Let’s say you want to start recording sound effects. Or you want to record songs using acoustic instruments in a studio. Buying a quality, low self-noise microphone can make all the difference. Although all microphones produce a certain noise level, these here will produce an inaudible hissing sound to ensure that you get a quality audio output that sounds real and undistorted.
If you are looking for the perfect low self-noise microphone for your recording rig, you have come to the right place. Today, we will highlight ten of the best microphones with low self-noise you should consider next time you are out there looking for one.
What is self-noise on a microphone and is it important?
Typically, there are two types of noise, ambient and self-noise. Ambient noise comes from external sources such as the air surrounding the microphone, while self-noise comes from the microphone itself.
Therefore, we can define self-noise as the noise the microphone capsule produces when there’s no captured sound. A microphone with low self-noise will not produce any audible noises or hissing during the recording. Also, these microphones are ideal for people who want to record nature, quiet scenes, whispering, sound effects, and field recording.
What is considered a quiet microphone in terms of self-noise?
Different microphones have different self-noise levels since all microphones have their self-noise levels. High-end microphones will include the term ‘equivalent noise level’ on their manual to determine how low or high the self-noise of the microphone produces.
The unit used to measure a microphone’s noise floor is dB-A, where A stands for A-weighting. Low self-noise microphones with a dB-A value of 16 and lower mean that the microphone is quiet. Values above 16 dB-A indicate that the self-noise will be audible when recording sound.
Here’s a list of low self-noise microphones
If you are looking for low self-noise microphones to look out for in the market, this section covers the best options you’ll find.
1. Rode NT1
Thanks to its unique features, performance, and cost, the Rode NT1 has become a favorite condenser microphone among many audiophiles. This low self-noise microphone is a condenser with a cardioid polar pattern. It’s also an extremely quiet microphone with a self-noise of about 4.5 dB.
- It comes with a military-grade ceramic layer, which enhances durability and resistance to scratches
- The microphone has a suspended transducer, which reduces external vibrations at the capsule
- The manufacturer provides a SM6 shock, which eliminates unneeded rumbles and vibrations as your record
- It’s ideal for both professional and amateur studio uses despite its price.
2. Lewitt LCT 540 Subzero
The Lewitt LCT 540 Subzero is the perfect low self-noise microphone for any professional studio owner or sound effect artist. It’s a highly coveted condenser that comes with a 1’’ large-diaphragm capsule, cardioid polar pattern, and an equivalent noise level of up to 4 dB-A. The microphone also captures clear and crisp sounds from vocalists and instruments.
- It comes with a magnetic pop filter, windshield, protective case, shock mount, and a leatherette bag
- The high sensitivity of up to 41 Mv/Pa to -28 Dbv/Pa
- You enjoy up to 132 Db dynamic range
- It comes with low cut filters
3. AKG Pro C414
The AKG Pro C414 is an excellent condenser microphone with a frequency response of 20Hz to 1kHz and a self-noise level of 6 dB-A. It has up to nine polar pattern settings, making the microphone noise floor ideal for various recording environments. You will also find a shock mount and a filter within the package for precise recording in the studio.
- It has a large-diaphragm capsule for a more engaging sound
- Ideal for recording vocals and solo instruments such as the acoustic guitar
- Provides switchable pre-attenuation levels of -6 dB, 12 dB, and -18 dB
- It has a clipping LED, so you know when you are overloading it
4. Lewitt LCT 440
If you are looking for an ideal condenser microphone for clean and pure sound in the studio, the Lewitt LCT 4 thrives at that. The microphone comes with a mmyylar 1-inch diaphragm capsule and provides up to 7dB-A microphone noise floor; hence, you can use it for recording vocals and instruments professionally.
- It comes with a shock mount, a pop filter, and a compact housing
- Features cardioid polar pattern
- The XLR microphone has a frequency range of up to 133 dB.
- Can handle sound pressure levels of up to 140 dB without distortion
5. Rode NT2A
The Rode NT2A is a condenser microphone that offers an equivalent noise level of 7dB-A. It also features a 1-inch gold diaphragm capsule and a multi-pattern switch option for different recording situations.
- The condenser comes with a dust cover, internal capsule shock mounting, a SM6 shock mount
- It provides a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz
- Offers omnidirectional, cardioid, and Figure 8 (bi-directional) polar pattern options on the mic
- Three pad levels at -5, 0, and -10 dB
6. Neumann TLM 103
The Neumann TLM 103 is a cardioid, low self-noise microphone ideal for most recording situations, including live performances. It’s a condenser mic with a large diaphragm capsule with a flat frequency response of 5kHz. The microphone also has a low self-noise level of about 7 dB-A.
- It comes with a frequency response of 20 Hz – 20 kHz
- Features a durable metallic construction
- Sensitivity levels of about 33 Db and a maximum SPL of approximately 138 dB
- It requires a 48v Phantom Power
- The wooden storage box features SG 103 swivel mount
7. Sennheiser MK 4
The Sennheiser MK 4 is a top low self-noise condenser microphone with a sturdy, gold-plated diaphragm. It also features a cardioid polar pattern, 10 dB-A self-noise, and a sensitivity of 10 dB. Hence, it’s ideal for most studio uses and live stage performances.
- Durable construction thanks to its compact housing
- Provides a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- It comes fitted with an internal shock mount
- The 1-inch diaphragm capsule offers a clear and crisp sound
- It has a maximum sound pressure level of about 140 dB
8. Neumann TLM-193
The Neumann TLM-193 is a high-quality condenser valuable microphone in various recording applications such as recording sounds from instruments and vocals in large live stages and studios. It features a cardioid polar pattern, a large diaphragm capsule, and a self-noise of 10 dB. The condenser microphone fits recording situations such as broadcasting and live recording.
- High sound pressure capability of 140 dB
- It has a dynamic range of 130 Db
- Frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- It comes with a double membrane for the capsule
9. Lewitt LCT-940
Artists and producers who want a high-end microphone suitable for multiple recording situations should choose the Lewitt LCT-940. It’s a condenser microphone with a low self-noise of 12 dB-A. The device also has a large diaphragm capsule featuring both the tube and FET. You can use the device for different purposes, including recording instruments and choirs.
- 9 variations for polar patterns to suit a variety of recording situations
- It comes with a dynamic range of about 128 dB for tube and 135 dB for FET
- Features a 1-inch diaphragm capsule with external polarization
- Its frequency response is between 20Hz to 20kHz
10. Neumann TLM 107
Neumann TLM 107, the final product on our list, is a modern studio condenser with a 10 Db-A self-noise. It features five polar patterns, which produce a balanced sound regardless of the setting. The device also comes with a large condenser diaphragm to capture sound clearly without exaggerating anything.
- Stand mount, and a display case are available in the box
- Has a frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- Max SPL is 141 dB
- It comes with a 48V phantom power
Relevant FAQ you may have.
How much self-noise is too much?
All microphones produce self-noise. However, some are louder than others since manufacturers inventing high-end options find a way to reduce it. If you want to capture whispers, picking a microphone with a low self-noise is the best option.
What is a good acceptable noise floor?
Consider a microphone with a noise floor below 16 dB-A during purchase. Any microphone that’s below 10 dB-A is quiet. It’s also difficult to hear any self-noises.
Thank you for reading till the end of this article. I hope the review provides enough insight to help you eliminate the hissing sounds you usually hear when recording audios, such as music, whispers, sound effects, or instruments. Note that the low self-noise microphones we mention in this article have an equivalent noise level of 10 dB- A and below; hence, you are sure of getting a quality recording.