Capturing vocals is actually a pretty challenging feat… which is why finding the right microphones for vocals is an important part of the process.
Whether you are podcasting, YouTubing, recording music, or making vlogs… capturing quality vocals is going to be the number one factor in making the audience-experience better.
This is why the most successful studios in the world record with world-class microphones. They know that their material is going to be that much better if they are able to capture clear, natural vocal tones during recording.
You can only fix so much during post-production. If you don’t capture a high-quality vocal tone when the initial recording takes place, there is only going to be so much you can do to fix it up later.
Professionals often say that the best vocals are life-like vocals, but it can be surprisingly difficult to find a mic that is capable of capturing the ‘natural’ tones of the human voice!
So today, we are sharing the 9 best microphones for vocals. Any of these mics will do an outstanding job of capturing those quality tones that you need to succeed, regardless of the content you’re trying to produce. So let’s dive deep into these mics, and find out which one would be best for your next vocal recording project.
In This Article –
- Our Top Pick: Shure SM7B Microphone
- Runner Up: AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII
- Budget Pick: Audio-Technica AT2035
- Best Compact Wireless System: Samson G-Track Pro USB Microphone
- Best Handheld Wireless Mic System: Warm Audio WA-47
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.
It’s a dynamic microphone with a classic cardioid pattern that rejects off-axis sounds and offers a uniform capturing of the vocalist’s voice. This means that it ONLY picks up that voice, nothing else. This distinction is imperative for those trying to record the truest vocals. Its unique design and superior shock isolates the voice and eliminates unwanted breathing sounds, mechanical noise, and interference from other sound equipment.
This microphone can be used for anything… from a recording studio, to use as a broadcast and podcast mic. It’s construction is impressive and its reduction of distortion is unrivalled on the current market.
It also has bass roll-off and presence boost controls for quick tweaking on the part of the singer. These controls come with a graphic display that makes them easy to use for anyone. 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,and if any of these characteristics appeal to you, it may be the perfect mic to take a look at.
Shure SM7B Key Features
- Premium build quality
- Built-in pop filter
- Easy controls for vocalist
- Best for reducing sound distortion
- Superior air shock isolation features
Our Runner Up
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, it also stands out among the rest by recording distinct sound and with the way any recorded vocals stand out from background sound. Thanks to this great feature, the microphone can be used to record vocals for the most cluttered of mixes. This is the best way for vocals to be heard even above instruments, background vocals and noise… which is 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. The level of customization and optimization it offers for various types of vocals and solo instruments is where it truly shines and earns its place on this list.
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
Our Budget Pick
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.
On top of that, the built-in high-pass filter does a great job of enhancing the vocal presence. 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.
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 makes sure that the focus is on the vocalist and the sound going directly into the mic, not anything else.
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 USB Vocal Mic
If you want a budget-friendly all-in-one solution for any recording job, the Samson G-Track USB Microphone is what’s best. It’s a condenser mic that can record high-definition and is sensitive enough for any occasion. Whether you want to record lead vocals, an audiobook, your podcast, or just talk to your teammates during online matches, this will get the job done.
It does all this by having a switchable recording mode – it goes between mono and 2-track recording. It’s got a ton of selection for pick-up patterns: cardioid, bidirectional, and omnidirectional. Because of these options, you get to choose just how clear, flat, or open you want your recording to sound.
The audio quality is comparable to that of most condenser microphones. You can also monitor your vocals directly through a set of stereo headphones if you want a zero-latency experience. Also notable is the desktop stand that includes a boom arm and a shock mount of impressive build quality.
Samson G-Track Pro USB Microphone Key Features
- Three polar pickup patterns
- Zero-latency headphone monitoring
- Wide frequency coverage
- Switchable recording mode for different tasks
- Includes a desktop stand with boom arm and shock mount
Best Tube Mic
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 tube. 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.
Aston Stealth Key Features
- Unique tube sound
- Replaceable tubes for different sounds
- Nine polar patterns
- Power supply unit (PSU) included
- Premium Gotham Audio 7-pin cable
Microphones aren’t just for vocalists recording a song. 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 good for a variety of uses, so use this list to figure out which is the best fit for you.
- Condenser vs. DynamicA condenser microphone will give you the truest recording of vocals and instruments without interference. Dynamic microphones are better for affordable and durable needs.
- Polar PatternsA 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 patternThis 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 FocusWhen 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.
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 correct for lack of experience, but it will make it easier to practice and experiment with results.
If your budget isn’t super huge as a new vocalist, 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!
Prior to our top five selections, we reviewed several other microphones for vocals, including live, studio, and broadcast mics. Here are four more that impressed us with their audio quality.
An oldie but a goodie, the Shure SM58 is still one of the most popular vocal microphones thanks to its bright midrange and superior proximity effect control. It can be used for both live performances and recordings and has a built-in pop filter.
- Vocal-friendly frequency response curve
- Bright and lively
- Works for both live performances and studio recordings
- Superior proximity control
This condenser microphone stands out in its own right as a very good microphone for vocals. It excels at studio recordings thanks to its low noise, minimal distortion, and optimized midrange.
- Flat frequency response
- 10-year warranty
- Pop shield and shock mount included
- Low noise and minimal distortion
- Transformerless circuitry
The Sennheiser MD 421 II dynamic microphone has a very rugged build and a uniquely five-position bass roll-off switch. Its cardioid polar pattern captures clear vocals with minimal off-axis sounds and can be configured for a wide range of vocal timbres.
- 5-position bass roll-off
- Extended dynamic range for clear vocals
- Rugged build
- Cardioid pattern
- Superior feedback rejection
A condenser capsule with a cardioid polar pattern is always a great starting point for a vocal microphone. As such, 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.
- Breakup free
- Cardioid polar pattern
- Minimal noise pickup
- Great sound quality
- Soft and loud vocals for contrast
It doesn’t matter if you’re a novice to recording, or have been at it for decades… having the best vocal mic is 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 it and try something else if it doesn’t work out the way you need it.
Once you get the best microphone for vocals crossed off your list, you’ll be ready to start doing some serious, no-nonsense recording!