The Best Microphone for Vocals

Editor’s Choice

  • Easy control with a built-in peak hold LED display and lock mode
  • Stress-free placement because it comes with a pop filter, windscreen, and spider-type shock mount
  • High sensitivity and extremely low self-noise

Best Overall

  • Affordable
  • Convenient to use with its plug-and-play handling
  • Excellent for recording both voice and instruments

Budget-Friendly

  • Built to last through time
  • It is an all-around microphone
  • Sophisticated look

If you are in a hurry and just want to find out the best vocal mics, then I’d recommend the Neumann TLM 102 Nickel with Universal Audio SOLO/610 Package as the best one.

Professional microphone sales shot up from 4.6 million in 2016 to seven million in 2021. It has become a vital gadget these days. You do not need to be an audio enthusiast or a famous recording artist to reap the advantages of an excellent microphone. As there are many choices out there, you may not know where to start because of these many options. This article will help you choose the best vocal mics.

Here are the Best Vocal Mics we will be reviewing:

What are the Best Vocal Mics?

A microphone for vocals (or simply, a vocal microphone) is made particularly for vocal performances or activities. Your voice is your way of communicating. So whether you’re a singer or a speaker, a vocal microphone is a vital tool that captures your message and brings it to the world.

All microphones are the same in their foundation. The difference between an instrument microphone and a vocal microphone lies in its structure, design, and purpose. Read along to know more about the nitty-gritty of a microphone for vocals.

What Makes the Best Microphone for Vocals?

Type of Diaphragm: Dynamic vs. Condenser

Condenser microphones are also called capacitor microphones. They capture vocals with high frequencies. A condenser microphone is best if you want a microphone that collects sound with accuracy and detail. Its thin diaphragm and greater sensitivity allow sound clarity, brightness, and precision. For this reason, studios and field recording usually use condenser microphones.

A dynamic microphone handles sound that does not need precise and smooth sound reproduction. They have a low sensitivity which makes for versatility. Dynamic microphones are also durable and resilient to wear and tear. Another significant characteristic of dynamic microphones is eliminating background noise because they are unidirectional. It cancels the surrounding sound and only picks up from the direction it is being pointed. 

Interviews and live venues use dynamic microphones. Dynamic microphones are better for loud recording sounds like drums or explosions.

Understanding polar patterns

Polar patterns are the way a vocal microphone collects sound. It shows the direction from where it picks up and blocks sound. A vocal microphone can either capture sound in a narrow or wide manner.

There are three basic types of polar patterns. The first one is omnidirectional, which captures sound from all directions. This polar pattern makes up for an excellent vocal microphone as it results in an open sound with an excellent bass response. The downside is that you will expect feedback and poor noise reduction. Thus omnidirectional microphones aren’t the best choice for live performances. 

Another type is cardioid microphones. This type is most sensitive to the front and least from the rear of the mic. This microphone is excellent for semi-isolating sound but is susceptible to a boost in bass frequencies (called proximity effect). 

The last kind of polar pattern is the supercardioids or hypercardioids. From the affixes, you can guess them immediately! These microphones go the extra mile in isolating sound. The proximity effect is more significant, but feedback is almost absent. 

USB vs. XLR microphones

USB microphones are the most popular and most convenient ones to use. All up-to-date computers have built-in USB ports. The process is a no-brainer – get your microphone, plug it into your computer, and you’re good to go!

XLR microphones, on the other hand, are not as commonplace as USB mics. However, they are the superior choice because of their durability and resilience to noise. For this reason, many audio enthusiasts and professionals choose XLR over USB microphones. 

How Does a Microphone for Vocals Work?

The primary function of a vocal microphone is to collect sound in the air and then transform it into electrical signals. So the sound waves from your voice move the microphone parts called the diaphragm and coil. This movement happens through a magnetic field that allows electrical signals to flow. This electrical signal then flows from the microphone to your recording device. It’s a simple but amazing process!

Benefits of Using a Microphone for Vocals

Microphone for vocals carries sound from wider and farther places. They amplify your voice in both a literal and metaphoric sense. The vocal microphone you will use has a significant impact on the overall sound of your audio output. Using vocal microphones will enhance the sound of your voice by magnifying bass notes and increasing the volume. This balanced tone and enhanced sound result in a satisfying listening experience for your audience.

Where to Use a Microphone for Vocals?

Live performances

Live performances range from gigs to concerts, from seminars to church services. Speakers, singers, and artists use vocal microphones in all these shows. Live performance includes a live audience. So you will expect sound coming from all directions. Thus, choosing a vocal microphone that isolates sound from the main source will be best. A microphone with a cardioid pattern is great for this.

Studio recordings on computers

Studio recordings entail accuracy and depth in sound. A condenser vocal microphone fits the job perfectly. Individuals who use this type of microphone for vocals are recording artists and voice actors. Some people also have home recording studios. In recent years, there has been an increase in podcasting. Podcasters don’t have to rent professional studios to record their episodes. An excellent vocal microphone and a recording platform can do the work. 

Online activities

Because of the global lockdowns, almost everything relocated to online and remote settings. Influencers do Instagram and Facebook Lives. Though you can survive with cheap earphones with a built-in microphone, investing in excellent vocal microphones still has a considerable advantage. Imagine taking a class where the teacher’s sound is muffled and broken. Or maybe picture paying lots of money for an online seminar where the speaker’s voice can’t be heard.

Offering the most of online experiences has become a focused commodity. Since the virtual world is here to stay, investing in outstanding gadgets, like vocal microphones, is worth your money.

Things to Remember When Choosing the Best Vocal Mics

Learn to use the microphone properly

Knowing the basics of a vocal microphone will help you make the most of it. It can also be beneficial to read the user guide/manual that comes with it.

Check surroundings and placement of the mic

Getting pristine sound is not entirely dependent on your vocal microphone. Your environment plays a massive role in sound quality. Even if you have the most expensive microphone, you won’t get much out of it in the ‘wrong’ environment.

Here are four simple tips for treating your surroundings:

  1. Use small to medium-sized spaces
  2. Install acoustic panels, foams, diffusers if your budget will allow
  3. Drape thick curtains over glass windows
  4. Fill in room corners with acoustic foams, bean bags, or whatever you have
  5. Install sound absorbers like carpets, sofas, pillows, etc.

When it comes to placement, remember not to put the vocal microphone at the center of the room. Also, make sure not to put the microphone near the walls. Moreover, the most common rule in speaking through the microphone is 6 inches away from the mic.

Test and experiment

Some discover that searching for the right vocal microphone is a trial-and-error thing. In this light, do not be too cautious about exploring your vocal microphone. When conducting a show or presentation, it’s best to do a soundcheck. This method will help you adjust your microphone to get your desired sound.

Consider using an audio interface

You can take your recording up a notch by using an audio interface. An audio interface will allow you to use more than one vocal microphone. It can be for any XLR vocal microphones too. Headphone outputs also sound better with an audio interface. For versatility, it offers inputs for other instruments like keyboards and guitars. This feature is advantageous for musicians. Lastly, an audio interface provides multiple headphones, speaker outputs, and volume control.

What to Consider When Buying the Best Microphone for Vocals

Frequency response

The frequency response of a vocal microphone is the strength by which it responds to different frequencies. Consider a vocal microphone that reproduces the tone of your voice, especially for low-toned voices. For high-pitched voices, choose a vocal microphone that subdues your voice.

Sensitivity

The sensitivity of a vocal microphone is its ability to convert acoustic pressure into electric voltage. Low sensitivity microphones are excellent for loud sound sources like drums or horns. High-sensitivity microphones can be used for speakers with really soft voices. They can also be used in soundproof spaces. Choosing the proper sensitivity of your vocal microphone depends on the purpose and need.

Diaphragm size

The diaphragm is the part of the microphone which receives sound waves. Diaphragm size can either be small, medium, or large. The diaphragm size contributes to the microphone’s natural noise, volume control, dynamic range, frequency range, and frequency sensitivity. Vocal microphones with large diaphragms are more sensitive to different frequencies. Vocal microphones with small diaphragms have a large sound volume.

Power source

Vocal microphones are either passive or active. Active microphones need external power. In contrast, dynamic microphones operate by electromagnetic induction, which requires no external power. All condenser microphones are active, while most dynamic mics are passive.

Sound Pressure Level (SPL)

When it comes to microphones, audiophiles usually talk about maximum pressure level. Maximum SPL pertains to the maximum threshold a microphone can take without sound distortion. In general, you need not worry about SPL except if you’re going to use it to record loud drums.

Pop filter

If you record without a pop filter, you might hear sudden intense volume, especially with “s,” “p,” and “f” words. Pop filters prevent excessive air movement, efficiently producing easy and smooth listening experiences.

Microphone versatility

It will benefit you to think about what other instruments or tools you will use in recording. Some vocal microphones work well with various instruments such as drums and acoustic guitars.

Other features

In choosing a microphone for vocals, some features also come into play. The aesthetics of a vocal microphone can be an essential factor for others. Some microphones for vocals can be custom-made in terms of appearance. Such customization includes adding crystals.

Budget

Many vocal microphones are affordable yet outstanding. You don’t have to break your wallet to get the most of an excellent microphone for vocals. You can indeed find one that will do its job. However, many expensive vocal microphones offer much superior quality. In this case, you do get your money’s worth. But whether you’re on a tight budget or can afford to splurge, there will be a vocal microphone that is right for you.

Neumann TLM 102 Nickel with Universal Audio SOLO/610 Package

Neumann is legendary when it comes to high-quality microphones. It boasts of superior professional products founded in the 1920s. For almost a century, Neumann has journeyed through the evolution of technology. 

The Neumann TLM 102 Nickel with Universal Audio SOLO/610 Package has a large diaphragm and powerful bass. Such features allow for sensitivity to frequency ranges reaching the lowest frequencies. It also has a built-in pop shield so air movement control. The maximum SPL for the TLM 102 is 144dB, which is grand for an SPL. So if you need to record loud instruments, you won’t have to worry about distortions. Another excellent feature is its treble boost for pristine vocals. 

The Neumann TML 102 is perfect for home or studio vocal recordings. Whether you’re a singer, voice artist, or just want to get a kick out of vocal recording, the Neumann is a great choice. 

Pros:

  • Affordable
  • Convenient to use with its plug-and-play handling
  • Excellent for recording both voice and instruments
  • It can suit any space of its compactness and elegance 

Cons:

  • It might not be best for live performances 

AKG C414 XLII/ST Matched Pair Microphone

AKG has been in the sound industry for about 75 years. It’s an award-winning company that offers passion and innovation in the world of music. The C414 series is famous among artists and broadcasters across the globe. The most excellent feature of the XLII version is its nine pickup patterns. It means that this vocal microphone can choose the setting for various uses. 

The AKG c414 XLII is resilient to electromagnetic and electrostatic interferences for a silky sound. If you’re a lead vocal or an instrumentalist, you can stand in even the densest mixes with this vocal microphone.

Pros:

  • Easy control with a built-in peak hold LED display and lock mode
  • Stress-free placement because it comes with a pop filter, windscreen, and spider-type shock mount
  • High sensitivity and extremely low self-noise
  • High sound pressure level capability and wide dynamic range
  • Completely immune to electrostatic and electromagnetic interference
  • All switchable components operate in low impedance circuits

Cons:

  • It is a relatively expensive vocal microphone 
  • It might not work for loud BOOM sound effects

Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone

Microphone for Vocals

Founded in 1925, Shure is a company that is obsessed with creating superior and reliable audio electronics and microphones. The SM7B has a pop filter and air isolation to prevent excessive breathiness. So if you’re an online streamer, sudden sound jumps won’t be an issue. It also allows a wide range of control for excellent overall sound quality. A favorite feature of the SM7B is its ability to shield your sound from the hum of your computer. 

The Shure SM7B is perfect for radio broadcasting and stellar screaming vocals. It offers sublime sound quality that many people love. The SM7B is renowned among rock stars and personalities like Michael Jackson. It’s also famous among YouTube influencers and podcasters worldwide.

Pros:

  • Trusted by the worlds leading vocalists, podcasters, and streamers
  • One microphone for everything!
  • Professional XLR connection for a better sound quality
  • It produces exceptionally clean and natural reproduction of both music and speech
  • Astonishing sound quality and versatile functionality

Cons:

  • You might need an excellent audio interface

Rode NTK Microphone

Rode is an Australian company that has a storefront network all over the globe. It’s one of the best-known brands specializing in microphones. Rode’s NTK is the company’s flagship condenser microphone with a premium valve. Such design offers precise and deep sound quality. Its circuitry also provides revolutionary dynamic range and very low noise. 

A unique component of the NTK is its twin-triode 6922 tube. This feature elevates the NTK’s warm vintage sound quality. Since most tube microphones cost a fortune, the NTK is affordable. But even with its lesser price point, it boasts outstanding build quality, unique tone, and full-bodied sound. 

The Rode NTK is excellent for recording vocals and any speech-related applications. It’s also perfect for recording instruments like guitars and pianos.

Pros:

  • Built to last through time
  • It is an all-around microphone
  • Sophisticated look
  • House in a large capsule gold-plate membrane
  • One year warranty

Cons:

  • Mid-range frequencies may sound flat
  • It requires phantom power

Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic

Microphone for Vocals

With over 75 years in the industry, Sennheiser aims to provide customers with unique sound experiences. The MD 421 II is an improved version of the MD 421, one of Sennheiser’s most popular dynamic microphones. It has a cardioid polar pattern that helps in rejecting feedback and reducing background noise. It provides clear and crisp sound even in high SPLs. 

The MD 421 II is adaptable to any recording situation with its 5-option low-frequency roll-off switch. The MD 231 II is an appealing dynamic microphone with its rugged look. Not only is it aesthetically attractive, but it is also heavy-duty with a refined steel basket and hardy enclosure. The MD 421 II is an excellent choice for a clean and clear sound capture. 

Pros:

  • Rugged professional microphone
  • Five-position bass roll-off switch
  • Effective feedback rejection
  • Clear sound reproduction
  • Easy handling due to pronounced directivity

Cons:

  • The pop filter is sold separately
  • Since its size is relatively large, it will take up space

Conclusion

Virtual activities are no longer just an option nowadays. They are the norm. Different electronic gadgets can help make the most of your virtual experiences. Vocal microphones are a game-changer in recording vocals, instruments, and other sound-related applications. Whether you’re a singer, podcaster, streamer, or one who does online activities, using the right vocal microphone can make or break your output. For this reason, it is worth it to invest in a vocal microphone that suits your preference, purpose, and style.

The best microphone for vocals I’d recommend is the Neumann TLM 102 Nickel with Universal Audio SOLO/610 Package. Its stellar sound quality and superior design are perfect for various vocal outputs. The TLM 102’s versatility and durability allow for a long-lasting and outstanding sound experience. 

Faith-Filled Content Delivered To Your Inbox

Receive uplifting scriptures, inspiring articles & helpful guides to encourage your faith.

Thank you for subscribing!

Something went wrong.

Alex Shute
EDITOR
Alex Shute, MBA
Alex is a family man and entrepreneur based in Los Angeles. His passion is to serve the global Church and bring people of diverse backgrounds together to learn & grow.


Faith-Filled Content Delivered To Your Inbox

Receive uplifting scriptures, inspiring articles & helpful guides to encourage your faith.

Thank you for subscribing!

Something went wrong.