Best Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphones for Music Recording
In your search for the best studio recording microphones, there’ll come a time when you’ll have to choose between unidirectional, bidirectional, and omnidirectional models. But if you want a mic with all the 3 patterns, pick any of these best multi-pattern mics.
As we mentioned in our first write-up in this series of the different types of microphones, unidirectional microphones hear audios coming from its front only. On the other hand, bidirectional mics receive sound signals from the front and rear and reject all sounds from sides. Lastly, omnidirectional microphones receive audios from all sides.
Apart from these, there exists another quite interesting category of microphones that allows you to switch between any of the 3 patterns and even more. Some advanced models like the Blue Microphones Kiwi and the versatile AKG Pro Audio C414 offers you up to 9 directionality options! That’s incredibly versatile, right?
The thing with these mics is that they present you with more than 1 microphone at the price of 1 unit. So, if you wish to have a bunch of microphones but don’t have a deep pocket, here is your chance. Here, we’ll review the best multi-pattern microphones according to budget. You can also check our reviews of the best condenser mics.
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Best Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphones - Comparison Table
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Best Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphones - Reviews
At the same price as the NT2A, (when writing this), you could as well go with the Audio Technica AT4050. The AT4050 is one the best-selling multi-pattern condenser microphones on the market today due to a combination of several remarkable reasons. Its costs around $700 but if you are on budget, Audio-Technica AT2050 Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphone is a great alternative for around $250, at the time of writing this review.
This is a condenser microphone with 2 large diaphragms which have been gold-vaporized and then aged to deliver consistent top-notch performance. The condenser also features a professionally-designed brass acoustic element for stability and outstanding sensitivity.
The AT4050 is recorded at 17dB self-noise. This is contributed by its floating internal elements technology that eliminates most of the self-noise and vibrations. Ideal for both studio and live performance recording, the AT4050 has an incredibly high SPL capability (159Db with the 10dB pad), 77dB signal-to-noise ratio and 17dB self-noise.
It also has a different frequency response from other mics here at 20Hz-18 kHz. It also offers an 80-Hz high pass filter to help you deal with any unnecessary sounds.
The large diaphragm design also boosts the frequency response while its transformerless circuitry design prevents low-frequency distortion. In use, the AT4050 multi-pattern microphone gives clear highs and mids with rich low-end qualities. There’s also a 3-polar pattern switch onboard that lets you navigate through the cardioid, omni, and figure-8 options.
Our first stop in the search for an affordable multi-pattern microphone is the Sterling Audio ST59 Condenser Microphone. Sterling Audio is a good looking mic with a brass body and a stainless steel head and grille.
Users who’ve interacted with this piece of studio equipment refer to it as a Swiss Army knife. This is a large condenser microphone utilizing a dual-sided 3-micron gold Mylar diaphragm. Without forgetting, like other microphones from this manufacturer, ST59’s capsule has been baked to eliminate residual moisture.
This process also enables the diaphragm to offer optimum sound reproduction while being stable for a long time. ST59 also features Aspen Pittman’s patented disk resonator that makes the diaphragm more sensitive to shorter sound waves. This enables it to accurately capture all the required higher frequencies.
This mic has a maximum SPL capability of 132dB. However, this can be boosted to 142dB by engaging the -10dB pad at the front. The face of this mic also has a 75Hz, 12dB/Octave high-pass filter. Moreover, there’s a multi-pattern switch at the rear that allows you to switch between cardioid, bidirectional (figure 8), and omnidirectional patterns. Its 20Hz 20kHz frequency response and 16mV/Pa sensitivity give you truly crisp and warm vocals when used for vocals or with about any instrument.
Are you in need of the best multi-pattern microphone for vocals and instruments at below 400 bucks? You may want to consider the NT2A from Rode. For your information, this microphone took over from the Rode NT2 which was the last mic that Rode produced before moving their facilities from China to Australia. A simple difference between the 2, therefore, is that the NT2 has the ‘Made in China’ label while the NT2A is a- Made in Australia- thing.
Putting the country of origin issue apart, Rode NT2A brings a whole new experience with its rather advanced control panel. Here, you’ll find 3 pattern, pad, and filter switches. The pattern switch offers you 3 variable polar patterns; cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8. When using it on its cardioid mode, the tops appear detailed and are not harsh. On the other hand, the lower ends appear focused and solid. While the figure-8 directionality is pretty similar to the cardioid pattern, the omnidirectional pattern brings in more sound effects from your studio’s room ambiance.
Rode NT2A blows the Sterling Audio ST59 out of the water with its amazingly high 147dB without engaging the pads. Engaging the -10 dB pads boosts the maximum SPLs to a spectacular 157dB! This mic is also impressively quiet at 7dBA and also has an impressive signal-to-noise ratio of 87dB/Pa.
The ST69 is a large diaphragm multi-pattern microphone. This 10.8lbs condenser mic has a machined stainless steel tube body and a nice finish that will most likely last for a pretty long time. It also boasts a 2-layer grille that holds back speedy sound waves if you use the mic at least 4’’ away. Like the ST59, it also uses an ultra-thin 3um Mylar diaphragm and has Aspen Pittman’s donut-shaped disk resonator in place. Positioned just above the diaphragm, the resonator boosts the capsule’s sensitivity and response in a natural manner.
Sterling Audio 69 has a 10dB pad at the front that lets you rev up its maximum SPL capabilities to 147dB. You also get a high-pass filter switch at the side that helps you eliminate any unwanted rumbles coming from other sources including fans and footsteps outside the studio. The pattern switch, at the back, offers the versatility of 3 directionalities; cardioid, figure-8, and omni.
A good thing to know about the ST69 is that it comes ready to use right out of the box. In fact, you don’t need to wait till you get a source of its phantom power- it has its own onboard. It also ships with the XLR cable and an attractive and highly functional shock mount. The ST69 shines in various applications including vocals, drum overheads, and several acoustic sources.
At this point, only the Rode NT2A has the highest SPL handling capability at 157dB with the 10dB pad in. While that is quite incredible, Rode K2 finds it easy to surpass that limit even without the need for the pad. At 162dBA, you’ll virtually have to find another way to make this thing distort.
Rode K2 shines not only in handling high sound pressure levels but also in being the quietest multi-pattern microphone. This is understandable considering that the microphone with the lowest self-noise, the Rode NT1A comes from the same Australian manufacturer. Rode NT2A seems to take over from the legendary RODE NTK but with a very attractive price for the blooming home studio artist.
The NT1A is an LDC microphone with a 1’’ dual-diaphragm capsule that houses the gold-sputtered Mylar diaphragms. Its circuitry system has been borrowed from a 6922 dual-triode tube design and configured in Class A operations.
Like most microphones in this list, Rode K2 offers cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8 directionalities. Uniquely, there are no switches or knobs on its body. You adjust the polar patterns by rotating the power supply. The K2 is rated at 20Hz-20 kHz frequency response which is way wider than of a standard dynamic mic. This translates to a wider spectrum of the sounds to be recorded.
Every new musician needs a high-quality condenser microphone without going over the budget. The Audio Technica AT2035 is a large diaphragm mic that suits both indoor and outdoor applications.
You can record great music from the comfort of your home studio and also take it to live performances. It has a switchable 80 Hz high-pass filter plus a -10db pad.
This unit boasts a sturdy construction unlike what you’d see on other mics in this price range. It delivers low noise thanks to the cardioid polar pattern.
Apart from the noise isolation you also get a device that has a wide dynamic range and high SPL handling.
Not to mention, it comes with the shock mount and a protective pouch which maintains its high-quality for a long time.
Best Multi-Pattern Condenser Microphones - Buyers Guide
In some circles, many people believe the price of a microphone is a reflection of the sound quality it is capable of producing. To most of these people, the more expensive the better. In other words, the high price is a depiction of high quality. But is that true in all cases?
First things first. It is important to acknowledge the fact that all markets are dynamic in nature. And that includes the market for best multi-pattern condenser microphones.
Interestingly, this dynamism makes it a lot harder for some people to pinpoint that best suitable condenser mic for their specific application. This is the essence of research and writing this condenser microphone buying guide. Simply by reading through to the end, you'll have an increased understanding of the most important factors to consider before placing your order.
One thing I have found is that purchase intent often differs regardless of the niche market. While some potential buyers start their search with terms like 'best condenser microphone brands' with a focus on brand reputation, others think differently.
Moreover, I have seen some start with a question like – what is the best condenser mic under $500. To most of these people, affordability is a top consideration. Whichever one you belong within these segments of potential buyers we've got your interest covered. Let's dive into the main factors.
Condenser Microphone Application
First and foremost, you have to put what you want to do with the microphone in front of your mind. This is something the needs to be clarified even before you think about the types of condenser microphones available in the market. Though a lot of these mics can be used for multiple purposes, each one of them cannot be suitable in every imaginable context of sound output.
Think about this. Will you be using your mic for a home studio recording? Is it live stage performance with multiple instruments that you are buying for? If you are buying for hobbyist recording purposes, going for the mid-range and moderately priced models could be your best options.
Having these things clarified will make your purchase decision practically easier. However, you need a mic for home recording and live stage vocals, you are going to find a lot of affordable models by following the links above.
Types of Condenser Microphone
If you are specifically interested in condenser microphones only, this has different types as well. Just like knowing what you want to use it for, having a clear idea of the type you want, especially at the point of purchase, will also prove helpful. Let get into the types you'll find most retail websites or and offline stores.
Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone: On this specific type, the size of the diaphragm is the main factor that differentiates one condenser from the other. Unlike dynamic microphones, this highly sensitive type of mic can be used perfectly for both studio recording and live vocals. With 48V phantom power, this one works well for converting acoustic vibration into meaningful sound signals.
For people intending to record percussion, brass or strings, this is the best type of condenser microphone to consider. Through the links contained around the reviews above, you'll be able to find the best affordable large condenser microphones on Amazon. Some of the great models in this category include AKG Pro Audio C214 and Shure MV51 Digital.
Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone: In simple terms, you can say that this type is a direct opposite of its large-diaphragm counterpart. Specifically, for recording instruments with sharp transients and extended overtones, this is the best type to go for.
People who are consistently into vocals also find this type of condenser mic to work well. Great options within this category include models like Audio-Technica AT2035, MXL 606 and CAD CM217 Small diaphragm condenser microphone.
Please note that the difference in the large and small diaphragm is measured most times of the based on the size of its capsule which could be 1 inch or less. In recent times, some manufacturers are now building dual-diaphragm mics like Behringer C-3 and MXL V67i models.
Polar pattern, in this case, refers to how the mic picks up sound while eliminating noise. Based on these two factors, you'll find a lot of variations between one condenser microphone and its competing counterparts. At this point, it is worth reiterating that this buying guide is focused mainly on the best multi-pattern condenser microphones. Your task here is to check and confirm the difference whenever you are browsing through each of the product sales pages linked from above.
Unidirectional Condenser Microphone: When a mic is built with this polar pattern, it picks sound signals from a single side of the device. While working this way, it excludes sound signals from other sides of the mic. This is the oldest and most common among all mics.
Bidirectional Condenser Microphone: Also referred to as Figure-8, this one picks sound signals from two sides, called east and west in some circles. It is the one used mostly in studio recording contexts. Consequently, it doesn't work well for most live stage performance applications.
Cardioid Condenser Microphone: It picks up signals in a heart-shaped form. And that happens mostly on the side of the device. While it is impossible to confirm the actual differences before purchase, your best bet is to be clear about the best option for you, especially if you have used any of these before. Besides, you should consider asking specific questions on the product sales page.
Omnidirectional Condenser Mic: This type of condenser comes with the ability to pick up sound from all directions. You say that this is the real multi-pattern condenser you've been looking for. On a practical level, the real essence of clarifying these things is for you to identify your best suitable option while skipping others. This is how a condenser microphone buying guide link can save you a good amount of time.
Microphone Connection Compatibility
If you want to avoid a real return, replacement or refund headaches after the purchase of a physical product like this, here is what you have to do first. Make a list of the features that matter most to you. Then confirm the type of ports in your existing device. Think about the instrument or computer you want to connect with your mic. In this specific context, what matters is the USB ports which often vary from one device to the other.
Condenser Microphone Price
If you have reached this point, there is a great chance you now have a clearer idea of the mic that will match your current needs. Whether you have been taking notes or not, the information provided can help you to compare cheap condenser microphones within your budget.
From $50 - $300, I am very confident you'll find one or more options that match 100% of your preferences as well as the current budget. Just follow any of the links around the best condenser microphone reviews above.
Best Condenser Microphone Brands
If you are among the people that consider brand reputation as a top priority, we've got you covered here. Whatever your criteria for judging this important, the best condenser microphone brands are well represented in this buying guide. While researching this post, we've considered things like outstanding sales volume. You and I know that people don't buy or recommend poor performing products. Other relevant factors taken into account includes the positive experiences of past user recommending all the products in this post.