8 Best Cheap Microphones with Good Audio Quality

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This buyer’s tutorial and review guide look at 8 of the best cheap microphones. These products have come a long way in recent years with better technology and lower prices. You don’t need to spend a stack of money to get a decent quality mic either. Read this short introduction if you need help to make well-informed buying decisions. Jump straight to the reviews if you don’t.

Budget
best-budget-cheap-microphone
Fifine USB Condenser Podcast Mic
4.5/5.0
Mic Weight: 19.2 ounces
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Stylish design, clear audio, tripod stand, volume control, portable.
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Best Value
best-value-cheap-microphone
AmazonBasics Mini Mic
4.7/5.0
Mic Weight: 9.6 ounces
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Decent size, tripod stand, built-in mount, broad usage, mute button.
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Top Pick
top-value-cheap-microphone
Rode NT1-A Anniversary Mic
4.8/5.0
Mic Weight: 73.6 ounces
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
All-metal build, XLR cable, soft pouch, superb sound, broad use.
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Cheap Mic Buying Considerations

First, make sure you know what you want the mic for—specifically. Also, think about what you may want to use it for in the future. Below are some typical applications for external microphones:

  • Solo stage use (speech & vocals)
  • Record duets, groups, or events
  • Record interviews
  • Amplify musical instruments
  • Movie production
  • Vlogging
  • Podcasting
  • YouTube video
  • Radio presentation
  • Speech recognition
  • VOIP

Another thought is how you intend to use the mic. Do you expect to hold it, place it on a desktop, mount it on a stand, or wear it? The latter is typically the lavalier type that clips onto clothing. Some mics are made for stands and boom arms, whereas others are purpose handheld models.

Mic Specs You Should Know

Don’t worry—this isn’t a technical guide, but there are 4 basic specs to understand:

  1. Impedance
  2. Sensitivity
  3. Frequency response
  4. Polar patterns

OK, let’s go over each of these tech specs in a little more detail.






Summing Up

The best way to learn about what makes or breaks a mic is to start working with them. Cheap microphones are the perfect place to start. That’s when the specs, sound quality, and usability begin to make more sense. For now, make a note of what you want the mic for. Then, go through the reviews to see what products check enough of your boxes. Be sure to read user feedback for added guidance.

About My ‘Best Cheap Microphone’ Guide

The 8 mic reviews below are the result of personal analysis. I also read the opinions of industry experts and real user remarks before finalizing the list. The first three are Editor’s choice for the Best Budget mic, Best Value, and then the Top Pick. The ones below those are by price order, lowest to high.

Cheap Microphones Comparison Table

1. Fifine USB Condenser Podcast Mic | Best Budget

Fifine USB Condenser Podcast MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

The Best Budget choice goes to the Fifine USB condenser podcaster mic with a cardioid pickup pattern. It’s a popular first-time product for those who want something superior to built-in mics.

  • Best feature 1: USB plug-n-play simplicity (no drivers needed)
  • Best feature 2: Sturdy, metal construction
  • Plus points: Stylish design, clear audio, tripod stand, volume control, portable, affordable
  • Minus points: Fixed USB cable, picks up ambient sound, no storage case

Fifine K669 USB Podcast Mic Highlights

Mic compatibility: Windows PC, Win Vista, Win XP, Win 10, and Mac computers.

The first thing to notice about the Fifine desktop podcast mic is its sturdy all-metal build. The metal tripod stand is also well-built though a little restricted due to its size. It’s also a good-looking product which is always a bonus. Setting up is painless and requires nothing more than plugging the mic into a compatible USB port. That’s it—no drivers or configuration to worry about.

The sound quality is outstanding considering its price, and maybe the best in its class. It’s a vast improvement on the thin sound of built-in mics. The volume knob is a welcome feature that produces the best audio around its middle setting. I found the max volume tends to get a tad muffled. Consider the Fifine K669 if you want a decent quality mic at or under the 30 dollar price range.

The Not So Good

The 6ft USB cable is high-quality but fixed to the mic, and that’s inconvenient. You must replace the mic if the cord gets damaged. It’s also on the short side for use with a stand, so may need a USB extension. The mic has a cardioid pickup pattern but still picks up ambient sound. A free audio editor like Audacity should fix that. A minor gripe is that there’s no storage case included.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Fifine
Mic Type: Desktop condenser
Connection: USB
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Power Supply: Plug-in device
Frequency Response: 20 Hz-20 kHz
Equivalent Noise level: 16 dB
Max SPL: 130 dB
Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5 x 2.5”
Product Weight: 19.2 oz.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
USB plug-n-play simplicity
Sturdy, all-metal construction
Stylish design
Clear audio
Robust tripod stand
Volume control
Portable
Affordable
The Cons
Fixed (built-in) USB cable
Cable too short for mic stands
Picks up ambient sound
No storage case

2. AmazonBasics Mini Desktop Mic | Best Value

AmazonBasics Mini Desktop MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

Meet the AmazonBasics—a mini desktop condenser microphone and our Best Value pick. It has a cardioid (unidirectional) polar pattern that helps to reduce unwanted background noise.

  • Best feature 1: Clean, quality audio
  • Best feature 2: Plug-n-play simplicity
  • Plus points: Decent size, tripod stand, built-in mount, broad usage, mute button
  • Minus points: Cheap stand, plastic body, sensitive to plosives

AmazonBasics Mini Mic Highlights

Mic Compatibility: Windows OS 10, 8.1, 8, 7, Win Vista, Win XP, Mac OS, and Linux OS.

The AmazonBasics mini desktop mic is a decent entry-level choice with an attractive design. It’s sure to blow you away if you’ve only been used to built-in mics. The audio quality is clean and natural, even as far away as 2ft. It improves further as you get closer and cuts down on ambient noise.

The included 3-legged lightweight desktop stand is okay-ish but restricted. This mini mic is perfect for a whole variety of recording projects. It’s an excellent first model for vocals, amateur filmmaking, and podcasts. And it guarantees to lift the quality of your voice for applications like Skype, YouTube, Twitch, and FaceTime, etc. Another welcome feature is the convenient mute button.

The Not So Good

The stand serves a purpose, but it’s cheap and lightweight. It also has restricted movement so an adjustable desktop stand would be a wise investment. The mic performs well, but it too is plasticky and has an economy feel to it. Another negative is its sensitivity to plosives, i.e., t, k, p, d, g, and b sounds. That means it needs a pop filter which adds a few more dollars to the price.

Despite its few flaws, the Amazon Basics Mini Desktop Mic still offers excellent value.

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Tech Specs
Brand: AmazonBasics
Mic Type: Desktop Condenser
Connection: USB
Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
Power Supply: Plug-in device
Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 4.5 x 3”
Product Weight: 9.6 oz.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
Clean, quality audio
Plug-n-play simplicity
Decent size
Includes a tripod stand
Built-in mount
Broad usage
Mute button
Value for money
The Cons
Cheap, lightweight stand
Plastic body
Sensitive to plosives

3. Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Mic | Top Pick

Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

The Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Mic Set gets the Top Pick slot. It’s not what you’d call cheap, but it is inexpensive for a high-quality XLR mic with a 1-inch cardioid condenser.

  • Best feature 1: XLR condenser microphone
  • Best feature 2: Metal shock mount with integrated pop shield
  • Plus points: All-metal build, XLR cable, soft pouch, superb sound, broad use
  • Minus points: Needs audio interface and preamp

Rode NT1-A Anniversary Mic Highlights

This is a perfect next-step mic for anyone who wants to move away from entry-level products. The NT1-A has a pleasant tone and works flawlessly with vocals, guitar cabinets, and acoustics. Other highlights are the solid, all-metal build and the metal shock mount with an integrated pop shield. Extras include an XLR cable (many mics don’t include cords), and a soft, dust-protective pouch.

So, what’s the difference between the Rode NT1000 and this NT1-A? Well, the NT1000 costs about 100 dollars more. Some vocalists may find it more appealing as it’s not as bright. Sound is also subjective, though. But the Rode NT1000 seems to have the edge with electric and acoustic guitars, and keyboards. Again, it’s personal preference, and different instruments also have unique characteristics.

My advice? Go with the NT1-A if you like the sound produced by both mics.

The Not So Good

This is not a plug-n-play microphone, and it requires phantom power to function. You need to invest in an audio interface and a preamp if you don’t already have them. It’s an exceptional product, but there is a learning curve for anyone moving up from computer-compatible USB mics.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Rode
Mic Type: Cardioid condenser
Connection: XLR
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Power Supply: Phantom 48V
Acoustic Principle: Pressure gradient
Maximum SPL: 137 dB
Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
Maximum Output Level: 13.7mV
Package Dimensions: 7.48 x 1.96 x 1.96”
Product Weight: 73.6 oz.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
XLR condenser microphone
Shock mount w/ pop shield
All-metal build
Superb sound
XLR cable included
Soft protective dust pouch
Broad use, i.e., vocals and instruments
The Cons
Needs audio interface and preamp
Learning curve for novice users

4. NASUM Plug and Play, Computer Microphone

NASUM Plug and Play, Computer MicrophoneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

This mini-sized condenser microphone by NASUM is an affordable, desktop mic for around 20 dollars. It comes with a mini tripod stand and a couple of extra accessories (see below).

  • Best feature 1: Small, portable, and durable
  • Best feature 2: Dual-layer filter
  • Plus points: Plug-n-play, clear sound, broad compatibility, windshield, desktop stand
  • Minus points: Small size restrictions, picks up background noise

NASUM Computer Mic Highlights

Mic Compatibility: Tablets, smartphones, Windows PC 7/8/10/Vista/XP Home/XP Pro/Linux OS, and Mac OS. Note that MacBook laptops need to connect via the USB external stereo sound adapter.

This desktop mic is small, easy to carry, and durable for a cheap product. It’s another easy-to-use, simple-to-set up plug-n-play mic that users a 3.5mm cable. There’s also an adjustable desktop tripod stand in the box with a 270° tilt angle. And the included windshield helps to protect the NASUM mic from air blasts, dust particles, and saliva.

The sound quality is light years ahead of mics built into computers and other devices. It even comes with a dual-layer pop filter. That helps to prevent plosives speech sounds and thus improve the audio still further. And the low noise function provides noise reduction up to an impressive 38%.

The Not So Good

This mic is smaller than the sales images portray. Its tiny build and lightweight also make it highly portable, but there are restrictions. The desktop tripod is also miniature, which means you may have to lean in to get the best results depending on your setup. That may cause back discomfort after a while. The omnidirectional pickup pattern tends to pick up unwanted noise (removable with software).

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Tech Specs
Brand: NASUM
Mic Type: Desktop condenser
Connection: 3.5mm jack
Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional
Power Supply: Plug-in device
Sample Rate: 48kHz/16bit
S/N Ratio: > 60dB
Package Dimensions: 10.2 x 4.3 x 2.8”
Package Weight: 19.2 oz.
Warranty: 30 day unconditional return
The Pros
Small, portable, and durable
Dual-layer pop filter
Windshield
Plug-n-play simplicity
Clear sound
Broad compatibility
Sturdy desktop stand
The Cons
Small size restrictions
Picks up background noise

5. ELEGIANT PC PNP Y20 Portable Condenser Mic

ELEGIANT PC PNP Y20 Portable Condenser MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.3/5

The ELEGIANT Y20 is another affordable, portable condenser microphone. It’s a 3.5mm plug & play product that works well for conference calls, instruments, online chats, and live broadcasts.

  • Best feature 1: All-in-one microphone and headphone jack
  • Best feature 2: Non-slip adjustable tripod stand
  • Plus points: Plug-n-play, foam cover, portable, clear sound, mute button, value for money
  • Minus points: Average everything

ELEGIANT PC Portable Mic Highlights

Mic Compatibility: Windows PCs, Mac, iOS, and Android devices.

This desktop mic comes with a microphone and headphone all-in-one jack. It lets you can attach the mic and a pair of headphones from the same 3.5mm audio cable. Also in the box is an adjustable desktop tripod with 360° rotation, and a foam mic cover. This microphone set is ultra-compact, versatile, and highly portable.

The sound quality is clear and much better than the tinny audio produced by built-in mics. Okay, so it’s not going to win any awards, but it’s still a decent entry-level introduction to external mics. The company advertises this PC condenser mic specifically for Facebook, MSN, and Skype chat. It’s also promoted as a singing mic, though it performs better with speech than it does vocals.

The Not So Good

ELEGIANT’s PC microphone is a decent average product, though not exceptional. The build, sound, and features are all mediocre compared to costlier products. That said, it’s a considerable improvement on built-in mics. And it will undoubtedly impress those new to external plug-n-play devices.

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Tech Specs
Brand: ELEGIANT
Mic Type: Desktop condenser
Connection: 3.5mm audio cable
Polar Pattern: Omni-directional
Power Supply: Plug-in device
Frequency Response: 50Hz–16kHz
Sensitivity: -32dB ± 2dB
Cable Length: 5.9ft
Dimensions: 8 x 4.9 x 3.4”
Package Weight: 16 oz.
The Pros
All-in-one mic/headphone jack
Non-slip tripod stand
Clear sound
Plug-n-play simplicity
Folding desktop tripod stand
Small and portable
Mute button
Value for money
The Cons
Average everything

6. THRONMAX MDRILL ZERO Condenser USB Mic

THRONMAX MDRILL ZERO Condenser USB MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.4/5

Thronmax’s Mdrill Zero is a quality plug-n-play USB desktop microphone. It has two handy recording patterns, Cardioid and Omnidirectional. The all-metal build gives the mic a pro look and quality feel.

  • Best feature 1: Solid, all-metal build
  • Best feature 2: 3.5mm jack and USB ports
  • Plus points: Plug-n-play, clear, crisp audio, two polar patterns, control knobs, bright LED
  • Minus points: Too much background noise with omnidirectional mode

THRONMAX MDRILL ZERO Mic Highlights

Mic Compatibility: Windows 10/8 (incl.8.1)/7/Windows Vista/Windows XP (Home & Professional), and Mac OS X (10.4.11 or higher).

The sound quality in directional mode is exceptional for a mic in its class. The built-in windscreen is a nice touch and does a great job at filtering voice pops. That means there’s no need for an external filter. A bright-colored LED light surrounds the central knob. The LED changes color to let you know which polar pattern is in use. Blue is directional, red is off, and green indicates omnidirectional.

You can dial the pickup patterns up or down to fine-tune recording needs, and the LED light intensity reflects that. It also looks cool, which is always a bonus. The mic’s stand is sturdy and has an anti-slip base. It’s also possible to remove the mic from its tripod if you want to use alternative support.

The Not So Good

The omnidirectional mode produces excellent results when used close to the sound source. However, background noise drowns out the voice as you move away from the mic. That kind of defeats the objective of the Omni mode. Thus, I wouldn’t endorse it to record meetings and the like. I do recommend this product for cardioid use, though.

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Tech Specs
Brand: THRONMAX
Mic Type: Desktop condenser
Connection: USB
Polar Pattern: Cardioid/Omni
Power Supply: Plug-in device
Sample Rate: 48 kHz
Bit Rate: 16 bit
Frequency Response: 20Hz–20kHz
Dimensions: 8.3 x 4.3 x 4.3”
Package Weight: 36.8 oz.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
Solid, all-metal build
3.5mm jack and USB ports
Plug-n-play simplicity
Crisp, clean audio
2 polar patterns
Control knobs
Bright LED indicator lights
Value for money
The Cons
Too much background noise in omnidirectional mode
Little room for customization

7. Vivid Blue Yeti Nano USB Recording Mic

Vivid Blue Yeti Nano USB Recording MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

Blue microphones are well-known for their exceptional value and quality performance. This product is the Blue Yeti Nano Premium—a quality plug-n-play (PnP) USB mic for streaming and recording.

  • Best feature 1: Compact ultra-simple design
  • Best feature 2: Front and rear control knobs
  • Plus points: Great audio, PnP, mute button, 2 polar patterns, 5 colors, headphone compatible
  • Minus points: Awkward side tilt knobs, no padded protection when folded

Vivid Blue Yeti Nano USB Mic Highlights

Mic Compatibility: Windows 7/8/8.1/ and Windows 10 computers w/ USB 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0. Mac OS 10.10 and higher w/ USB 1.1, 2.0, and 3.0.

The only thing wrong with the older Blue Yeti is its heft. The Nano takes all that’s good about the original Yeti and puts it in a smaller, lighter, more compact capsule. So, there are three main selling points. They are, the mic’s portability, ease of use, and its sound quality.

Using the Yeti Nano

This mic offers two pickup patterns—cardioid and omnidirectional. There’s a simple push-button at the back to switch between its two polar options. It’s a versatile product that’s ideal for podcasts, voiceovers, Skype calls, and video presentations, etc. It has a warm, bass tone that’s pleasing to the ears. The Nano also displays impressive resistance to pops from plosives without a filter.

There’s a central push-to-mute/unmute knob at the front of the microphone’s body. It has an LED ring light that switches between red and green to indicate the mute status. You can use the Yeti Nano with headphones for which there’s a volume switch. This good-looking desktop mic is available in 5 colors. They include vivid blue, blackout, Cubano gold, red onyx, and shadow grey.

The Not So Good

The tilt knobs at the side are awkward to use. They need lots of turns to get tight, and even then, the body doesn’t feel quite as snug as it should be. The other complaint is that the mic tends to hit against its legs when folded. A cushioning pad would have been useful to soften the impact. Make sure you use some soft fabric to protect the capsule if you buy the Yeti Nano.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Blue
Mic Type: Desktop condenser
Connection: USB
Polar Pattern: Cardioid/Omni
Power Supply: Plug-in device
Maximum SPL: 120 dB
Frequency Response: 20Hz–20kHz
Sample Rate: 48 kHz
Bit Rate: 24 bit
Dimensions: 4.3 x 3.8 x 8.3”
Product Weight: 22.24 oz.
Warranty: 2 years
The Pros
Compact ultra-simple design
Front & rear control knobs
Sturdy, adjustable stand
Two polar patterns
Great audio for the price
Plug-n-play simplicity
Mute button w/ LED indicators
Headphone compatible
Headphone volume control
Five available colors
The Cons
Awkward side tilt knobs
No padded protection when folded

8. AT2020PK Vocal Mic Pack By Audio-Technica

AT2020PK Vocal Mic Pack By Audio-TechnicaView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The last review goes to the AT2020PK vocal mic pack by Audio-Technica. It’s a quality product with an affordable price tag for its class. It works well for vocals and instruments in a studio setting.

  • Best feature 1: High SPL handling
  • Best feature 2: Durable, all-metal build
  • Plus points: Superb audio, low noise, affordable, adjustable boom, ATH-M20x headphones
  • Minus points: Needs extras to complete, weak-ish bass

AT2020PK Vocal Mic Pack Highlights

This mic has a quality all-metal build that guarantees its durability and longevity. The pack includes a studio-quality boom arm with full 360° rotation. The arm’s joints are spring stabilized with convenient thumbscrews for quick and easy repositioning. Also included is a pair of ATH-M20x Professional Monitor Headphones. The headset is pre-tuned for improved low-frequency performance.

The AT2020PK condenser vocal mic is for anyone serious about audio interfaces. It costs much less than high-end products yet comes close to the quality of pricier options. It enjoys high ratings due to the superb audio reproduction in controlled environments. Its sound is crisp and clear with almost zero unwanted noise. That’s thanks to the cardioid polar pattern and 144dB SPL with no distortion.

The Not So Good

This is not a simple plug-n-play microphone. It’s a pro-quality mic with an XLR interface that requires phantom power to function. That means it needs an XLR cable, an audio interface, and maybe a preamp, depending on needs. There’s no stand or shockmount in the box either. The only criticism sound-wise is that the bass seems a little weak, though that’s more subjective than an actual flaw.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Audio-Technica
Mic Type: Condenser mic
Connection: XLR connection
Power Supply: Phantom
Polar Pattern: Cardioid pickup
Dynamic Range: 24 dB
Maximum SPL: 144 dB
Signal to Noise Ratio: 74 dB
Dimensions: 6.38 x 2.05”
Product Weight: 12.17 oz.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
Durable, all-metal build
High SPL handling
Superb audio
Low noise
Adjustable boom
ATH-M20x headphones
Affordable for its class
The Cons
Needs extras (see review)
Weak bass (subjective)
Flimsy storage cover
0/50 ratings