Best Microphone for Recording Vocals

VD September 09 2021

Microphones are usually used for recording vocals, but they can also be used to record other sounds including speech or music. The entire process of using a microphone is known as direct-to-disc recording, because the audio being captured with the mic is directly recorded onto an aluminum disc - either through analog magnetic tape or digital media.

There are two types of microphones:

  • condenser
  • dynamic

Condenser mics

Condenser mics use an external power supply (which comes in the form of something like an amplifier or phantom power), whereas dynamic mics don't need one; both types work by converting acoustic signals into electrical ones.

Since there are several different types of microphones available, there is no single 'best microphone for recording vocals. A good solution would be to use a combination of mics - this way, you can make up for the drawbacks of each mic by using one that doesn't share those flaws.

Condenser microphones are often used when recording vocals because they have a rich and clear sound, but on the other hand, sometimes they can be too sensitive and capture unnecessary details as well as some background noise.

Dynamics mics

Dynamics microphones work well if your aim is to isolate specific sounds from a noisy environment. In addition, dynamic mics are better at minimizing distortion. The biggest disadvantage is that they tend to produce weaker signals than condensers or ribbons. However, there are several types of dynamics available which vary in their frequency responses, and some of them do a better job when it comes to recording vocals.

In general, you should look for a microphone that is not only suited to recording vocals but also works well with whatever other instruments or auditory sources you'll be using in your recordings. In case there is more than one mic used in the same track, their respective frequency plots should complement each other rather than match.

If budget is an issue, go for a microphone that will serve as a good addition to your collection rather than a single solution - this way, if you later on find out that the microphone doesn't quite work in certain situations (such as live performances) then you can still use it for other applications without having wasted too much money.

Best Studio Microphones Under $200

Audio-Technica AT203535

Audio-Technica AT203535 Specifications:

Type: large diaphragm side-address condenser

Size: 16 cm long, 6 cm diameter

Weight: 400 g (without cable)

Polar pattern: cardioid

Frequency range: 20 Hz - 20 kHz

Output impedance: 200 Ohms

Recommended load impedance : min. 1,000 Ohms

Powering : 48 V phantom power

Current consumption : 3 mA Maximum SPL for 0.5%

[email protected] : 135 dB Impedance

The Audio-Technica AT2035 is a microphone that has earned several awards over the years. It uses an internal shockmount system to minimize handling noise and prevent vibrations from reaching the microphone; all in all it produces great results when recording vocals due to its high SPL capabilities (up to 135 dB), cardioid polar pattern and presence boost feature that can be used to enhance vocal clarity. The microphone requires a 48V phantom power supply, but you'll need a decent preamp as well in order to get the most out of it.

If you're looking for an all-around good mic for recording vocals at home, this is probably your best bet - especially if you don't have a large budget to spend on more expensive models.

Best Studio Microphones Under $500

Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B Specifications:

Type: dynamic

Size: 16 cm long, 5.8 cm diameter

Directional pattern: cardioid

Frequency range: 50 - 20 kHz

Output impedance : 200 Ohms

Powering : no phantom power required / battery powered (9V)

The Shure SM7B is a legendary broadcast mic that many skilled music producers used to produce their records. It's also commonly found in studios due to its relatively low price and ability to provide rich results when recording vocals. Its frequency response is tailored for vocals but it can be used for other purposes as well; the sound of this microphone has been described as warm, clear yet mellow with bright at 4 kHz and 14 kHz. Even though it's a dynamic mic, the level of background noise will be almost non-existent - this feature makes it extremely useful when recording live instruments. The Shure SM7B comes with an additional foam windscreen and provides its users with great flexibility in terms of connections because there is no need for phantom power to operate it.

Best Studio Microphones Under $1000

Neumann TLM 102

Neumann TLM102 Specifications:

Type: large-diaphragm side-address condenser

Size: 14 cm long, 6 cm diameter

Weight: 400 g (without cable)

Polar pattern: cardioid

Frequency range : 20 Hz - 20 kHz

Output impedance: 200 Ohms

Recommended load impedance: min. 1,200 Ohms

Powering: 48 V phantom power

Current consumption : 3 mA

Maximum SPL for 0.5%

[email protected]: 138 dB Impedance

The Neumann TLM 102 embodies all that is good about studio condenser microphones - it's efficient, versatile, and capable of providing the user with pristine results no matter what kind of environment they're using it in; whether you want to use it for recording vocals or capture instruments and/or acoustics, the microphone will serve you well if your sound source is suitably loud. It has a cardioid polar pattern and requires a 48V phantom power supply but other than that, there are very few cons to this microphone - people praise its natural tone, the ease with which it can be used for recording vocals, and the overall quality of sound. It's certainly an investment but depending on your budget, it could be well worth it.

Things to Consider When Buying a Microphone for Recording Vocals

Before you make the decision to buy a microphone for recording vocals, there are several points you need to consider. The first thing you should ask yourself is whether or not you actually need one - if this is your first time buying a mic or if you already own an expensive studio condenser (one that requires phantom power), it's best to start off with a cheaper model so as not to break the bank in case things don't work out. If your budget is tight, going for a USB microphone might be a good idea since they're relatively cheap and can provide decent results. Nonetheless, if you have no problem with investing in equipment, then by all means go ahead and purchase the best studio condenser for recording vocals that you can afford as you'll have access to professional-grade equipment that will aid you in future endeavors. Next up, the most important thing is your sound source. Professional vocal microphones are built with certain sources in mind and if your voice isn't loud enough or it's not suited for studio recording purposes, no amount of money invested in a microphone will make things better. A dynamic mic is best for live situations but it won't perform well when used indoors without an external sound system since most standard mics are designed with vocals specifically in mind - this means that they won't be able to record instruments very well even though there are models that can do both.

Lastly, choose a mic according to its price and size - meaning that if you want something small and portable, you'll probably have to sacrifice sound quality for the sake of convenience. If your budget is tight, make sure that you don't spend all of it on a mic because chances are that in the future you'll be investing in other equipment as well - invest in a cheap microphone and use the rest of your savings on a good condenser.