The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Studio Recording Microphone + Reviews
With the help of this guide, you will be able to find the best studio recording microphone out there. After we have analyzed the market and we read all the possible reviews of studio recording microphones, we reached the conclusion that the Shure SM7B is the model that you should be looking for when searching for a good studio microphone for recording vocals. It’s a dynamic model that can be used in many conditions. It has a protective shield that deflects electrical interferences, making it record no noise, and it offers the presence boost that will make you sound better. If you’re unable to get our first recommendation, try the Sennheiser MD 421 II model.
Highly Recommended Choices – Reviews & Comparison
We had a look at the cheap studio recording microphones and the more expensive ones and we’ve compared the quality for the price offered. After also reading the experts’ opinion we found out that the following models are some of the greatest you can find for sale.
You might be surprised to hear that this microphone that is perfectly fit for home use has been utilized as the main recording mic for one of the most popular albums ever, Thriller, by Michael Jackson. It is one of the greatest dynamic microphones and it is very flexible and can be used in a lot of conditions.
Its frequency response has been carefully designed and it comes protected by a custom windscreen. As is the case with vocal recording technologies, this one offers a bit of presence boost. For better results, it has a built-in shield to protect from electrical interferences and it also offers a shock mount.
This model is used by many TV companies and movie studios, proof of its quality. It’s not noisy at all due to its internal suspended shock isolation which eliminates all mechanical noise transmissions.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($399)
Sennheiser MD 421 II
The Sennheiser MD 421 is one of the most capable dynamic microphones on the market. Although it’s primarily marketed as a mic used for recording drums, it has some excellent capabilities when it comes to voice recording, because of the amount of power it provides and the wide range it offers.
It’s a great mic for loud sounds so you can scream at the top of your lungs into it. Coupled with the bass roll-off switch, it can provide some great opportunities. It has five presets to choose from so be sure to take the time and try each of them. You will be able to record nearly any kind of voice at the best capacity.
Due to its characteristics, it’s ideal for rap, rock or similar heavy genres. It’s also very flexible and can be used to record instruments too. The strong casing makes sure that no dust or humidity gets to the electronics.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($379.95)
Designed for studio use, this condenser microphone will provide great performances in a robust shape. It has a simple design and it’s rugged, the body has a matte black finish. In terms of looks, the manufacturer kept the things uncomplicated. Compared to other models it’s very stealthy and compact.
It offers a standard diaphragm design, that you can usually see in a modern condenser. It has a frequency range response of 20Hz to 20kHz, meaning that it can record low sounds with great precision. The pretty high sound pressure level of 155 dB allows it to record loud sounds with little to no noise. You can even use it as part of your drum mic kit.
When discussing accessories, this microphone comes with a shock mount included. In terms of recording, it offers a warm sound in just the right places when recording vocals. Due to its construction, it can also be used as a mic for recording instruments.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($134)
Having been available for a while, this microphone has stood the test of time and it appears that it’s one of the most qualitative condenser mics that can be used for studio recording. A large number of positive reviews and praises that can be found in case studies say the same thing. It’s been out for 15 years and it has a certain look that attracts those looking for something a bit antique.
It features a solid build, including a gold-plated diaphragm. In terms of what it can do it has a switchable bass cut and a built-in preamp that works a bit different compared to other models. This is not a microphone designed for professionals but it comes very close to the sound of the mics singers use.
For extra protection, this studio recording microphone bundle contains a carrying case and it also offers a shock mount so you can use it safely in your studio.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($72)
Taking into account that this model was first introduced to the market over 50 years ago, it’s safe to say that during the years it has performed extremely well and the fact that it’s still used is a statement of its quality. If you’re looking for an affordable mic that was intensely used by the professionals in the past, choose this one. It can last you as long as ten years.
It’s a great vocal microphone but it’s not a multipurpose one. It won’t work great if you try to record yourself talking or for instruments like an acoustic guitar. Although it’s designed for live performances it can do well in recording studios too. It has a good gain and the feedback seldom appears, but you will need to keep it close to your lips when you sing.
Male singers will have a better time with it because at high frequencies it gives a certain response that can make a female’s voice sound nasal. Because of its attributes, it can be a good choice for recording your snare drum.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($104)
Although very similar to the Rode NT1-A, this one has upgraded a lot of features that its predecessor had and now the only common part between the two is the mesh grille. Coming with this mic is the new Rode SMR shock mount.
The SMR enhances the vibration cancelation capabilities of the microphone, by using a small inner stable Lyre. The microphone also comes with a removable pop filter, which is both great looking and efficient. It thus has some very low noise levels, measuring 4.5dBA of self-noise to be more precise.
Made to be a blend of artistic value and cutting-edge technology, this studio recording microphone kit is able to provide the warm sound of old music while keeping the noise down. It has a midrange response that provides a lot of detail to the human voice. For resistance against corrosion, the body is nickel plated and made from aluminum, all covered with a military-grade ceramic layer.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($266.31)
Despite the fact that the casing is smaller than other similar microphones, this one still provides great quality. Inside it, you can find a 0.6-inch back-electret capsule used to record the sounds. This microphone offers some great bass extension and a bandwidth of 20Hz to 20kHz. Around 70Hz you can notice a dip in the sound and between 5kHz and 15kHz a small boost.
Weighing 12.01 oz, this microphone is quite solid and very sturdy, and a tough metal wire mesh protects the interior capsule. It also has a finer mesh that helps to reduce pop noise, but if you want the best performance out of it you should get a proper external pop shield. As a vocal microphone, this one is most suitable for indoor, studio usage.
It offers a mid-range warmth that helps every singer and because it doesn’t distort the sound too much it’s compatible with most voices. Additionally, it’s good for recording stringed instruments so you can transform your guitar into the best sounding acoustic guitar.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99)
If you’re looking for a budget-friendly microphone that can still offer professional level sounds, this microphone is for you. It is ideal for home studios or for those people that want to have some fun recording with their friends. It can thus be used as a karaoke microphone too.
It’s also useful if you’re traveling and you can’t get your whole system with you, because it’s so light and compact. It has an amplifier that works on field-effect transistor technology, a sound pressure level that can reach 136 dB and it’s quite good all around.
Although not ideal for recording professional pop songs, it’s a great alternative for small studio recordings, podcasts or for gamers or streamers. Because of the cardioid pattern it uses, it collects the signal, your voice, and rejects the surrounding noise. And don’t worry, when you’ll be using it to be heard in your karaoke speakers, nobody will notice it doesn’t sound like truly professional mics.
With the help of its padded carrying case and the rugged exterior, it’s made to last for a good while.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($49.99)
This is one of the most useful microphones out there for home and semi-professional purposes. It offers a rugged build and warm sound. It has been used by many artists. It will last you several years if you take care of it and the investment will be worth it. The frequency range is quite large and it will capture all the beautiful sounds that the human voice can produce.
In terms of construction, it offers a one-inch gold-plated diaphragm and high-quality circuity inside. A case is also included in the package; it’s made of plastic but it’s sturdy and has a nice look and it will protect your microphone. If you don’t have an audio interface, the mic also comes with a phantom powered amp.
You are thus able to start recording right out of the box. This model is particularly good for those that want to record ultra-low voices because it can pick up sounds in the range of 20Hz or more.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($529)
Neumann TLM 102
The Neumann brand can be considered the sports car of the microphones. It’s a pretentious brand that puts a lot of effort into its products and expects them to perform at a high level. That is why this microphone is more suitable for professional use, rather than daily home use.
Because the manufacturer puts so much effort into this piece of equipment, the quality of the sound it provides is exceptional. If you have an expert ear you will notice that it manipulates the voice a bit, offering a presence boost above 6 kHz.
That boost helps the vocals to shine in the song. The microphone can withstand pressure levels so high that it can even record drums. This and the capacity to record a large array of frequencies make it a great choice. Available in two finishes, nickel and matte black, it looks exquisite.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($699)
Yearly Guide & Report
Capturing the sounds of a beautiful human voice or those of an instrument in a studio environment is a challenge that few microphones are up to. Not all mics are made to record all the nuances of a song. Here’s a short guide on how to choose a proper microphone for that job.
The two main types of microphones
When recording there are two kinds of microphones used: dynamic and condenser ones. The difference between them is a technical one and it can be observed in how the diaphragm generates the signal. You can tell the difference between the two just by looking at them – a dynamic one usually points at the sound source, while a condenser uses its side to record.
In terms of performances, the dynamic mics are usually less fragile. That is the reason why they are more present in live performances like concerts or speaking events. They are better capable of withstanding sound pressure and they won’t distort the sound too much. But that can come as a disadvantage.
Because they are very resistant, they might be less sensitive and they don’t catch all the nuances of the sound source. You could say that for studio recording purposes a condenser microphone would be better.
Although condensers have vacuum tubes that need to be powered, they usually come with their own power source if they need a special amount of power. They are a bit more difficult to set up but they can offer a greater reward.
Headphones for music production or other sound producing equipment have a certain frequency range at which they can produce the musical notes. Some frequencies that can be created cannot even be heard by the human ear. Microphones are required to capture sound at different frequency ranges; the larger the range, the better.
You will want your microphone to have a frequency response graph that is as flat as possible, meaning that the high sounds, the medium ones, and the lows are all captured and processed equally. If a certain part of the spectrum gets a bit of boost or dip, the human voice can be distorted and will sound bad.
But that is not always true, and certain times, having a boost in the right place can help the singer. For example, people who produce vocals rich in bass will sound good on microphones that offer a good low-range frequency response. And vice-versa, looking at the higher sounds, a singer with a pitched voice will have an easier time with a boost there.
Because most microphones are capable of recording between 20Hz – 20kHz, there is plenty of room between those frequencies for the human voice to manifest in its full beauty.
What’s the sound pressure level?
Sound pressure level, or SPL, is represented by the highest pressure that a microphone is able to pick up from the input source, without the sound getting distorted and losing quality. This is a feature that microphones used for vocal recording shouldn’t have an issue with, because the human voice doesn’t usually produce such a big sound pressure.
For a recording studio, an SPL of 155dB should be enough to record a voice without any noise. The issue may appear when recording instruments, particularly drums, which produce a hefty sound volume. Also, if you intend on playing aggressive style music like rock or rap, a higher SPL than usual would be of help.
A good studio recording microphone should have a switch on it to allow for changing the sensitivity and to increase the maximum SPL as needed. You should be able to adjust it according to the occasion. If it’s a quality microphone you can use it for different situations like recording vocals, pairing it up with instruments or recording the ambient sound.
You can invest in a microphone with attenuation pads if you want to have more versatility. Another thing to consider is getting a pop filter to place between the voice and the mic. That will also reduce noise significantly.
Choosing the polar pattern
Microphones have the capability of picking up sounds in different ways, depending on what people call a polar pattern. Based on how a mic is built, there are different patterns that can be achieved. A cardioid one is a pattern that helps the microphone reject the sound that comes from behind it and only capture what’s in front.
Microphones that have such a pattern have the advantage of providing good isolation for the person that uses them because there are no other sources of noise that can be heard. But at the same time, they might sound a bit nasal, compared to omnidirectional microphones.
Of course, omnidirectional models come with the disadvantage that they pick up sound from everything around them, so if the room is not quiet and properly isolated, you will hear a lot of unwanted noises in your recordings. But on the bright side, they sound more natural and open, and they have a great off-axis response.
Another small difference between the two types is a concept called the proximity effect. This manifests in cardioid microphones when the person sings really close to the microphone and that causes a boost in the low-frequency sounds.
It is thus better to use omnidirectional microphones when you’re in a recording studio if you have the possibility to eliminate all the unwanted sounds in the room. They are also useful as overhead drum mics because they capture the whole atmosphere.