Premier Guitar features affiliate links to help support our content. We may earn a commission on any affiliated purchases.

5 Starter Studio Mics for Under $1,000 Total

5 Starter Studio Mics for Under $1,000 Total

Building a home studio? Here’s a recommended array of basic microphones and a DI box that covers the basics.

If you’re building a home studio, you’re obviously going to need microphones. But you don’t need to spend thousands on mics to begin recording demos and even albums. Here are five essential microphones and one direct box, which all add up to under $1,000.

You may already know there are three main types of microphones: dynamic, condenser, and ribbon. Dynamic, or moving coil, mics are the least expensive, but also the most rugged. They handle loud sound sources like drums and guitar amps with ease. You’ve seen these mics many times, because most mics used in live performance are dynamic, but they also get heavy use in the studio.

Shure SM57

Shure SM57 and SM58 dynamic mics set the industry standard. The SM58 ($99 street) is widely used for vocals onstage but also works well on guitar cabinets, snare drums, and toms. The SM57 ($99 street) is a similar dynamic mic aimed at recording instruments more than vocals, since it lacks the 58’s ball grille, which is designed to reduce vocal plosives. I’ve heard very good recordings of acoustic guitar made with an SM57. In fact, you can track any instrument with one of these workhorse microphones and come up with a good sounding final product. Buy each of these very versatile recording tools.


Shure Beta 52A 

Another Shure product, the Beta 52A ($199 street), is a specialty mic made to capture kick drums, emphasizing low frequencies. You need one of these, too. The Beta 52A is supercardioid, which means it has a tighter pickup angle and offers good side rejection. This mic is also useful on bass cabinets, tuba, or trombone, and sounds good on floor toms, too.


Condenser microphones are often the most expensive, although they range from $89 to $8,499. Condensers are the most sensitive to dynamics and can also handle loud sound sources. They are used on many instruments—especially for vocals and acoustic instruments, and as drum overheads. Most vocalists prefer a condenser mic in the studio because these mics capture nuanced performances. They often have multiple pickup patterns (omnidirectional, unidirectional, and bidirectional or figure eight), which can be helpful. Condenser microphones need a low-voltage power source, called phantom power, to operate. But the good news is phantom power is found on almost every mixing console and on every interface. Just remember to turn it on when using a condenser.

You don’t need to spend thousands on mics to begin recording demos and even albums.

Audio-Technica AT2021

A great starter condenser is the Audio-Technica AT2021 ($89 street). This small diaphragm mic is excellent for acoustic instruments, including guitar. They also work well as drum overheads. Audio-Technica makes some other high-quality, affordable condenser mics, too. I recommend buying two AT2021s. Then, you’ll have two drum overhead mics that will also sound great recording various acoustic instruments.


AKG P420 

A large-diaphragm condenser mic is what most singers prefer in the studio, for its sensitivity to the nuances of vocal performances. They are also used on acoustic instruments, including horns, upright bass, and piano. The AKG P420 ($229 street) is an excellent vocal microphone that can be set for all three pickup patterns. And the omnidirectional pickup pattern can be useful when recording an entire ensemble or vocal group.


Radial ProDI

If you’ve played a gig on acoustic guitar, you already know what a direct box, or DI, does. In the studio, DIs are used to record high-output instruments such as keyboards or bass without distorting. It’s always good to have one on hand. Radial makes high-quality DIs, and I recommend the Radial ProDI 1 ($129 street) for its simplicity and efficiency.


Our total cost for these six mics and direct box is $933. Not bad for a basic, easy-to-find home studio mic selection that’ll get you started. And remember, when you’re ready, there’s a myriad of other manufacturers and mics out there to explore. To say nothing of plugins and hardware.

PS: Ribbon mics are the most fragile. They are often used for specific voices or instruments like brass and woodwinds, or a string section, and they are not as versatile as the other mic types. But ribbon mics do have a nice low frequency bump, and the word “warm” is often used to describe their sound. Because they are not as versatile as dynamic and condenser microphones, ribbon mics can always be added to your collection after you get the basics covered.

Full Slash Interview
Full Slash Interview on New Blues Album, S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Festival, Guitar Gear, Pedal Steel & More

The guitar icon shares what went into making his chart-topping blues album and what gear fans can expect to see at the S.E.R.P.E.N.T. Blues Festival tour.

This 1968 Epiphone Al Caiola Standard came stocked with P-90s and a 5-switch Tone Expressor system.

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (

Photo courtesy of Guitar Point (

The session ace’s signature model offers a wide range of tones at the flip of a switch … or five.

Hello and welcome back to Mod Garage. Not long ago, I came home late from a band rehearsal, still overly excited about the new songs we played. I got myself a coffee (I know, it's a crazy procedure to calm down) and turned on the TV. I ended up with an old Bonanza episode from the ’60s, the mother of all Western TV series. Hearing the theme after a long time instantly reminded me of the great Al Caiola, who is the prolific session guitarist who plays on the song. With him in mind, I looked up the ’60s Epiphone “Al Caiola” model and decided I want to talk about the Epiphone/Gibson Tone Expressor system that was used in this guitar.

Read MoreShow less

Slinky playability, snappy sounds, and elegant, comfortable proportions distinguish an affordable 0-bodied flattop.

Satisfying, slinky playability. Nice string-to-string balance. Beautiful, comfortable proportions.

Cocobolo-patterned HPL back looks plasticky.


Martin 0-X2E


Embracing the idea of an acoustic flattop made with anything other than wood can, understandably, be tricky stuff. There’s a lot of precedent for excellent-sounding acoustics built with alternative materials, though. Carbon-fiber flattops can sound amazing and I’ve been hooked by the sound and playability of Ovation and Adamas instruments many times.

Read MoreShow less

The GibsonES Supreme Collection (L-R) in Seafoam Green, Bourbon Burst, and Blueberry Burst.

The new Gibson ES Supreme offers AAA-grade figured maple tops, Super Split Block inlays, push/pull volume controls, and Burstbucker pickups.

Read MoreShow less