Top Ten Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones under $1000

We asked our community to name their favourite mics under $1000 and now we can present the ten most recommended - from least to most expensive:

(Reference currency is USD. The order below may change depending on location and availability.)


CAD Audio E100S

CAD Audio E100S

This is a unique microphone with an eccentric look that also has quite a few tricks up its sleeve. The E100S is a supercardioid with a nearly flat frequency response - from 40Hz up to 5kHz where it picks up a few dBs, rolling off past 10kHz until topping out at 18kHz. The E100S’s tone is often described as very smooth and the tight polar pattern will help when isolation from surrounding noise is required or if you’re recording with less than ideal acoustics. It exhibits very low self-noise, which (according to CAD) is the lowest in its class thanks to a proprietary transformer-based circuit developed specifically for it. The E100S also features a high-pass filter at 80Hz and a -10dB attenuation pad. All in all it's a cost-conscious but high quality microphone that will deliver great recordings without ruining your finances. It ships with a wooden storage case and mounting clip. Read our user reviews.



Shure KSM32

Shure KSM32

Shure microphones are almost as ubiquitous as cables in most studios and the KSM32 is one of their finest creations. This cardioid mic delivers a very transparent sound, featuring a Class-A transformerless signal path, a mylar diaphragm and a reinforced protection grille to reduce 'popping' when recording vocals. The frequency response is mostly flat from to 20Hz to 20kHz, with some presence peaks around 6-9kHz and it can take on loud sources too - up to 148 dB SPL. This mic features a clean front side, placing the controls at the back, including a -15dB gain pad and a selectable bass roll-off (with 6dB/oct below 115 Hz and 18dB/octave at 80 Hz). The KSM is the second most affordable microphone on our list, it provides an excellent "bang for the buck" and it also has the great reliability that Shure is known for. Available in “Champagne” finish (as shown) that ships with a carry case, shockmount and velour bag or in “Charcoal Gray” which ships with a carrying case and swivel mounting clip. Read our user reviews.



Stellar Professional Microphones CM-6

Stellar Professional Microphones CM-6

An elegant tube microphone that borrows influences from some of the most successful mics of all time, such as the AKG C12 and Neumann U47, but adds its own 'twists' after meticulous research done by Stellar’s founder, Peter Block. This a very versatile microphone that offers omnidirectional, cardioid, figure-of-8 and six intermediate polar pattern choices to cover pretty much any application. The selection of polar patterns is not located on the mic itself but instead on the preamplifier, which enables convenient remote adjustments. The CM-6 is equipped with an output transformer, a TungSol tube on the preamplifier and delivers a very rich tone that is highly appreciated by our community. The mic ships with a shockmount, foam windscreen, a 30 foot power supply/mic link cable and an aluminium carrying case. Read our user reviews.



Audio-Technica AT4047/SV

Audio-Technica AT4047/SV

The AT4047/SV pays homage to classic FET designs of yesterday, combining the sonics of the past with the best of current-day technology for great accuracy and reliability. This is a warm sounding cardioid with a frequency response of 20Hz-18kHz and can take up to 158 dB maximum SPL. It also has a -15db attenuation pad and a 12db/octave low cut filter at 80Hz. If stretching your budget is possible and/or more versatility is desired Audio-Technica offers the “4047 MP” version, which adds omnidirectional and figure-8 pickup patterns, considerably extending the possibilities of this excellent microphone. No matter which version you decide on, the 4047 SV and MP are both very worthy additions to any microphone closet. The 4047 ships with a shockmount, velour bag and a carrying case. Read our user reviews.



Neumann TLM 102 - Nickel

Neumann TLM 102 - Nickel

It’s hard to put the words “affordable” and “Neumann” in the same sentence and the TLM102 is the closest we can get to that - it’s the least expensive of their LDC offerings but not a lesser one by any means and is actually one the most frequently recommended microphones on our list. This is a very straightforward, no-frills cardioid mic with no switches or controls. The 20Hz-20kHz frequency response has some peaks around the 8-12kHz area and is capable of handling up to 144 dB SPL. 'TLM' stands for 'TransformerLess Microphone' and the electronics within the slick body favour a wide-open, transparent sound with very low noise and distortion. Available in Black and Nickel (featured) finishes and ships with a swivel mount clip. Read our user reviews.



Lewitt LCT 640

Lewitt LCT 640

A gorgeous looking microphone with a tremendous sound quality and a big feature set from the rising Austrian brand Lewitt. On the outside the LCT 640 presents a rugged metal construction, with a distinctive hexagonal metal grille, a gold-plated corrosion-free XLR connector and an illuminated front panel that provides access to polar pattern selection (cardioid, 'broad cardioid', supercardioid, omni, figure-of-8) and a gain attenuation pad (-6/-12/-18dB). On the inside, Lewitt packs a transformerless design with a wide sound from 20Hz to 20kHz, excellent transient response, super low self-noise and a maximum SPL up to 163 dB (with pad). This is one of Lewitt’s upper mid-tier condensers and this comes at a cost compared to their entry-level models, but if you’re willing to step up it's a very worthy investment. Lewitt also offers a tube version of this microphone and there are lower cost models (LCTs 550, 450 and 240), so make sure to check them out. Read our user reviews of the LCT 550 and of the LCT 240.



Mojave Audio MA-301fet

Mojave Audio MA-301fet

One of the most successful and widely praised brands in this community, Mojave was founded by the ribbon mic wizard David Royer (of Royer Labs fame) and some of his colleagues to develop fine condenser mics outside of Royer. The MA-301 is a multi pattern (cardioid, omni, fig.8) mic with a hand-selected capsule, a high-quality Jensen transformer and custom electronics for great accuracy with very low self-noise. Besides the polar pattern switch the MA-301fet features a low cut switch that rolls off below 80 Hz with a 6dB/octave slope and a -15dB gain attenuation pad. Mojave mics are found in many GS "recommendation" threads over the years and the MA-301fet is a safe choice that will undoubtedly improve your recordings. The MA-301fet lies near the top of Mojave’s microphone lineup, so if your budget is tighter but you still want "access to the club" there’s the slightly less expensive single-pattern MA-201fet, which will also deliver excellent results. Ships with carrying case and shockmount. Read our user reviews.



Slate Digital VMS (Virtual Microphone System)

Slate Digital VMS (Virtual Microphone System)

Slate Digital stormed the world of plugins with awesome emulations of classic gear and now they’re about to do the same in the microphone department. The VMS - Virtual Microphone System - is comprised of the ML-1 LDC and the VMS-ONE. The first is a microphone with high definition and ultra-linear frequency response and the latter is a preamp that’s made to be as clean as possible, not adding any colouration to the sound. The "sonic transformation" happens after the recording is done when it’s processed with the VMS Module plugin, which brings emulations of glorious microphones and preamps to your DAW. Slate currently offers three virtual microphones and two virtual preamps but that number will keep growing as more options are released. Many have attempted to model mics and preamps with software but Slate has gone far beyond that, with a holistic approach that considers the whole signal chain to arrive at the desired result. With such an ambitious proposal the VSM is definitely something to watch and consider for your recording setup. Ships with a carrying case, shockmount and power supply. Read our user reviews.



AKG C414 XLS

AKG C414 XLS

A popular product in many “recommend me a mic” threads and a popular choice in recording studios since the 1970s, the C414 currently comes in two flavours: The XLII model evokes the legendary C12 microphone and features a spacious sound with a top-end boost, while the XLS (featured) continues the lineage of the classic C414 B-ULS in all its neutral sounding glory. Both of these large-diaphragm condensers feature nine polar patterns (omni, cardioid, wide cardioid, hypercardioid, figure-of-8 and four intermediates), three gain attenuation choices (-6/-12/-18 dB) and three options for cutting low frequencies at 40, 80 and 160 Hz. Both the XLS and B-ULS are excellent choices (and industry standards) for any recording setup. Ships with shockmount, pop filter, foam windscreen, velour bag and carrying case. Read our user reviews.



Microtech Gefell M 930

Microtech Gefell M 930

Microtech Gefell was founded by Georg Neumann and makes microphones that are just as good as one would expect from such a revered figure. The M930 is a cardioid mic with a wide dynamic range (up to 135dB maximum SPL) and features very low self-noise and distortion. The M930 delivers a very detailed sound, with frequency response going from 40Hz to 18kHz and presenting a subtle presence boost around 7-11kHz. This microphone gets a lot of rightfully-deserved love from our users and will perform on the highest level without requiring mega-bucks to get it. The mic is available in satin nickel (featured) and dark bronze finishes. Ships with a mounting clip and a wooden storage case.


What under-$1k mics are you using? Planning to upgrade your recording rig with any of the microphones we mentioned? Please share your thoughts!