If you would like to record an acoustic guitar session, you should know that the market has tons of microphones for you to choose. Basically, these microphones are condenser ones and their price can vary as long as you have enough money.
As there is no volume knob to adjust the volume on an acoustic guitar, it can be a daunting task to record every detail. This is the point where you need a microphone to come to help, and to provide an excellent solution for recording acoustic guitar. Both condenser and ribbon microphones can be used for your instruments.
If you don’t have much time, just scrolling down our recommendations of the best microphones for recording acoustic guitars on the market.
AKG Pro Audio P420 Dual Capsule Condenser Microphone
The AKG P420 review is about a dual-diaphragm project studio microphone with three selectable polar patterns. This mic does not need any specific software, so all you need to do is to plug it into a mixer.
The device is well suited for the voice recording, as it has a smooth response, which reduces the likelihood of feedback. It allows speaking from it even at 2 ft away being hooked up to a mixer/audio interface that has 48v phantom power. This model features a very neutral warm and clear sound.
When looking for the best mic for acoustic guitar, don’t miss this unit since it works perfectly for multiple purposes: from guitar to other string instruments (violin, for example), as well as for vocals. However, it doesn’t fit symphonies where the extremely large distance between the mic and the instruments is required to pick up the ambiance. The mic has a standard clamp; that’s why it works well with any mic stand and it’s attached easily to the boom arm.
As it is an analog device, no specific sample rate or bit depth is included. To reveal these metrics, it is necessary to look at the audio interface or a sound card.
MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
At first sight, the MXL 770 looks quite cool . Like the MXL 990, it’s nothing impressive, but in general, the design has a definite hint of vintage and elegance about it – largely thanks to the use of a black color scheme on the chassis and grille, along with some classy gold detailing.
The chassis itself is all metal and, even though it’s lighter than a higher-end mic, it still has a nice weight to it (around 1lb). While it looks quite complicated, it’s no wimp – it’s a durable little mic and certainly capable of taking a beating in the studio.
Around the back of the mic you will find a couple of switches. The first is the low-frequency roll-off and the other is the 10db pad, which both prove very useful. A nice bonus at this price is the inclusion of a foam-padded rigid plastic case, as well as the all-metal high-isolation shock mount. Both are very solid additions.
For a sub-$100 mic, you may be forgiven for thinking it could be a bit of a dud in terms of performance, yet it’s so popular for a reason – it absolutely blows you away. It takes vocals very well, offering a natural and lifelike sound with no coloration. However, it offers substantial warmth and has some fullness to it.
AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Another outstanding condenser mic that offers exceptional value for money, the C214 from AKG offers great audio quality combined with the durability that’s essential for the realities of touring and playing live music as well as robust capabilities for studio use.
While designed with lead vocals in mind, this product from AKG is also well suited to instrumental use, making it especially helpful for instrumental solos that pack a punch. If you’re intending to build a home recording studio, however, you’d be hard pressed to find a better all-rounder that delivers awesome sound quality with a range of features for close up recording. For example, the mic has a switchable 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter designed to reduce proximity effect as well as an ultra-low noise for close recording of high-output sources. All that without compromising on dynamic range… which clocks in at an incredible 143 dB.
Its sonic character is modelled after the classic C414 XLII although it is far more affordable. This means you can expect great clarity and detail on vocals as well as a range of acoustic instruments and electric guitars.
Thanks to a shock and scratch resistant all-metal die-cast body, the mic is incredibly robust. Still, for all its durability it still manages to boast an attractive and elegant design that will be a good look for any live performer. An exceptional all-rounder at a great price which is certain to attract a range of users.
MXL 990, XLR Connector Condenser Microphone
From a design standpoint, the MXL 990 is quite plain and simple, although not unattractive. It is noticeably different to its cheaper little brother – the MXL 770 – with a stubby all-metal chassis and a vintage champagne finish, which is actually quite stylish.
Eventually, unlike some other inexpensive mics from this brand (the MXL V67G), the MXL 990 gives the impression that it is a condenser microphone designed completely to get the job done in contrast to be a conversation piece. We can respect that.
Behind the subtle exterior lies some very solid constituents for the price. It packs a large diaphragm fitted into a decent capsule, while MXL went with their proven FET preamp that boasts consistency and reliability.
To connect the 990, you will need an XLR cable, which also means that phantom power on your audio interface will be needed. While the features here are very strong, the feeling of overall value is boosted by the accessory pack MXL includes. In addition to a very sturdy padded carry case and mic stand adapter, the 990 comes with an excellent shock mount (the MXL-90), which can extensively help reduce vibrations and protect the mic.
When you gather everything and plug in your cable, you will pay attention to two things: a decent amount of sensitivity and a very good balance. The MXL 990 is well suitable for vocals and is all about that midrange warmth, with a full and rich tone – it makes you sound better without coloring your voice too much.
AKG PERCEPTION 170 Professional Instrumental
The Perception 170 is one of AKG’s affordable instrument microphones. It is used in studios worldwide by both amateurs and professionals.
The P170 comes with a compact metal body. It is available only in black and the styling is really understated. This rugged and durable microphone is built to last.
The choice of small diaphragm and condenser element points it towards recording instruments, especially acoustic string instruments. Recording drums is also one of its strengths. As for connectivity, it has a standard 3-pin XLR connector located at the bottom.
The cardioid polar pickup pattern of the 170 blocks all sound to the rear of the device for a honed focus on the area the mic is positioned toward–a great feature for achieving a pure acoustic guitar recording. One of the features that takes the 170 above its competitors is an impressively high maximum SPL of 155 dB. This allows the microphone to handle a higher level of sound without contortion than any of the other products on this list. Also, the 170 comes with a switchable 20 dB attenuation pad for exact adjustment to any application.
The microphone weighs in at around 4.6 ounces. It has a flat frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz, which will transmit the guitar’s sound with complete accuracy for a precise recording.
The Perception 170 mic from AKG is an incredible value, and one of the cheapest options on this list. Factor in a customer’s reviews, this microphone is undoubtedly a top contender.
Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Microphone
The Shure SM81-LC is a famous microphone for various different instruments. It is available for under $400 and for that you truly get a professional microphone suitable for acoustic instruments.
This microphone is much liked by tons of musicians and engineers for recording acoustic guitar. The frequency response is really flat, but you can choose to roll off the low-end if you wish so you can just focus on the shine of the guitar. The microphone won’t taint your recordings with any weak areas, it simply provides a realistic and detailed sound.
You can trust the Shure brand 99 times out of 100 for sure, and the SM81-LC is proof of this.
It is cardioid in pickup pattern so good for detail and rejecting the ambient noise of the room or things like the player’s breathing or moving around. While this mic is not really suitable for vocals, and lacks a bit of warmth in this area, the SM81-LC is still a top pick if you just want to record your acoustic guitar in isolation.
It is a condenser microphone so it requires a source of phantom power with a decent preamp to get a good sound level out of this mic.
Rode NT4 X/Y Stereo Condenser Microphone
Stereo recording can be a brilliant way to get a detailed acoustic guitar sound, but a lot of people don’t have the capacity to set up multiple microphones (for instance, an audio interface may just have one XLR input). Also, multiple mics can cause issues around phasing.
For the benefits of stereo recordings without having the hassle, you can go for the Rode NT4. This has two capsules within it, which is pretty unique for a microphone. The clarity is exceptional, and getting a full, well-rounded sound from a single microphone (technically) has never been easier.
This microphone needs phantom power, but this can be provided from a 9V battery if needed, making portable recording far easier to do than many other condenser microphones. The connection is not just suitable for use in an audio interface or mixing desk and this comes with all you need to plug into a camera or even laptop if needed.
The NT4 costs a little more than many of the other choices, and you won’t find this first hand for under $500. That said, you’re effectively getting two mics in one!
Important Features To Consider
Of course there would be millions of things that you need to contemplate before you decide to buy for yourself a quality microphone. Here we introduce some of the primary features to consider.
Wireless, Or Wired?
Do you need a wireless mic for live performances with your acoustic, or do you feel that a wired pickup/mic would work better? They both come with their fair share of pros and cons. Wireless mics are occasionally prone to interference, and depends on their battery life. But wired mics are not quite as portable, and will ‘tether’ you to a certain area of the stage… giving you only your chord-length in room to move around.
Budget, or Premium?
How do you know whether or not to go for a budget mic? When is it time to upgrade to a premium-level product? This can be difficult to figure out if you are new to the game, but here is a general rule of thumb to follow. To start out, try something reasonably priced… like the MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone. Gaining experience with a cheaper mic will give you a much better idea of how live acoustic guitar mics are supposed to work in general, which can set you up for a much better premium-level choice when the time comes to spend your money on something more expensive. Think of every mic purchase as an investment in your future guitar-craft.
Sound quality is a HUGE factor. Unluckily, there are really only two ways to figure out if a particular mic may have decent sound quality. You can test the mic yourself, or you can read-up on what other users have said about it to try to figure out which microphones tend to shine the brightest. After this, it is mostly a game of choosing what looks the best, giving it a try, and then upgrading later on. The more experience you get in this field, the better you will get at selecting products that will have a higher probability of working the way you want them to!
Conclusion - Choose your best mic for recording acoustic guitar
All seven microphones mentioned above are all preferred by professionals. They are believed to produce incredible acoustic guitar recordings.
Each of them shine in its own way and it is not easy to go wrong with any of them.
There is one thing you need to keep in mind: there are no “perfect” mics – just pick one that lies within your budget and suits your recording intention.
Also, don’t forget a pop filter and high-quality mic preamp to get the best sound from your new mic!