The Best Budget Microphones To Get Started

Buying microphones for your microphone collection can be an exciting adventure, but finding the best budget microphones to get started with recording or live sound can seem like a difficult task.  That pesky salesman at the music store will almost always try to push you to a more expensive microphone insisting, "This is the one you want."  However, that salesman doesn't care at all that you may be on a tight budget.  Before looking at our suggestions for the best budget microphones, let's first take a look at some important considerations about microphones.

Qualities Of A Microphone

There are three main classifications of microphones, which are dynamic, condenser, and ribbon.  Ribbon microphones are often very expensive and very fragile.  Don't get me wrong, they have an awesome sound quality, but I wouldn't suggest starting out with one of these.  Condenser Neumann U87 Large Condenser microphonemicrophones have a lot of cool, unique uses, but they can often be a little pricey too.  Dynamic microphones are usually the best budget microphones because they are a little more affordable and more durable.  More on the different types of microphones can be found here.

Frequency response is incredibly important when choosing the instrument that you use the microphone on.  We have listed out the instruments we suggest for each of these microphones, but to further understand audio frequency and how to choose the instrument for the mic, check out our article here.

Each microphone has a polar pattern that describes the density of the microphone.  We will tell you what the polar pattern of each of the following microphones is.  This can be a little bit of a confusing topic if you are a beginner.  We have an article that we wrote in great detail the different polar patterns that can be found here.

For this article, the most important focus is to get that microphone in your hands so you can start recording.  You will notice that most of these microphones are manufactured by Shure.  Shure makes great microphones, and better yet, they are affordable!  Let's take a look at our suggestions for the best budget microphones and the instrument suggested for its use.  (The following products contain affiliate links.  This means at no additional cost to you, I get paid if you click through and make a purchase)

Best Budget Microphones For Recording A Band

Best Budget Microphones For Vocals

Shure BETA 58

Just an all around great mic for vocals

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz – 16kHz

Shure BETA 57

An instrument mic, but is great for gravely or screaming vocals

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-16kHz

Best Budget Microphones For Guitar

Shure BETA 57

Great starter mic on guitar cabs.  After building mic collection, still can be used paired with other instrument mics.

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-16kHz

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Best Budget Method For Recording Bass Guitar

BSS AR-133 DI Box

Okay, so this isn't a mic, but just plug your bass guitar into this bad boy then to your interface, and you'll see why this is the best way.

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Best Budget Microphones for Drum Kit

Shure BETA 57

Use these on your snare and toms and they will pick up the sound great

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-16kHz

Shure BETA 52

Use this guy on your bass drum, and it will sound awesome

  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 10,000Hz

Microphones Tips

Especially when recording drums, be cautious of a problem called "phase cancellation."  This can completely ruin a mix, and leave you incredibly frustrated.  Even with one of these "best budget microphones", the recording can be ruined if this occurs.  We have an article that we explain more thoroughly what phase cancellation is and how to avoid it here.

When you are ready to step up and explore more into guitar amp miking, we have an article where we explain more on these techniques found here.

What Extra Equipment Is Needed With Your Best Budget Microphones

Now that we have covered some great budget microphones to get you started with your home studio, it is important to know what other items you need.  First and foremost,  all of these microphones and even the DI box use XLR cables.  The XLR cables are what will connect your microphones to your audio interface.

This brings us to our next important item that you need to make sure is included in your budget for your home studio.  The audio interface is a very important part of your home studio rig.  Even the greatest, most expensive microphones won't sound great if you have a cheap interface.

Lastly, your audio interface will convert the signal and send it to your computer which includes your DAW.  Of course this is what you spend most of your time working on in the recording/mixing process.

The reason we needed to discuss these different components of what makes your studio functional is to always keep in mind your budget.  The biggest mistake I made when I recorded my first album for a client was that I spent too much of my budget on my DAW and interface, leaving my microphone options to suffer.  The result?  I ended up with weak sounding guitars, and I couldn't fix it in post.  I was embarrassed by this mix.

Recalculating The Inventory Of Best Budget Microphones

Now that we have a list of what the best budget microphones are, we need to figure out how many mics are needed for recording a band.  Let's assume you have an audio interface that has at least 4 or 5 XLR inputs and you're ready to record separate tracks for the band, this is what you will need if using what I suggested:

  • 3 or 4 Shure Beta 57's (Depending on if a drumset is a 4 piece or 5 piece)
  • 1 Shure Beta 52
  • 1 BSS DI Box
  • Optional 1 Shure Beta 58 (Depending on the vocalist)

The Next Steps

Once you have some great starter microphones and are ready to take the steps in building your collection, guitar microphones are the next in line (at least in my opinion).  After that, I would suggest looking into different vocal microphone options.

If you need any help picking out the microphones that are best for your set up, or are ready to progress to the next, feel free to contact us through our contact us page found here.