Microphone patterns simply decide where they are going to pick up the most sound from. For example, some patterns might shut out noise from the sides and the rear of the microphone, while others will offer a front-and-back system.
The most common and popular pattern in microphones is arguably cardioid. Cardioid patterns record and relay sound from whatever is in front of the microphone. Noise from the sides and the back block out. Omnidirectional microphones, and figure-8 patterns, however, take in noise from other directions.
The pattern you choose will depend on what you’re using a microphone for. If you are a solo artist, you may want to focus on buying cardioid mics. If you’re recording a full band or several people, consider omnidirectional or bidirectional patterns.
As mentioned, condenser microphones will need a fair amount of power to work properly. Most will need you to plug into the mains, while others will work on battery. Many condenser mics will operate on ‘phantom power’, which means that they will power up if you plug them into a tertiary device via USB, for example.
Not all condenser microphones plug into USB, and bear in mind that USB mics are often sold in a category all on their own. The best condenser mics, on the whole, have traditional connectivity such as via XLR.
Size and Build Quality
The size of your microphone is likely to matter a lot. This is because the bigger the mic, the more sound you are likely to capture. However, you should also look carefully for microphones which have fantastic manufacturing quality. There are many cheap microphones online which look like they will weather years of use, however, it pays to be discerning.
Even if you are using a condenser microphone in a simple studio setting, you are going to need it to withstand constant use. Look for microphones which are shockproof and moisture-proof up to professional levels. You should be looking for build quality as much as you should be thinking about sound engineering and flexibility.
Ease of Use
It’s safe to say that a lot of studio and musician tech can get quite complex. If you’re already producing a lot of music, you may well know your way around a mixer and a few pedals. However, layman users may struggle to get to grips with all the tech to begin with. Therefore, be ready to look for a mic that is at least easy to use straight out of the box.
There is a balance here, of course. Some condenser microphones are so easy to use, they are cheap about it. Therefore, you need to find a mic that is going to perform well, while not expect you to have to fiddle around too much with settings and profiles. Look for plug and play mics, but don’t shy away from systems which you can tweak and modify to your own ends.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still find buying condenser microphones confusing, we are always here to help. Here are a few frequently asked queries to help you break down your search for the perfect kit even further. Don’t go buying anything until you’ve read the full blurb!
Is a Condenser Microphone Good for Vocals?
Condenser microphones are fantastic for recording vocals. It depends on the quality of build you buy, of course, but as they are extremely high-frequency, condenser mics are perfect for picking up vocal nuances and for delivering true clarity. They are also great for recording spoken word and general music.
Can You Use a Condenser Mic for Live Vocals?
Yes. However, many people prefer dynamic microphones as they tend to be hardier for stage use. While frequencies are higher through condenser microphones, dynamic systems offer more power and more presence. What’s more, they are often less expensive, which means if they do get damaged in transit, there’s less to pay for a replacement.
What Microphone is Best for Home Recording?
There are no two microphones which are best for recording at home! There are many different variables. Microphones will always differ in terms of build quality, sound engineering and ease of use. The best mics for the studio are those which offer plenty of frequency control as well as flexibility.
You should ideally look for sound quality and ease of control first, however. It also makes sense to look for brands you recognise, and those that people generally trust!
How Much Do Condenser Microphones Cost?
This really can vary. The cheapest you might expect to pay for a condenser mic will be around £50 to £60. However, if you want to invest in the very best tech, you should be willing to pay over £100. The cost of mics can really spike from here upwards, however, so do be discerning. Look at what other people have to say – verified buyers, that is – and check out a few video reviews to help you on your way, too.
The world of studio recording and performance doesn’t have to be confusing. Condenser microphones are easier to shop for than ever before. However, there are always going to be a few things you should compare and contrast. Take a look at what’s available online, see what musicians and users have to say, and narrow down your choices carefully. Be willing to invest a good amount of money for the best tech, too!