The Best Microphones Under $50 (Because We’re All On A Budget Here)

Because you’re reading this post, I’ll assume you’re a DIY musician, podcaster, or YouTuber on a budget. 

Best Microphones Under 50

Well, you’ve come to the right place.

After doing a hefty amount of online research and looking at user reviews, here are the five best microphones for under $50 that I could find.

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Review: Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio Bundle

Let me just say, I’ve had such a good experience with my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, so I’m partial to anything else Focusrite makes.

But in all honesty, their Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio bundle looks pretty appealing.

Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio
Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface and Recording Bundle with Pro Tools

So for that reason, I’m going to review this bundle. I’ve never used it, so I’ll be aggregating user reviews combined with the equipment you get, the features included, and the price for it all.

So let’s get to it…

What You Get

To keep things easy to read, here’s a nice little list of the things included in this bundle:

  • Scarlett Solo USB audio interface (built-in pre-amp) with both a XLR and quarter-inch input
  • Scarlett CM25 large diaphragm condenser mic
  • 10-foot XLR mic cable
  • HP60 closed-back studio headphones
  • Mic stand clip
  • Pro Tools | First
  • Focusrite Creative Pack
  • Ableton Live Lite
  • Softube Time and Tone Bundle
  • Focusrite’s Red Plug-in Suite
  • 2GB of Loopmasters samples
  • Monthly Focusrite Plug-In Collective offers
  • One free XLN Addictive Keys virtual instrument plugin

Clearly, a lot of really cool things are in this bundle. But how does it all perform?

What Users Say

Now I’m going to look at what actual users are saying about this bundle. In order to avoid the extremes and focus on the more balanced reviews, we’ll look at mostly the 3- and 4-star reviews.

But I should note, 60% of the reviewers on Amazon gave it a 5-star review.

4-Star Review: The Scarlett Solo is “just simple and easy and all the knobs and plugs are in the right place. I like the halo light that indicates overload…but I can’t say Pro Tools is the most elegant editing program.”

4-Star Review: “Excellent unit. It works as intended with no pain… [but] the Direct Monitoring output is weak in terms of volume output, even when turned to max. The actual output to the PC is fine. Direct monitoring works, but the signal coming from the USB will drown it out rather easily.”

3-Star Review: “From a hardware standpoint, this audio interface is really, really nice. It provides a lot of clean gain, and its features are very enjoyable. But for me. I had a lot of issues with the drivers…”

3-Star Review: “The simple fact is that it works perfectly…for about 15 minutes at a time, after which the levels drop off dramatically. I’m not doing anything very complicated — just recording an acoustic guitar to Audacity using the Instrument input…”

2-Star Review: “Well, it’s great when it works…but y’know it’s bullsh*t when you’re making music and you get that sudden surprise [of a glitch] mid-recording.”

5-Star Review: “Overall, an excellent entry level choice for any Mac or Linux user wanting to connect a musical instrument, or for use as a general purpose high-quality audio interface.”

What You Pay

On Amazon, you can grab this bundle for about $200. Which seems like a great deal, considering you get a mic, interface, headphones, and an XLR cable for that. But this is assuming you’re happy with the quality.

Final Word

So overall, this bundle seems like a great option for beginners, but maybe not for intermediate-to-experienced pros.

Although if you have a little more room in your budget, you could get a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface for about $150 (can you tell I like it?) and a decent $100 mic, like the AT2035 or a Shure SM58. And then, of course, you’d need to get headphones and an XLR cable.

But that’s the beauty of the bundle. You can get all that for one lower price.

Reviewing My Own Recording Equipment

I plan to review a bunch of recording equipment on this blog in hopes that I can help you in your buying decisions.

Recording equipment

And I thought it would make sense to start with the stuff I own and use every day.

So here goes — my reviews of each piece of equipment/software I use to record.

Table of contents:

Audio-Technica AT2035 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Audio-Technica AT2035

Buy on Amazon

I bought this mic years ago at the recommendation of an engineer friend in Nashville. At the time, it was a great buy.

For just $150, it’s the perfect mic for beginner producers, and Audio-Technica is a reliable name.

It has a switchable 80 Hz high-pass filter, which will cut out lower frequencies (like rumbling noises or unwanted bass sounds). And the -10 dB pad switch reduces the input level by 10dB, which is good for recording anything loud (like a screaming vocalist or percussion).

I use this guy on just about everything — vocals, acoustic guitar, piano — and he picks up nice sound. Of course, if you spend more money, you’ll probably get a higher quality mic.

But the AT2035 is a great place to start for DIY musicians on a tighter budget.

ElectroVoice N/D 257 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

ElectroVoice N/D 257 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

Not on Amazon, but more details here

I took this mic off of a karaoke machine at Goodwill and acted like they were selling it on its own. The cashier asked someone how much it was — I think I ended up paying maybe a few bucks.

And because I got it at Goodwill, I always treated it like a no-good backup mic. I never gave it a shot. It just sat in a box somewhere.

But recently, I looked it up to see what kind of reviews it had. And boy was I happy with what I found. Engineers on the forum website GearSlutz.com (trashy name, classy people) praised it.

One person said the N/D 257 was better than the SM58, which is the standard for dynamic, hand-held mics.

“I did a A/B comparison with the SM58 and the EV 257,” this person wrote. “I was amazed on how much better the 257 sounded. The 58 was all midrange, while the 257 gave a much better representation of my voice.”

I don’t have an SM58 to compare my 257 to, but I’ll say this — I’m surprised by how good the 257 sounds. It’s clear and crisp and my acoustic guitar sounds beautiful through it. 

They’re hard to find, but if you just Google it, you can find a 257A or 257B.

Realistic Radio Shack 33-1070c Omnidirectional Microphone

RadioShack 33-1070C Omnidirectional Dynamic Microphone

Not on Amazon, but more details here

I forget to mention, I bought two mics at Goodwill. This was the other one. I’m not sure I spent more than $10 on that trip.

Shure made the Realistic 33-1070c by request of Radio Shack. And this was their attempt at mimicking the ElectroVoice RE50/B, which is a $180 mic that has five stars on Amazon.

The only context I have for this mic is we once used it to mic a cajón for the recording/filming of my song “Work Hard.” And it actually sounded decent.

So if you’re in the market for a very cheap omnidirectional mic that sounds decent on percussion instruments, the 1070c could be a good option.

Akai Professional LPK25 (25-Key MIDI Controller)

Buy on Amazon

After running into issues with my piano-tuning software, I decided to use my piano plugin, Addictive Keys, which lets me record real piano sounds with a keyboard. So I bought an Akai Professional LPK25 25-key MIDI controller for about $80.

And I love it.

The keys are smaller than regular keys, but still a good size for my fingers (which some have called “fat”). And you get two octaves at once with the option of shifting the octaves up and down the piano.

There is a sustain button that works like a sustain pedal, but it has taken practice working it with my pinky so I can play chords and the bass note(s).

This controller plugs into my computer via USB, and one thing I noticed is that the playback method you use affects the latency. So if I plug headphones right into my laptop, there’s a good amount of latency, which makes it nearly impossible to use the controller. But when I plug my headphones into my audio interface and use that for playback, there’s zero latency.

It’s a great little MIDI controller for an affordable price (and super fun).

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Buy on Amazon

I’ve recorded almost all of my music through this little guy. I haven’t had any problems. He’s been reliable since day one.

It has two XLR/quarter-inch inputs, gain knobs for both, and a monitor knob for live monitoring. The sample rates are good too (192kHz / 24 bit). Plus, you’ve got two quarter-inch outputs in the back for a right and left speaker.

And here’s the awesome part — it’s only $150. I got this one at someone’s recommendation, and it was a great decision.

One potential downside is that it has only two inputs, unlike many interfaces that have 10 or more. This means if you need to record, say, drums, you won’t get as professional of a sound with two mics as opposed to 10.

But other than that one limitation, you’ve got nothing to worry about using this interface. 

Acer Aspire Microsoft Laptop

Laptop

Buy on Amazon

Again, this laptop came at a friend’s recommendation, and I couldn’t be happier. It’s affordable yet efficient. Maybe I’m overly cautious or just paranoid, but the only thing I use it for is recording because I don’t want to clog up the hard drive.

With a 15.6-inch screen and 8 GB of RAM and 256 GB of memory, I’m all set to record away (I have the Core i7-7500U, not the Core i5-7200U).

Definitely a good buy at a reasonable price.

Sennheiser HD280PRO Headphones

Sennheiser HD 280 Pro Headphones

Buy on Amazon

Another item some recommended to me. And again, a smart recommendation.

Sennheiser is a reliable and trusted name and for good reason. I’ve had these for roughly eight years and every year I appreciate them more. They deliver beautiful, balanced sound. Perfect for editing and mixing.

At just $100, these are a solid pair of headphones to start (and continue) using.

Harmon/Kardon HK395 Dell 7E840 Speakers

Harmon Kardon HK395 Dell 7E840

Buy on Amazon

Okay, so I know these are not the best speakers on the market, but they were free. My brother picked them up at a garage sale and gave them to me. Like, you could grab these on Amazon for like $30.

But here’s the thing, when you mix, you should listen to the mixes on as many types of listening devices as possible. Your nice headphones, your average monitors, your earbuds, in your car. Everywhere.

Besides, I’ve heard people say if you can mix a song so that it sounds good on crappy speakers, then you’re golden.

So if you’re on a tight budget and want some basic speakers, these are a decent option.

Addictive Drums 2 Drum Plugin

Addictive Drums 2

Buy on Amazon

I started using this drum plugin in 2017 for my new album, and I’m not sure I want to go back to recording my own drums (unless the arrangement screams for it).

I can drag and drop each and every single hit of the drum set, all pre-recorded by a professional drummer in a professional studio with professional engineers.

You can either get the whole package here, or you can visit XLN Audio’s website to get just a few drum kits for cheaper.

If you professional sounding drums on your next album, I highly recommend Addictive Drums 2.

Reaper (DAW)

Reaper

I’m addicted to Reaper. I don’t need the expensive Pro Tools or the fancy Logic Pro.

Reaper is not only affordable (free download, then $60 for personal use), it’s simple and does pretty much everything the big guys can do. At least, it does everything you really need it to do.

You can get your free download here, try it out, and just see what you think.

Conclusion

Hope this review helps! If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email at MusicianWithADayJobBlog@gmail.com.

I’ll be updating this post as I get new equipment and use new types of software. I’ve listed the link to this post down below in the footer under “Musician Resources.”