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Best Microphone for GarageBand

GarageBand is a very popular digital audio workstation for the various professional features that it offers and because of how easy it is for beginners to get a grasp on audio recording. Plus, it is free for Mac OS and iOS users.

If you’re a beginner producer or independent artist and tried your hand with this DAW, you may have noticed that your laptop’s or smartphone’s built-in microphone doesn’t have the optimal sound quality for recording music. They usually aren’t detailed and clear enough for the job.

But that’s to be expected since these equipment weren’t designed with this kind of job in mind. Instead, you will achieve a much better result by using a professional dynamic or condenser microphone.

Nowadays, a mic for instrument and vocal recordings can be quite affordable. We reviewed 7 products in this article to help you find the best microphone for GarageBand. We also listed everything you’re going to need to connect your equipment to your laptop or mobile device.

Tip: Also read our Best Microphone for Vocals article to get a better grasp on the subject.

We Chose the Audio-Technica AT2020 and the Sennheiser E835 as The Best Condenser and Best Dynamic Microphone for GarageBand Respectively

The Behringer XM8500 was our Budget Pick

Best Microphone for GarageBand – Our Tests

Table of Contents

  1. Our Pick
    1. Shure SM58
    2. MXL V67G
    3. Audio-Technica AT2020
    4. Samson C01
    5. Sennheiser E835
    6. Blue Yeti
    7. Behringer XM8500
  2. Things to Keep in Mind when Choosing a Microphone for GarageBand
  3. What Else Will I Need to Record with GarageBand?
  4. Conclusion

#1 Shure SM58

Shure SM58

The Shure SM58 is the flagship model of the audio recording world and has been the industry standard ever since it came out. The picture of an SM58 is probably the first thing that comes to our minds when we think about microphones and you’ve certainly seen this workhorse in live venues across the world.

Product Specifications

  • Dynamic Microphone
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Steel Mesh Grille
  • XLR Connector

Pros

  • The Shure SM58 is the most durable microphone in the market. There is no other mic that comes as close, as this unit is so sturdy it could probably survive a lifetime.
  • This microphone can be used both for live performances and studio recordings.
  • If your recording environment is not optimal or has a lot of noise, the Shure SM58 is perfect, as its cardioid dynamic microphone design will prevent unwanted sounds from entering your audio.
  • You can use the Shure SM58 to record other instruments apart from vocals, such as a guitar amp and even drums.

Cons

  • None particularly concerning.

Verdict

This microphone is the professional standard of the industry and you can’t go wrong with the Shure SM58. One of the most popular dynamic mics, it will be a great choice if you don’t have a sound-treated and soundproof room as this unit does a very great job at keeping background noise out of your recordings. Plus, it is as durable as a mic can be.

#2 MXL V67G

MXL V67G

The MXL V67G caught our attention because it is a condenser microphone that attends professional standards for an affordable price. The warm and full sound of this mic makes it a gem for recording vocals.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Microphone
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • +48V Phantom Power Required
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • This microphone was specially designed for vocals and it performs very well for that kind of task.
  • The frequency response is pretty full and flat, especially in the bass frequencies, giving this mic a nice and warm sound.
  • Has a solid-state preamp balanced transformer.
  • This mic can stand high levels of sound pressure, meaning you can use it to record loud sound sources such as guitar cabs without worrying about it clipping.
  • Sounds pretty good for recording acoustic guitar too.

Cons

  • None that we found.

Verdict

This microphone was being sold for around $70 by this time this article was written, and for a mic so affordable, the MXL V67G does a pretty good job. We like the external design and the building quality of this unit, as well as the warm sound inspired by tube mics. This is certainly a great pick for beginners.

#3 Audio-Technica AT2020

Audio-Technica AT2020

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is one of our favorite condenser microphones on a budget. The unit has a solid performance and can be used for pretty much anything: vocals, acoustic guitars, drums. We reviewed this product in other product round-ups and it always ended up being one of our top picks.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Microphone
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • +48V Phantom Power Required
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • This microphone looks very professional and sturdy.
  • It has a surprisingly clear and bright sound. If you look at the frequency response graph, you will see that this unit is mostly flat across the frequency spectrum but has a pleasant boost around the 8kHz region that may help your vocals shine through the mix.
  • High maximum SPL and low self-noise. A high maximum SPL means that this mic can stand high amounts of sound pressure; While low self-noise levels will ensure a quieter recording without any hum or interference.
  • It is one of the most affordable condenser microphones when it comes to quality vs price.

Cons

  • None particularly concerning.

Verdict

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is incredible at what it proposes. Being so affordable and with unmatched build quality and sound in this price range, it will certainly be a good addition to any home recording studio. Paired with a good audio interface it will sound optimal.

#4 Samson C01

Samson C01

Samson is a popular brand among beginners and home recording artists due to the great value of its products. The C01 has been around for quite some time now and still holds up as a great budget option. Fun fact: the C01U, the USB version of this unit, was the world’s first studio condenser microphone.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Microphone
  • Hyper-Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • +48V Phantom Power Required
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • Great off-axis rejection. Good if you don’t have a sound-treated or soundproof room to record in.
  • Has a hyper-cardioid polar pattern that can be useful in some recording situations. The hyper-cardioid pattern focuses on only picking up sounds that are directly in front of the mic and reducing everything coming from the back and the sides.
  • The frequency response is particularly good in the high-end.
  • The design seems to be very durable and built to last.

Cons

  • It has a little bit less sensitivity than other condenser microphones because of its hyper-cardioid-focused sound.

Verdict

The Samson C01 performs well for the price. Due to this mic having a hyper-cardioid polar pattern, we would recommend it if you don’t have a professionally sound-treated or soundproof room but still want that bright and shiny sound of a condenser microphone. We found the Audio-Technica AT2020 to be slightly better and more versatile at a similar price, though.

Tip: If you’re looking for microphones to be used in film productions, check out our Best Shotgun Microphone for Film article.

#5 Sennheiser E835

Sennheiser E835

The Sennheiser E835 really surprised us in other product round-ups due to its extremely bright sound, unusual for dynamic mics. Not to mention that the manufacturer is extremely well-renowned in the recording industry.

Product Specifications

  • Dynamic Microphone
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • As mentioned before, this microphone has a boosted high-end that can give more brightness to your vocals.
  • It also has a gentle presence boost in the mid-range to ensure your voice cuts through the mix.
  • This dynamic mic can be used both live and in the studio.
  • The Sennheiser E835 is an excellent option if you’re recording in a noisy environment.
  • There’s very little handling noise with this mic so it’s great for singers who like to hold their microphone while recording.
  • High feedback rejection.
  • Sennheiser offers a 10-year warranty so you can rest assured in that matter.

Cons

  • The brightness of this mic can be a little harsh for certain genres and situations.

Verdict

This is one of our favorite dynamic mics and it’s an affordable option for those on a budget. The frequency response on the Sennheiser E835 is really impressive and we haven’t found anything quite like it in the price range. Particularly if your home studio isn’t sound-treated or soundproofed just yet, this is the way to go.

#6 Blue Yeti

Blue Yeti

The Blue Yeti, unlike most other options in this list, is a USB microphone. The great advantage in using a USB mic, especially if you’re a complete beginner, is that you won’t need to buy an audio interface to connect it to your computer or mobile device. It may not be as powerful as an XLR unit, but it does the job.

Product Specifications

  • Condenser Microphone
  • Four Selectable Polar Patterns
  • Built-In Stand
  • USB Connection

Pros

  • As we discussed earlier, this is a USB microphone, meaning you won’t need an audio interface to plug it into your device.
  • There are four selectable polar patterns: flexible cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, and stereo. This gives a lot of room for experimentation and makes this microphone pretty versatile.
  • The microphone is very easy to set up. Just plug it in and start recording.
  • The built-in stand is removable, so you can use the mic with a boom mic stand.
  • The three-capsule design gives you a very clear recording sound.

Cons

  • As this is a USB mic, it may not be as powerful as an XLR unit regarding the ability to pick up details and gain.
  • You will be limited to the USB connector with this mic, not being able to use an audio interface or preamp with it.

Verdict

Among cheap USB microphones, the Blue Yeti is the best. Like said before, you won’t need  audio interfaces to plug this mic into your device. Its four selectable polar patterns also give you a lot of possibilities.

There are, of course, some drawbacks. A USB microphone, while it may work for simple home studio recording situations, is not the perfect solution for music. XLR mics are much more powerful and detailed than a USB mic. So, if you can spend a little more, we recommend going with an XLR option and a cheap audio interface.

#7 Behringer XM8500

Behringer XM8500

The Behringer XM8500 is so affordable that it is impossible to find any other dynamic mic in this price range that is as good. This cardioid microphone has an impressive frequency response and was priced around $20 by the time this article was written. You didn’t read it wrong, it is that cheap.

Product Specifications

  • Dynamic Microphone
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • XLR Connection

Pros

  • This mic is extremely affordable and has an impressively good audio quality.
  • The building quality and sturdiness of this mic are pretty impressive. We feel like it could survive occasional falls without much struggle.
  • The windscreen is pretty resistant to pops and sibilant noises.
  • The Behringer XM8500 does a great job at keeping background noise away from your recording.
  • The mic is shielded against hum and electrical interference.
  • There is a smooth mid-frequency boost in the frequency response that helps your vocal to be heard more clearly in a busy mix.
  • Highly feedback resistant.

Cons

  • None that are particularly significant.

Verdict

The Behringer XM8500 is a very decent microphone. Being extremely affordable, you certainly won’t find any other mic in the same price range that offers a sound quality as good as the XM8500. This cheap mic is frequently compared to much more expensive models regarding that matter. We definitely recommend it if you’re on a budget.

Tip: In search of a wireless mic? Visit our Best Wireless Microphone for DJs guide.

Things to Keep in Mind when Choosing a Microphone for GarageBand

Shopping for a great microphone isn’t always an easy task, especially for beginners. There are so many factors and differences you must take into account. Below, we list some of the things to keep in mind when buying that kind of audio equipment.

Dynamic Vs Condenser

Most microphones are either dynamic or condenser (with the exception of ribbon mics, which are more expensive and fragile). The choice between the two will usually depend on what environment you’re recording in and what instruments you plan to capture.

Dynamic microphones are usually less prone to picking up background noise but have less sensitivity than their condenser counterparts. They are the optimal choice for recording vocals in noise environments or loud instruments such as a guitar amp cabinet.

Condenser microphones have the advantage of picking up more sound details and they usually have more brightness. A condenser mic is an optimal choice if you have (or plan to have) a sound-treated and soundproof room for recording. They are also great for capturing instruments like acoustic guitar.

Cardioid polar pattern graph from the Audio-Technica AT2020. Source. 

Polar Pattern

The polar pattern of a mic capsule determines what direction it will favor when picking up sounds. For example, cardioid mics will focus on capturing sound sources that are directly in front of it and ignoring everything coming from the sides and the back of the mic.

There are lots of other polar patterns such as omnidirectional (captures sound coming from all directions) and figure-eight (focus on the front and the back of the mic). Most of the products in this list have a cardioid or hyper-cardioid polar pattern, which are optimal for most recording purposes and excellent for vocals.

Sensitivity

The sensitivity of a microphone determines, as the name implies, how sensitive it is at picking up sounds. Condenser mics usually have more sensitivity than their dynamic counterparts, but the choice will ultimately depend on what instrument you’re capturing. All of the microphones in this list have great sensitivity and are suitable for many recording situations.

Connection

Most professional mics have an XLR connection. An XLR microphone will connect to audio interfaces so keep in mind that you will need this kind of equipment in order to plug it into your device.  The Blue Yeti is the only exception on our list, which is a USB microphone.

What Else Will I Need to Record with GarageBand?

Of course, to connect your microphone to your laptop or iOS device running GarageBand, you’re going to need a few extra things apart from the mic itself.

Audio Interface

A USB audio interface is pretty affordable nowadays. These devices will usually have a number of XLR inputs which you can use to connect your XLR mic into. If you’re using a condenser mic, you will need an interface with +48V phantom power to properly drive your unit.

You can visit our Best Audio Interface article to learn more about this kind of product and see some recommendations.

Good Quality Cables

A million-dollar recording rig would be nothing without quality cables. For connecting your mic to your audio interface, you’re going to need a good-quality XLR cable. These don’t cost much and will ensure you a hum and interference-free recording.

Shock Mount and Pop Filter (If You’re Using Condenser Mics)

Finally, if you’re using a condenser mic, you’re going to need a shock mount and a pop filter. They work, respectively, to prevent mechanical noise and plosives/sibilant noises from entering your recording. You can usually find those for quite cheap.

Conclusion

All of the microphones reviewed in the article are great choices for recording instruments and vocals with GarageBand. The best option will ultimately depend on your particular use case. However, there are three products that exceeded our expectations: the Audio-Technica AT2020, the Sennheiser E835, and the Behringer XM8500.

Audio-Technica AT2020

Audio-Technica AT2020 – Best Condenser Microphone for GarageBand

The Audio-Technica AT2020 has all the features you’d expect from a professional microphone. This affordable condenser sounds great for recording pretty much anything: from vocals to acoustic guitar.

Sennheiser E835

Sennheiser E835 – Best Dynamic Microphone for GarageBand

The Sennheiser E835 really surprised us as being one of the brightest dynamic mics we’ve ever reviewed. It is a good microphone if you need to record studio-grade vocals but don’t have a sound-treated and soundproof environment: it will do a great job at keeping background noise out of your audio.

Behringer XM8500

Behringer XM8500 – Best Budget Choice

A popular mic for those on a budget, the Behringer XM8500 sounds good and is extremely affordable. A great choice for beginners wanting to try their hand at recording and even seasoned pros looking for a cheap addition to their mic locker.

How to Buy

You can find the Amazon product page for each mic in their respective titles on the list. Remember to research extensively: we have lots of other articles about microphones on our website. Have fun recording!