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The Top 5 Best Microphones for Recording Vocals In 2024

February 16, 2023 
BY DAN SPENCER
Microphones for Recording Vocals Blog Cover Image
Last Updated on January 1, 2024

As a musician or sound engineer, selecting the appropriate microphone for recording vocals is one of the most critical decisions you'll make. The quality of the mic can have an immense effect on how well your recording sounds in the end. In this article, we'll take a look at five top microphones for vocal recordings in order of lowest price to highest price and explain why these five stand out from all others.

Things To Consider When Buying A Microphone For Vocal Recording

When shopping for a microphone for vocal recording, there are several important factors to take into account. Here are some of them:

  1. Microphone Type: For vocal recording, there are various microphone types such as condenser, ribbon, and dynamic microphones. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks so it is essential to choose the right type of mic for your needs.

  2. Polar Pattern: A microphone's polar pattern refers to how it picks up sound. There are various polar patterns available, including cardioid, omnidirectional and figure-eight. When recording in different environments, selecting the right polar pattern for your recording environment is key to getting the desired sound.

  3. Frequency Response: A microphone's frequency response refers to the range of frequencies it can accurately capture. Different models have different responses, making some better suited for certain vocal types than others. For instance, flat responses are ideal when recording natural audio without coloration while a boosted midrange helps vocals stand out in a mix.

  4. Sensitivity: A microphone's sensitivity refers to its ability to pick up quiet sounds. A more sensitive microphone may capture subtle vocal inflections, but it may also pick up unwanted background noise.

  5. SPL Handling: Sound pressure level (SPL) handling refers to how well a microphone can handle loud sounds. If you plan on recording loud vocal performances or instruments, it's essential that you choose a microphone with good SPL handling.

  6. Budget: Microphone prices can range widely, from budget-conscious options to high-end professional models. Before you begin shopping for a microphone, set yourself a budget so that you can find one that meets your needs without breaking the bank. NOTE: Though cheaper, don't consider a USB microphone for professional vocal recording.

  7. Recording Environment: When selecting a microphone for vocal recording, the environment in which you plan to record is an important factor to consider. If recording somewhere with a lot of room noise, look for a mic with good noise rejection capabilities; on the other hand, if recording in small rooms with acoustical treatment, look for a mic that can capture a dry and uncolored sound.

By considering these factors, you can select a microphone that meets your individual recording requirements. Whether you're an experienced sound engineer or hobbyist musician, investing in quality equipment is essential for achieving your recording objectives.


Related Article: What Is The Microphone Proximity Effect And Why Should You Care?


Top 5 Best Microphones For Vocal Recording

Now that you know what to consider when choosing a microphone, lets talk about your options.

1. Rode NT1

Woman singing into a Rode NT1 microphone that's on a stand and has a pop filter in front of it.

The Rode NT1 is an ideal microphone for recording vocals. It boasts a large diaphragm condenser, which captures all of the subtleties of human voice sound accurately. Plus, with its remarkably flat frequency response and very low self noise, this versatile microphone can be used in quiet environments too. It's perfect for vocals, guitar and drums alike!

One of the features that sets apart the Rode NT1 is its inclusion of both a shock mount and pop filter. The shock mount reduces mechanical noise picked up by the microphone, while the pop filter minimizes recorded plosives. These accessories are typically sold separately, but the fact that they come included with the Rode NT1 is a nice bonus.

Pros
  • Low self-noise means it captures clear and detailed vocal recordings with minimal background noise or hissing.
  • A large diaphragm condenser microphone, designed for capturing vocal frequencies and subtleties.
  • High SPL handling capability enables it to accommodate loud vocal performances without distortion.
  • This high-end microphone offers a competitive price point compared to other models in its class.
Cons
  • A fixed cardioid polar pattern may not be ideal for all recording situations, particularly if you want to capture a wider sound field.
  • Unfortunately, it lacks some of the more sophisticated features found in more expensive microphones, such as filters.
  • Requires phantom power, meaning it cannot be used without a preamp or audio interface that supplies this supply.
  • Slightly brighter sound compared to other options, which may require EQ adjustments to achieve the desired sound.

Overall, the Rode NT1 is one of the best condenser mics for vocal recording at an affordable price point. While its fixed cardioid polar pattern and lack of advanced features may disappoint some users, it remains a great choice for those seeking pristine sound quality at this price point.

Top Pick
9.4
Rode NT1

2. Slate Digital VMS ML-1

Slate Digital VMS ML-1 microphone on a stand in a studio.

The Slate Digital VMS ML-1 is an innovative vocal mic that utilizes modeling technology to recreate the sound of classic microphones. With its included software plugin, users can choose from a selection of emulations such as AKG C12, Neumann U47 or Shure SM7B for example - giving them access to many different sounds with one microphone! This versatility makes this studio mic highly sought-after by professional sound engineers and producers.

The microphone itself features a large diaphragm and cardioid polar pattern, perfect for picking up sound from the front while rejecting sound from sides or rear. Its flat frequency response captures sound accurately without coloration or artifacting, making the Slate Digital VMS ML-1 an ideal choice for recording vocals if you need something that can provide various tones.

Pros
  • High-quality virtual microphone modeling, enabling you to recreate the sound of many classic microphones.
  • Flat frequency response provides uncolored sound that is easily tailored with virtual microphone models.
  • High SPL handling capability enables it to handle loud vocal performances without distortion.
  • Extremely low self-noise means it can capture clear, detailed vocal recordings without any background noise or hiss.
Cons
  • Utilizing virtual microphone modeling software requires a compatible preamp and audio interface, which may come at an extra cost.
  • Requires the use of the virtual microphone modeling software to achieve its full potential, which may be a learning curve for some users.

Overall, the Slate Digital VMS ML-1 is an incredibly versatile and powerful vocal microphone with unparalleled modeling capabilities. While additional hardware and software may be required to use it properly, its flat frequency response and low self-noise make it suitable for vocal recording applications. Additionally, its virtual microphone modeling capabilities let you experiment with a range of classic microphone sounds. The possibilities are endless with this microphone!

Top Pick
8.8
Slate Digital VMS ML-1

3. Warm Audio WA-47

Man singing into a Warm Audio WA-47 microphone in a recording studio.

For those seeking a classic sound, when it comes to studio mics, the Warm Audio WA-47 is an excellent option. Modeled after the legendary Neumann U47 microphone (one of the best vocal mics ever), the WA-47 captures all of its warmth and character at a fraction of the cost.

The WA-47 is a condenser mic featuring a large diaphragm with 9 selectable polar patterns. With an enhanced frequency response in low frequencies, this mic produces a warm, vintage tone - ideal for recording vocals if you want something with that vintage character.

Pros
  • A large diaphragm condenser microphone that captures a warm and rich sound that's ideal for vocal recording.
  • Vintage-inspired design recreates the legendary sound of the original Neumann U 47 microphone at a fraction of the cost.
  • 9 selectable polar patterns make this microphone versatile for various recording scenarios.
  • Comes with a shock mount and wooden storage box, adding to its value.
Cons
  • Requires phantom power, meaning it cannot be used without a preamp or audio interface that supplies this source of electricity.
  • Sensitive to plosives and sibilance. May require the use of a pop filter or de-esser in order to avoid harsh sounding recordings.

Overall, the Warm Audio WA-47 is one of the best vocal microphones for those who desire a classic-sounding condenser microphone without the high price tag of the original Neumann U 47. With its vintage-inspired design, multiple polar patterns, and warm sound quality, it can produce a top-notch recording for all acoustic instruments.

Top Pick
9
Warm Audio WA-47

4. AKG C414 XLII

AKG C414 microphone with a recording studio in the background.

The AKG C414 XLII is a versatile studio mic that can be used for a variety of recording applications. It has nine polar patterns, including cardioid, hypercardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-eight, which means that you can choose the pattern that's best suited for the recording situation. The C414 XLII is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that has a midrange frequency bump, which means that it captures sound with the vocals in mind.

The microphone has a very low noise level, which means that it's great for recording in quiet environments. It also has a very high SPL handling, which means that it can handle very loud sound sources without distortion. The AKG C414 XLII is one of the best choices for recording vocals with its patented microphone sound.

Pros
  • Incredibly versatile: Suitable for vocals, acoustic guitars, drums and more.
  • Clarity: Crystal-clear and detailed sound, which is especially beneficial when recording the subtleties of a singer's voice.
  • High Sound Pressure Level Handling: Can withstand high sound pressure levels (SPLs), making it ideal for recording loud vocalists or close-miked instruments.
  • Multiple Polar Patterns: This gives you more options in your recording setup.
Cons
  • Price: The price is higher than some home recording enthusiasts can afford or are willing to pay.
  • Sensitivity to Handling Noise: This may not be ideal for singers who move around a lot or in live settings.
  • Presence boost can be harsh: Some users find the presence boost on the C414 XLII to be too harsh or aggressive, leading to sibilance or other unwanted artifacts in vocal recording.

The AKG C414 is an ideal option for those looking for the perfect recording microphone. With it's emphasis on vocal frequencies, large collection of polar patterns, and top-notch sound quality, you can expect this microphone to capture sound waves as good as the best.

Top Pick
9.4
AKG C414 XL11

5. Neumann U 87

Neumann U 87 microphone with a shock mount sitting in a box.

The Neumann U 87 is a legendary mic used on many recordings. It's a large diaphragm condenser microphone with switchable polar patterns - you can choose between omnidirectional, cardioid or figure-eight patterns - making it highly versatile and ideal for various recording tasks.

The U 87 is widely considered one of the finest condenser microphones ever designed for recording vocals. With a frequency bump around 5 kHz and above, it adds an extra layer of presence and clarity for any singer. Furthermore, its strong build means it should last you a lifetime if taken care of properly.

It's unlikely to find a professional recording studio who doesn't own a Neumann U 87 microphone.

Pros
  • Classic microphone, widely used in professional recording studios.
  • Three selectable polar patterns (cardioid, omnidirectional and figure-8) provide versatile recording solutions to suit a variety of recording situations.
  • High SPL handling capability enables it to cope with loud vocal performances without distortion.
Cons
  • Expensive price point can make it unattainable for home recording enthusiasts.
  • For those looking for a flat sound, the slight coloration might be a turn off.
  • Phantom power is required, meaning this product cannot be used without a preamp or audio interface that provides this power source.

Overall, the Neumann U 87 is widely regarded as a classic and high-quality microphone for vocal recording. Its warm sound, selectable polar patterns, and high SPL handling make it suitable for any recording situation. Although it comes at a hefty price point, its quality and reputation make it a worthwhile investment for professional studios and serious recording enthusiasts.

Top Pick
9
Neumann U 87 Ai

Related Article: The Top 5 Best Mics For Podcasting | Professional Options For All Budgets


Final Thoughts

In conclusion, the Rode NT1, Slate Digital VMS ML-1, Warm Audio WA-47, AKG C414 XLII and Neumann U 87 are some of the top microphones for recording vocals on the market. Each has its own advantages and drawbacks but they all make excellent choices for anyone looking to record vocals.

When selecting a microphone for vocal recording, it's essential to take into account your recording environment, desired sound, and budget. All of the microphones on this list are high-quality options but differ in terms of price and features. Ultimately, the best microphone for recording vocals will depend on your individual needs and preferences.

By selecting the ideal microphone for the job, you can accurately capture and showcase the unique qualities of human voice recordings, creating recordings that are both expressive and captivating. Whether you're a professional sound engineer or musician recording from home, investing in quality microphones is an essential step towards achieving your recording objectives.

"Some of the links within this article are affiliate links. These links are from various companies such as Amazon. This means if you click on any of these links and purchase the item or service, I will receive an affiliate commission. This is at no cost to you and the money gets invested back into Audio Sorcerer LLC."

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