The Top 10 Vocal Recording Mics Reviewed
There are many reasons why you might want your voice to be heard… but whatever they may be, you need a good vocal recording microphone to ensure that you are as loud and clear as you mean to be. You might decide that you want to join a band or start a musical career singing or rapping. Or you might decide that you want to get into public speaking, stand up comedy, podcasting or even poetry slams. Your voice, however you choose to use it, is a powerful instrument. And like any instrument, you need the right microphone to make sure your voice is heard with power and authority as well as sharpness and clarity.
For the uninitiated, it might seem as though any microphone is a good fit for vocals, but this isn’t always the case, especially if you’re using the mic for live performances. Some microphones are designed specifically for drums and other percussive instruments and may not produce the best sounds for vocals. What’s more, some instrument mics may be designed for mounting close to an instrument and might feel awkward in a singer or speaker’s hands.
Even when comparing vocal microphones it’s important to choose the right mic for your intended purpose. Some mics do very well for recording in a home studio or podcasting with your friends, yet might not give you the punch you need for your vocals to be heard alongside a live rock band with their amps turned up to 11. Fortunately, we’re here to provide a comprehensive guide to some of the best vocal microphones on the market. Whatever you need to use it for, you’re sure to find the perfect vocal mic for you among these 10 options…
Best Microphones For Recording Vocals
One look at this entry from Warm Audio tells you everything you need to know about the brand. The manufacturer is well known and well loved for producing retro-flavored tributes to classic audio equipment with a 21st century twist using modern components and technologies. Best of all, they’re able to do this at surprisingly affordable prices that appeal to the newcomer as well as the seasoned audiophile.
As you might expect, the WA-47 is lovingly modelled on the classic Neumann U47 tube microphone and offers great build quality at an affordable price point. This large-diaphragm tube condenser mic has 9 polar patterns making it great for picking up sound from all directions. This makes it well suited to vocal and instrumental use.
It is not only a dead ringer for its predecessor, it has a very similar sonic profile making it perfect for those who want to give their music a vintage sound.
The tube itself is a JJ 5751, which is a variation of a 12AX7 and while it has a lower gain factor, this certainly doesn’t mean that the sound it delivers is quiet or understated.
The WA-47 delivers on both presentation and performance, offering great decibel gains and power when they’re needed while shutting out background noise admirably.
Like the Neumann U47 before it, the WA-47 has some heft to it, with a shipping weight of just under 13 lbs. While much of this is attributable to the beautiful wooden presentation box, the microphone has a reassuring heft which some performers may appreciate, although it’s a good idea to ensure that the mic is securely mounted when using a stand.
In summary, the retro design of this piece combined with the high build quality make it a great fit for a variety of uses.
Great for – People who sing and play an instrument. Audiophiles. Lovers of vintage music or who want a timeless yet high quality sound.
- Large-diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone with 9 Polar Patterns
- Wood Presentation Box
- External PSU
Another outstanding condenser mic that offers exceptional value for money, the C214 from AKG offers great audio quality combined with the durability that’s essential for the realities of touring and playing live music as well as robust capabilities for studio use.
While designed with lead vocals in mind, this entry from AKG is also well suited to instrumental use, making it especially useful for instrumental solos that pack a punch. If you’re looking to set up a home recording studio, however, you’d be hard pressed to find a better all-rounder that delivers awesome sound quality with a range of features for close up recording. For instance, the mic has a switchable 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter designed to reduce proximity effect as well as a ultra-low noise for close recording of high-output sources. All that without compromising on dynamic range… which clocks in at an incredible 143 dB.
Its sonic character is modelled after the classic C414 XLII although it is far more affordable. This means you can expect great clarity and detail on vocals as well as a range of acoustic instruments and electric guitars.
The mic is incredibly robust with a shock and scratch resistant all-metal die-cast body. Still, for all its durability it still manages to boast an attractive and elegant design that will be a good look for any live performer. A sensational all-rounder at a great price which is sure to appeal to a range of users.
Great for – Touring bands. Home studios. Live performers with a history of dropping their mics.
- Sonic character of the C414 XLII for beautifully detailed recording of lead vocals and solo instruments
- Outstanding dynamic range and ultralow noise for close-up recording of high-output sources of up to 156dB SPL
- Switchable 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter for close-up recording and reduction of proximity effect
- Integrated suspension to reduce mechanical noise and vibration from stage
- Roadworthy design all-metal die-cast body with shock- and scratch-resistant finish
This great value condenser mic is a fantastic investment for those new to vocal recording who want a great quality microphone that delivers high-quality upfront sound at an affordable price. The AT2035 only has one cardioid polar pattern meaning that it won’t pick up multi-directional sound as well as, say, the WA-47. Still, this means that the mic does a great job of shutting out background noise and delivering vocals with clarity richness.
It’s a good mic to use at home, in the studio or even on the road, and comes with a shock mount and protective pouch for easy and secure transportation and live use. This mic also comes with its own pop filter for smoother plosives which don’t don’t create distortion while maintaining the integrity of the sound quality. It even has a microfibre cleaning cloth to accompany it as well as a 10 foot XLR cable.
But how about the sound quality? This mic produces a nicely balanced and neutral sound which is perfect for a wide range of uses from podcasting to pop music, and since it’s able to handle noises of up to 148 dB (158 dB when you add on the 10dB pad switch) it can handle what virtually any music act can throw at it. Self-noise, however never reaches higher than an unobtrusive 12dB and the 80Hz high pass filter switch ensures that there is no excessive bass.
Great for – New recording artists who want a good quality affordable mic with great output.
- Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source
- Large diaphragm for smooth, natural sound and low noise
- Pop Filter to eliminate the annoying "plosives" from your recordings
- 10ft. XLR Cable to connect the mic to your mixer or interface
- Microfiber Cleaning Cloth
4. Shure SM7B
Even those who are new to recording will likely be familiar with the name Shure. Many of the world’s finest recording artists exclusively use Shure microphones. Thus, this is a great mic for anyone who wants to be absolutely sure that they’re capturing industry standard sound. And while there are certainly cheaper vocal mics on the market, you really are getting what you pay for with this effort from Shure.
The spiritual upgrade from the ubiquitous SM58, this cardioid dynamic mic offers outstanding mid range emphasis. This lends a wonderfully warm and round character to vocal recordings and with a built-in pop filter you need never worry about explosive breath sounds altering the quality or integrity of recorded vocals. This model also comes equipped with a A7WS detachable windscreen. This helps further in reducing reduce plosive sounds while lending close-talk vocals a warmer and richer sound.
There’s no need to worry about self-noise either, as the mic uses ‘air suspension’ shock isolation to ensure that mechanical noise transmission is virtually non-existent when recording. It even offers electromagnetic shielding against the potential interference emitted by computer monitors.
Yoke mounting offers not only great stability but also helps to ensure complete directional control for maximum rejection and bare minimum coloration from off axis sound. All told this is a superb mic for all kinds of home studio and professional uses.
Great for – Studio and home studio singing. Radio and television production. Podcasting and audiobook recording. Anyone who demands studio quality recording at a price that isn’t too cost prohibitive for the layman.
- Flat, wide-range frequency response for exceptionally clean and natural reproduction of both music and speech
- Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis (presence boost) controls with graphic display of response setting
- Improved rejection of electromagnetic hum, optimized for shielding against broadband interference emitted by computer monitors
- Internal "air suspension" shock isolation virtually eliminates mechanical noise transmission
- Highly effective pop filter eliminates need for any add-on protection against explosive breath sounds, even for close-up vocals or narration
The MA200 large diaphragm tube condenser mic from Mojave Audio is one of the most professional quality microphones on the market. While the price point may be prohibitive for those just getting started, its superior build quality and fantastic sound combined with its robust and durable construction mean that it may well be the only condenser mic you ever need.
The mic uses a military grade JAN 5840 NOS vacuum tube and its powered by a jensen audio transformer. It also comes with its own internally switchable power supply voltage which can be set to 115V and 230V, 50 or 60 Hz. It also features a hand selected 3-micron 1” capsule. The fixed cardioid pattern makes it perfect for a range of close up sources whether this may be vocals, piano or acoustic instruments. It can even function very well as an overhead drum mic.
The large diaphragm makes for beautifully warm and rich sound on the low end while also providing wonderful crisp highs. This mic has outstanding dynamic range and produces 100% faithful sound imaging. Perfect for those who want to give their vocals the feeling of intimacy and immediacy that comes from live performance.
The mic even comes with its own protective carry case, shock mount and cables included making it great for touring and live use straight out of the box.
Great for – Home studio use, professional broadcasting.
- Protective Case and professional grade shockmount &cables included
- Hand-selected 3-micron 1” capsule
- Jensen audio transformer and ultraclean signal path
- Military grade JAN 5840 NOS vacuum tube
- Internal switchable power supply voltage
6. Rode NT1-A
If you want a sound that’s studio quality but only have a limited budget, the NT1-A by Rode is one of those rare microphones that can give you the best of both worlds. Billed as “the world’s quietest studio condenser mic” it has extremely quiet self-noise at just 5dBA. And with extremely high SPL (Sound Pressure Level) capability it’s absolutely perfect as a vocal microphone, although it will also reproduce even loud instrumental sounds faithfully without distortion.
It comes equipped with 20 metres of high-quality mic cable, a shock mount and detachable pop filter so you can start using it instantly as soon as it’s out of the box. The large gold plated diaphragm allows for a sound that’s richer and more immediate, resulting in that real studio quality that’s rare in a microphone of such a low price point.
As you might expect, this mic comes with a full year’s warranty. Register it, however, and your cover will be extended up to 10 years. That’s a whole lot of value for such an affordable mic. If you’re thinking of setting up a home studio but aren’t completely committed yet, this is a great quality mic that won’t break the bank.
There’s even a DVD enclosed which will give you some handy recording tips to ensure that you get the very best out of your microphone.
Great for – Those who are eager to start recording from a home studio but have a limited budget. Those who like to sing and play guitar at the same time.
- As the seller is the only authorized fulfilled by dealer, and purchases from unauthorized dealers carry no
- Delivers a warmth, extended dynamic range, and high SPL capability typical of more expensive offerings
- An Incredible self-noise level of only 5dBA makes this an extremely quiet studio microphone
- The low noise makes it an ideal vocal microphone as well as perfect for recording guitars and percussion
- Includes everything you need to get a truly professional vocal recording and is ideal for home studio recording
Looking for outstanding audio quality on your vocals, combined with a retro design? Looking for a rugged and hard wearing mic that will serve you as well on the road as it does in the studio? Look no further than AKG’s C414 XLII.
Arguably one of the most popular and widely used microphones on the market, the C414 has an impressive pedigree and its sonic profile is modelled on the famous AKG C12. Except with 9 selectable polar patterns it has even greater range and is perfect for a range of applications from recording harmony vocals to capturing drum beats.
The outstanding dynamic range replicates all sounds faithfully and with perfect clarity while the three attenuation levels (-6/-12/-18dB) make for outstanding customizability of the recording experience. This mic will deliver great sound when it comes to close-up recording while still able to take the heat from high-output sources of up to 158dB.
The mic also has bass-cut filters to reduce the risk of audio distortion no matter where you are. It can reduce wind noise and stage vibration while also nullifying proximity effect for sound quality that’s as impressive live as it is in the studio.
The C414 XLII comes complete with a robust carrying case for protection on the road as well as a pop filter, windscreen, and spider-type shock mount so that you’re prepared wherever you take it.
If you’re looking for outstanding audio capture that makes every nuance of vocal expression heard, you’d be hard pressed to find a more impressive and versatile microphone that brings studio quality to the masses.
Great for – Users who want the highest standard of professional quality audio from a name that’s widely trusted and respected. Radio and TV production. Studio singing and instrumentals. Live vocals.
- Sonic character of the famous AKG C12 delivers astounding sound quality for lead vocals and solo instruments
- Nine selectable polar patterns for the perfect setting for every application
- Three attenuation levels (-6/-12/-18dB) for close-up recording or high-output sources of up to 158dB SPL
- Three switchable different bass-cut filters to reduce wind noise, stage vibration or proximity effect
- Overload warning with audio peak hold LED to detect shortest audio peaks
From one of the most legendary names in recording history comes a microphone that’s sure to impress users of all kinds, from the curious neophyte to the seasoned veteran. And with the TLM 103 they’ve produced one of their finest mics both in terms of build quality and versatility.
This large diaphragm condenser mic is perfect for a wide range of uses but it’s in its vocal use that it really shines. As well as providing rich and warm low end it also offers crisp and sparkly top end making it a great choice for singers whose voices have a naturally sibilant quality. As one might expect from the Neumann brand, one of this mic’s greatest strengths is its ability to capture all the little details and idiosyncracies that can get lost by lesser mics.
That’s not to say that the mic isn’t also capable of handling high volumes with aplomb. With an impressive 138dB max SPL this mic can take pretty much anything a powerful larynx can throw at it without the slightest risk of distortion. And with an impressive dynamic range of 87 dB you know that it will be with you through the highs and lows alike generating outstanding fidelity.
With sensitivity at 1 kHz into 1 kohm – 23 mV/Pa and a weighted signal-to-noise ratio of 87 dBA it offers outstanding reproduction with no self noise whatsoever.
Great for – Those who sing and play guitar. Acoustic and wind instruments. Those who demand the highest standard in studio quality equipment. Users who insist on a reputable brand they can trust.
- Large diaphragm cardioid microphone
- Extremely low noise: 7 dB-A. Supply voltage (P48, IEC 61938): 48 V ± 4 V
- Straightforward handling for homerecording and professional studios
- Set includes microphone, shockmount and briefcase.Dynamic range:131 dB
Another outstanding mic from the trusted brand Shure, the KSM 42/SG is a large dual diaphragm condenser mic that uses Prethos Advanced Preamplifier Technology for extremely smooth proximity control and unbelievably low self-noise, combined with a superior dynamic range and a greater cardioid “sweet spot”.
Even by Shure’s standards, this mic boasts an impressive build quality.The Prethos Advanced Preamplifier Technology contained within represents a great step forward in sound reinforcement technology. It employs transparent internal circuitry architectures for outstanding audio quality and reliable performance on stage or in the studio, with virtually no self-noise. Shure have gone to great trouble to assure the highest quality in each and every component and it shows even before you begin recording.
The additional diaphragm is a welcome addition, too as the membrane is crucial in reducing low frequency sound distortion and proximity effect.
The magnetically mounted, low-profile pop shield is also a great touch. Rest assured, however, that the mic also contains an internal pop shield so that your plosives will always be manageable, whether you use the external stopper or not. Also welcome is the robust rubber Shurelock suspension mount which will keep your mic stable no matter where you take it. The velveteen pouch is also a nice addition that just brings that little extra value added that can make all the difference.
All told, this is an outstanding microphone from one of the industry’s most trusted names, offering great fidelity while sidestepping common issues like murky mid-frequencies and unwanted sibilance at the high end.
Great for – Recording artists of some experience who want a mic that offers true fidelity. Also great for acoustic instruments as well as radio and TV.
- Highly consistent cardioid polar pattern creates a broad “sweet spot” and natural off-axis response
- Prethos Advanced Preamplifier Technology exhibits extremely low self-noise with superior dynamic range, transient response and ultra-low distortion for transparent recording
- Dual-diaphragm design with an active front, ultra thin (2.5 micron) 24-karat gold, low mass, 1-inch Mylar diaphragm
- Passive back diaphragm delivers exceptional control of low frequency proximity effect
- Tailored low-frequency roll-off minimizes low frequency room noise
10. Rode NT1000
Our final entry in the list is another sterling entry from Australian manufacturer Rode which offers great performance at a surprisingly reasonable price. The NT1000 is marketed on its versatility as it lends itself particularly for pairing with drums and pianos. However, many users agree that it truly comes alive when used for vocals.
Boasting an exceptional build, this microphone uses transformerless SMD circuitry for ultra low self noise of just 6 dB. Perfect for a variety of uses, there aren’t that many microphones at this price point that deliver such crispness and crystal clarity at both ends of the audio spectrum and (crucially) in the middle ground with no muddiness on mid-frequency sounds.
This externally biased true condenser mic is perfect for home or studio recording, but its Robust, satin-matte nickel-plated housing and heat-treated mesh head make it a reliable companion when used on stage and on tour.
A closer look at some of this microphone’s vital stats only reinforce its reputation for quality and
Versatility. It offers a very impressive dynamic range of 134 dB. But with a maximum sound pressure level of 140 dBA, and a frequency range of 20 Hz – 20 kHz even the loudest performers will be able to wail to their heart’s content without the specter of sound distortion looming over them.
If switchable polar patterns aren’t a priority for you, this is a great option at a great price.
Great for – Literally anyone. If you want to record anything and don’t want to sacrifice quality for price this is the mic for you.
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- Exhibits exceptional performance when recording both vocals and instruments
- Voiced for versatility, the NT1000 can even be used for grand piano and drum overheads
- Features ultra-low 6dBA self-noise and transformerless circuitry
Tips For Recording Vocals
Once you have your microphone you are going to want to make the most of it. This video does a great job of giving advice on vocal recording technique: