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The Press Desk 11th October 2019 12:16 AM

Best Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphones
 
Studio condenser microphones are a crucial element of modern recording chains, and to help pare down a seemingly infinite number of available options we have deep-dived the GS chatter and gathered ten of the best large-diaphragm condensers (or LDCs for short) that are available right now so you can skip straight to pressing that REC button and grabbing some superb takes. Mics presented in alphabetical order:

 REDD Microphone

Chandler Limited REDD Microphone

Chandler Limited kicks off our list with the REDD microphone, an exquisite tube condenser with switchable cardioid/omni patterns that not only comes with the aura of an EMI/Abbey Road pedigree but combines circuitry from the REDD.47 preamplifier with a carefully-crafted handmade custom capsule to offer a groundbreaking piece of engineering. This means that the REDD microphone can be used with or without an external “regular” mic preamp, and with its amazing design and rich sound it is entirely possible that your favourite mic pre will just have to sit out for recordings made with this one!



 M 149 Tube

Neumann M 149 Tube

One of the classic names in microphone design & manufacture - Neumann - unsurprisingly appears several times on this list! Their first entry is the M149, a tube condenser microphone that is the modern incarnation of the venerable M49. As with its predecessor, the M149 has a wide & dedicated audience thanks to its superbly transparent sound quality, which for many is simply unparalleled, and also due to its ultra-flexibility with an impressive nine polar patterns, offering cardioid variations, omni and figure-8 for versatility. When Neumann themselves label a mic as “high-end” we are bound to take it seriously - if your bank account allows it there isn't much to argue against here.



 U 67 Collector's Edition

Neumann U 67 Collector's Edition

Neumann revives one of its most successful mics ever with the U67 Collectors Edition, bringing back the highly desired tube LDC present on so many of our favourite records. Despite a sea of available clones and "inspired-bys", according to Neumann this is the de facto reissue, built exactly as it was back in the 1960s following the original specifications & schematics, so look no further if you are after the rich sound of this glorious mic. It goes without saying that this level of quality does not come cheap so have your gold card at the ready, but it is certainly an easier path to sonic nirvana than chasing down vintage units and having to deal with all their associated maintenance burdens.



 U 87 Ai

Neumann U 87 Ai

For many engineers in our community the U47-U67-U87 is the holy trinity when it comes to Neumann microphones, and the U87 might just be the most ubiquitous of the three. This is the U87 Ai - largely based on the insanely popular U67 and U87, this is essentially a contemporary version of those classic mics and realised with the same design principles to truly honour its heritage, with three polar patterns (omni, cardioid, bi-directional/figure-8) and a signature sound quality present on countless hit records from past to present. It’s also the most affordable of our Neumann trio, which doesn’t mean it can be called an affordable mic but it is certainly worth every penny, and is happily found as a workhorse in music and voiceover studios the world over.



 P-12

Peluso Microphones P-12

The Peluso P12 is based on one of the most coveted tube microphones of all times - the AKG C12 - which (according to many in our community) is the Holy Grail when it comes to large diaphragm condensers. The P12 not only replicates the looks of the revered Austrian classic but more importantly it closely follows the sound characteristics with a careful selection of components that revives the character of that vintage mic in all its glory. Best of all, it does so without the often insanely high and mostly prohibitive price tags usually associated with mics of this calibre.



 KSM32

Shure KSM32

A Top-10 microphones list without a Shure mic would be the audio equivalent of committing heresy, and as far as large-diaphragm condensers go the KSM32 is certainly a safe bet. This detailed-sounding cardioid mic is a community favourite for many reasons, shining on many applications and importantly, doing so without shredding one's hard-earned finances, making it a great choice for the budget-conscious engineer looking for a workhorse type of microphone that provides a lot of bang for the bucks.





 C-800G

Sony C-800G

As of late, Sony, the Japanese electronics behemoth known for its immense range of consumer AV products, hasn’t been associated much with pro audio or with studio recording microphones in general, yet their C-800G is arguably one of the most successful condenser mics of all time. Known for its clean and up-front sound, this is a go-to microphone for vocals with many award-winning records from hundreds of chart-topping artists under its belt. This mic is one of the most beloved studio products of all time across all our forums so it easily earns a spot on our list.



 U195

Soundelux U195

Designed by microphone guru David Bock, the Soundelux USA U195 is a hand-made large diaphragm FET condenser microphone that delivers top-notch sonics with huge versatility at a price point that won’t scare the budget-conscious Gearslut away. Aimed at those looking for a one-stop solution for all condenser needs, the U195 is capable of seamlessly tackling any recording job with ease, without sacrificing quality and definitely worthy of Bock's reputation.



 WA-47

Warm Audio WA-47

Budget favourite Warm Audio wraps up our list with the WA-47, the brand’s take on the - you guessed it - the legendary U47. The WA-47 is inspired by two “benchmark” U47 examples with subtle sound differences, and Warm Audio’s approach was to capture the common essence that made the 47 one of the most iconic tube condenser mics ever produced - and they put it all together with 21st-century components and manufacturing technology. As one might expect, the WA-47 comes with the highly inviting Warm Audio price tag, so there is no reason not to try it.


That's the list, and since there's no shortage of awesome LDCs out there we unfortunately had no choice but to leave some excellent mics out, so we would like to give a shout to Mojave Audio, 3U Audio, Stam Audio and AKG, all of which have microphones that are widely praised on our forums - and we are sure that there's more, so please tell us which LDCs you'd recommend below...

For more on microphones, visit our So Much Gear, So Little Time forum, and if your pockets are deep enough make sure to have a look at our High End section for discussion on the top-ticket stuff!

andersmv 1st November 2019 04:01 AM

Ok, I have to be "that guy". Sorry in advance... These lists are getting weird. Not at all surprised by some choices like the U87 and C800, but then things are all over the place. First off, why is the KSM32 on the list instead of the 44? I'm not even sure you can "technically" call the 32 a large cap as the capsule is closer in size to a small cap. If you're going to put a Shure on the list, I would have thought the 44 was the "sure" bet.

If you're going to put choices like the U67 on there, why are we also putting a Peluso and Warm clone for the C12/U47 choices? What was the criteria again for this list??? Are we only going for "currently available" offerings? In that case, Telefunken (even though it's not the same company that originally distributed the Neumanns) makes both those models now. Again, I just can't make heads or tails of these lists that have started popping up. Are companies paying to be on these? Are you just listing microphones based off of currently trending buzz words on the forums? What's the purpose of this new "Best Studio Gear" sub forum? Who's in charge of putting these together? I noticed Zen Pro Audio is sponsoring the sub and currently carries all the microphones listed aside from the C-800G (Which I don't think Sony even makes anymore).

Am I being the cranky conspiracy theory guy, do these lists just seem weird and cobbled together?

bill5 1st November 2019 04:46 AM

I thought it was somewhat...curious...but I'm not the mic expert many others here are, I just don't have as much experience with so many diff mics, esp those top-end ones. I did think it was very dicey to put the WA-47 on here. A fine mic I'm sure, but though I've never used, I'd bet a week's pay there are many other better mics, given price is not a consideration on this list. Oh well I'm at least glad the list was updated, though not dating the damn thing was sneaky kfhkh

Shannon Adkins 30th November 2019 04:29 PM

Yes... Before putting the WA47 on there, I'd look at other tube mics in that general price range. The Vanguard V13, Telefunken Copperhead, and Mojave MA200 are (in my opinion) all superior.

dickiefunk 30th November 2019 04:40 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Shannon Adkins (Post 14354565)
Yes... Before putting the WA47 on there, I'd look at other tube mics in that general price range. The Vanguard V13, Telefunken Copperhead, and Mojave MA200 are (in my opinion) all superior.

Agreed! I'm loving the Vanguard V13 kfhkh

David Rick 30th November 2019 05:17 PM

One of these things is not like the others. One of these things just doesn't belong!

VOMike 30th November 2019 08:01 PM

Akg c414??

Shannon Adkins 30th November 2019 08:54 PM

The WA47 is not a bad mic at all. I actually quite like it. But I also feel there are mics within the price point (if that's what they were going for) that do objectively outperform it).

Papanate 30th November 2019 09:14 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by andersmv (Post 14297171)
Am I being the cranky conspiracy theory guy, do these lists just seem weird and cobbled together?


to my view you aren't being cranky - The lists appears to cover a large swath of budgets and not just the topper most of the popper most.

ScottTunes 2nd December 2019 05:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Papanate (Post 14355121)
"the topper most of the popper most."

Nice! An early Lennon quote!!! kfhkh cooge

Bluesmaker 2nd December 2019 06:31 PM

No Lewitt? But a Warm Audio?!

MikeInOttawa 3rd December 2019 12:29 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Bluesmaker (Post 14358778)
No Lewitt? But a Warm Audio?!

No Gefell either. The WA47 threw me for a loop.

stevep 6th December 2019 12:16 PM

I wonder how they make these lists... Why no Pearlman TM1 ? TM47 ? Church ?

And the WA47 made the cut before the Pearlmans ? really ? :lol:

jblaisdell 10th December 2019 02:18 PM

Roswell Delphos II is far and above the Warm

CSField 16th December 2019 04:06 AM

No Milab ?? The New Sony C100 is a fantastic mic?

VOMike 16th December 2019 10:31 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CSField (Post 14386784)
The New Sony C100 is a fantastic mic?

I thought so! But I couldn't live with the slight hiss that came with it, unfortunately...

CSField 16th December 2019 10:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VOMike (Post 14388369)
I thought so! But I couldn't live with the slight hiss that came with it, unfortunately...

I have not noticed any hiss in mine ? That’s unusual I believe . I recently tracked a jazz album at 384khz ... vocals on the C100.. all clean as a bell

VOMike 17th December 2019 08:25 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CSField (Post 14388407)
I have not noticed any hiss in mine ? That’s unusual I believe . I recently tracked a jazz album at 384khz ... vocals on the C100.. all clean as a bell

Ah I see. Well, in my case it's VO, so often solo spoken word with quite some compression.

The sonics of the C100 are excellent, though! Truely modern.

Speaking of "modern": No Brauner mic on this list?!

CSField 17th December 2019 12:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by VOMike (Post 14389147)
Ah I see. Well, in my case it's VO, so often solo spoken word with quite some compression.

The sonics of the C100 are excellent, though! Truely modern.

Speaking of "modern": No Brauner mic on this list?!

I love the Brauner mic's , they are remarkable and recently a friend of mine bought the top of the line Soyuz valve microphone and its sensational ....

Nordic Audio ...?

southsidemusic 29th January 2020 07:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RxbSynth (Post 14491686)
Just bought the CV-12 BLA !! Check out my YouTube channel if you want to see it in more in depth !!

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvU...GYzkynOyjERusw

Wow! Studio tour eyy? Home bedroom setup = reality!

DistortingJack 5th February 2020 04:09 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by andersmv (Post 14297171)
Ok, I have to be "that guy". Sorry in advance... These lists are getting weird. Not at all surprised by some choices like the U87 and C800, but then things are all over the place. First off, why is the KSM32 on the list instead of the 44? I'm not even sure you can "technically" call the 32 a large cap as the capsule is closer in size to a small cap. If you're going to put a Shure on the list, I would have thought the 44 was the "sure" bet.

Even though you're correct about the KSM32 having a smaller diaphragm than would be considered standard, people do seem to like it more on average than the 44. The 44 is cleaner and has lower self-noise, but has a couple of frequency response lower treble humps that I need to tame every time I use it. The KSM32 is pretty point-and-shoot and gives you a fat, warm sound, so unless you like bright sounds or are recording whispering, it's often a better choice if you just need cardioid. And of course, it's cheaper.

aTelMusic 3rd March 2020 12:08 AM

Indeed
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by andersmv (Post 14297171)
Ok, I have to be "that guy". Sorry in advance... These lists are getting weird. Not at all surprised by some choices like the U87 and C800, but then things are all over the place. First off, why is the KSM32 on the list instead of the 44? I'm not even sure you can "technically" call the 32 a large cap as the capsule is closer in size to a small cap. If you're going to put a Shure on the list, I would have thought the 44 was the "sure" bet.

If you're going to put choices like the U67 on there, why are we also putting a Peluso and Warm clone for the C12/U47 choices? What was the criteria again for this list??? Are we only going for "currently available" offerings? In that case, Telefunken (even though it's not the same company that originally distributed the Neumanns) makes both those models now. Again, I just can't make heads or tails of these lists that have started popping up. Are companies paying to be on these? Are you just listing microphones based off of currently trending buzz words on the forums? What's the purpose of this new "Best Studio Gear" sub forum? Who's in charge of putting these together? I noticed Zen Pro Audio is sponsoring the sub and currently carries all the microphones listed aside from the C-800G (Which I don't think Sony even makes anymore).

Am I being the cranky conspiracy theory guy, do these lists just seem weird and cobbled together?

No there’s nothing cranky nor conspiratorial about this it’s just downright weird and couple together I think I don’t really make any sense at this list this is the list of the best condenser microphones ever? As in all of the time there’s a warm audio microphone on there - uhhh yeah.. ok *Backs out of thread slowly

McNewlove 2nd April 2020 08:27 PM

the vstam audio staff are in same league as the neumanns. but the list is about most discussed right?

McNewlove 2nd April 2020 08:27 PM

the stam audio staff are in same league as the neumanns. but the list is about most discussed right?

JoeyM 2nd April 2020 08:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by MikeInOttawa (Post 14359500)
No Gefell either. The WA47 threw me for a loop.

Gefell is more Neumann than Neumann! They're like Rupert Neve in that regard.

waldie wave 3rd April 2020 09:39 AM

Where is the Manley Silver on the list?

LuisV 3rd April 2020 11:45 AM

I'm shocked there is no C12 or 251 to speak of. That's weird to me. It has like 3 of the "Big 5" on there. I see why an M49 wasn't put there because those are damn near impossible to find and they're crazy expensive, but to exclude the 251, even if it's the USA version, AND the C12, is odd to me.

andersmv 3rd April 2020 04:12 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by LuisV (Post 14630829)
I'm shocked there is no C12 or 251 to speak of. That's weird to me. It has like 3 of the "Big 5" on there. I see why an M49 wasn't put there because those are damn near impossible to find and they're crazy expensive, but to exclude the 251, even if it's the USA version, AND the C12, is odd to me.

Don’t worry, the Peluso P-12 is on the list....

oceantracks 3rd April 2020 07:52 PM

U-195 on the list, but not the U99, that's insane ;)

OldEngineer 11th May 2020 11:46 PM

The subjective assessments in reference to what "should" be on this list are quite amusing considering many reply's are "Well I've never actually used X,Y, or Z". The mics that were selected are of the highest quality and have proven extremely reliable. These mics are very much the Go-To mics for a professional engineers who work day in and day out recording everything you could imagine. We quickly learn what works and sounds good on a wide range of applications and we learn quickly what mics don't fail when we plug them in. I understand many on this forum are part time musicians and engineers, for lack of a better expression, so real world application is somewhat theoretical to you. I do fear I sound awfully condescending by saying that, but I'm trying to give a perspective you may not have. We can all think of our favorite mics that aren't on this list, but I'd use anyone of these with great enthusiasm. I certainly agree with whomever mentioned Manley as a most worthy microphone. One of the absolute best modern day creations.

BTW, if you have not actually put the WA47 through it's paces, you really owe it to yourself to do so. It's outstanding...very outstanding regardless of price.