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Need a large diaphragm condenser microphone? We rank the top 14

Below you’ll find the most popular large condenser microphone amongst podcast hosts. The rankings aren’t subjective. We collated endorsements from currently-active hosts to calculate the popularity of each mic. This means you’re not getting our wayward opinion, but a solid reflection of the popularity of each mic in the wild.

#1

Audio-Technica 2020

by Audio-Technica

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$99
Endorsments
42 hosts
#2

Rode NT1

by Rode

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$269
Endorsments
0 hosts
#3

Samson Meteor Mic

by Samson

Connection
USB
Estimated Price
$54
Endorsments
12 hosts
#4

Neumann TLM103

by Neumann

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$1300
Endorsments
3 hosts
#5

MXL 990

by MXL

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$69.98
Endorsments
1 hosts
#6

Audio-Technica 2035

by Audio-Technica

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$149
Endorsments
6 hosts
#7

Neumann TLM102

by Neumann

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$700
Endorsments
2 hosts
#8

Avantone CV-12

by Avantone

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$499
Endorsments
0 hosts
#9

Samson G Track

by Samson

Connection
USB
Estimated Price
$79
Endorsments
1 hosts
#10

Samson c01u Pro

by Samson

Connection
USB
Estimated Price
$90
Endorsments
3 hosts
#11

Edwina

by Ear Trumpet

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$599
Endorsments
1 hosts
#12

Samson C01

by Samson

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$72
Endorsments
2 hosts
#13

Sennheiser md421

by Sennheiser

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$380
Endorsments
3 hosts
#14

AKG P220

by AKG

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$149
Endorsments
0 hosts
#15

AKG C214

by AKG

Connection
XLR
Estimated Price
$349
Endorsments
1 hosts
#16

U37

by CAD

Connection
USB
Estimated Price
$59
Endorsments
11 hosts

Guide to buying a large diaphragm condenser microphone

If you don’t have a degree in sound engineering or a deep passion for recording equipment, there’s a good chance you’ll be bamboozled by all the different types of microphones on the market, and the diversity of their specifications. In this article, we’ll help you understand what a large diaphragm condenser microphone is, what makes them different, and we’ll deep dive into their pros and cons. Hopefully, we’ll arm you with all the knowledge needed to choose one that’s right for you. For a more detailed examination of each model of microphone, visit the landing page of any of the mics, above. Looking for a new microphone? Start by looking at the models of some of the more popular brands, like Avantone or MXL.

What is a large diaphragm condenser microphone?

Starting with a bird’s eye view, there are two predominant types of microphones available on the market these days: condenser and dynamic. There’s a good chance you’ll buy one or the other. All microphones have one important function — to convert raw sound waves into an electrical signal for recording and reproduction — and it’s how that process is technically conducted that differentiates each type of mic. Both species of microphone (condenser and dynamic) rely on an internal diaphragm to perform the sound-to-electrical-signal conversion task, but in a condenser mic that diaphragm is attached to an internal capacitor plate, whereas in a dynamic mic it’s attached to a wire induction coil, which is harnessed within a magnetic field. As an extension to this explanation, the diaphragm used in a microphone can vary in size, with the variation impacting on the sound it outputs. Generally speaking, in a “large” diaphragm condenser microphone, the diaphragm itself is normally at least one inch in diameter, whereas in a “small” diaphragm condenser microphone, the diaphragm itself is normally less than half an inch in diameter. Assuming you’re not here for a technical lesson, and you just want to know why you’d buy a large diaphragm condenser microphone over any other type, let’s now move onto dealing with the pros and cons of the former.

The advantage of a large diaphragm condenser microphone

Knowing what a large diaphragm condenser microphone is technically speaking is great, but what is the advantage of buying one if you’re a podcast host? The short answer is noise performance. The noise performance of a microphone is judged in reference to its self-noise level, which is measured in A-weighted decibels (dB(A)). In simple terms, mics with low self-noise levels are good and mics with high self-noise levels are bad, and a mic with a large diaphragm has a lower self-noise level than a mic with a small diaphragm.

The cons of a large diaphragm condenser microphone

Funnily enough, large diaphragm condenser mics are big. They have to be, to house the one-inch (or larger) diaphragm and capacitor plate. We’ve included this as a con because oversized mics can be cumbersome to operate, difficult to travel with, and a physical nuisance if you don’t have ample recording space to work in. That said, if you prefer physically larger mics, this will come down on the pro side of the ledger. Beyond their size, large diaphragm condenser mics don’t have as consistent a pickup pattern as their smaller counterparts, and will capture less sound at higher frequencies. This is more of an issue if you’re using the mic to record music, and should be of no concern to podcast hosts.

Should you buy one?

We’re of the view that large diaphragm condenser microphones are great for podcasting because, generally speaking, the noise input is consistent (there are no transient peaks) and they have a well-founded reputation for making voice sound wonderfully rich and full-bodied.

How much should you spend on a large diaphragm condenser microphone?

This, unfortunately, is one of those, ‘How long is a piece of string?’ questions. As you may already know, there are many variables that impact on the quality and, therefore, price of microphones available on the market, and its diaphragm size is but one of those. While this advice may be just as helpful as no advice at all, we have two very strong but opposing opinions on how much you should spend on a microphone:
  • 1. Don’t overcapitalise if you don’t need to.
There are some fantastic entry-level mics that bat well above their weight when it comes to performance, and you shouldn’t spend more on a mic than you need to serve your needs.
  • 2. Invest for the future.
Despite our warning against spending more on a mic than you need to, keep in mind that a good quality microphone should last you a very long time. Like any piece of equipment, if you under-invest and buy poorly manufactured gear that’s destined to let you down every few years, your bargain buys might eventually catch up to you. In short, do your research and make sure you’re investing in a large diaphragm condenser microphone that does everything you need it to, is built by a brand with a solid reputation for performance and durability, and comes with a long-term warranty (shoot for 10 years if you can).