The Essential Guide to Finding the Best Studio Microphone for Vocals + Reviews
Finding the best studio microphone for vocals can’t be an easy task. Fortunately, we are here to help. After getting informed on the good and bad parts of the mics in this category, we reached the conclusion that the Shure SM7B microphone should be a great choice. It is a very silent model, benefiting from a well-made mic stand. It’s highly versatile and can be used for a multitude of purposes, being able to record in many situations. The two filters that it incorporates will make sure that only the beautiful sounds of the voice are heard. If you, unfortunately, cannot find it for sale, you should look for the AKG P220 microphone.
Our Top Choice
It’s a good multi-purpose microphone, capable of recording in different situations, from broadcasting to studio recording. The stability is great and it will sit nicely in the mic stand, thus it won’t produce vibration noises. It comes with two filters, so it highly reduces the noises created by the voice when singing too close.
The sound it produces can be a little too harsh or honky, but with proper mixing, that effect can be reduced.
You will hear no noise with this microphone and the quality sounds it is able to produce will make recording a great activity.
A heavy metal body provides great sturdiness and ensures durability over time. The roll-off in the bass area is gradually made and that provides a better result for lower tones. It works best in the mid-frequency range, where the human voice excels. It boosts the tone in the right places, particularly for female singers.
It only comes with a single polar pattern and that may mean that you will not be able to record all the sounds that you might like.
Being a model that offers great quality for the price, this microphone has a natural sound with the right amount of boost where needed.
Its sound is surprisingly crisp and clear. Offering the possibility to roll-off low bass frequencies, this quality microphone ensures that no noises are to be heard in the recording process. The cardioid pattern makes it ideal for recording a single voice source. Being a small-diaphragm model, it’s great in noisy environments.
Because it’s good in recording the high notes, it also creates the problem that the sounds it provides are too strident or tinny.
If you’re looking to record a single voice, this is the ideal diaphragm model to do so with. It offers clear sounds with no noise involved.
10 Best Studio Microphones for Vocals (Reviews) in 2020
We did our best to find what makes a good studio microphone for vocals and we analyzed each model to see if it has the qualities required. Our team read the most important reviews of studio microphones for vocals and experts’ opinion and that is how we reached the conclusion that the following models are the ones to be taken into consideration.
- 1. Shure 55SH Series II Dynamic Microphone
- 2. AKG P220 High-Performance Large Diaphragm True Condenser Microphone
- 3. MXL 770 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
- 4. SM57-LCE Mikrofon dynamisch
- 5. Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC and Mac
- 6. Audio-Technica 20 Series AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
- 7. Rode Microphones NT1-A Vocal Pack
- 8. SE Electronics sE2200a II C Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone
- 9. C214 Professional large-diaphragm condenser microphone
- 10. Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic
- Yearly Guide & Report
1. Shure 55SH Series II Dynamic Microphone
Some people are searching for an all-around microphone, one capable of recording the voice in any scenario, and for those, this microphone represents the choice.
It can be used for a multitude of purposes, from broadcasting live to studio recording. Having a frequency range of 50Hz-20kHz, it’s made to accommodate soft sounds and screaming too.
A great addition to this microphone is the improved bracket design, offering increased stability when sitting in the mic stand. For maximum noise reduction, it comes with 2 windscreens, one of which is useful for close proximity sounds and drastically reduces breathing noises.
It has an impressive sound pressure level and can withstand and record even trumpet sounds. It’s ideal for capturing every nuance of a vocal performance.
The ergonomic shape is also something that recommends this microphone. The sound that it provides is balanced, no unnecessary highs and lows, it doesn’t distort the tone and it will last.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($399)
2. AKG P220 High-Performance Large Diaphragm True Condenser Microphone
The all-metal body that this mic provides feels very robust in the hand and it makes the whole thing weigh over 1 pound. The grill is also durable and doesn’t bend when pressed.
The frequency response is between 20 Hz and 20 kHz and unlike other models, this one doesn’t have a classic roll off for low-frequency sounds.
That means it has a dip under 150 Hz and a full roll-off from 50 Hz downwards. The human ear can’t hear lower than 80 Hz too well, but the difference in recording can surely be felt. The mid sounds are very flat and natural but a gradual boost can be felt when going into higher frequencies.
This makes the microphone ideal for the human voice, that works best in the mid-frequency range. Taking into account the quality build and the bundled shock mount, this microphone represents great quality for the price.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($139.99)
3. MXL 770 Small Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
One of the best characteristics of this microphone is the crisp and clear sound that it can provide. For a condenser microphone, it does a very good job.
It offers the possibility to turn off low bass frequencies, increasing the quality of the resulting soundtrack and reducing unwanted noise.
A sturdy shock mount also makes sure that if you accidentally bump it, it won’t get damaged and furthermore, the quality of the recording isn’t affected.
It has a cardioid pickup pattern, meaning that it’s great at recording sounds right in front of it and eliminating unwanted noise coming from other sources.
Offering a wide dynamic range, it can be used for almost any recording purposes, but it excels in capturing the voice. Big-diaphragm microphones have the possibility of recording all the nuances of the human voice. This one, however, is a small-diaphragm model, and can’t do all of that, but it’s better in noisy environments.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($69.91)
4. SM57-LCE Mikrofon dynamisch
The Shure SM57-LC is a dynamic microphone with a cardioid pattern, meaning that it records what it’s pointed at and neglects sounds from other sources.
Dynamic microphones are better at capturing medium pitched sounds, comparing to condenser microphones that do better with high and low frequencies.
The sound pressure level is very high for this microphone. It’s capable of recording loud sounds, such as those emitted by a drum, without distorting.
That is why it’s a great choice for those singers that have a more powerful voice. Also, when singing close to it, the mic provides a small bass boost, which is ideal for genres like rap, or for being used when speaking.
Because it was introduced in 1965, it has a funky and vintage appearance, but it doesn’t go out of style. Professionals like this model because it offers a clear sound and an open tone.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($99)
5. Blue Yeti USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC and Mac
The Blue brand is one of the well-known companies when it comes to USB microphones, and the Yeti model is one of the most popular amongst streamers or podcasters. That is due to the excellent recording capabilities, clear sound, and affordability.
It’s a good model for a variety of purposes, but the company offers a studio model that is more suitable for recording vocals in the studio.
The Yeti has an exterior made entirely of metal and all the components feel enduring. Interestingly, it comes with rubber non-slip surfaces on its base, so it doesn’t move around.
Taking that into account, and the fact that it comes with USB connectivity, it is clearly a model made to sit on your desk. It offers a lot of variety in terms of sound capturing methods.
It has a cardioid pattern mode, for when you want to only record your voice, but it also offers omnidirectional or two-way patterns for the times when you decide to record more sound sources.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($102.04)
6. Audio-Technica 20 Series AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
This model from Audio-Technica is one that offers a pretty balanced and clear sound and has the capacity to reduce the noise levels. It’s a great choice for home recording studios.
It has a cardioid polar pattern and a large diaphragm, things that make it great not only for recording vocals but for instruments too.
You can get some good tracks at home with this mic, and it is able to handle a lot of recording scenarios. It has a nice frequency range, that emphasizes the low and mid-range sounds.
The pattern of recording is tailored so it offers you the possibility to add some flavor to the vocal recordings. This pattern has a great effect on instruments, making them sound very clear.
The body is a component used in many of the brand’s models and it is solid and durable, and if you don’t need to maintain a great look, it doesn’t need much care.
Buy from Amazon.com
7. Rode Microphones NT1-A Vocal Pack
The first thing you notice once you open the package is how much it is included in it. You get the necessary shock mounter, which is indispensable for a condenser mic, you also receive a cover, a pop filter, and XLR cables. This is a very exciting bundle for a small music producer that wants to start recording at home.
If you’re looking for a microphone that can be intensely used to record vocals, but also for string instruments, this is the one. The microphone offers a great presence at higher frequencies, which is very nice for female singers.
It also offers the possibility to hear some voice nuances that you didn’t even know were there.
When recording vocals it’s important to get a clear sound, with no distortion, and this mic offers that. The fact that it boosts low frequency sounds when recording from a close distance makes it a good choice for rap or hip-hop singers.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($192.77)
8. SE Electronics sE2200a II C Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone
As a large diaphragm condenser microphone, this one is ideal for voice recording, but it’s also a neat choice for acoustic guitars and other instruments. By the way, we have also written a guide where you can find the right sounding acoustic guitar.
The cardioid pattern is the one most useful when recording a voice in a not-so-professional environment because it rejects sounds from the rear.
But this mic offers more than that. It also has a wide frequency range, with small bumps at 3-6 kHz and 10-15 kHz. This offers a nice boost in mixes where the voice might be covered up by other sounds, such as the piano.
This microphone doesn’t suffer from the problem that some condensers do – it doesn’t struggle in the high frequencies and it offers a natural sound across all fields.
The sound that it provides is clear and warm. Vocals are a tough category of tones to pick up and certain microphones do better in some areas and worse in others. This model, on the other hand, does well on all occasions.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($371.99)
9. C214 Professional large-diaphragm condenser microphone
Made from start to finish in Vienna, Austria, the AKG microphones have a history of reputation and reliability of over 60 years.
This large diaphragm model has a single pickup pattern, the cardioid one, and it’s ideal for being used at home. It can also be taken to record in other studios, thanks to the metal carrying case that it comes in.
A shock mount and a pop filter are included in the package and both of them will offer you the possibility to record the highest quality sounds.
The diaphragm is 1 inch wide, thus very big and capable of hearing a lot of details in sounds. It has a dynamic range of 143dB, meaning you can scream at it all you want and it won’t get damaged and will still produce a great sound.
Due to the construction, this microphone has a very low self-noise. It’s a recommended mic for recording vocals but it can work well with pianos, guitars or cellos.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($328.12)
10. Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic
This microphone was released in 1960, so it has a lot of years of experience, and because of that it has become one of the most popular models when it comes to studio recording.
Despite its looks that resemble a condenser microphone, this one is a dynamic end address model and it is thus best employed when pointed at the sound source.
Interestingly, it offers a bass roll-off switch capable of providing five different positions. The most useful of them are the M (for music) and the S (speech) modes.
If you have a low voice, however, you will want to avoid the M setting, because it produces too much bass. Although marketed as a studio microphone, it’s also widely used on live stages.
If you want to record while the microphone is set to a flat setting, it will produce some extraordinarily clear sounds. It’s surprising how rich the sound can be. Due to it being dynamic, it doesn’t have the issue of recording surrounding noises.
Buy from Amazon.com for ($379.95)
Yearly Guide & Report
A microphone for studio vocals must have certain qualities. One of these is its ability to clearly reproduce the sound that is directed towards it. But at the same time, the microphone should be able to repel noise and bring out the best of a voice.
Types of microphones
There are a lot of microphone styles and types, based on how they function and their purpose. Taking into account how they physically function, there are condenser and dynamic microphones.
Dynamic models are the ones that are very rugged and are capable of absorbing high sound volume levels with no issue. That is why they are particularly suited for live performances. Most of them have an internal shock-absorbing system, for the same purpose. Some of them, however, are made to be great for studio recording. They are generally affordable and that is partly because they are simpler and last longer.
Condenser models use an external power source to function. External batteries or phantom power are widely used. Most mixers nowadays provide the phantom power needed by these mics.
These microphones are used for recording and they do very well in studios. Sometimes they can also be useful in live applications, acting as overhead microphones for choirs, or acoustic instruments. They are also ideal for being used as overhead drum mics.
Large-diaphragm condenser microphones have a very sensitive recording capability. They require an external phantom power and, to provide the best sound, they also need a shock absorber. Their large size and style make them a bad choice for recording live, but they are the ideal kind for capturing vocals or instruments with a similar noise level as the human voice.
If you wish to record more than one instrument in a professional environment, check our guide on studio recording microphones. Additionally, you might want to set up a good recording studio for your drums and if that’s the case, look for a good drum mic kit.
A popular choice amongst home recording artists is the USB microphone. They are so easy to set up and they provide everybody with the access needed to start recording. Offering a great choice for someone needing a quick recording device, they’re great for those that are starting in the industry or simply enjoy to make themselves heard on podcasts or live streams.
The frequency range
You may be familiar with frequency range, particularly if you have been working in a studio environment before, or with a pair of studio headphones. Generally, you want a microphone that has a frequency response graph that is as flat as possible, meaning that the low, mid and high sounds are picked up equally, without any of them getting emphasized in the final production.
Of course, depending on your voice, you want a microphone that gives you a better feel when singing and offers some nice bumps. If you have a low voice, you will benefit from a mic that emphasizes the lower spectrum. The same can be said about the other end of the sound range. Higher pitched vocalists have a better time with a microphone that offers good high range boosts.
A vocal studio microphone has a frequency range between 20Hz and 20kHz. That is ideal because it is the range in which humans capture the sounds the best.
What about polar patterns?
As you probably know, the sound is something that spreads equally in a balanced environment, in waves. Microphones are capable of capturing those waves in different ways and at different angles, called polar patterns. A pattern represents the sensitivity at which a microphone is capable of capturing a sound coming from various angles.
For voice recording purposes, cardioid microphones are the most capable of great performance. That is because they only hear the sound directly in front of them and ignore all other sources. When recording vocals that is essentially what you want.
There are some other recording patterns. One of which is the omnidirectional one, and as the name suggests, it’s good for recording sounds from every direction.
It’s useful even in the studio for recording the general atmosphere of the room if it isn’t too noisy, or even for recording a larger group of people without focusing on any particular individual.
If you spend that much time in the studio and on the road, composing, consider getting yourself a portable piano keyboard. On the same note, a synthesizer keyboard can be useful as well.
The figure 8 models have their use too, generally being employed when two people sitting opposite of each other are having a discussion, but they can be used on other occasions too. Cheap studio microphones for vocals usually only have one polar pattern but they can perform well with that.
You don’t want your microphone to record all the unwanted sounds, and that’s why you need to take some measures of protection. Firstly, particularly for condenser mics, you surely need a shock mount, so there are almost no negative vibrations reaching the microphone. Then, you want to make sure that you have a pop filter.
That is a screen that will be placed between the singer and the microphone. Although a very important piece of equipment, many musicians neglect its use. It’s a good addition because it blocks the unwanted noises that the mouth produces while singing and while a person pronounces certain words.