If you’re searching for the best tube microphones then you probably already know a little bit about them. They are condenser microphones except that they they have a (surprise surprise) tube inside of them just like you will find in guitar valve amplifiers that help amplify the signals they send out. This technology existed before the more modern solid-state stuff full of transistors which is why when you record with a good tube microphone you can more closely replicate a vintage recording sound.
In fact most of the recordings you hear in your collection were probably recorded using a tube microphone. All the big names have used them spanning all genres of music. You will find bands like The Beatles used them all the way through to famous rap artists. There is a huge market for vintage tube mics and the best studios in the world will tend to have a few vintage Neumann microphones for their recording artists.
There is quite a bit of debate when it comes to tube mics vs FET mics and the only conclusion you can seriously draw from it is that you should use what feels good to you and what makes you sound good. Some microphones will be better suited to those with higher-pitch voices and others for people with a more aggressive sound. It’s just a matter of finding what’s best for you.
You’ll need a fatter wallet if you are looking for a good quality tube microphone. As we have said previously about condenser microphones, buying a reputable brand will always be your best best so your mic doesn’t lose any value. It’s very often the case that if you buy one second-hand that you may be able to sell it for more down the road.
You should also bear in mind the added care required to look after and use a tube mic. Apart from obviously not wanting to drop it, you will also need to consider possible replacement tube costs down the line (although they aren’t particularly expensive) and the warm-up time you need before using it. Most manufacturers recommend letting your tube mic warm up for at least 30 minutes before using it, with most professionals saying 2 hours is the optimal time to wait.
The Best Tube Microphones
One of the best tube microphones ever made, this incredibly versatile microphone is equipped with a wide dynamic range so listeners hear a remarkably low self-noise of 10 dBA and low distortion plus a great sound pressure level with a maximum of 162 dBA as well.
Offering a sound quality so good it’s tough to beat, the Rode K2 provides a very warm and rich sound preferred by vocalists, acoustic guitarists, as well as violinists or the players of any other stringed instruments. Also, due to the high sound pressure level this mic is also great for recording drums. Sitting comfortably in the middle price range of tube microphones, complete with a large condenser this microphone is worth the cost and will easily elevate your set-up.
Avantone Pro CV-12
A new and improved take on a classic tube microphone style, if you’re looking for a vintage look with a modern sound, this mic will sound amazing and won’t cost you an arm and a leg all at the same time. Incredibly dynamic and perfectly equipped to support a various rang of sounds with eases; it doesn’t matter whether you’re a singer, drummer, pianist or almost any other musician, this mic beautifully adapts to your sound regardless.
Offering 9 polar patterns that allow your sound to be recorded at the highest quality, from the dual 32mm gold-sputtered Mylar capsules you’ll get a great response to transients that allows you to absorb the true sound of whatever you’re trying to record. Also known to have a bit of a proximity effect, if you find yourself needing to tweak any shifts in tone you can simply move the mic closer of further away from point of recording.
Neumann M 147
A high-end, luxurious option for a remarkably warm and clear sound; if you are looking for the perfect way to amplify your sound as beautifully as possible, and you’re not working on a strict budget, the Neumann M 147 is just what you need.
A state of the art model perfect for anyone who wants amazing sound and money isn’t an issue, this mic is a strikingly high-quality, low-self noise option with a high dynamic range many people really appreciate. This microphone offers amazing levels of quality that extend all the way down to the core with a K 47 capsule, featuring a frequency response range of 20 Hz to 20 kHz this provides you with a balanced and solid bass range ideal for male vocalists and female vocalists that sing tenor to use.
Providing top of the line sound at a surprisingly modest price point, this amazing MXL Genesis tube microphone offers unbeatable versatility as well as a dynamic approach that allows it to take its place as one of the best tube mics on the market.
An impressive model that produces a quality of sound that can truly be enjoyed by anyone, this microphone comes complete with a somewhat standard 140 dB maximum sound pressure level which means you get a brighter tone, natural-sounding vocal balance and even some low-end warmth for the absolute best in clarity from a mic of this price. Offering a stylish vintage look, incredible sound quality and a reasonable price, this microphone is a total deal in every sense of the word.
Mojave Audio MA-200
A high-end microphone considered to be one of the absolute best and priced to show it; a model that comes complete with 3-micron capsules and Jensen audio transformers this mic is highly regarded as one of the best of the best tube mics there is on the market.
A mic that includes impressively high-quality components, from the internal military grade JAN 5840 vacuum tube to its amazingly clean signal path the MA-200 model will notably sound better than any other microphone you’ve ever used. Tested and used by various artists for an amazing variety of different kinds of music; it doesn’t matter whether you’re creating anything from rock to classical music, this mic will help you create a clear and professional sounding recording even a novice can accomplish.
The ideal combination of cost-effectiveness and amazingly high-quality, the TCM-1150 provides enhanced sound quality and is Nady’s best tube microphone model. An impressively equipped mic complete with a state of the art 6072 vacuum tube inside; you can easily create warmth and analog saturation in your recordings.
With several selectable polar patterns which can easily be chosen on the fly, you can be rest assured you’re getting the absolute best sound from this mic due to its amazing levels of versatility. A totally unique model due to its customized output transformer that creates a powerful transparency and a remarkably smooth sound, if you need a long-lasting, well-constructed yet low-end mic that works for almost any application, the Nady TCM-1150 should be just right for you.
An absolute classic when it comes to tube microphone models, the M-Audio Sputnik is a high-performance mic that makes use of a switchable 10 dB pad, an 80 Hz pass filter and constructed with a military-grade 6205M vacuum tube as well. With three selectable polar patterns and a tuned brass back plate, this microphone will give you amazing sound, no matter where you are or what you’re recording.
Offering sound often described as crisp, full and deep; the Sputnik is known to be especially great for use with vocals, harmonica, bass and grand piano as well. A model that features a dedicated power supply and a seven-pin cable as well as a shock mount, soft bag, and flight case, when you choose this mic you’ll be ready to rock right out of the box.
Seen by many as one of the best condenser tube mics on the market, the MXL 9000 is a high-quality one stop shop for a versatile microphone that’s budget friendly and sounds great in a wide variety of situations. A condenser tube mic with a large diaphragm and a 12AT7 tube, this one of a kind microphone offers an almost vintage sound that makes it sound like your audio was recorded in decades past.
Featuring an incredibly smooth response from the tube that allows you to easily differentiate between voices or instruments being played; this microphone also comes complete with XLR connectivity, a maximum sound pressure level of 122 dB and a cardioid polar pattern as well. A stylish silver mic that comes with a preamp for phantom power and a shock mount for safe transport, the MXL 9000 can take care of almost anything you may need quickly and easily.
Studio Project T3
An all-purpose microphone most commonly used for musical projects, this mic is easily capable of creating your perfect sound. Offered in a classical design that’s amazingly adaptable to anything you may need it for; this modern take on a vintage style provides the old-school look you love with all the capabilities of current technology.
A model that comes with a 1.35-inch precision dual membrane capsule that’s been integrated with a tube circuit designed around the 12AY7 triode, this mic also includes a balanced transformer output and a 6072 dual triode vacuum tube for the ultimate in low noise as well as reliability. A microphone that can simply amplify your sound no matter what, this wonderfully versatile mic can be utilized best by vocalists and even instruments like the guitar and piano.
Designed as one of the best performing tube mics on the market, the AKG P820 is available at a reasonable price and offers an incredible list of features you won’t get from every model of microphone on the market. Highly-rated and offering multiple polar patterns that provide an unbeatable level of versatility; with the unique choice of cardioid, figure-8 or even omnidirectional polar patterns included for use you can easily be as creative as you’d like with the sound you’re producing.
Complete with a 20dB pad and maximum sound pressure levels up to 155 dB, it doesn’t matter whether you’re working with drums, vocals or a variety of different instruments this microphone will easily take care of the job no matter what.