Best 7 Vocal Mics Under $500 in 2023


Want to get straight to the business? Here are my top picks for 2023’s best vocal mics under $500:

  1. AKG C214
  2. Avantone CV-12
  3. Warm Audio WA-14
  4. Bluebird SL
  5. Sennheiser MD 421 II
  6. Shure SM7B
  7. Rode NT1-A

Whether you’ve just started taking singing lessons or already have a magical voice, you need a high-quality vocal mic to start recording. That’s because vocals are the backbone of any song – and the reason why audio quality is something you cannot skimp on as a musician.

But as a hobbyist or a beginner, going for a pricey pro mike can burn quite a big hole in your pocket. And let’s be honest, a mic isn’t the only piece of equipment you’d have on your wishlist, so blowing the entire budget on it probably isn’t wise. 

Thankfully, the industry has grown very competitive lately. In 2023, you’ve got plenty of promising options to start with as an aspiring musician. I’ve taken the liberty to do all the research for you, so here’s a rundown of my favorite vocal mics priced under 500 bucks. Now let’s be honest; Ed Sheeran or Taylor Swift don’t use any of these — but they could, and you’d barely notice a difference.

Here we go!

1. AKG C214

Price: $359.99 


  • Great for acoustic recordings 
  • Has controllable lows and pads
  • Very beginner-friendly


  • May sound a bit metal-ish in higher tunes

The C214 is an iconic microphone from AKG — a premium mic brand that’s been around since 1955. First released in 2008, this microphone has been the go-to budget recommendation for quite some time, and it’s hard to beat even in 2023. It’s a large condenser microphone and takes after the massively successful C414 but with a more affordable price tag. You can expect high-quality output from its wide frequency range (20 Hz to 20,000kHz) and impressive sensitivity of 20 mV/Pa (-34 dBV). With these features, it’s an ideal pick-up for not just studio recordings, but also podcasts and speeches. 

Being a large-diaphragm condenser, you can expect it to have impressive noise reduction — and it does. You can record your casual bedroom jamming sessions seamlessly without having to worry about optimizing your padding or soundproofing, all thanks to the mic’s inherent noise-cancellation capabilities. All it needs is +12V to +52V phantom power and you’re set. 

You get a metal carrying case and a shock mount included within the package. But, what makes this mic stand out is the promise of recording quality that’s comparable to the AKG C414’s (which, by the way, is one of the industry’s highest-end pro mics) at such a low price. And while looks don’t matter much when it comes to mics, this one doesn’t miss out on those brownie points either. Here, have a look!

2. Avantone CV-12

Price: $399


  • Strong and sturdy build
  • Very aesthetically pleasing
  • Comparable to the iconic AKG C214 mic


  • Customer service could be better

Avantone’s Cabernet (or C-series) microphones represent the brand’s premium line and are designed to provide pro-level recording performance. Despite their humble price tags, these mics can easily compete with much more expensive ones in terms of specifications and performance. The CV-12 has all these attributes and sounds just as good as it looks in its catchy red color. It shares its aesthetic vibes with the vintage tube microphones of the late 50s and early 60s — and that’s no small compliment. The rugged capsule and mic body are precision-machined out of brass, while the polished nickel trims and its Cabernet Wine-Red finish enhances the aesthetics. But, it doesn’t cost nearly as much as you’d think, earning it the runner-up spot on my <$500 list. 

Looks aside, the mic’s specifications sheet is just as impressive. It has an audio frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz, with the maximum sound pressure level being 136 dB. It comes with a custom retro shock mount which allows you to position your mic precisely where you want it, limiting unwanted sound or vibrations from getting to the mic which leads to cleaner recordings, fewer distractions, and hence better professional recording results. You even get an 80 Hz high-pass filter included in the package to further cut out all that unwanted low-end noise — and that’s all the isolation you need for a decent recording session. 

I love how the mic’s body feels sturdy and solid in the hand, which means you don’t have to worry about durability or structural integrity — the brand has already taken care of that for you. 

Like the AKG C 12, this too is a large-diaphragm tube — and feels like Avantone’s tribute to that widely-loved mic. Thanks to its pleasantly accurate response, your vocals get the space to shine in the low-end and mid-ranges, especially in the high-end. If you’d ask me, you simply can’t go wrong spending your money on this mic — all things considered. 

3. Warm Audio WA-14

Price: $399 ($349 on discount)


  • Has three polar pattern options to choose from
  • Evocative of the legendary 1971 AKG C 414
  • Impressive noise reduction


  • Does not do well when recording off-axis

Just like the Avantone CV-12, the Warm Audio WA-14 is another budget-friendly vocal mic based on the AKG C 414 (the original 1971 one, dating back over 50 years ago). Being a large-diaphragm solid-state condenser mic, it offers crisp recording quality with excellent noise cancellation and three selectable polar pattern options.

At its heart, the mic has a CK12-style capsule which reflects the model of AKG’s classic engineering. The circuitry is completely discrete — which, paired with its CineMag USA transformer — offers crisp precision and a vintage-esque recording character. 

Despite being a Field Effect Transistor (FET) condenser mic, the WA-14 has a unique thickness and realism to it, which is again reminiscent of the original 1971 AKG C414. It adds some raw punchiness to your vocals without much additional coloration. But with that said, it’s not nearly as versatile as the 414 outside its recording axis. As a result, you may experience a noticeable bump in coloration in those conditions, and the lack of a low-cut switch doesn’t help either, which you would use on a C414 to roll low frequencies off. This makes the recording of boomy sound sources slightly more challenging, but that’s almost a non-issue for vocal recordings.

Check it out here.

4. Bluebird SL

Price: $304.95


  • Very clear sound output
  • Best-seller microphone in Blue’s entire mic lineup
  • Very easily tunable


  • Lacks polar patterns (but I’m just being nitpicky here)

Whether you plan on recording your vocals, acoustic melodies, or a stunning electric guitar solo for an original instrumental, the Bluebird SL won’t let you down in a home studio setup. It’s a fan-favorite, and that’s evident from the response it has generated in the market since day one. It’s the highest-selling mic in Blue’s microphone series, and it’s all because of its superior design, build quality, and recording performance. 

Featuring an XLR connection, it’s ideal for audio mixers or computer interfaces. You get a high-pass filter with it which limits the desk rumble from interrupting your recordings and boosts clarity. It’s capable of capturing every note on your instruments, as well as every minute detail of your gorgeous vocal runs. Keep in mind that while all microphones on this list are priced under 500 bucks, some mics are still more affordable than others. This one’s just above the $300 mark, yet shares (or exceeds) most features of the above mics like the cardioid polar pattern, a 20 Hz – 20 kHz, and a sensitivity of 28.5 mV/Pa at 1 kHz.

Overall, the Bluebird SL offers incredible sound quality with sharp noise cancellation and impressive sensitivity. Its performance is especially well in the upper range, and has smooth middle frequencies, for instruments and vocals alike. 

Many singers on a tight budget often have to end up buying broadcasting or podcasting mics, just because proper vocal mics tend to be more expensive. This one breaks that norm! Despite being just a few hundred bucks, it’s designed to make a vocalist’s life as easy as possible — no matter if you’re a newbie or a pro. If you’re interested, check it out here!

5. Sennheiser MD 421 II

Price: $395.95


  • Highly popular brand name
  • Features a five-position bass control
  • Highly effective feedback rejection
  • Very easy to handle


  • The mic’s clip is difficult to use and weak (and annoying, dare I say)

The MD 421 I has been Sennheiser’s star performer dynamic microphone for 35 or so years, and the MD 421 II is a follow-up to it. In this successor, the company has focused on improving the mic’s sturdiness, replacing some of the internal circuitry components with contemporary counterparts. The result is even better sound quality, a higher transparency level, and noticeably more precise audio reproduction. Despite the mic’s huge brand name, premium construction, and detail-oriented improvements — it’s still priced under $500 — making it a compelling pick-up for vocalists and musicians of all skill levels. 

With the broad diaphragm of its dynamic element, it handles high levels of sound pressure like a boss. This means it can not only record vocals precisely but also does a great job with percussion and guitars. 

Like most other options on this list, this one features a cardioid polar pattern as well and has an impeccable frequency response from 30 to 17,000 Hz. It’s capable of handling loud environments comfortably, which means no instrument is too far-fetched for it — be it high SPL guitar amps or drums. That too, without compromising clarity and crispness in vocal recordings, truly justifying the term “dynamic” in its name. Plus, being comfortable in loudness also has quite a few applications in vocal recordings, especially if you’re a fan of shouting, screaming, rapping, or singing powerful songs during your sessions.

I’m a fan of the five-position bass roll-off control you get on this mic as it’s used by greats like Elton John, Kurt Cobain, and Owl City. You could almost forget that it’s priced so well. Have a look!

6. Shure SM7B

Price: $359


  • Backed by a two-year warranty
  • Great for podcasting as well
  • Excellent for heavy and loud vocals 


  • Performs poorly for low-energy recordings

The Shure SM7B specialized in high-energy vocals that are found in genres of hip-hop, metal, and hard rock among others. If you find yourself recording screaming vocals, or singing loudly into the mic quite often, this mic deserves a closer look. But harder vocals aside, the mic is pretty standard in most other areas of voice recording. The sensitivity is relatively low (which also helps keep things under control when you scream into the mic) and the frequency response range is relatively limited as well. Speaking in terms of today’s pop artists, the mic is poor for the quiet, breathy voice of someone like Billie Eilish, but quite effective at handling loud vocals from high-energy singers like Sia and Adele. I’d only suggest going with this mic if you belong to the latter classification because this mic shamelessly favors heavier vocals, and it’s not meant to be “well-rounded” by any means. 

If it sounds like just the right pick-up for you, find it here. You can even get it with a boom arm for $488.99.

7. Rode NT1-A

Price: $229


  • The most affordable mic on this list
  • Huge bang for your buck
  • Offers highly accurate vocal recording


  • Slight sibilance issues (can be solved with a decent pop filter)

I couldn’t create a budget-friendly vocal mics list and not include Rode in it, of course! The last spot goes to their NT1-A, a cardioid condenser microphone that’s way below the price range of this article. It’s almost half the price of some of the options listed above, but it certainly deserves a place here because of its insane value for money.

Like the Warm Audio WA 14, this one’s also a solid-state large diaphragm microphone, but Rode seems to have put some special emphasis on ensuring vocal accuracy with this mic. With its humble price tag, it punches way above its weight class with features like its high SPL capabilities, extended dynamic range, and super low self-noise of just 5 dBA. 

If you’re on a super tight budget and have a bunch of equipment to buy, feel free to save up a couple of hundred dollars with this mic

Final thoughts on affordable vocal mics

A vocal mic is your window to be heard as a singer, whether you’re operating from your bedroom or a professional studio. That’s why it’s a purchase decision that deserves in-depth research and thought, and I’m happy that you’ve read this article all the way to the end. As portrayed in this list, there’s no be-all-end-all mic that’s ideal for everyone — no matter how big or small your budget may be. 

The “perfect mic” for you depends on your vocal style, genre, and preferences, and even with a $500, you’ve got plenty of promising options to choose from. I hope this article helps you in that hunt, and wish you all the best for the journey ahead! 


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