Among tons of mic brands and models, finding best microphone for vocals is not an easy task. Without practical tasting of mics, we can not decide which one is good and not.
That’s why I thought I should create the top 10 vocal microphones list that would help you in finding a vocal microphone suitable for your home studio and your budget.
So, in this article, I will introduce you to the top 10 list of vocal microphones in the world.
But, before jumping into the list, let me show you my 5 point strategy to choose a vocal microphone.
How to Find Best Vocal Microphones?
My 5 point strategy is built of diaphragm type, polar patterns, frequency response, proximity effect, and budget.
All these things are equally important when choosing a vocal microphone. 4 of them are technical, and the last is about your budget.
Well, first off,
As you know, the diaphragm is the most important part of a microphone. The diaphragm consists of a thin layer of metal that moves frontwards and backward according to the force applied by the sound energy.
It then converts the frequency of the movements into an electrical signal. This signal goes into the recording equipment and converts again into sound energy.
That’s how a microphone diaphragm works.
There are two types of diaphragms; Dynamic and Condenser.
The sensitivity of a dynamic microphone is lower than a condenser mic, so it’s best for stage performances where the background noise is much more than a studio.
While a condenser mic’s sensitivity is high, it has a nearly flat frequency response. That’s why it captures the original frequency of the sound without manipulating it, hence used in studios.
When you record vocals with condenser mics, you can mix them well.
I always suggest using condenser microphones in recording studios and dynamic microphones in stage performances.
Pickup Polar Pattern
The polar pattern is the microphone’s sensitivity to the sounds arriving from different angles to its central axis point.
They are 6 types of polar patterns, Cardioid, Supercardioid, Omnidirectional, Wide Cardioid, Figure-8.
For vocals, mainly cardioid polar pattern is used. Its one-directional pattern minimizes the risk of getting background noise.
However, for chorus, bi-directional polar patterns are also used.
Almost all dynamic microphones have a cardioid polar pattern, while condensers have 2-3 types of polar patterns that can change via a switch.
So, a cardioid polar pattern is best for vocals, whether it’s a stage performance or a studio recording.
Frequency Response regarding microphones is the range of frequencies of the sound the microphone can reproduce.
When it comes to vocals, the mix of different frequency ranges between the audible range of human ears. So, when choosing a vocal mic, it’s best to choose a mic with a flat frequency response. That’s how you can record the original sound quality of the vocal.
A condenser microphone with nearly flat frequency response is a good choice to record vocals in the studio.
But, it’s not wise to choose a mic with a flat frequency response for stage performance. Otherwise, you will get background noise as well.
So, in stage performances, special dynamic vocal mics are used that have mid, and hi-mid frequency boosts.
The proximity effect is another important thing when choosing a vocal mic.
According to Neumann, the Proximity effect leads to an increase in low-frequency response when the vocalist comes closer to the mic. The closer he got, the bigger the bass boost.
Generally, in condenser mics, the proximity effect is more prominent. However, in some dynamic mics, such as Shure SM 58, you can also experience this effect.
When it comes to recording studios, the proximity effect is very important to the vocalist. By this effect, they control their vocal depth by just forward and backward movement.
Having a condenser mic with a good proximity effect is one of the most important factors in choosing vocal microphones.
Last but not least, your budget. Whatever microphone you have found perfect, lastly it comes to your budget if you could afford this or not.
So, you should decide your budget according to your need. And then compare the microphones given below. I have added all budget vocal microphones to this list, so whatever budget you have, you will get one suitable mic from this list.
Well, now you know what strategy I’ve applied to build this vocal mic list.
Now it’s time to introduce those top 10 vocal mics to you.
Top 10 Vocal Microphones in 2021
The first one is,
1. AKG C414 XLII Vocal Microphone
This is the 2nd vocal microphone that I got for my home studio. AKG is a well-known brand among microphone manufacturers.
And AKG C414 XLII is one of the most popular models in their inventory. It’s a multipattern condenser microphone with 9 polar patterns. Music professionals, including me, think it an excellent vocal mic in the music production world.
Its 5 polar patterns, good proximity effect and nearly flat frequency response make me add this mic to my top 10 vocal microphones list.
AKG C414 XLII Features
- The same vintage sound of the AKG C 414, a legend since 1971
- Nine types of pickup polar patterns help to choose the perfect setting for every application, including vocals
- All controls can be locked easily for trouble-free use through LOCK MODE
- Overload peak detecter LED
- Dynamic range up to 152dB
- 3 Different bass cut filters with 3 pre-attenuation levels
- Extra protection against moisture
- Excellent for: Lead vocals, Lead instruments, Chorus, Drum overhead miking, Classic music recording etc.
- Frequency range: 20 to 20,000Hz
What’s in the Box: C414 XLII Microphone, 1 Universal Shock Mount, 1 Metal Carrying Case, 1 PF80 Pop Filter, 1 W414 Windscreen C414.
2. Rode NTK Vocal Mic
The second one and the first vocal mic of my home studio is the Rode NTK condenser microphone.
Rode is another well-known microphone brand and manufactures a wide range of mics for various applications. Rode NTK is a large-diaphragm single polar pattern cardioid condenser mic that is ideal for vocals.
However, due to its cardioid polar pattern and good proximity effect, it’s great for vocals. Still, the lack of other polar patterns limits this microphone to vocals and single sound source musical instruments such s guitars etc.
Rode NTK features
- Cardioid polar pattern
- 20Hz-20kHz nearly flat frequency response
- Max SPL level up to 158dB
- Dedicated power supply
- Large-diaphragm 1” gold-sputtered capsule
- Ultra-low noise
- 6922 twin-triode valve, hand-selected and graded
What’s in the box: Power supply, Shock mount.
3. Shure SM58 Dynamic Vocal Mic
Shure SM 58 is a legendary dynamic microphone. It has a slightly lower mid-range boost. That’s why vocals get some more depth when recorded with this mic.
However, I don’t recommend you record vocals with a dynamic mic as it will enhance the vocal frequencies, which is not good for mixing. If you don’t want to work on vocals dynamics after the recording, then SM58 is good.
Ideally, Shure SM 58 is great for stage performances.
Here are some key features of this legendary dynamic mic.
- Frequency response is mapped for vocals, with a good slight lower mid boost and bass roll-off
- Uniform cardioid pickup pattern which isolates the main sound source from background noise
- Pneumatic shock-mount system
- Built-in spherical wind and pop filter
- High quality, rugged, and reliable for live performances
- Cardioid dynamic polar pattern
- Frequency response: 50 Hz to 15 kHz
What’s in the box: Mic, Shock mount, zipper pouch
4. IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio
IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio is an ultra-portable large-diaphragm digital condenser microphone that you can use with iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, PC and Android.
It features a 1-inch diameter condenser capsule which is packed inside an ultra-compact enclosure. This ultra-compact design allows you to make professional-quality recordings anywhere.
If you are a musician, songwriter, or indie producer, this mic fits all your needs.
Features of K Multimedia iRig Mic Studio
- This is a professional studio microphone that comes with a large diaphragm capsule
- The ultra-compact size makes it easy to carry around
- High-quality 1 inch back electret condenser capsule
- 24-bit analog to digital converter that works with 44.1/48Khz sampling rates
- Low-noise and high-definition preamp included inside
- Integrated headphone output for separate monitoring
- Multicolor LED indicators
- Gain control and headphone level controls are provided
- Full range of IK apps included
- Portable tripod tabletop stand included
- Includes Micro-USB OTG and USB cables etc
What’s in the box: Mic, female micro-USB port, Micro-USB to Lightning for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
5. Shure SM7B Dynamic Vocal Microphone
Shure SM7B is a premium dynamic vocal microphone that costs you double that of any other dynamic vocal mics.
However, if we see its performance, then it’s worth the price. SM7B is an excellent dynamic mic for vocalists, podcasters and radio presenters.
The perfect audio reproduction, along with premium construction, makes it a legendary dynamic vocal mic. It works best for both a controlled environment as well as live performances.
The slight boost at 1kHz-5kHz slightly boosts the mid-tone of your vocals, which is great for live performance and in recordings where you don’t want to add many additional dynamics after the recording.
Shure SM7B Features
- One of the best dialogue microphone with a wide-range frequency response
- Bass roll-off and midrange emphasis switches
- Electromagnetic hum and broadband interference shield
- Internal air suspension shock mount
- Pop filter provided
- A7WS detachable close-talk windscreen
- Yoke mounting
- Classic cardioid polar pattern
- Rugged construction with the excellent build quality
What’s in the box: A7WS detachable close-talk windscreen, Pop filter
6. Neumann TLM 103
Neumann TLM 103 is one of the best condenser microphones in the world. When it comes to microphones, Neumann is the king of microphones, especially condensers.
This is 91 years old german company that has earned a reputation by producing some of the finest microphones in the audio industry.
Neumann TLM 103 is one of those finest microphones and also the most popular model of Neumann. It is the modern update of Neumann’s legendary U87 microphone used in the 1970s.
Neumann TLM 103 Features
- It comes with a Nickel finish that looks cool
- It is a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser microphone
- A pressure gradient transducer is given with a one-diaphragm capsule to reproduce the best quality audio
- Transformerless circuitry same as legendary U87 microphone
- Extremely low noise with very good signal to noise ratio
- Swivel mount included
- Rated impedance: 50 ohms
- Rated load impedance: 1 Kohms
- Minimal self-noise
- Frequency range: 20Hz-20kHz
- Maximum SPL 138dB
What’s in the box: Wooden box and stand mount
7. SE Electronics sE2200a II C Large Diaphragm Vocal Mic
SE electronics is a well-known microphone brand from Shanghai and has a wide range of microphone models in their inventory.
sE2200 is a cardioid microphone with two gold-sputtered diaphragms used to provide the best possible acoustic performance.
This mic features a true externally polarized condenser capsule which delivers the best possible audio reproduction. There are -10 dB and -20 dB pad switches provided to control the dynamics and low cut filters at 80Hz or 160Hz, which are provided in this mic.
These things make it a good microphone for vocals.
SE Electronics sE2200a II C Features
- Condenser type microphone
- 1″ Gold-Sputtered Diaphragm
- Switchable Low Cut Filters with 10 dB Pad
- Frequency Response 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- Shockmount included
- Maximum SPL: 135 dB
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid
8. Sennheiser MD 421 II Dynamic Vocal Mic
Sennheiser MD 421 II dynamic vocal mic performs like a charm in some music genres where loud voice is common.
It’s an ideal mic to record louder instruments. The old-fashioned cardioid diaphragm used in this mic makes it one of the best dynamic mic to record louder instruments and vocals.
The build quality of Sennheiser MD 421 II is quite durable, which is great for live concerts where the users don’t handle the equipment well.
The cardioid pick-up pattern of this mic makes it isolated from the background noise. Also, you will get 5 position bass roll-off switch to perfectly shape the reproduction of the vocal.
Sennheiser MD 421 II features
- Dynamic Cardioid pick-up pattern.
- Five-position bass roll-off switch.
- Effective feedback rejection is best for stage performances.
- Clear and high-quality sound reproduction.
- Easy to handle and durable.
- Rugged professional microphone.
- Dust and humidity resistance.
9. Blue Yeti Pro
Blue Yeti Pro is one of the best condenser microphones for YouTubers, podcasters and indie artists. This mic features XLR and USB, both types of connections so that you can use it with your laptop at your home and in-studio with pro studio gear.
The 4 types of pickup patterns (cardioid, bidirectional, Omni, and stereo) makes it familiar for all type of applications including Youtubing, podcasting, chorus etc.
It’s a 24-bit/192kHz digital microphone so that you can get the highest possible quality in recordings. You will also get some onboard switches such as gain control, mute button, etc.
Blue Yeti Pro features
- 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution in digital recording
- Analog XLR connection allows you to use it with pro-studio gear
- Three-condenser-capsule array with 4 pickup patterns; cardioid, bidirectional, Omni, and stereo pattern
- High-quality capsule design to capture detailed sound
- Zero-latency headphone monitoring
- Gain control, mute button, etc. are given
- XLR breakout cable and USB cable
- Compatible with both Mac and PC
10. Apogee MiC PLUS
Apogee Mic Plus is another excellent desktop microphone for YouTubers, podcasters and indie producers. You can easily connect this mic to your iPad, iPhone, iPod touch, Mac or PC.
It’s a digital mic, so you can not use this with pro audio gear like other microphones with XLR cable. However, the 24-bit/96kHz recording quality allows you to capture the best quality sound with this microphone.
Apogee MiC PLUS features
- The cardioid condenser microphone capsule
- DIGITAL connection with sound quality up to 24-bit / 96kHz
- No audio interface required to connect
- Up to 46dB of mic preamp gain
- Powerful headphone output with zero-latency monitoring
- Made for vocal and acoustic instruments
- Works with Mac, iPhone/iPad, Windows
- Plug and play
My Verdict about Best Vocal Mics
Well, here was the list of the top 10 microphones that will help you find the best microphone for vocals. However, I like 3 out of them.
The first one is Shure SM 58 because you can use this mic for almost any type of application. Another one is Neumann TLM 3, one of the best microphones in the condenser mic category, and the last one is Blue Yeti Pro. This mic is best for podcasters, YouTubers and indie producers.
Now, it’s your time to choose one out of them and let me know about your choice in the comment box below.
Also, do share this article with your fellow artists on social media, so this would help them find the best microphone for vocals.
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Gautam Roy is a recording engineer and a blogger from India. He loves music, writing and travelling. He is also an active investor and a successful entrepreneur.