The Best Cheap Microphones Under $50 - XLR & USB

The Highest Rated Microphones Under $50

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The word "budget" often comes with the impression of poor quality or inferior. With regards to microphones, there is this impression of no-name microphones with dodgy circuitry.

What many still don't know is that many large brands offer affordable mics that carry their name, with technology often trickled down from their top-of-the line products.

And it's not just a cheaper compromise as some might assume, a lot of these affordable mics are contenders against mics even double their price.

In this guide we present to you the highest rated microphones that you can buy for under $50; hidden gems that we unearthed through our research and experience.

To cater to different needs, we divided the list into two sections - XLR & USB, with XLR being popular for live sound and USB is ideal for home recording.

The Best Cheap Microphones Under $50 - 2022.12

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

XLR Microphones

The XLR cable is the standard connection used for plugging mics into audio interfaces, mixing consoles and PA systems.

Behringer XM8500 Dynamic Cardioid Handheld Microphone

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 11400+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$25
Behringer XM8500 Dynamic Microphone

Cons

  • Not the best tone but works as a starter

Pros

  • Insanely cheap
  • Good quality compared to other mics at this price
  • Decent build quality

I rarely encounter cheap gear that I could recommend without hesitation. Oftentimes, cheap gear tends to have major flaws in some aspects that keep me from bonding with it and as a result, keep me from recommending it to people who ask me.

The Behringer XM8500 is one that I usually recommend to people starting out because of how good it is at this price point. For context, many mics at this price are no-name mics that little more than barely functional toys. Other mics at this price point are poorly made copies of big-name brands.

The XM8500 is a deceptively good sounding microphone for the price and it stands out in this range because of that. It's not a Shure, but it sounds good enough that I've had clients send in recordings with it that are actually workable. The recorded sound of the XM8500 plays well with processing and survives pitch correction procedures without sounding too artificial.

It has more of a v-shaped EQ curve compared to higher priced microphones but it's slightly brittle sounding. It's just at that threshold of sounding good to the layman ear and working in a mix context.

One of the biggest cons is the handling noise rejection. The enclosure doesn't seem to be isolated from the capsule well enough, so it has more handling noise than usual. It also does a bad job at plosive rejection.

Handheld mics are usually used for the stage. Unfortunately, the bad handling noise and plosive rejection make it a bad choice for the stage. What it's surprisingly good at are studio recordings: singing/voice-overs, podcasts/streaming, instruments like electric guitar, and other recording duties that do not require it to be handled.

All in all, I recommend the Behringer XM8500 more for the frugal studio engineer or beginning VA/Podcaster that wants a decent mic on a budget. It's not the best but I've worked with and gotten great results from recordings done with it to recommend it to people starting out. There are definitely better options out there for the stage and studio but the XM8500 is a great place to start until you're able to upgrade.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-15kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Applications: Live vocals, podcasting, streaming.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Youtube Bandrew Scott 84/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Shure SM48 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 3200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$40
Shure SM48-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Cons

  • Handling noise can be annoying
  • Not as much frequency extension as the SM58

Pros

  • Midrange focus great for rock vocals
  • Good natural feedback attenuation
  • Better than the SM58 with pops and plosives
  • Great build quality

The Shure SM48 shares a lot of DNA with its more expensive sibling the SM58.

They have the same form factor, build quality and basic sound signature.

Where the differences lie, however, are in the frequency range. The SM48 has a narrower bandwidth with the high frequencies extending to 14kHz vs the SM58 at 15kHz. The low-frequency range has the SM48 roll off the low end earlier at 55kHz vs 50kHz for the SM58.

Because of the subtly narrower bandwidth, the SM48 somehow is better with plosives, pops, and proximity effects than the SM58. This makes it very suitable for live use and since the two share very similar frequency responses, live venues, rehearsal spaces, and recording studios can easily afford two SM48 mics for the price of one SM58. The earlier high-frequency roll-off also aids in resisting high pitch feedback for live situations, notably more so than its more expensive sibling.

Despite the low-frequency roll-off, The SM48 still has the same problem with handling noise as the SM58. Being an old design without internal shock mounts on the capsule, these mics are also prone to handling noise. The earlier roll-off of highs and lows takes away the "air" and "depth" of acoustic guitars and other instruments that need those very high and very low frequencies.

The roll-off shouldn't be too much of an issue for rock bands where high frequency detail on vocals isn't needed as much compared other genres.

The SM48 is a great budget alternative to the SM58 from the same company. They share the same ruggedness and overall sound signature with subtle differences in overall range.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 55Hz – 14kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Applications: Live vocals, podcasting, streaming.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Youtube Bandrew Scott 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Peavey PVi 2 Dynamic Microphone

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 80+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
Peavey PVi 2 Dynamic Microphone
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Handheld Mic Under $50.

Cons

  • Not the most aesthetically pleasing nor recognizable design

Pros

  • Excellent build quality and durability
  • Great off axis rejection
  • On/Off switch a welcome addition

There's an obvious trend when it comes to affordable vocal microphones - they all are often based on the iconic Shure SM58.

The Peavey PVi 2 is no exception with its dynamic cardioid design, but it does have a distinct shape and appearance that makes it easy to distinguish.

This particular model has a die-cast steel case and an on-off switch.

What's surprising about the PVi 2 isn't the fact that it was made by a company primarily known for their amplifiers and mixers, it's the unit's build quality and durability. The pictures don't do it justice, but the heavy-duty steel enclosure is one of the best in its class. The mesh grille isn't easily dented as well.

As for the sound, it's fairly reminiscent of the Shure SM58 but one thing that it somehow does better than the Shure is off axis rejection.

There's a reason why Peavey is known for reliability and durability, and this mic helps them uphold their good reputation. It's reminiscent of the legendary SM58 with some tweaks that enable it to withstand feedback on louder stages.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: Not Specified
  • Impedance: Not Specified
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals or speech.

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Youtube Obscure Mics 98/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

XLR Value Option

Here we feature a very affordable XLR mic that is also rating well, it's so cheap that you can get three of them for less than $50.

Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S Set of 3 Dynamic Microphones

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 2050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$39
Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S

Cons

  • High and low frequency extension limited
  • Not the best mics for recording

Pros

  • Great affordable package of 3 mics
  • Decent sounding mics for live performances
  • Surprisingly good build quality

The Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S gives you a super-affordable way of adding three mics to your setup.

But it's not just about saving on cost because this bundle features three XM1800S dynamic transducer microphones with a super-cardioid polar pattern, a configuration that's popular for stage use because of its ability to reject background noise.

And for the price, the mics also have surprisingly decent features which include integrated pop filters, an on/off switch, and a frequency response of 80Hz to 15kHz.

This bundle comes with mic stand adapters and an impact-resistant carrying case for easy transport and storage.

The Behringer XM1800S leads this list in terms of bang per buck by a big margin. Despite being a package of 3 mics, all of them are built very well. Thanks to Behringer's wide market reach, the mic pack is available nearly everywhere.

This bundle has been successfully used at various venues and situations, including home karaoke, small stages, places of worship, coffee shops and more. Because of the price, they are cheap to replace if one or more inevitably goes bad. This makes it perfect for venues that entertain more varied, and dare I say, aggressive musical acts.

The carrying case is where they held out on quality but don't expect a premium flight case for the mics at this price. Given the price, the sound quality isn't what you would expect from a more standard mic like the SM58 so for recordings, I suggest getting something a bit better.

It's easy and affordable to add more mics to your setup without having to spend much money with the Behringer Ultravoice XM1800S. It's not the best in terms of performance but for value, nothing else comes close.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 80Hz-15KHz
  • Impedance: 600 ohms
  • Applications: Live vocals

USB Microphones

USB microphones allow for direct connection to your computer and other smart devices. They are convenient for quick capturing of musical ideas and basic recording of vocals and instruments.

Fifine K669 USB Condenser Microphone

90
GEARANK

90 out of 100. Incorporating 32050+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$30
Fifine K669 Condenser USB Microphone

Cons

  • Included tripod base flimsy
  • Lacks a bit of low midrange body

Pros

  • Surprising performance for this price point
  • Good build quality
  • Great headroom and clarity

The Fifine K669 is a true USB condenser mic that you can get cheap, with essential features that make it viable for those who are looking to start their journey towards home recording.

The mic's profile follows the popular condenser mic shape and has a metal exterior for improved structural strength.

Other features include a cardioid polar pattern, and a built-in volume control knob that's conveniently located up front.

The Fifine K669 is a great mic for podcasting, voice-over work, and voice chat. Musicians and singers also benefit from its headroom and clarity. Most USB mics at this price range are brittle and thin sounding but the Fifine K669 manages to avoid that. Another noteworthy feature of the Fifine K669 is its solid build.

I have to admit, I wasn't too much of a fan of the form factor and color, but the enclosure material and the grille are better built than they look.

I don't recommend using the included tripod base. It's flimsy and the mic will be positioned next to your keyboard, which is not optimal. On the sound, It sounds good for most vocals but it lacks a bit of body in the low midrange.

The Fifine K669 will make a great first USB condenser mic for beginners who are on a budget and can carry you well until you start to feel what it's missing. It doesn't have much but it's a great starting point to learn what you want out of a microphone.

Specifications

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz-20KHz
  • Power Requirements: 5V USB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals, speech, podcasting, voiceovers

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
Youtube Bandrew Scott 86/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Cardioid Microphone

92
GEARANK

92 out of 100. Incorporating 37750+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$40
Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Cardioid Microphone
At publication time this was the Highest Rated USB Mic Under $50.

Cons

  • Can sound thin or brittle for some sound sources

Pros

  • Decent sound quality on the brighter end
  • Good quality materials and build
  • Good side and rear rejection

The Blue Snowball iCE is a desktop microphone with a distinct looking ball-like profile and as easy to use as a generic computer mic.

The improved frequency response (40Hz to 18kHz) ups the quality if you're used to using headset microphones.

It has a condenser transducer with a cardioid polar pattern that quiets down some of the background noise, ideal for vocal recordings but can also be used with instruments when properly positioned.

The Blue Snowball iCE's consistent positives are its straightforward functionality, portability, and sound quality. The ball form factor also makes it surprisingly durable and can survive being handled and repositioned without any parts like potentiometers to wear out. It is mostly used for voice chat, podcasting, and the like, but I've seen more vocalists and musicians have taken a liking to it as well.

The Snowball iCE can sound thin, but this may be due to proximity/positioning issues. I recommend mounting it on a mic stand to get better results as leaving it on your table while recording or streaming might pick up keyboard noise while you type. Having the mic closer to your mouth also thickens up the sound and makes your voice easier to mix.

Overall, the Snowball iCE is a good mic for the price. It's not a top tier recording mic but it does a lot of jobs well enough to be consistently recommended.

Specifications

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-18KHz
  • Resolution: 16 bit, 44.1 kHz
  • Power Requirements: 5V USB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals, podcasting, voiceovers

Rating Source Highlight

Website Source *Rating Value
PC Mag Tom Gideon 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Things to Consider When Buying Budget Microphones

Here are some tips that can help you in picking the mic that will work best for you. If you're looking for more information, you can check out our article that explains The Different Types Of Mics And Their Uses.

Transducer Type

In the sub $50 price range, the most popular mics are those with either a Dynamic or Condenser transducer. Dynamic mics are popularly used in live performance, because of their intrinsically higher SPL (Sound Pressure Level) handling, and reliability. They also tend to color the sound in ways that many vocalists prefer.

On the other hand, Condenser mics are mostly used in recording, because of their increased sound sensitivity. The downside of this increased sensitivity is being prone to clipping (sound breaking up when too loud) and background noise.

Polar Pattern

Most of the mics in this list come with cardioid or super-cardioid polar patterns, which is not surprising, given that these mics are meant for front vocal use. Some mics offer switchable polar patterns, specifically the option to switch to an Omni-directional pattern, which allows for a wider reception area - ideal for capturing multiple singers, instruments, and other sound sources.

XLR or USB

We've divided our recommended list into XLR and USB mics to help you know which ones are the best in their category. XLR is the standard connection used with pro audio gear, while USB mics allow for direct recording to your computer without the need for an audio interface or recording console.

Placement and Position

When setting up your mic, it is best to try different positions to find the one with the best results. This is a big topic on its own so we'll focus on a few tips that are essential for those who are just starting. When using handheld mics, the most common position to mike vocals is around 3" from the mouth, but this will vary depending on the style of the singer. Condenser mics are a bit more sensitive so they don't require singers to perform as close. Room acoustics also play an important role if you want quiet and professional sounding recordings.

Cheap Mic Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2018 and the current edition was published on December 7, 2022.

Since there are many different microphones in the sub $50 price range, we decided to stick to those that work well for music - be it for the human voice or guitars and other instruments. We ended up with an initial list of 14 mics, with over 98,800 review and rating sources analyzed, including the most recent up to December of 2022. All these data were fed into the Gearank Algorithm to produce our rating scores out of 100 which we used to narrow down the list to just the best XLR and USB microphones in the price range. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Quite a few people approach me in some communities I'm in, asking for good starter mic recommendations. I usually ask if they prefer to buy an audio interface with it or just need something that can stand alone. That brings me to recommend either an XLR mic or a USB mic. Some of them eventually become recording clients so I have some experience working with recorded tracks with a few of the mics in this guide. With proper vocal and instrument recording techniques, a decent room without many reflections, many of these mics have had vocals made their way to songs that are now reaching hundreds of thousands of plays on various platforms. Do check out each one's unique features to see which one suits your purpose the best.

Contributors

Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the Shure SM48 and Blue Snowball iCE.

The individual product images were sourced from their respective manufacturers' websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation.

Comments

"...this bundle has been

"...this bundle has been successfully use at..."

Who proofreads these articles? Buckwheat? cmon folks.

:)

:)

Thank you for pointing that

Thank you for pointing that out - it's fixed now thanks to you. I'm the Editor responsible for that typo being published - please let us know if you find any similar mistakes.