Microphones are a vital piece of equipment for any audio recording artist. Whether you’re an avid podcaster or a budding musician, investing in a high-quality microphone should be your top priority.
Problem is, when you’re new to the world of recording audio, getting an idea of what equipment you need can be overwhelming.
Not everyone can afford high-tech equipment, but luckily for those on a budget, you don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars on a microphone that performs in the same way as one in a fraction of the price.
So, if you’re wondering “how much does a microphone cost?”, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s our guide to how much microphones cost, and whether it’s worth investing in the expensive models.
So, How Much Does A Microphone Cost?
Generally speaking, a microphone for audio recording will cost anywhere from $100 to $250. All microphones have the ability to record audio, but the price point depends on the quality of the audio it is recording.
Some high-end microphones can even cost thousands of dollars depending on the materials used, but these aren’t necessary for amateur podcasters, streamers, YouTubers, or musicians.
These studio-grade microphones and vintage mics are highly valued amongst professional recording artists (such as musicians and filmmakers).
The cost of a microphone will depend mostly on the type of microphone you’re looking for. If you’re looking for a small hand-held microphone that connects to your iPhone, then you shouldn’t expect to pay more than $40.
Lavalier microphones (mics that clip to your shirt) are typically the cheapest type, ranging at around $10-$20.
The price range inevitably increases according to the size and quality of the microphone. Tube condenser microphones (see also ‘What Is A Condenser Microphone?‘) are most commonly used by podcasters and recording artists with more of a budget, which range between $115 to thousands of dollars.
This is because the vacuum tube inside the microphone works as an amplifier for the signal of the microphone, allowing for impressive audio quality.
You’ve also got passive and active ribbon microphones. Both types are essentially the same, except active ribbon mics feature phantom powered electronics inside to operate. This allows for an improved signal to noise ratio, more gain, and consistency over the frequency spectrum. Both types are on the higher end, but active ribbon microphones are generally more expensive.
What Factors The Price Of Microphones
So, we know that microphones range greatly in price, but what actually constitutes the price of a microphone?
Just as with any form of technology, the brand name of a microphone will determine the cost of the product. If a producer or recording artist is known to use a specific brand of microphone, the cost of the mic is inevitably going to be higher in value.
Possibly the biggest factor that determines the price of a microphone is what parts it is made of. Simple passive microphones consisting of moving coils aren’t poorly made, but these materials are cheap, and therefore the price is inevitably lower.
Active microphones or tube mics, however, feature expensive parts that increase the complexity of the microphone, resulting in a higher price.
Likewise, the cost of the materials used will determine the cost of the microphone. Companies and brands need to make a profit somehow, which won’t happen if they undercharge for the expensive parts they used.
Ideally, all microphones should undergo a series of product tests to ensure the quality is high enough to be sold to the public. Of course, some cheaply-made microphones don’t undergo such extensive testing, which is why the cost is generally cheaper.
This is because product testing takes time and money, especially when the microphone needs to be amended according to the feedback. So, if you see an expensive microphone, you can assume that the cost is due to extensive product testing.
As with pretty much everything (from technology to clothes), you’re going to pay a higher price for something made with expert craftsmanship. This is because these microphones take far more time to manufacture, but the effort is clearly worth it in the detail and quality of the work.
While it might seem easier to cut corners and buy a cheaply-made microphone, you’re likely to be lacking in quality. Remember, it’s not about what’s on the outside – you’ve got to think about the mechanics inside the microphone!
In the same vein as product testing, a more expensive microphone is often a reflection of the research and development performed by a high-end manufacturer. Microphones can take years to research and develop, so you are paying for quality.
Expensive Vs Cheap Microphones
While it might be safe to assume that expensive microphones are the best choice for audio recorders, this isn’t necessarily always the case. Of course, the majority of expensive microphones will sound better than cheaper microphones, and this is purely down to the parts used and the craftsmanship.
However, microphones can’t exactly progress past a certain point. Once the audio quality is perfect, there’s nothing else to really look for. So, if you find a $100 microphone that performs in the same way as a $10,000 microphone, then there’s not much point in spending thousands of dollars.
Of course, the audio quality is all subjective. You’ve got to consider the type of audio you are recording – whether it’s music or a podcast, for example – and your editing skills. A good editor and editing software can also be the difference between a poorly-made and high-quality audio recording.
You’ll need to do a lot of research to figure out which microphone is right for you. Like we said, you don’t have to break the budget on a microphone that provides good audio quality, but you also don’t want to waste your money.
Make sure to always read customer reviews to determine the worth of the product!
So, there you have it! Turns out, microphones can cost anywhere from $100 or less to $10,000. The cost is determined by the quality of the parts and craftsmanship, but expensive doesn’t always mean better.