The correct microphone for vocals is essential in ensuring high-quality sound production that is as close to the artist’s natural voice without complicated setups and tweaking.
Unfortunately, everyone’s voice is unique, and no singer will want a device that undesirably alters the voice.
The vocal microphone your idol uses in his recordings may be unsuitable to your voice and style, making your recording less than appealing.
With 15-plus years of working with independent recording artists, I am offering my take on the best microphone for vocals.
Of the ten vocal mics I reviewed, the Rode NT2-A comes out on top.
It is an enormously versatile and performance-ready microphone for vocals, instruments, and other applications without an eye-watering price tag.
Vocal mics are not only beneficial for singers; they are also invaluable to streamers, content creators, presenters, show hosts, vloggers, interviewers, panelists, and others.
That is why I included the best vocal mics aimed at various budgets and situations.
Let us get down to it.
Here are the Best Vocal Mics
- Rode NT2-A – Overall Best Microphone for Vocals
- Shure SM58 – Best Value Dynamic Microphone for Vocals
- AKG C214 – Best Value Condenser Microphone for Vocals
- Audio-Technica AT2020 – Best Budget Vocal Microphone for Beginners
- AKG C414 XLII – Best Premium Microphone for Vocals
- Audio-Technica AT2035 – Best Budget Vocal Microphone with Large Diaphragm
- Rode NT1-A – Best Vocal Microphone for Home Studios
- Neumann TLM 103 – Best Vocal Microphone for Live Performance
- Shure SM7B – Best Vocal Microphone for Podcasting and Voice-overs
- Neumann U 87 Ai Set – Best Splurge-worthy Microphone for Vocals
The Rode NT2-A is a legendary studio microphone made even more spectacular by the Sydney-based company to give everyone exceptional versatility and creative control.
Unlike other vocal mics that only work with a single polar pattern, this microphone plays Cardioid, Figure-8, and Omni configuration.
It allows anyone to choose microphone sensitivity suitable to the intended application.
This vocal mic has a wide dynamic range, three-position pad, variable high-pass filter, and dual 5-micron diaphragm capsule working together to produce sounds as close to the real deal.
It also features a transformerless SMT circuitry, freeing users from the nuisance of extraneous noise.
The microphone also comes with a satin nickel finish to complement its heat-treated, high-strength steel mesh head for a heavy-duty construction very few can expect at this price range.
It is the perfect microphone for people who want high-quality sound recordings in a robust, performance-ready package.
- Professional-grade construction and design
- Variable polar patterns in one mic
- Excellent sound recording versatility
- Exceptional noise management
- Requires a robust and sturdy mic stand
With more than half a century of reliable performance, there is no questioning the sound production quality and robust engineering of the Shure SM58.
This microphone is a workhorse, a favorite of pop icons, rock star legends, and veteran presenters because of its unparalleled consistency, quality, and durability.
While it is well-known for its indestructibility, this mic’s thoughtfully engineered frequency response is what separates it from the rest.
Dynamic mics are excellent for low to mid-frequency sounds, although the SM58 ups the ante by cutting the low-end rumble and increasing the upper-mids.
The unique microphone design adds clarity and warmth to the vocals while improving its performance with brass, guitar cabinets, and other musical instruments.
It will surprise many people to learn that this dynamic vocal microphone does not cost a fortune despite its time-tested reliability, indestructibility, sound quality, and overall performance.
- Excellent frequency response
- Decades-old unquestionable performance
- Durable and weatherproof construction
- More affordable than other dynamic mics
- No power switch
The AKG C214 is a dependable vocal mic with an astonishing performance that can rival its legendary older brother, the AKG C414.
While it performs like the tried-and-tested C414, the C214 has a price tag that will never hurt the pockets of aspiring artists, content creators, and sound producers.
This vocal mic has an impressive dynamic range that delivers exceptional sounds with natural, uncompressed transients.
It also has a low-cut filter and a switchable attenuation pad, making it a cinch to use the mic with high-output brass, powerful guitar amps, and pulsating drum overheads.
The microphone’s integrated capsule suspension minimizes mechanical noise and vibration and ensures greater sonic accuracy and resonance reduction.
It has a scratch-resistant finish, a gold-plated XLR output, and a dent-resistant all-metal double-mesh grille for touring.
This mic is an excellent addition to any home studio.
- Professional-quality sound
- Impressive dynamic range
- Multiple applications
- Robust construction
- Cardioid-only polar pattern
The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a vocal mic that marries reliable performance with a price tag that does not make people cry.
It is suitable for beginners, budget-conscious folks, and other people who may want to engage in good-quality sound production in their homes.
While it has a friendly price, it would be a mistake to think that this mic has a mediocre performance.
It has an exceptional transient response, extended frequency response, and a wide dynamic range that deliver sound quality like high-end mics on the market.
You will also not have any issues with extraneous noise because the microphone’s ingenious engineering isolates the sound coming from the desired source.
Its construction is also noteworthy, ensuring substantial durability that will last many years.
- Ideal for home studio and sound projects
- Reliable sound production quality
- Good dynamic range and frequency response
- Dependable construction
- Not ideal for singing too close to the mic
Half a century since its introduction, the AKG C414 continues to wow the crowd with its sophisticated acoustic engineering, dynamic range, and excellent frequency response.
Answering the call for a versatile microphone, the brand decided to reinvent the classic C414 to make the XLII.
The improved version offers nine polar patterns, cutting-edge components, the latest acoustic technologies, and precision reference-quality results that can rival any five-figure vocal mic on the market.
Mated to its tried-and-tested architecture is a technology that boosts acoustic presence while safeguarding the C12’s legendary spatial reproduction capability.
It makes this mic perfect for lead vocals, guitar solos, and other solo musical instruments, regardless of the mix.
Fine-tuning the microphone’s audio characteristics is also a cinch with various control options, including switchable attenuation pads and bass cut filters.
This vocal mic is perfect for advanced users and professionals who want to take their game to the next level.
- Tried-and-tested microphone design and performance
- Legendary spatial reproduction capability
- Versatile application
- Exceptional control
- Some people find the sound quality too ‘boxy’
Add several dollars more to the price of the Audio-Technica AT2020, and you can already enjoy the professional-quality performance of the AT2035.
This large-diaphragm condenser mic has sufficient features to make it a wise choice among budget-conscious sound producers, aspiring artists, content creators, and others.
The sound it produces is smooth and natural, making it a good choice for small-scale live performances, professional recording studios, and home-based sound production projects.
Its high-pass filter and switchable attenuation pad make it a breeze to ensure good-quality sounds, regardless of the source.
The frequency response is reliable and consistent, while its SPL handling is on the money.
People do not have to spend a fortune on a rig that gives them reliable performance and good-quality sounds.
This pledge is evident in this vocal mic.
- Natural and smooth sound quality
- Good frequency response
- Multiple applications
- Good value
- Some degree of self-noise
Rode microphones are not necessarily the most affordable mics for a home studio, except the NT1-A.
Not only is this an affordable vocal mic from an industry leader, but it also has the performance to match.
While this mic only has a side-blocking polar pattern, it makes up for it by improving the microphone’s self-noise management.
I agree with industry experts who consider this cardioid condenser mic one of the quietest in the market, thanks to its exemplary engineering.
It can handle variable frequencies, allowing people to use this vocal mic to capture the sounds coming from guitar cabinets and other musical instruments.
The pop filter and shock mount complement the mic’s elegant satin-nickel finish, transporting users to an era of superb sound production.
It is perfect for home studios, projects, and other endeavors requiring natural and smooth sound.
- Pro performance with an entry-level price
- Surprisingly quiet
- Classic and elegant design
- Unparalleled versatility for its price
- A bit brittle and harsh with overheads
People who know the history of condenser mics can appreciate the value Neumann products bring to the table.
This brand revolutionized the sound recording industry in 1928 by offering the world’s first condenser microphone in the market.
That is why music industry stalwarts, bigwigs, and legends consider a Neumann mic the pinnacle of vocal microphone design and performance.
It is safe to assume that the TLM 103 costs a fortune, but it does not.
It retains the vintage design of early condenser mic models while improving its acoustic architecture and engineering.
This vocal mic has a large diaphragm, a wide dynamic range, low self-noise, excellent frequency response, and a transformerless circuitry that ensures a well-balanced audio signal.
The result is highly detailed sound characteristics that guarantee pristine recordings and phenomenal live performance.
- Unmatched condenser mic design history
- Classic design
- Highly-detailed sound characteristics
- Low self-noise
- Some people may find its high-end performance brittle
The Shure SM78 is the re-engineered version of a timeless classic.
While this reinvented vocal mic is a favorite of podcasters, presenters, and voice-over talents, the SM78 remains an excellent choice of professional artists and seasoned sound producers.
This vocal mic allows for effortless tweaking of presence boost and bass roll-off, allowing people to fine-tune the microphone for their preferred use.
It has a remarkable voice range, allowing anyone to bring out a deep baritone’s resonance, tame a soprano’s brittleness, or capture any other fascinating sound.
There are no worries about extraneous noise undermining the quality of a project or a live performance because this mic’s redesigned architecture guarantees near-negligible mechanical noise.
Surprisingly, it does not cost a fortune to own this vocal mic, despite its numerous technical innovations and exemplary sound performance.
- Multiple applications
- Wide voice range
- Low noise design
- Professional-quality construction
- Not ideal for certain music genres
There is one good reason why the Neumann U 87 Ai Set is a splurge-worthy vocal mic: you can find it in every world-class sound production and recording studio.
First wowing the industry in 1967, the re-engineered vocal mic offers a substantially improved circuitry to improve its sensitivity and signal-to-noise ratio.
With its switchable polar patterns, exploring various recording techniques is more fun, engaging, and more productive.
Arranging two of these mics can create a space pair, mid-side, and ORTF array; setting up three 87s can reproduce the sound of a full orchestra.
It has a precision-crafted mic capsule, ensuring the best possible sound quality, regardless of source.
This vocal microphone is more than ready to continue the U 87’s legendary contribution to the ever-growing art of sound production and recording.
- Industry-leading design and performance
- Versatile application
- Flexible polar patterns
- The price
Picking the best microphone for vocals entails an understanding of several factors.
Vocal Mic Type
Microphones for vocals fall into two umbrella categories: condenser and dynamic.
These microphones work best with high-frequency vocals, including tenor and soprano.
Condenser mics also work best with pianos, cymbals, and acoustic guitars.
The mics require amplification of the weak voltage by drawing energy from phantom power.
Condenser microphones cannot tolerate high sound pressure levels.
However, these mics can record softer sounds and achieve higher gain.
A favorite of altos and basses, dynamic microphones work well with low-frequency sound sources.
The mics are also suitable for recording sounds from drums and electric guitar cabinets.
These microphones do not need phantom power because they generate sufficient voltage to move the diaphragm.
Dynamic mics are also more durable, moisture-resistant, and have exceptional resistance against feedback.
A microphone’s polar pattern describes how it captures sound relative to its position from the sound source.
These microphones capture sound emanating from the front while reducing pickup from the rear and sides.
Cardioid mics are suitable for singers, presenters, podcasters, hosts, and other people who need to have their voices heard and nothing else.
Microphones with a Figure-8 polar pattern capture sounds from the front and rear while minimizing noise from the sides.
These mics are suitable for realistic sound duplication because they capture not only the sound source but also the recording space’s natural ambiance.
Omnidirectional microphones are perfect for recording authentic and natural sounds because they capture everything surrounding the mic.
The best vocal mic should have flat or neutral sound, allowing the user to capitalize on the natural beauty of the voice.
However, some people like to add a low-end pitch or warmth to their voice, adding subtle coloration.
If you have a Johnny Cash-like voice you want to level up, a high-frequency mic is ideal.
On the other hand, natural Chaka Khans and Anita Bakers might want to tame their high-pitched voices with low-frequency mics.
These windscreens are integral parts of any vocal mic because they prevent the passage of excessive air movement without affecting sound transmission.
Mics without pop filters can lead to poor recording quality due to unnecessary volume jumps, strong pronunciations, and signal clipping.
Some vocal mics do not have pop filters, while most have them bundled with the package.
It would be best to get a versatile vocal mic that allows you to record sound from any source.
Buying a vocals-only microphone makes sense if you cannot see yourself doing anything other than singing or talking in front of the mic.
However, if you also wish to expand to other areas of sound production, a versatile mic will be a better choice.
What is the main difference between a dynamic and condenser mic?
Condenser microphones work best with high-frequency instrumentation and vocals, while a dynamic mic is best suited for low to mid-frequency notes.
Of course, there are also differences in internal circuitry, weight, diaphragm size, price, and feedback resistance.
Can you use an ordinary microphone for singing?
An ordinary microphone will suffice if you only sing leisurely with your friends, such as in karaoke.
However, if you intend to record your singing for commercial or official purposes, only a microphone designed specifically for vocals will do.
A cardioid mic is ideal for home vocals recordings, while a large-diaphragm condenser microphone will be suitable in 95% of recording situations.
Of the ten microphones for vocals I reviewed, the Rode NT2-A topped them all.
This vocal mic is exceptionally versatile, effortless to use, and delivers outstanding performance without the eye-watering price tags of five-digit microphones for vocals.
Above all, it’s the one that offers the most bang for your buck.