19 Best Microphones For 2020 – Get Pro-Level Audio On A Budget!

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Capturing vocals is actually a pretty challenging feat. So finding the right microphones for vocals is an important part of the process.

Why?

Because you can only fix so much in post-production.

This is why the successful studios in the world record with world-class microphones built especially for vocals.

The problem is these microphones have been out of reach for most aspiring creators until now because of their price.

But not anymore!

Whether you are podcasting, YouTubing, singing, or making vlogs, the best microphone in your budget should capture high-quality vocals the first time.

So you won’t need to waste time trying to jazz it up later.

Let’s dive in:

The Best Microphone:

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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Our 19 Best-Rated Mics for Vocals

Editor’s Pick Brand
Top Pick Shure SM7B Microphone
Best Bang for the Buck sE Electronics X1
​​Best microphone under $250 sE Electronics X1s
Best microphone under $150 Audio-Technica AT2035
Best microphone under $50 Zingyou ZY-007
Best cheap microphone Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500
Best Microphone For Singing Avantone CV-12
Runner Up ​AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII
Best microphone for singing at home ​Shure sm7b
Best Microphone For Podcasting And Speech ​Shure SM7B
Best Microphone For Rap And Hip Hop Shure SM7B
Best Microphone For Gaming And Streaming Shure SM7B
Best Microphone For YouTube Shure SM7B
Best Vocal Mic For iOS Shure MV88
Best Vocal Mic For Android Shure MV88+
Best Tube Mic Warm Audio WA-47
Best Small Diaphragm Microphone For Recording Shure SM81
Best Large Diaphragm Microphone For Recording AKG Pro Audio C214
Best Microphone For Live Vocals Sennheiser e945

Top Pick: ​Shure SM7B Microphone

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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The Shure SM7B is behind some of the best vocals of this musical era. It’s used by popular recording artists and is the new and improved version of the Shure SM7… the very mic that Michael Jackson used to record the lead vocal’s track for “Billie Jean,” along with many more.

As the best microphone, it features a dynamic mic with a classic cardioid pattern that rejects off-axis sounds and offers a uniform capturing of the vocalist’s voice. This means that the mic ONLY picks up that voice and nothing else.

This distinction is imperative for those trying to record the truest vocals. Its unique design and superior shock isolate the voice and eliminate unwanted breathing sounds, mechanical noise, and interference from other sound equipment.

This microphone can be used for anything… from recording within a studio, to its use as a broadcast and podcast mic. Its construction is impressive, and its reduction of distortion is unrivaled on the current market.
It also has bass roll-off and presence boost controls for quick tweaking on the part of the singer.

The controls come with a graphic display that makes it easy for anyone to use. Characterized by its wide frequency response range (50Hz to 20kHz), and vocal-articulated frequency response curve, the SM7B is the best microphone for vocals if you’re looking to record a new song or album.

Here are the key features for the Shure SM7B. If any of these characteristics appeal to you, it may be the perfect microphone for recording to take a look at.

Shure SM7B Key Features

  • ​Premium build quality
  • ​Built-in pop filter
  • ​Easy controls for the vocalist
  • ​Best for reducing sound distortion
  • ​Superior air shock isolation features

Best Bang for the Buck: sE Electronics X1

sE Electronics X1S
$200 gets you pretty far these days, especially if you're spending it with sE Electronics.
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This UK company has been doing some big things lately, including partnering up with Rupert Neve himself on a mic design.

The X1s model isn’t that one, but boy does it do a great job for under $250. The X1s is the upgraded version of the X1 condenser mic (I’m going to guess the S stands for superior, sexy, or seriously good), and has pretty much all of the buttons and switches you’re after in a quality microphone.

Being one of the best condenser microphones, it’s bright, airy, and perfect for a singer, offering great sound for your solo, a podcast, or a YouTube channel. The X1s is also great in front of an acoustic guitar, or dangling above a drum kit.

And, at this price, you can afford to get two for a seriously sexy-sounding stereo setup.

Key Features of the sE Electronics X1s:

  • All-metal housing
  • Hand-crafted capsule
  • 80Hz or 160Hz low cut filters
  • -10 dB and -20 dB pad switches
  • High dynamic range and SPL handling
  • Large diaphragm condenser microphone

Best Under $150: ​Audio-Technica AT2035

Audio-Technica AT2035
Our budget pick, Audio-Technica AT2035, gets you the best bang for your buck. It’s durable and allows for focused sound from just the vocalist.
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Sometimes you need a great sound but can’t afford to spend a gargantuan amount of money on it. Worry not, you can get quality recordings on a budget too. You just need to know where to look for such a mic and we’ve gone and found it for you: the Audio-Technica AT2035.

If you like the economy of its price tag, you’ll love everything this mic features. The built-in high-pass filter, for example, does a great job of enhancing the vocal presence.

Now, the AT2035 doesn’t have a high-end build, but it boasts durable construction for the money. Its shock mount further helps to protect the microphone while also improving the audio quality.

Of all the microphones for recording, you can outfit your home studio with this one without spending too much cash. The sound pressure balance is good and not many mics can match the AT2035 when comparing price-to-quality ratio.

The AT2035 has an 80Hz high-pass filter, and the 10dB pad gives the mic its ability to handle high sound pressure levels. It has a standard cardioid polar pattern, which minimizes the pickup of side and rear noises. This maintains the focus on the vocalist and directs the sound straight into the mic.

​Audio-Technica AT2035 Key Features

  • Minimizes the pickup of other noises for vocal emphasis
  • ​Budget-friendly and durable
  • ​Boosted presence
  • ​Suspension boom scissor arm
  • ​Custom shock mount

Best Microphone Under $50: Zingyou ZY-007

ZINGYOU Condenser Microphone Bundle, ZY-007
A tight little package for those on a tight budget, the Zingyou ZY-007 offers incredible bang for the buck.
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If you’re really tight on budget, the Zingyou ZY-007 is one of the few mics that you can get for less than $50 that offers a reasonably good sound quality.

Now, it’s probably not going to compete with, say, the Shure SM7B, but considering you could buy 10 of these babies for the same price, we aren’t complaining.

What gives this mic insane value for the money is that you don’t just get a mic, you get an entire recording pack.

You get a shock mount for keeping the Zingyou ZY-007 isolated from acoustic noise, two types of pop filters to remove plosives and mouth noises, and a hand scissor arm stand.

There aren’t many microphones out there that include this kind of stand. These are perfect for creating YouTube videos, or, basically, any time you need the mic in front of your face while you’re at your computer.

A desktop tripod stand can do the trick, but it often doesn’t acoustically isolate the mic, which can be a pain if you’re using the keyboard (such as when gaming and streaming).

Not only that, the Zingyou ZY-007 is a standard XLR mic, but comes with a USB adaptor cable. That means you can use it with your own preamps or interface, or simply chuck in the adapter and connect to a USB port on your computer!

Key Features of the Zingyou ZY-007

  • Use as a USB mic or an XLR
  • Available in blue, red, or black
  • Reasonable sound quality for the price
  • Great for vocals, instruments, or podcasting
  • Includes so much more – two pop filters, scissor arm stand, a shock mount, and USB adapter

Best Cheap Microphone: Behringer Ultravoice XM8500

Behringer Ultravoice XM8500
Superior build quality, excellent sound output, and an intuitive design make the Ultravoice XM8500 the perfect option when searching for a cheap mic.
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Ever since Behringer’s parent company bought out Midas in 2009, their pro-audio game has skyrocketed. They now offer a series of widely used mixing desks, speakers, and microphones. The Xm8500 is their entry-level handheld vocal mic, and it’s dirt cheap. But, don’t let that make you think it’s a piece of crap. Far from it.

Despite its price point, the XM8500 holds its own against the big guns in the handheld dynamic market, such as the industry-standard Shure SM58.

It’s perhaps a little muddier in the low end than a 58, but it does have a more pronounced upper-mid boost, which is great for voice clarity. For that reason, this would be a fantastic cheap microphone for recording voiceovers and podcast audio.

It doesn’t have anything in the way of fancy switches or lights, but what can you expect for just over 20 bucks?

Plus, you don’t really need them.

The cardioid polar pattern keeps things focused on your voice (or other sound source), and the internal two-stage pop filter keeps the mic capsule isolated from plosives and wind noise for a clean signal.

Key Features of the Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500:

  • XLR output
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Handheld dynamic mic
  • 50 Hz to 15 kHz frequency response
  • Internal shock mount system and pop filter

Best Microphone For Singing: Avantone CV-12

Avantone CV-12
One of the best sounding mics on the market, the Avantone CV-12 is the king of recording vocals if you're after that smooth and silky tube sound.
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Avantone is one of those brands that doesn’t have a huge name in project studio and at-home use, but they damn well deserve to. Their microphones are excellent.

The CV-12 is their flagship tube condenser mic, and it’s a multi pattern large-diaphragm unit. It’s a mouthful that means you can choose from a number of polar patterns.

That’s probably raised a few questions. First of all, what the hell is a tube mic?

Though the CV-12 is tubular in appearance, that’s not what we’re talking about.

It means the microphone has one of those vacuum tubes (valves for our British friends) that are typically found in high-end guitar amp heads and other pro-audio gear. The bottom line? A rich, gooey, and sort of vintage tone which is gorgeous on vocals and absolutely shines on acoustic guitars.

Since they can’t run on phantom power, tube mics need a special power unit to run their electronics. The CV-12 comes with a big old box that supplies power to the mic. That’s where you’ll choose one of the microphone’s 9 polar patterns. Yes, nine.

Okay, to be honest, the whole nine polar patterns thing is a bit of a gimmick, but it’s still pretty cool. In reality, you have the four usual suspects: omni, cardioid, hyper-cardioid, and figure-8. The other five options sit somewhere in the middle of each of these four.

Are all nine patterns really that useful? Not sure. Does this microphone’s recording capability blow its competitors out of the water and make this our favorite condenser for recording vocals? Hell yes.

Key Features of the Avantone CV-12:

  • 9 pickup patterns
  • Tube condenser mic for the smooth, vintage sound
  • Wide frequency response with a smooth and silky tonal palette
  • Gorgeous red livery with a silver metal grille makes this a classy looking mic
  • Included power supply, shock mount, and wooden case, plus a carry case for the whole lot

Runner Up: ​AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII

AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII
Our contender, the AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII, is great for distinct vocal sounds among lots of instruments.
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The AKG Pro Audio C414 is a close second. It can be used to record vocals and instruments going solo in great quality thanks to its nine switchable polar patterns. Also included are three levels of bass-cut filters, which help to counteract the effects of wind noise, proximity effect, and stage vibration. All of these things can influence the quality of a sound recording, so the AKG Pro is your best bet when it comes to recording clear and quality sound.

It’s not just the versatility that makes this mic a great find. The AKG Pro stands out among the rest by recording distinct sound and its ability to offer crisp, recorded vocals that distinctly resonate against background sound.

Thanks to this great feature, the microphone can be used to record vocals for even the most cluttered of mixes. This is the best way for vocals to be heard when they’re competing with instruments, background vocals, and noise. That’s so important if you’re recording a really complex mix.

The frequency response range covers the entire human hearing range of 20Hz to 20kHz. This doesn’t even begin to cover this mic’s true potential. Where it really shines is in the level of customization and optimization offered for various types of vocals and solo instruments. Clear, the AKG Pro earns its place on this list — and then some.

​AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII Key Features

  • Nine polar patterns
  • ​Customizable for vocal and instrumental purposes
  • ​Best for complex sound recording with distinct vocals
  • ​Wide frequency response
  • ​Emphasized midrange

Best Microphone For Singing At Home: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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The Shure SM7B is the best microphone for singing at home because of its insane ability to handle background noise. When we say handle, we mean DESTROY.

Unlike many mics that people choose for singing at home, the SM7B is not very sensitive. This means that when you move even a few inches away from the mic, there is a noticeable drop off in recording volume.

For singing at home in an untreated room, this is absolutely ideal. It means that the mic is way less likely to pick up the sound of your crazy cat running down the hallway, or your little brother yelling at his Xbox.

It also delivers an amazing, pro-level recording quality, without the price tag of many studio-quality mics. Sure, it’s not the cheapest mic available, but when you compare it with some of the microphones used in professional studios, you’ll be thanking us for all the pennies you’ve just saved.

Despite its affordable price point, the Shure SM7B is a regular feature in professional studio environments, and was even used on Michael Jackson’s Thriller record. So yeah, it’ll more than do the job.

And thanks to the mic’s internally shock-mounted capsule, acoustic noise and vibrations are minimized. So, go ahead and set this up on a mic stand or, if you really want to, hold it in your hands for the ‘on-stage’ feel.

Key Features of the Shure SM7B:

  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Presence boost switch
  • Large-diaphragm dynamic mic
  • Two levels of pop filter included
  • Flat, wide-range frequency response
  • Integral broadcast-style swivel mount
  • Industry-standard on vocals and voice recording
  • Internal shock isolation for a clean signal and reduced mechanical noise

Best Microphone For Podcasting And Vocals (Speech): Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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The Shure SM7B is the best microphone for podcasting and vocals because it features a frequency response specifically designed to be incredibly flattering on the voice.

The overall frequency response is fairly smooth, from 100Hz up to around 12kHz, where it begins to drop off. The mic has subtle boosts at 5kHz and 6kHz though, which is the upper-mid range where a lot of the presence in vocals exists.

Above these boosts, the mic has some subtle dips between 7-10kHz, which help to reduce the effects of sibilance (those harsh ‘S’ sounds you hear when speaking) This makes for an incredibly rich and natural voice sound, which is perfect for podcasting.

But it’s not over yet. The SM7B has two built-in EQ switches. The first is a bass roll-off switch, which reduces proximity effect and cuts out any unwanted rumble. The second is a broad mid-range presence boost, which lifts the mic’s frequency response from about 700Hz all the way up.

With these two switches engaged, the Shure SM7B delivers a sonic palette that is irresistible on voice recordings, and sure to make your podcast come to life.

Key Features of the Shure SM7B:

  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Presence boost switch
  • Large-diaphragm dynamic mic
  • Two levels of pop filter included
  • Flat, wide-range frequency response
  • Integral broadcast-style swivel mount
  • Industry-standard on vocals and voice recording
  • Internal shock isolation for a clean signal and reduced mechanical noise

Best Microphone For Rap And Hip Hop: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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The Shure SM7B is the best microphone for rap and hip hop because it is incredibly adept at handling plosives.

Plosives are the aggressive consonants such as p, b, d, g, t, and k. All of these consonant sounds, especially p and b, force a short burst of air out of the mouth. Put your hand in front of your mouth and make some p and b sounds, you’ll see what I mean.

Most microphones are incredibly sensitive to plosive sounds, especially condenser mics, which are most commonly used in vocal recording situations.

The SM7B is a dynamic mic, so by nature it gets around this a little bit. However, dynamic mics are still subject to plosive noises, which is why the SM7B ships with two foam windscreens, and standard one and a super thick heavy-duty windscreen.

Why is this so important for rap and hip hop vocal recording then? Well, a big part of rapping is the reliance on percussive consonant sounds, as this style of vocal is quite rhythmic in nature.

Those percussive consonant sounds are the same ones that produce a lot of mouth noises, and so plosives become a huge issue for rappers and hip hop artists.

But not with Shure SM7B, especially if you’ve got the big boy windscreen on.

Key Features of the Shure SM7B:

  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Presence boost switch
  • Large-diaphragm dynamic mic
  • Two levels of pop filter included
  • Flat, wide-range frequency response
  • Integral broadcast-style swivel mount
  • Industry-standard on vocals and voice recording
  • Internal shock isolation for a clean signal and reduced mechanical noise

Best Microphone For Gaming And Streaming: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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The Shure SM7B is the best microphone for gaming and streaming because, thanks to its high SPL-handling abilities, it can put up with you screaming into it when you get killed and inevitably rage.

Seriously, this mic can handle up to 180dB SPL. How loud is that? Well, a jet aircraft taking off 150 feet away measures around 140dB SPL.

What makes this so impressive is that the dB scale is logarithmic, so every 10dB is a doubling in perceived volume. That means the SM7B can handle sound pressure up to 16 times as loud as that jet. WTAF.

But it isn’t the insane SPL handling ability that makes the SM7B perfect for gaming and streaming. It’s also incredibly insensitive to background noise.

No, not insensitive like your racist grandma.

What we mean is, the SM7B’s sensitivity drops off really quickly as you move further away from the mic. Chances are there’s stuff going on outside your bedroom, like your mom calling you for dinner. So this is a great thing for those of you gaming and streaming in your bedroom.

None of that is likely to make it into the mic capsule, which means your audience can enjoy a clear recording of just you, not your family.

Key Features of the Shure SM7B:

  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Presence boost switch
  • Large-diaphragm dynamic mic
  • Two levels of pop filter included
  • Flat, wide-range frequency response
  • Integral broadcast-style swivel mount
  • Industry-standard on vocals and voice recording
  • Internal shock isolation for a clean signal and reduced mechanical noise

Best Microphone For YouTube: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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The Shure SM7B is the best microphone for YouTube because it’s one of the only mics you can get for under $500 that pro audio engineers use on a regular basis.

And you know that when a mic like this gets pulled out of the cabinet, chosen above vintage Neumann, AKGm and Telefunken mics, it’s doing something right.

The audio quality from the Shure SM7B is something to be celebrated as it absolutely shines on voice. But the quality of the recording is not the only thing that makes this mic perfect for YouTubers.

The fact that the SM7B handles background noise with ease is a huge plus, especially if you’re not recording in a super well-treated studio. To be honest, who is?

Not only that, but the SM7B has an integral broadcaster-style swivel mount, so when you attach this mic to a boom arm, you can still make little adjustments to it’s positioning.

This is not only ideal for getting the perfect recording with the mic always pointed directly at your mouth, but it also looks dope on camera. It just has that super professional vibe. And, as we know, YouTube is all about image.

Key Features of the Shure SM7B:

  • IBass roll-off switch
  • IPresence boost switch
  • ILarge-diaphragm dynamic mic
  • ITwo levels of pop filter included
  • IFlat, wide-range frequency response
  • IIntegral broadcast-style swivel mount
  • IIndustry-standard on vocals and voice recording
  • IInternal shock isolation for a clean signal and reduced mechanical noise

Best Vocal Mic For iOS: Shure MV88

Shure MV88 iOS Stereo Condenser Microphone
Many mics are just too difficult to take on the go, but not the MV88. This hand little guy fits in the palm of your hand and plugs directly into the charging port on your iPad or iPhone.
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Recording on-the-go can be a real pain in the ass sometimes, especially if you’ve got a big setup. Even bringing a laptop and USB mic out in the wild can prove difficult.

That’s why we’re in love with the Shure MV88, a discreet little condenser unit that plugs directly into your iOS device to provide premium quality audio.

Travel bloggers and content creators will love these little mics for the fact that you can literally fit them in your pocket, so there won’t be much weight or space taken up in your luggage.

The mic capsule is on a neat little adjustable swivel so you can get the recording angle perfect, and, surprisingly, it’s a stereo mic.

Stereo mics are great for capturing ambient sounds in the wild (like at the beach), but they can also be a great solution for recording a two-person interview, where one capsule is aimed at each participant.

You can even use one of these mics in windy or noisy environments thanks to the included windshield, making them the perfect audio recording buddy for iPhone and iPad. The price isn’t half bad either.

Key Features of the Shure MV88:

  • Headphone output
  • Stereo condenser mic
  • 2 included recording apps
  • Rotatable up to 90 degrees
  • iOS compatible via Lightning connector
  • Comes with protective carrying pouch and foam windshield

Best Vocal Mic For Android: Shure MV88+

Shure MV88+
When you need to be mobile, but only the best will do, the Shure MV88+ is one of the only mics you want in your kit.
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Psst…the “plus” in the name should tell you that this is an upgraded version of the MV88. So what’s different?

To start, it comes with a compact Manfrotto PIXI tripod, as well as a mount for both a smartphone and the mic. That’s actually super cool because you essentially have everything within arms reach.

The MV88+ mics also throw in some advanced audio capabilities, such as live audio streaming, multi-track recording to Garageband, improved sound quality, and real-time headphone monitoring.

Plus you can charge your phone while using it, something you aren’t able to achieve with the standard MV88.

This baby is also compatible with USB-C and mini-USB devices, so it makes for a good choice if you’re an Android user. Apple geeks, don’t worry. You can use these mics as well (just add a Lightning cable!).

Additionally, the MV88+ can record to a laptop, so you’re not bound to your phone or tablet. This makes it a much more versatile unit than the MV88, which can really only be used with an iPad or iPhone.

Key Features of the Shure MV88+

  • Included Manfrotto PIXI tripod
  • Real-time headphone monitoring
  • Still comes with a foam windshield
  • Android, iOS, and laptop-compatible
  • Charge your device while using this mic

​Best Tube Mic: ​Warm Audio WA-47

Warm Audio WA-47
The Warm Audio WA-47 is a modern update of a classic vintage recording tube microphone. This makes it the best mic for vocal recordings for the price.
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The Warm Audio WA-47 is the best tube mic we’ve ever reviewed. It’s a modern version of the classic ’47, a vintage tube microphone used by the likes of Frank Sinatra and George Martin. It’s a large diaphragm condenser microphone that’s ideal for vocal recordings, and comes with its own PSU.

While not the cheapest option on the market, the WA-47 can pull off some of the cleanest recordings you’ll ever hear.

A total of nine polar patterns are available, including cardioid, omnidirectional, and six more patterns for different applications. The microphone uses a 5751 or 12AX7 vacuum tubes. The stock tube is a JJ Slovak 5751, and you can replace it with different tubes to play with the sound.

Optimized for vocals, the WA-47 is a blast from the past with modern retooling to make it the best for your vocal recording. It can handle a wide range of solo instruments, but it is best-known for its natural and warm sound.

This is overall one of the best microphones for recording vocals that has a large diaphragm. It’s a classic microphone for singing

Warm Audio WA-47 Key Features

  • Unique tube sound
  • ​Replaceable tubes for different sounds
  • ​Nine polar patterns
  • ​Power supply unit (PSU) included
  • Premium Gotham Audio 7-pin cable

Best Small Diaphragm Microphone For Recording: Shure SM81

Shure sm81
A highly-versatile condenser mic with a wide, accurate response and superior transient handling, the Shure SM81 is perfect as an overhead mic or for use in front of an acoustic guitar.
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Small diaphragm condenser mics don’t really get the same kind of clout as their bigger brothers, especially in the content creation world. That’s because they tend to be better suited to instrument recording.

It’s not that they don’t do a decent job on voice, but, due to the nature of their diaphragm, these mics really excel at picking up intricate high frequencies. It’s for that reason they are often used on cymbals, pianos, and acoustic guitars.

The Shure SM81 is a pretty simple SDC with two levels of bass roll-off switch, and a -10dB pad for controlling loud sound sources. Other than that, it’s pretty much a case of point and shoot.

And that makes it a seriously easy to use mic. The sound output is super clear, crisp, and refined, thanks to the wide, flat frequency response these mics offer.

Small diaphragm condensers can often be pretty delicate, but the SM81 is a solidly built mic with a rugged steel body.

It would do well in the studio, but if you want to take this guy out on the road for recording drum kits, I wouldn’t be concerned in the slightest. You might want to get a case for it though.

Key Features of the Shure SM81:

  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • 20 Hz to 20 kHz frequency response
  • 0 dB/10 dB lockable attenuator switch
  • Flat response curve for accurate reproduction of sound sources
  • Selectable low-frequency response: flat, 6 or 18 dB/octave roll-off

Best Large Diaphragm Microphone For Recording Music: AKG Pro Audio C214

AKG Pro Audio C214
If you've ever watched any YouTube videos of studio recordings, you've probably seen an AKG mic or four. The C214 borrows from the company's flagship C414 mic, and it sounds just as good.
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Perhaps one of the most famous large-diaphragm condenser mics used in studio recordings is AKG’s C414. You can think of the C214 as the 414’s less distinguished, but far more affordable, younger brother. It’s just about as good though.

The C214 is a cardioid condenser mic, pretty much the most widely used type of microphone there is, and it sounds AMAZING, especially on vocals.

It has a nice little dip in the mid-range which deals with nasal vocal tones and perks up quite a bit in the upper mids to give clarity and sparkle to strings and guitars.

If you want, you can filter out low frequencies with the low-cut filter. That’s always a good choice when recording vocals up close, as cardioid mics tend to suffer from the proximity effect.

One of the things we love about the C214 is that it comes with a really high-quality shock mount.

Many low-cost condenser mics come with shock mounts, but it doesn’t take long before the bands lose their tension, and they start to fall apart.

The design of the C214 shock mount pretty much guarantees you won’t come up against this issue. Plus, it’s super simple to get the mic in and out.

The microphone also comes with a windshield and a really sturdy carry case, which fits the mic and all of its little extras.

Key Features of the AKG C214:

  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Switchable -20dB pad
  • Cardioid condenser microphone
  • Studio-quality recording without the price tag
  • Included shock mount, windshield and carry case

Best Microphone For Live Vocals: Sennheiser e945

Sennheiser e945
Rugged design, clear sound quality, and a feedback-resistant design make the Sennheiser e945 our favorite microphone for live vocals.
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If you’re looking for the best microphone for live vocals, there are three key areas you’ll be looking at.

First up is durability. Live vocal mics tend to get treated like absolute crap.

They’re thrown around, dropped, chucked into the crowd, spit and dribbled on, and used as a hammer to nail down the loose floorboards on the stage.

Though we wouldn’t vouch for the e945’s durability as a hammer, the rugged metal construction makes it a shoe-in for any of those other jobs. Plus, it’s got a 10-year warranty, so you know this mic will serve you for the long term.

The second concern you’ll have is if the mic is able to gain control of feedback easily, as that’s one thing that can easily ruin a live performance. The e945 uses a super-cardioid polar pattern, which means it’s super sensitive to sounds coming from the front, but not from the sides and rear.

Lastly, you want a mic that’s not going to be noisy in the hands of an active singer. Not all mics live up to that task, but the e945’s capsule is internally shock-mounted, which isolates it from an acoustic vibration when being used as a handheld mic.

The perfect mic for live vocals, then? You got it!

Key Features of the Sennheiser e945:

  • 10-year warranty
  • Super-cardioid polar pattern
  • Shock-mounted mic capsule
  • Low-noise and feedback resistant
  • Remains stable regardless of climate
  • Metal construction: Rugged and reliable

Who Should Buy a Microphone for Vocals?

Microphones aren’t just for singers recording vocals. The best mic for vocals can be used for a lot of different vocal purposes. Well beyond the music industry, you need a good vocals’ microphone for podcasts, radio shows, voiceover work, and all kinds of recording needs.

Even if you’re recording for the music industry, a vocals’ mic can be used for lots of different instruments, like acoustic guitars or harmonicas. Each mic is different and designed for a variety of uses, so browse this list to figure out which is the best fit for you.

Best Microphone Top Pick: Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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Important Features to Consider

Not all microphones are made the same. Unfortunately, a lot of people jump in and buy a mic that looks great, without understanding the need for additional equipment to do the job correctly.

If you’ve owned a mic before, or you’re familiar with how recording signal chains work, then you’ve got an advantage.

If this is your first mic though, pay attention, because this is a super important point.

Many microphones need an external audio interface in order to record to your computer.

Traditional XLR mics are used in conjunction with a preamp (which boosts the level of the mic) and an analog to digital converter (which converts the signal to a digital form) to connect to a computer.

Modern audio interfaces like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 pack both of these components into one box.

Then, along came the USB mic. These handy little guys essentially have all of the components of an audio interface inside the mic body itself, so you can literally plug into your computer and get recording.

But – they don’t quite offer the same quality or longevity as XLR mics.

This list contains XLR mics – so just bear in mind this rule: you’ll need an audio interface if you don’t already have one.

  • Condenser vs. Dynamic​ Condenser microphones will give you the truest recording of vocals and instruments without interference. Dynamic mics are better for affordable and durable needs.
  • Polar Patterns A polar pattern is a very important feature which dictates how much sound the mic can receive and from which direction. If you only need to record vocals, you may not need as many polar pattern choices.
  • Cardioid pattern​​ Aka the ‘unidirectional’ pattern, this pattern blocks sound coming from the sides and rear of the mic. This makes it so the mic only picks up sound from the front, where your vocalist will ideally be standing.
  • Bidirectional pattern ​This pattern rejects most of the unwanted noises, and captures sound from more of the mic’s area. That makes bidirectional mics the best if you’re trying to record more than one person sharing the mic.
  • ​Omnidirectional These mics record from all directions around the mic. This makes it more likely that off-axis sounds are included in the mix. This doesn’t have to ruin the recording, but it does make the result more open and less clean.
  • Areas of Focus When looking for a good mic for vocals, you need to focus on the frequency response curve. Ideally, you need one that’s sensitive in the midrange region because that is where the human voice is on the frequency spectrum.
  • All this means is that you need a mic that is most sensitive to that midrange. By having this emphasis, these microphones also have filters that cut off lower and higher frequencies to get rid of everything that’s not the vocalist’s voice. This is a big consideration for home studios because there’s typically more to worry about than a professional set up.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is the best studio vocal microphone?

    The best studio vocal mic is really just the best mic you can afford that’s best suited for the kinds of vocals you need to capture. A cardioid polar pattern is the bare minimum for any vocal microphone.

    Our favorite studio vocal microphone is the Shure SM7B.

    What is the best microphone for live vocals?

    The best mic for live vocals is the mic that comes with these features: cardioid pattern, emphasized midrange, shock and vibration isolation, and filters. These are the best for sound quality, but dynamic mics are better for their ability to withstand time and use.

    How about the best beginner microphone for vocals?

    Some new singers may have trouble getting the best sound because they can’t alternate between loud and soft singing. This can be problematic for voice actors, radio hosts, and anyone trying to record their voice for the first time

    There’s no mic that can correct for lack of experience, so usability is key for someone just starting out. One that’s easy to use, manipulate, and move is important. This won’t compensate for lack of experience, but it will make it easier to practice and experiment with the results.

    If your budget as a new vocalist is tight, you may want to take a look at the Audio-Technica AT2035. It offers up some pretty serious bang for the buck, especially for new vocalists!

    4 Other Microphones for Vocals Reviewed

    Prior to our top selections, we reviewed several other microphones for recording vocals, including live, studio, and broadcast mics. Here are four more that impressed us with their audio quality.

    Each of these mics have a good pickup pattern for recording vocals.

    Top Pick: Shure SM7B

    Shure SM7B
    If you were trapped on a desert island with only one mic, this would be the one.
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    Dynamic Microphone: Shure SM58

    Shure SM58
    This Shure dynamic mic is tailored for smooth and silky vocals. Appearing on stages around the world, the 58 will give you premium tech at a very reasonable price.
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    It can be used for both live performances and recordings and has a built-in pop filter.

    ​Key Features

    • Vocal-friendly frequency response curve
    • ​Bright and lively
    • ​Works for both live performances and studio recordings
    • ​Superior proximity control

    Condenser Microphone for Vocals: Rode NT1-A

    Rode NT1-A
    This condenser mic package gives you everything you need to get started. It even comes with a pop filter!
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    It excels at studio recordings thanks to its low noise, minimal distortion, pickup pattern, and optimized midrange.

    Key Features

    • ​Flat frequency response
    • ​10-year warranty
    • ​Pop shield and shock mount included
    • ​Low noise and minimal distortion
    • ​Transformerless circuitry

    Dynamic Microphone with Cardioid Pattern: Sennheiser MD 421

    Sennheiser MD 421
    The MD 421 is a rugged cardioid dynamic mic with a five-position roll-off switch that also gives you feedback rejection and a surprisingly tight pickup pattern… making it especially useful for the highly directional needs of effective vocal audio capture.
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    Its cardioid polar pattern captures clear vocals with minimal off-axis sounds and can be configured for a wide range of vocal timbres.

    ​Key Features

    • 5-position bass roll-off
    • ​Extended dynamic range for clear vocals
    • ​Rugged build
    • ​Cardioid pattern
    • Superior feedback rejection

    Condenser Vocals Microphone for a Studio: SE Electronics sE2200a II C

    sE Electronics SE2200a II C
    This condenser mic combines a super-clear tone with a beautiful, smooth, warm sound. It’s crisp and beautiful!
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    The sE Electronics SE2200a II C is fine-tuned for recording vocals in a studio setting, with the ability to handle soft and loud vocals with excellent dynamic contrast.

    Key Features

    • Breakup free
    • ​Cardioid polar pattern
    • Minimal noise pickup
    • ​Great sound quality
    • ​Soft and loud vocals for contrast

    Conclusion

    It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice to recording, or have been at it for decades, having the best vocal mics will be key for any recording task. The best way to find this ideal mic is to know what you need, and choose accordingly.

    So peruse this list and see what key features are most important to you. The only way to know what’s best is to try one of these vocal mics and then naturally try something else if it doesn’t work out the way you need it.

    Whether you’re looking for a good quality vocal microphone (like the Shure SM7B) or a more budget-friendly choice like Audio-Technica AT2035, this list will help you determine what you need.

    No matter if it’s a major recording studio or home studios, you’ll find a good vocal mic that suits your needs in any setting. Recording vocals is the hard part, selecting one of the best microphones shouldn’t be.

    Once you get the best microphone for vocals crossed off your list, you’ll be ready to start doing some serious, no-nonsense recording!