Which Microphones Have the Highest Sensitivity?

Sensitivity will determine the input and output ratio of the microphone. The more sensitive microphone will require less input for the same output compared to the lower sensitivity microphone. Sensitivity is important for XLR microphones when considering which pre-amplifiers, audio interface or mixer we want to pair it with, especially if it’s a dynamic microphone.

The less sensitive microphones will require a pre-amp that provides enough clean gain to run them. Otherwise, you might experience a problem where you turn the gain all the way up on your pre-amp, but the microphone is still not as loud as you want it to be. Therefore, if you’re picking up a low-sensitivity XLR microphone, which I would consider anything below -50dB, you need to make sure you have a sufficient pre-amp to pair it with.

Generally, condenser microphones are much more sensitive than dynamic ones and can be paired with any pre-amp. Dynamic microphones often have very low sensitivity and cheaper entry-level pre-amps with less gain often struggle to drive them. In the table below you’ll notice that most of the condenser microphones are on the first half of the table while all of the dynamic microphones are at the bottom.

The most sensitive microphones are Lewitt LCT 540 Subzero with a sensitivity of -28dB (41mV/Pa), Rode NT1 and Blue Blackout Spark SL both with a sensitivity of -29dB (35mV/Pa). Microphones from other brands are also close behind: AKG Pro P420 at -31dB (28mV/Pa), Neumann U 87 at -31dB (28mV/Pa), AT 4040 at -32dB (25mV/Pa), Sennheiser MKH416 at -32dB (25mV/Pa).

Among dynamic microphones the most sensitive are CAD A77 with a sensitivity of -48dB (4.0mV/Pa), AT BP40 with a sensitivity of -48dB (3.9mV/Pa) and Electro-Voice ND96 with a sensitivity of -50dB (3.3mV/Pa).

Among 85 microphones (46 dynamic and 39 condenser) on this list, the average sensitivity is -46dB (5.0mV/Pa). Condenser microphones on average have a sensitivity of -36dB (16mV/Pa) and dynamic microphones have an average sensitivity of -54dB (1.95mV/Pa).

Table of microphones and their sensitivity:

MicrophonePrice ($)Sensitivity (mV/Pa)Sensitivity (dB)
Lewitt LCT 540 Subzero$70041 (mV/Pa)-28 (dB)
Rode NT1$23035 (mV/Pa)-29 (dB)
Blue Blackout Spark SL$18535 (mV/Pa)-29 (dB)
AKG Pro P420$17528 (mV/Pa)-31 (dB)
Neumann U 87$3,60028 (mV/Pa)-31 (dB)
Lewitt LCT 440$27027 (mV/Pa)-31 (dB)
AT 4040$25025 (mV/Pa)-32 (dB)
Sennheiser MK 4$30025 (mV/Pa)-32 (dB)
Sennheiser MKH416$1,00025 (mV/Pa)-32 (dB)
Rode NT1-A$20025 (mV/Pa)-32 (dB)
AKG Perception P120$8524 (mV/Pa)-32 (dB)
AKG Pro C414$1,11023 (mV/Pa)-33 (dB)
Neumann TLM 103$1,19523 (mV/Pa)-33 (dB)
Lewitt LCT 940$1,70023 (mV/Pa)-33 (dB)
Samson C01$7022 (mV/Pa)-33 (dB)
AKG P220$14520 (mV/Pa)-34 (dB)
AKG Pro C214$33520 (mV/Pa)-34 (dB)
Razer Seiren X USB$5118 (mV/Pa)-35 (dB)
MXL 2006$10018 (mV/Pa)-35 (dB)
Shure PGA27$23018 (mV/Pa)-35 (dB)
Neumann TLM 193$1,59518 (mV/Pa)-35 (dB)
Lewitt LCT 240 Pro$17016.5 (mV/Pa)-35.5 (dB)
AT 4050$70016 (mV/Pa)-36 (dB)
Rode NT2A$37516 (mV/Pa)-36 (dB)
MXL 440$7515 (mV/Pa)-36 (dB)
MXL 770$10015 (mV/Pa)-36 (dB)
MXL 990$13015 (mV/Pa)-36 (dB)
MXL V67G$10015 (mV/Pa)-36 (dB)
Rode NTG1 Shotgun$18515 (mV/Pa)-36 (dB)
Neumann KM184 MT$85015 (mV/Pa)-36 (dB)
AT 2020 XLR$8014 (mV/Pa)-37 (dB)
Neumann TLM 102$73011 (mV/Pa)-39 (dB)
Neumann TLM 107$1,45011 (mV/Pa)-39 (dB)
AKG C 451 B$4009 (mV/Pa)-41 (dB)
AT 2050$2508 (mV/Pa)-42 (dB)
Sennheiser e 965$4007 (mV/Pa)-43 (dB)
MXL Tempo KR USB$554.5 (mV/Pa)-47 (dB)
Neumann KMS 105$7304.5 (mV/Pa)-47 (dB)
CAD A77$1004.0 (mV/Pa)-48 (dB)
AT BP40$3503.9 (mV/Pa)-48 (dB)
Electro-Voice ND96$2003.3 (mV/Pa)-50 (dB)
Sennheiser E614$2003.0 (mV/Pa)-50 (dB)
Beyerdynamic M88 TG$4002.8 (mV/Pa)-51 (dB)
Sennheiser E835$1002.7 (mV/Pa)-51 (dB)
AKG D5$1502.6 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
AKG D7$1852.6 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
AKG Pro P5S$762.5 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
AKG P3s$632.5 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
AKG Pro P4$752.5 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
Electro-Voice RE320$3002.5 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
Electro-Voice RE27ND$5002.5 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
MXL CR77$1452.5 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
LEWITT MTP 440$952.5 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
Electro-Voice ND76$1202.4 (mV/Pa)-52 (dB)
Sennheiser e906$1752.2 (mV/Pa)-53 (dB)
Electro-Voice RE50ND$2002.2 (mV/Pa)-53 (dB)
Shure 55SH Deluxe$2502.2 (mV/Pa)-53 (dB)
AT2040$1002.2 (mV/Pa)-53 (dB)
Heil Sound The FIN$2302.2 (mV/Pa)-53 (dB)
Heil Sound PR 30B$2602.2 (mV/Pa)-53 (dB)
Sennheiser e945 $2202.0 (mV/Pa)-54 (dB)
Heil Sound PR40$3502.0 (mV/Pa)-54 (dB)
Sennheiser MD 421 II$3952.0 (mV/Pa)-54 (dB)
sE Electronics V7$1002.0 (mV/Pa)-54 (dB)
MXL BCD-1$902.0 (mV/Pa)-54 (dB)
Lewitt Handheld MTP-550 DM$1202.0 (mV/Pa)-54 (dB)
Lewitt MTP 250 DM S$802.0 (mV/Pa)-54 (dB)
Neumann BCM 705$7001.7 (mV/Pa)-55 (dB)
Shure MV7X$1801.7 (mV/Pa)-55 (dB)
Shure PGA58$651.7 (mV/Pa)-55 (dB)
Shure SM57$1001.6 (mV/Pa)-56 (dB)
Shure SM58$1001.6 (mV/Pa)-56 (dB)
MXL R144$1001.6 (mV/Pa)-56 (dB)
Rode Procaster$1701.6 (mV/Pa)-56 (dB)
Electro-Voice RE20$4501.6 (mV/Pa)-56 (dB)
Donner PO-8$801.6 (mV/Pa)-56 (dB)
Audio-Technica ATM650$1001.6 (mV/Pa)-56 (dB)
Sennheiser e 825s$801.6 (mV/Pa)-56 (dB)
Blue enCORE 100$701.6 (mV/Pa)-56 (dB)
Electro-Voice 635 NDB$1601.4 (mV/Pa)-57 (dB)
Rode PodMic$1001.4 (mV/Pa)-57 (dB)
Samson Q9U$1201.4 (mV/Pa)-57 (dB)
Shure 55SH$2001.3 (mV/Pa)-58 (dB)
Shure SM7B$4001.1 (mV/Pa)-59 (dB)
Sennheiser e902$2000.2 (mV/Pa)-74 (dB)
List of microphones from the most sensitive to the least sensitive. Prices are as of September 2022.

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