Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone: Our Top 10 Picks + Buyers Guide!

Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone: Our Top 10 Picks + Buyers Guide!

Introduction

Small-diaphragm condenser mics are most used for the next purposes: acoustic guitars, hi-hats, harps, drum overheads (not kick drums), or any instrument with sharp transients (excessive amplitude, short-duration sounds) and overtones. We’ve even heard of many using it for filmmaking, too.

There are recording techniques that generally prefer to make use of each a big and small-diaphragm condenser at the same time, to seize a fuller spectrum of frequencies of their mix.

Compared to large-diaphragm (1 inch or extra), small-diaphragm condensers (half an inch or less) have decreased sensitivity, extra self-noise, much less restricted frequency range, and better sound-pressure (SPL), a better dynamic vary, and simple positioning (because of their smaller dimension).

What’s even better is quite a lot of these are available in pairs when bought on the web, since many individuals get them to record their instruments from totally different angles to seize them more effectively.

We just want to let you know that we’ll list these best small diaphragm condenser microphone reviews in no particular order. They’ll be randomized as we don’t wish to sort them from best to worst.

Listed below are our Top 10 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphones for 2022:

1. Shure KSM137 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The Shure KSM137 is a small diaphragm condenser and it’s made to be used in a recording studio setting. It’s a cardioid microphone and has a 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response, which is in fact the total range of human listening. It has a pad that has both -15 dB or – 25 dB of attenuation and likewise has a low-cut option for each 80 Hz and 115 Hz. It is the right condenser for a wide range of purposes.

The cardioid instrument microphone delivers wonderful sound isolation and superior transient response. It contains a gold-layered Mylar diaphragm, a preamplifier for transparency, a subsonic filter to stop low-frequency rumble, and a pad for dealing with SPLs.

The KSM137 is an end-address condenser microphone with a single cardioid polar pattern. Designed for studio use, but rugged enough for live purposes, the KSM137 can stand up to extraordinarily high sound pressure levels (SPL). Its low self-noise and prolonged frequency response make it ideal for recording instruments.

Versatile, sturdy, and exact, the KSM137 is an excellent microphone for instruments starting from percussion to wind, strings to brass, and piano to guitar. The Shure KSM137 is a pleasant choice for a fairly cheap small diaphragm condenser mic.

Shure KSM137 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Features:

  • Polar pattern: cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Sensitivity: -37 dBV / Pa
  • Switchable pad: 0 dB, -15 dB, -25 dB

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Shure KSM137
  • Optimized for acoustic instruments
  • Neutral and precise sound for stage and studio applications

2. Rode NT5-S Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Rode NT5 microphones are small but very highly effective “weapons” as soon as they’re in your microphone locker. This condenser mic has cardioid traits and frequency varies from 20Hz to 20kHz, identical to some other normal condenser. The fascinating part of these mics in their frequency response is especially flat with little low shelving from 100Hz and high shelving from 4kHz.

We’re utilizing it, particularly for this utility as many different recording engineers. The brand new method that we discovered is utilizing these on recording choirs within the XY mic method. The sound from this place is crystal clear and you might record even in areas that have plenty of reverb on bass frequencies, NT5 can simply deal with this.

The Rode NT5 Microphone is a stereo-pair inside microphone that helps you do extra low-profile recordings. It’s a well-made, vital, and multi-sided pencil condenser. It has a pair of small diagrams with low-noise output and whole frequency response.

As you may even see, utilizing NT5 could be very versatile and you can record even outdoor. Because of the scenario, you might use a pouch that can be put in on a mic so it defends the diaphragm from wind or different undesirable artifacts.

Rode NT5-S Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Features:

  • Polar pattern: cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Satin nickel finish
  • Active electronics: JFET impedance converter

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Rode NT5-S
  • Including windshield, tripod adapter, and case
  • Including 10 years manufacturer warranty

3. sE Electronics sE8 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

These small-diaphragm fixed cardioid-pattern microphones can be found both single or in matched pairs and, in contrast to some pencil mics, don’t offer the choice of switching capsules. We had a matched pair of sE8s in for assessment, they usually came in a foam-lined aluminum case together with stand clips, a stereo bar, and two foam windscreens for outdoor use.

The capsules are hand-made in its own Shanghai manufacturing unit and the spec sheet for the mic boasts low noise, a clean pure sound plus dual-value pad, and low-cut filter switches. To create factory-matched pairs, sE claims that they measure lots of individual microphones after which pair up those who have identical traits.

A half-inch capsule has a three micron-thick, gold-sputtered diaphragm that sits under a really wonderful grille, with the aspect venting additionally mesh-covered. We’re knowledgeable that the capsule employs a newly developed backplate to achieve an extra constant off-axis response and a clean frequency response.

The spec sheet reveals the anticipated 20Hz-20kHz frequency response, whereas the response graph reveals solely the merest trace of a presence hump, beginning around 5kHz and peaking roughly a few decibels up at around 8kHz. Without the filters engaged, the response is flat right down to 30Hz, beneath which a gradual roll-off takes place.

sE Electronics sE8 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Features:

  • Polar pattern: cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Low cut switchable: 80/160 Hz (6 dB / oct.)
  • Pad switchable: 0 dB, 10 dB, 20 dB

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sE Electronics sE8
  • Handmade small diaphragm condenser capsule
  • Max. SPL (0.5% THD): 139/149/159 dB SPL (0/10/20 dB pad)

4. Slate Digital VMS ML-2 Modeling Microphone

The Slate ML-2 produced after the Slate ML-1 is a small diaphragm condenser microphone that makes use of a software program and lets a music producer record sources like they’re utilizing a number of microphone choices. It’s used with the Virtual Microphone System (VMS) or the Virtual Recording Studio (VRS).

It’s able to recreate the tone of a complete mic locker of instrument mics including dynamics just like the 57 and 421. It has a dynamic swap that enables the microphone to face up to the high SPL of the instruments. It also has a low latency stage.

The Slate ML-2 Microphone comes with 18 digital emulations which embody: S-57 Classic, S-57 Trendy, S-custom snare, S-222, S-121 dynamic, S-121 regular, S-421, S-E20, S-custom kick, S-12, S-custom tom, S-112, S-414 dynamic, S-414 regular, S-67, S-47f, S-451, and S-7. The Slate ML-2 bundle also comes with some equipment that embodies the microphone bag, Virtual Microphone System (VMS) software program card, and the microphone clip.

The Slate ML-2 microphone incorporates a related linear and flat frequency response to its bigger sibling and a side-mounted swap that pads the input circuit and repolarizes the capsule to extend headroom. In consequence, it may be used similar to a dynamic mic on drums, guitar cabs, and more.

Slate Digital VMS ML-2 Modeling Microphone
Features:

  • Similar to the Slate Digital ML-1
  • Includes licence for VMC Classic Instruments software

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Slate Digital VMS ML-2
  • Optimized for Slate Digital VRS8 audio interface and Slate Preamp

5. AKG P170 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

AKG P170 Instrumental Microphone is a half-inch small diaphragm instrument microphone. As such, it’s made for capturing instruments more moderately than voices. Along with sound high quality, although, the truth that this can be a condenser microphone has one other impact. All condenser mics want a power supply – be that batteries or a phantom power supply. The AKG P170 Instrumental Microphone specifically requires a phantom power supply.

The design truly follows intently the discontinued AKG 170 Instrumental Microphone. One of many greatest adjustments is the capsule vent dimension and form. Whereas to the untrained eye, this may occasionally appear a trivial and inconsequential change, it actually isn’t. As an alternative, it has an effect on the high-frequency response of the microphones though they’ve got an identical response graph.

AKG 170 Instrumental Microphone is made to deal with overheads, acoustic guitars, and some other string instruments. That is because of a half-inch true condenser transducer diaphragm. This picks up sound and studies it again with wonderful readability and transient response.

Nevertheless, all condenser mics are compact in dimension. At 160 mm (6. 3 inches) in the top and 22 mm (0.9 inches) in diameter and only 130 g (4.6 ounces), the AKG P170 Instrumental Microphone doesn’t stray from this pattern.

AKG P170 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Features:

  • Cardioid
  • Frequency range: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 200 Ohm
  • Switchable pad: -20

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AKG P170
  • Robust metal chassis
  • Max. SPL: 135/ 155 dB
  • XLR connector
  • Diameter: 22 mm

6. Neumann KM 184 Cardioid Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The Neumann KM 184 is a pencil condenser mic with a single, cardioid polar sample. It’s a transformerless FET, which means there’s no coloration and the mic can produce a clear sound and take extra ranges without distortion.

That is nice information for a lot of musicians, as different microphones could wrestle with distortion particularly as they get overloaded. At solely 80g, it’s additionally gentle and moveable, allowing it to be used in a variety of functions together with on the highway.

Like the rest of Neumann’s mics, the KM184 mic is fastidiously and meticulously engineered to provide the perfect sound possible. The cardioid pattern of the Neumann KM-184 is frequency-independent, making for a wonderful rejection of sound.

The frequency response is clean, and the microphone has a low self-noise of solely 13 dBA whereas with the ability to confidently deal with sound pressure levels as much as 138 dB. On the entire, it’s been fastidiously designed to provide the perfect sound possible whether or not on stage or off it.

The Neumann KM 184 was first launched in 1993. It was designed and manufactured to switch the basic Neumann KM 84 within the firm’s new product line-up. Neumann’s high performance with its vocal mics has constructed for the corporate virtually legendary fame.

Neumann KM 184 Cardioid Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone Best Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone: Our Top 10 Picks + Buyers Guide!
Features:

  • Polar pattern: cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20-20000 Hz
  • Nominal Impedance: 50 Ohm
  • Pressure gradient transducer

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Neumann KM 184
  • Very smooth frequency responses not only for the 0° axis but also for lateral (off-axis) sound incidence.

7. Warm Audio WA-84 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The Warm Audio WA-84 is a small diaphragm, phantom-powered cardioid condenser microphone primarily based on the long-discontinued Neumann KM-84. The Warm Audio WA-84 is a small pencil-style condenser mic that measures 131 mm long and 22 mm in diameter (5.16″ x 0.87″), and weighs 122 grams / 4.3 ounces.

The WA‑84 follows the unique design in having the capsule housed in a removable head that could be unscrewed and far away from the body containing the electronics. The body of the WA-84 seems similar to the classic ’84, right down to the very equally sized and formed vents behind the removable capsule.

The WA-84 is designed for professional studio, home studio, live and broadcast purposes and sounds nice on quite a lot of instruments and sources, resembling; acoustic/electrical guitars, acoustic/electrical bass, drums, piano, strings, brass, and woodwind instruments, and an array of different sources.

The WA-84 has a -10 dB pad change on the side of the body. The change is barely recessed to stop unintended activation – you’ll need a small screwdriver, toothpick, or the tip of a pen to maneuver it. The pad comes instantly after the capsule however before the rest of the mic’s electronics, which retains the signal from the capsule from overloading the entry of the onboard amplifier.

Warm Audio WA-84 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Features:

  • Polar pattern: cardioid
  • Frequency response: 20-20000 Hz
  • Dynamic range: 107 dB(a)
  • Signal-to-noise ratio: 78 dB(a)

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Warm Audio WA-84
  • Includes microphone, shock-mount, pop protection, microphone holder, and carrying case.

8. Telefunken M62 FET Hypercardioid Small-diaphragm Condenser

The Telefunken M62 is a small-diaphragm hyper-cardioid FET condenser microphone designed to ship quick transient response and correct, but musical frequency replica for musicians and recording engineers in professional studios.

The M60 FET body contains a custom-wound transformer, an active FET transistor, and a Class-A discrete amplifier. The included TK62 capsule makes use of a 6-micron, gold-sputtered membrane and displays a hyper-cardioid polar pattern.

This gives a surprisingly full low end and a fast, correct transient response. The TK62 is flat in response from 150 Hz to 3kHz with a dip at 6 kHz and a clean, ethereal presence peak at 8kHz. This tightened polar pattern is nice to be used on cymbals, percussion, and as a stereo pair for live performance recording.

Using a proprietary circuit topology, this re-interpretation of the basic FET mic amplifier produces distinctive transient response and SPL capabilities. Carefully chosen and tested elements are hand-plugged into gold-plated circuit board traces to supply an ultra-clean true Class-A discrete amplifier with a frequency response of ±2 dB from 20 Hz to 50 kHz.

Telefunken M62 FET Hypercardioid Small-diaphragm Condenser
Features:

  • Polar pattern: hyper-cardioid capsule
  • Frequency response: 20-20000 Hz
  • Ships with shockmount and XLR cable
  • Slight dip at 6kHz and peak at 8kHz

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Telefunken M62 FET
  • Telefunken’s first FET solid-state condenser mic
  • TK62 hyper-cardioid capsule

9. Audio-Technica PRO 37 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The PRO 37 has established itself as a flexible solution for studio recording and live performance. With a low-mass component for excellent transient response and a low-profile design for optimal mic placement, this mic excels in high-SPL functions.

The PRO 37 is a really helpful and unique small-diaphragm condenser for sure. The cool thing is, it has its own sound; kind of an interesting grittiness that will be laborious to match to different mics in its class. The frequency response has an enormous presence enhancement, however, falls off sharply around 15 kHz.

In true Audio-Technica style, the PRO 37 is easy and simple in its design, with a sturdy all-black, the all-metal body that is available at slightly below 4” long. In addition to being sturdy and sufficient to resist the inevitable beatings that come with fixed studio use, the PRO 37 is lightweight, which helps when you need to make it work with awkward mic stand angles.

The PRO 37 excels with regard to performance. As it’s possible you’ll anticipate from a compact overhead mic, this model is just not perfect for recording vocals – it’s definitely not out of the query, however, this mic is at its most comfy recording instruments, from electrical guitars to aggressive drums.

Audio-Technica PRO 37 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Features:

  • Polar pattern: cardioid capsule
  • Frequency response: 30 – 15,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 200 Ohm
  • 141 dB SPL, 1 kHz, at 1% T.H.D.

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Audio-Technica PRO 37
  • Includes AT8405a tripod clamp, AT8159 windscreen, microphone case

10. Shure SM81 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone

The SM81 is the right alternative for an expert musician or sound engineer who’s trying to mic up acoustic instruments comparable to acoustic guitar, piano, and cymbals. It can ideally be used on stage and due to its top quality can also be a resident in the recording studio.

The SM81 has a flat response curve for a correct replica of the sound supply and may also be modified through a bass roll-off swap. The 0dB/10bB lockable attenuator switch offers you much more flexibility when miking up loud sound sources and it has a cardioid polar pattern that isolates the primary sound supply while minimizing the noise.

The Shure SM81 is a high-quality, directed condenser microphone with cardioid directivity designed for studio recording, broadcasting, TV recordings, and public addressing. It is very linear, has large frequency vary, has low inherent noise, and has low noise sensitivity at high frequencies, have made the SM81 the usual for recording acoustic instruments such as guitar, piano, and drums.

In case you searching for a fully true-sounding mic you may be thrilled with the SM81. It’s clear and transparent due to its proven rugged development and Flat 20-20khz capability. The SM81 mic is well known for its neutral and clear sound.

Shure SM81 Small-diaphragm Condenser Microphone
Features:

  • Switchable 10 dB attenuation
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz / 20 kHz
  • Low sensitivity to interference at high-frequencies
  • Robust steel version

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Shure SM81
  • Cardioid directivity for maximum isolation of the signal source and reduced background noise

Conclusion

The perfect small-diaphragm condenser microphones bring us into a reasonably niche-specific kind of mic to evaluate at this time. As we’ve seen microphones come in several shapes, sizes, aesthetics, and personalities, today we’ve received some nice options for recording and performing these shiny and sharp overtones.

A small diaphragm is often half an inch in diameter. They’re nice for recording and likewise live. These mics are particularly appropriate for recording high-frequency sounds and people who rapidly change in volume, i.e. cymbals. Identical to other condenser mics, a small diaphragm mic wants a battery or phantom energy to run.

Small-diaphragm condenser microphones are helpful instruments in the studio and reside in sound environments all over the world. They’re usually utilized in close-mic instruments and as distant/room mics. The attribute quick transient response extended frequency response, and constant polar sample specs make them go-to’s for a lot of functions the place precision is vital.

We believe that we provided you with a nice selection of the Top 10 small diaphragm microphones that you can go for. In case you are having any questions in regards to this topic here, please let us know in the comment section below.

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