Vocal Microphone Recommendations for Every BudgetDec 16, 2022
Are you ready to purchase a microphone for recording vocals, and looking for recommendations? I’ve been recording my voice since 2005 and have experienced many different mics! Let me share my favorites based on 3 different tiers of pricing.
First things first, I’m about all about large diaphragm condenser mics with cardioid polar patterns. If you’d like to learn a little about the different types of mics and what they’re good for, check out this article here. But for now, these are my recommendations strictly for vocals and strictly for the recording process (not live shows).
Less money does not need to mean low quality! Let’s start with the best budget vocals microphones under $300.
Mackie EM-91C: $59
This is the cheapest mic I’ll let you buy! I’ve used other hardware by Mackie and they are a company I feel I can rely on. So if you’re just learning to record vocals and want the cheapest option from a reliable brand, give it a shot!
Sterling Audio ST55: $149
This was my very first microphone purchase myself! It lasted me a couple years then kinda started crapping out. I really like the tone I got from it though, it was pretty bright which compliments vocals nicely.
Rodes NT1A: $199
This was my second mic! This is probably one of the most popular microphones for home-studio recording. It come with a pop-filter and shock mount.
Blue Bluebird: $229
If your on a lower budget, but can reach for this one, do it! Of this budget tier, this one is my favorite. I feel like this has the cleanest sound that supports the ideal frequency ranges of the voice. Total clarity on the high end and smooth throughout the mids and lows.
Telefunken M81: $249
If you also perform live and are looking for a mic that can pass both on stage and in studio, this is the one. It is a dynamic mic, so it’s quite durable, and can also handle recording more percussive instruments. This is overall a very versatile mic, but I still feel the Bluebird is better if you’re primarily a recording vocalist.
If you’re ready to spend a bit more for a higher level mic, these are mics I recommend to vocalists looking to go pro and offer remote demo singing services or pursue other professional music revenue streams.
Shure SM7B: $399
This is a staple in many recording studios for it’s super dupe clarity and flat frequency response. It is a go-to for podcasts and voice over work, but surprisingly lots of professional vocalists have been using it for recording vocals.
Neumann TLM 102: $729
Nerumann microphones are kinda the G.O.A.T. It is the U-87 you’ve heard on thousands of classic records, which is why I trust Neumann’s more affordable model for a high quality professional sound.
Slate Digital ML-1: $799
This is my current travel microphone, and the mic I used to record the audio in my courses to Learn How to Record Vocals and Music Entrepreneurship (sign up for the waitlist here!). It is most famous for it’s virtual microphone emulator plugin that makes it “emulate” other famous microphones. It does sound great on its own without using the emulator, very high quality sound capturing details across all frequencies.
$800 and up
KW: Vocal production, vocal mic, microphone for recording vocals, vocal microphone
Maybe you’ve been recording for some time and are taking your music very seriously, or you’re even running a music entrepreneurial business with those vocals… so it’s time to invest in your signature sound with a microphone that enhances your tone in all the right place with the right amount of clarity. These are some of the go-to’s trusted by top charting artists and professional vocalists.
Manley Reference Cardioid: $2999
This tube condenser microphone is my baby. It’s my personal choice microphone because it compliments my voice with a bright frequency response, it is sensitive to detail, and captures my vocals in such a way that I barely have to EQ it. I love how it sounds on instruments that lean toward the higher frequency spectrum like violins and trumpets, giving them support right where they deserve it!
Neumann U 87: $3695
This is a staple in almost every professional recording studio worldwide. Tried, true, and trusted to deliver the most natural, pristine, and broad tone with brightness and warmth.
Sony C-800: $10,700
I can’t give a true testimonial on this because I haven’t used it myself, but this microphone has become beloved by the highest charting Billboard Hot 100 vocalists. I know what it feels like to go from a $150 mic to a $3k mic and experience the delicious difference… so I can only imagine that this microphone is knocking the socks off our fav artists, and it shows on the pure perfection that gleams on the radio.
So which microphone sounds up your alley?! If you’re just starting out, it’s totally respectable to start on the smaller side and slowly over time reinvest in your craft by switching out one piece of gear at a time. What matters the most is that you pull the trigger and get recording! If you’re brand new to recording vocals and looking for some support, my upcoming Learn to Record Your Vocals and Advanced Vocal Production courses might be a valuable resource for you. Get on the waitlist and I’ll email you when I open enrollment!
Special thank you to Kira Ruth Condey for co-writing this article!
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