No matter what stage you are in your career, the quality of your music is a key factor in your success. We’re not talking about the structure of the song, or the lyrics, but the mix, master, and the recording. For artists just starting out, mixing and mastering their own music can be intimidating, and can lead some to spend exorbitant amounts of money on plug-ins and software to improve their track. While a DAW and some third party plug-ins are needed for a professional sound, a great mix is built upon audio recorded on a good microphone, and many times, stock plug-ins are enough. With microphone prices ranging from $50 to $10,000+, you may be overwhelmed with your options. In this article, we rank the top 5 microphones for independent artists to purchase across varying price ranges, both XLR and USB.
1. Blue Bluebird SL
The Blue Bluebird SL is a fantastic microphone for artists recording at home or in a studio. The microphone records crisp and professional audio. The Blue Bluebird SL is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone, and comes with a high-pass filter and -20dB pad, as well as customizable color options. The Blue Bluebird SL is $299.99 and a great choice for beginner and experienced musicians.
2. Blue Spark SL
The Blue Spark SL is one step down from the Bluebird, but fantastic nonetheless. The Spark SL is perfect for recording vocals, guitars, drums, pianos and more, and comes with a versatile high-pass filter and -20dB pad. The Spark SL picks up more high frequencies than the Bluebird SL, but is still a great choice. Blue builds powerful and long-lasting equipment and we recommend their products to all artists. The Blue Spark SL is available for $199.99.
3. Rode NT1-A
Many recording professionals regard the Rode NT1-A as a great choice for musicians starting out. The Rode NT1-A is a 1” cardioid condenser microphone, and great for vocals as well as guitars and production. Additionally, like many Rode products, the microphone comes with a 10 year warranty. Depending on the retailer, the Rode NT1-A can be found for around $200-$300.
4. Blue Yeti USB
The Blue Yeti is a powerful multi-pattern USB microphone perfect for new musicians. It is regarded as the best USB microphone, and for artists on a tight budget also lacking an interface, the Blue Yeti is the choice. The Yeti allows for cardioid, stereo, omnidirectional, and bidirectional pattern modes for capturing vocals and instrumentation and is available in many different color options. The Blue Yeti is available for $129.99.
Last but not least is the AT2020USB+ cardioid condenser microphone by Audio Technica. The microphone is great for at home recordings and features a built in headphone jack. At a slightly higher price point than the Blue Yeti, the AT2020USB+ delivers a fairly similar sound, but only allows for cardioid recording. Thus, we side with the Blue Yeti USB. The AT2020USB+ retails for $149.99.
Hopefully, with these recommendations, you will be able to find a microphone that suits your voice, instruments, and your budget. If you’re an independent artist looking for career advice, fill out this form and we’ll send you a free career report. And, if you’re looking for extra guidance, tips, and technical advice, head over to our artist resources page.