Ten Most Talked About Condenser Microphones - 2017

Condenser microphones are frequently a first choice for recording acoustic instruments and vocals - so they are usually a top purchasing priority for many engineers. It’s no wonder we talk so much about them here as most studios own at least one. Here we present the ten most popular condenser microphones of 2017 on the Gearslutz forums.


 VMS (Virtual Microphone System)

Slate Digital VMS (Virtual Microphone System)

Slate Digital’s ambitions have reached far beyond software, with the company taking on hardware development too by developing control surfaces, audio interfaces and now microphones with the VMS - Virtual Microphone System - a product that merges both the software and hardware worlds to recreate the sound of various classic studio microphones. It does so by deploying a very special recording chain comprised of a super transparent preamp, equally neutral condenser microphones and a plug-in on your DAW to shape the sound. There are currently eight mic models available, including venerated Neumann, Telefunken and AKG mics from yesteryear. It’s definitely a provocative proposition and a bold statement from the company and it’s quite easy to understand why the VMS was one of Gearslutz’ most active topics of conversation over the past year.



 U 47

Neumann U 47

People can’t seem to get enough of the Neumann U47 - it’s arguably the most revered large-diaphragm tube microphone ever made and its immense track record speaks for itself. The everlasting popularity of this studio classic is rivalled only by a handful of other products in our industry and if it weren’t for the disruption caused by the VMS, the U47 would probably grab the number one spot on this list! Needless to say, it’s an uber-expensive mic - they’ve been out of production since 1965 and it’s estimated that there are only a few thousand of them in existence, making it a luxury piece that attracts not only working engineers and world-class recording studios, but also collectors - with auction prices reaching considerable heights.



 C12

AKG C12

Along with the U47 the C 12 is also a microphone that remains among the most loved pieces of gear of all time, and with good reason. Originally introduced in 1953 and discontinued roughly a decade later, the C 12 set the standard for many LDC mics to follow and the original AKG capsule is still considered to be one of the best designs of all time. It’s not only great sounding but also extremely versatile thanks to nine polar patterns. Its enduring success is a testimony of its superb quality and it’s definitely in most people’s “microphone hall of fame”, so we’re not surprised it’s made the list.



 P-12

Peluso Microphones P-12

Following in the C 12’s footsteps is the Peluso P-12, a microphone that is designed to closely follow the legendary 1950s design while also making it somewhat affordable and thus more accessible. The P-12’s components and circuits are matched as closely as possible to the originals, enabling it to deliver all nine polar patterns and, more importantly, the unique sound character that made the C 12 so popular. Peluso’s work on this classy tube microphone has been lauded as some of the best in the business, and it’s safe to say that the P-12 stands as one of this community’s favourites of the current crop of mics available new today.



 CM3

Line Audio CM3

Line Audio’s CM3 is constantly talked about on Gearslutz when the topic is “small condensers that deliver great takes without breaking the bank.” This nifty little mic delivers a big sound with a minuscule footprint that is only just bigger than a XLR plug. The small size enables it to be easily placed almost anywhere you need, making it a natural candidate for drum toms or anywhere that doesn’t allow for full-sized mics but still needs a condenser. The price tag is almost as small as the CM3 itself and unquestionably makes it a very appealing option when funds are slim.



 WA-87

Warm Audio WA-87

Warm Audio has made a significant impact on our industry over the past few years, with interesting products that make their versions of classic analog designs affordable to the masses. The WA87 is their first foray into the microphone sector, and following the company ethos it brings one of the most coveted large-diaphragm FET condensers of all time bang up to date without burning a hole in our wallets. Needless to say that its mere existence was more than enough to spark conversation and ignite debate about how close it gets to the original mic - all in the best Gearslutz traditions!



 REDD Microphone

Chandler Ltd REDD Microphone

Chandler Limited caught the recording universe by surprise when in November 2016 they announced the REDD large-diaphragm condenser microphone. This imposing microphone not only pays homage to the classic EMI/Abbey Road gear of the past but it also advances the game by incorporating Chandler’s own REDD.47 tube preamp inside the mic body itself - yes, that’s right, there’s a premium preamp inside it so you can use it with or without an external mic pre. As expected everything about the REDD screams quality of the highest degree and the forum chatter shows all the signs that Chandler has a classic in the making.



 NT1

Rode NT1

The Rode NT1 is easily one of the most recognizable names when it comes to budget large-diaphragm condensers. Although discontinued for a while, its enduring popularity led Rode to bring it back into production in 2014. For many the NT1 (and its sibling, the NT1-A) represented a viable entry into the world of microphones, providing an opportunity for everybody to own a professional large-diaphragm condenser thanks to a very affordable price. Some may argue that it might not be on par with other (usually much more expensive) offerings out there, but nevertheless it’s a capable microphone that can tackle many situations and most importantly, it allows for those on modest budgets to get started in the recording craft.



 C-800G

Sony C-800G

A studio staple since its introduction, the Sony C-800G is a tube microphone based on a revered Neumann capsule wrapped around a cutting-edge design that spares no expense. Sony’s goal was to create a “definitive vocal microphone”, combining the best components with the best available technology and design to deliver nothing but the most accurate representation of the sound source with near-zero distortion. It seems like they have successfully met that goal, as the C-800G is widely used and by now you probably heard many, many songs that were recorded with this mic.



 M 49

Neumann M 49

The second Neumann microphone on our list may not be as popular to the wider public as the “U” series, but it’s an equally great sounding tool and of great historical importance as well. As the name hints, the M 49 was initially designed in 1949 (to be introduced for sale in 1952), and it debuted a very useful feature that allowed engineers to change the polar pattern remotely by turning a dial located on the power supply. It extended the two polar patterns found on the U47 (cardioid/omni) with an extra bidirectional pickup pattern option and it also presented a new grille design to attenuate unwanted resonances. As with other Neumann mics from that era it won’t be easy to find or own a M 49, their production runs were not numerous and it was discontinued in 1974, but fortunately it might not be as expensive as some of the other more “household” names… which doesn’t mean it’s not expensive!


There’s the list! Interestingly enough, small-diaphragm condensers were mostly absent, with only the single lonely entry. The competition was particularly tight on the bottom half of our list, so honourable mentions/shout outs go to the Telefunken CU-29 Copperhead, Violet Designs Amethyst Vintage and Wunder Audio CM7 - all of which should be on your shopping list as well.

How was 2017 for you when it comes to condenser mics? Are you happy with what you have? Looking forward to adding more options to your locker? What are you expecting for 2018? Please let us know below!