Hi my name is Eric. I'm a 21 year old student and I'm going to Full Sail University here in Winter Park, FL. I'm getting my degree in Recording Arts, but I'm definitely more interested in audio post work rather than creating music. I've been doing a lot of research on different microphones, but I wanted to get some help from some "SFX veterans," to create a diverse field mic. kit. I have a low budget since I'm a starving college student. So far I have my Zoom H4N and a Shure SM57. My question is: What other mics should I consider to purchase that doesn't break the bank? I'm looking to purchase a shotgun mic, 1 stereo mic, and 1 cardioid mic. Any input would be greatly appreciated!

8 Answers 8


Hey Eric,

Welcome to SSD!

When you say "low budget", what price range are you looking for? There are some great mics in various different pricing tiers.

For instance, the MKH416 is half of the price of some of the other shotguns out there ($999), but it's one of the best, standby mics out there for the price.

If you can't afford the $1k, try looking at Audio-Technica for shotguns. Very good prices ($200+ range), and decent sound. Obviously they won't sound like a $1000 mic, but they're some of the best mics in the price range.

For a stereo mic, take a look at the Røde NT4. Decent sounding XY pattern mic for $500ish. There's also the Beyerdynamic MCE72 for a little under $300. Also an XY mic. I don't believe I've ever seen an inexpensive stereo mic that was anything other than XY. It will get you started though.

For condenser cardioid, are you looking for a small diaphragm? I'm assuming so... Try looking at something like the Røde M3 for $150. Let me know what you think of that one, and I can recommend something else from there...

Good Luck! Let me know if you want me to elaborate on anything or suggest anything else.

  • P.S. What month / class are you in right now?
    – Colin Hart
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 16:55
  • Hey Colin thanks for the input, I really appreciate it! My price range is from $200-$300. I'm leaning towards purchasing the Audio-Technica AT897. The Røde M3 is cheap and seems like it would work great for its price. -I'm in my eighth month; Digital Consoles. Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 17:24
  • Cool, how are you liking it so far? I haven't had any experience specifically with the AT897, but I've used other mics in the series that are pretty good. The only problem is that they have a notoriously low level output, so keep in mind that you'll have to crank your pre.
    – Colin Hart
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 22:36
  • I'm loving it so far. I'm finally getting some more hands on experience with the large Amek and SSL consoles which is nice. For the price, do you think that the AT897 is worth it? I'm leaning towards it. Thanks for all the input! Commented Jun 4, 2010 at 14:51
  • I definitely think it's worth it. A mic like that one should be able to hold you over until you can afford something like an MKH416 or something. Cool that you're on the Amek and 9000Js right now. Are you more interested in music or post?
    – Colin Hart
    Commented Jun 4, 2010 at 21:07

One of my staple mic's for stereo recording is the Rode NT-4. Great sounding mic for backgrounds and general SFX recording. Contact me off list and I can point you to a few dealers that sell these mics fairly cheap if you are interested.

You should definitely grab some sort of shotgun as well. I agree with Mr. Hart concerning the MKH416, and there are plenty of those floating around craigslist for $700 and lower...

Just remember to purchase the best mic you can afford without destroying your budget. I would rather have ONE awesome shotgun then two cruddy mics. Plus a good microphone will last a lifetime if cared for properly.

Hope this helps...

Nick Meade

  • I agree with you Nick, I would rather have a small high quality setup than a large low quality one, even if it is less flexible. Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 19:02

+1 for the MKH416, one of my favourite mics. We use to mount them in booms on sport matches. When they are not avalaible my next choice is Beyerdynamic MCE 86II (don´t mistake it for the MC836). They sound good for me too and are less expensive than Sennheiser. I´ve been using the Beyer MCE72 mounted on cameras too. They are lightweigth but I haven´t have enough time to compare them with the 416.

I was going to buy a MKH418s until I discovered that it needed the two mics phantom-powered all the time. So I decided that a shotgun-figure 8 combination was more versatile. My personal stereo config is a mid-side pair, with a Sennheiser MKH406 and a MKH30. The first is the precursor of the cardioid MKH40 and the other one is a figure 8 condenser. They are mounted together into a Rode Blimp.


this is the sound of the search field calling

https://sound.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged?tagnames=microphones&sort=newest&pagesize=50 and start from the bottom


Hi there. There are definitely alot of mics out there at various prices and various qualities. What I found was to search through the net and find suppliers and see what they are charging and see if they are selling good 2nd hand stuff. A good web site for this id www.locationsound.org. They have a great selection of industry standard equipment- both high and mid range as well as a section for good 2nd hand stuff.

  • Did you mean www.locationsound.com?
    – user80
    Commented Jun 3, 2010 at 21:36

It might be worth considering a M/S shotgun microphone (they have a built in figure of 8 mic to get stereo).

That way you would have a shotgun, stereo, and you already have a cardioid with your 57.

M/S is a relatively complicated stereo mic technique with some advantages & some disadvantages, theres loads of info on the web if youre interested.

Sennheiser make the MKH418S, I think Audio Tecnica make cheaper ones.


As for shotgun type microphones I'm most familier with the 416, (as I own one) and have used a few other higher priced models. So when someone brought some Rode NGT series (1,2,3) to a shoot, (and having been unimpressed with my only personally owned Rode product), I was already prepared to not like these things.. As it turned out, they all worked wonderfully and I would certainly recommend them to anyone on a tight budget. I think the most expensive one is still only around seven hundred dollars. Just goes to show, you have to actually use something in battle before you form an opinion.


If you can afford to go M/S, I highly recommend it for its all-around versatility and mastering flexibility. However, it can tend to be somewhat expensive (when you consider adding a Rycote and connbox add-on)

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