Top 5 – Best Microphones For Recording Vocals
Microphones can be used creatively in the studio for many different tasks from recording instruments, to sampling, to recording vocals.
Not every microphone is perfect for recording vocals. You’re going to want a mic that provides crisp, exceptional sound quality and superb dynamic range.
The price range for microphones will range from $40-$10,000+. The microphones on this list will be priced from $300-$1000. At that price point, you will be an excellent microphone with professional quality without breaking bank.
The 5 Best Microphones For Recording Vocals
#5 – Audio Technica AT2020
The Audio Technica AT2020 is a fixed cardioid microphone that is affordable and portable.
You will first notice that for the price, the build quality is fantastic. The microphone is solidly built and very compact.
The sound quality is crisp and clear. Vocals sound amazing! The midrange frequencies have a nice warmth to them.
In the high frequencies there is a great amount of clarity without any harshness to the sound. All of the frequencies are balanced well. All of the user reviews I have read talked about how the AT2020 has crystal-clear sound quality.
The included accessories are a very basic mic stand and a soft carrying pouch. In all honesty, the mic stand isn’t that great. You’d most likely want to upgrade the stand as soon as you buy it.
This microphone would be excellent for the small-to-medium sized studio. If you are just getting started, this less than $200 investment will take you a long way!
- Crisp, balanced sound
- A surprisingly affordable price
- No high-pass switch
- The included microphone stand isn’t that great(It would have been nice if they included a shock mount stand instead).
#4 – Rode NT1A
The NT1A comes with a shock mount, a pop filter, an XLR cable, and a protective dust cover. The shock mount stand is good as far as microphone stands go. It holds your mic securely in place and allows for very little vibration when recording.
The Rode NT1A has a very wide frequency range from 20Hz to 20kHz. Unfortunately there is no bass cutoff switch to remove the unwanted lower frequencies.
I was very impressed with the sound quality of the NT1A. It has a great color-tone to it with a crisp high-end. Speaking about the highs, they sound extremely detailed!
You’ll notice great dynamic range with the NT1A. The self-noise is 5dB which is perfect for very quiet vocals to be recorded without any problems.
No matter what type of singer you are this microphone does a great job at recording a wide array of vocal styles. Also, if you were planning on using the NT1A for multiple purposes other than vocals, it still performs phenomenally.
- A bunch of great accessories included!
- Wicked sound quality!
- The included pop filter is “ok”, but definitely worth replacing
#3 – Shure SM7B
Want to use the same microphone that Michael Jackson used for a few songs on his Thriller album?
The Shure SM7B is an amazing-sounding directional microphone that was designed primarily for recording vocals. You still have to be careful when recording vocals with directional microphones. To get a consistent recording, you can’t move around too much.
First off, let’s talk about the max SPL. The SM7B can handle VERY loud noises. Shure has said that the SM7B can handle well over 180dB without distortion.
The sound quality is perfect. You’ll get nice thick mid-lows with a rich sounding treble. The frequency range is from 50Hz-20kHz. A big chunk of the unnecessary lows are already rolled off.
Shure actually included a bass roll-off switch. There is even a presence booster that boosts the treble frequencies.
The SM7B has internal shock isolation to remove any annoying mechanical noises within the microphone.
It’s worth noting that the SM7B requires a preamp. Your average interface will only boost from 30-40dB. For the SM7B you’ll need a preamp with at least 60dB of amplification.
- The sound quality is rich and balanced
- The bass-roll switch is very convenient
- Since the SM7B is a dynamic microphone, it won’t sound as airy as a condenser microphone would.
#2 – Rode K2
I have written about the K2 in the past. It is one of the best microphones available for less than $1000.
The Rode K2 is a vacuum tube condensor microphone. If you want to add warmth to vocals, vacuum tubes are the way to go.
The sound of the K2 has a very distinct Rode-like smoothness that just sounds amazing!!
With the K2, you’ll also get a shock mount, an amplifier, and even an XLR cable. There are no actual controls on the microphone itself. All of the controls are on the amplifier.
On the amplifier there is one main switch that controls which cardioid pattern you are currently using.
The K2 has a max-SPL of 162dB. You’d have to be setting off bombs in your studio to get this mic to distort! (NOT advised…)
My only gripe is that there is no low-cut switch. I don’t know why so many microphones fail to implement this basic feature!
- An incredibly warm sound for a reasonable price
- Tube-maintainence is very straightforward
- No low-cut switch
#1 – AKG C414
The AKG C414 is an Austrian-built Omnidirectional cardioid microphone. It features 9 different pick-up patterns and 3 selectable low-cut filters.
I liked the fact that AKG included an overload led. It can be a nice, helpful indication on if you’re clipping.
The C414 comes with a shock mount, a pop filter, and a wind blocker. All of the accessories are quality.
The dynamic range is very good on the C414. It can take over 150dB without any distortion.
It’s pretty difficult to get a bad sound with this microphone. It just sounds that good!
You’ll find the C414 perfect for lead vocals. It has a very crisp, aggressive sound.
Overall, the AKG C414 is a built-to-last microphone that excels at recording vocals.
- A very dynamic microphone that will work in many different situations
- Comes with quality accessories
- You have to turn on phantom power to switch pickup-patterns
All of these microphones are a great option for recording vocals. The best microphone for vocals all depend on what you can afford and what suits your needs the best.
What is your favorite microphone on this list?