In this post, I will address the question a lot of audio enthusiasts tend to ask often; which is the best microphone for recording vocals?
This of course depends on your budget so will break this into parts. First which type of mic is the best vocal microphone for recording at home.
Then we will go into the different mics in price ranges, ranging from the best under $100 dollars, $200 dollars and up from there. As I said before, I would go into more detail about the differences in mics for both live and home studio recording.
The most common types of microphones that are found in professional studios or even home studios is the condenser microphone.
They tend to have a better frequency response range and a more sensitive transient response – what this means is the microphones ability to duplicate the “speed” of the vocal or sound being recorded.
Condensers have a larger ouput but tend to be a lot more sensitive for recording. This can result in background noises or interference being picked up when you are recording.
Because of their heightened sensitivity these microphones are best suited for studio recordings. They also require a fixed power supply of usually 48 volts. These more sensitive mics are usually more expensive than the dynamic mics but there are some lower end price ranges available. Like most things the quality will improve with the more money you spend on equipment such as this.
One of the best microphones used for recording in terms of considering complex sounds, sharp vocals, and with acoustic accompaniments, the condenser microphone were always the number one choice among sound engineers. They are used inside recording studios and radio stations as they deliver a clear crisper sound than dynamic microphones. They have a better response in terms of frequency and a higher output range.
The Condenser microphone were designed that its diaphragm is like one plate inside the capacitor and the vibrations that produces sound shifts distance in between the plates thus creating an electrical current. A power supply needs to charge the plate with a charge of 48V from a battery or a mixing desk. It uses the capacitor to convert acoustic energy to electrical energy thus resulting to a sound output.
The audio signal produced by a condenser microphone is much stronger than the dynamic type of microphone. In this case, condenser microphones are more sensitive in capturing subtle sounds, but on the other hand, they are not advisable to be used for high volume work as its sensitivity makes it more prone to distortion. But for instruments, such as drums, the number one choice are the dynamic microphones compared to the condenser microphones.
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Types of Condenser Microphones
1. Audio Technica ATR 3350 Condenser Microphone
Noted for their professional microphones, both wired and wireless, magnetic cartridges, headphones and some more audio equipment, Audio Technica breaks through once again with their newest design, the Audio Technica ATR-3350.
This condenser microphone is omni-directional and has a polar pattern. Highly recommended for video use, Audio Technica ATR-3350 is a newscaster-styled microphone, specially created for accurate and intelligible voice reproduction. Because of its low-profile design, Audio Technica ATR-3350 does have a minimum visibility, making it much loved by sports, dance and aerobics instructors.
Audio Technica aims to create microphones that can render multiple functions and Audio Technica ATR-3350 is one of them. This lavalier, with its Omni pickup pattern, can easily give a full coverage of 360 degrees. Assuring a worry-free video or audio, all you should do is to clip it on, giving you no bother as to where it is pointing.
It works perfectly well with almost all cameras, with its 20 feet cable that has a 3.5 mm plug that can be directly connected to several cameras.
The specifics of Audio Technica ATR-3350 will surely be an additional reason for you to grab one for yourself. It also fully furnished with accessories such as battery, tie clip, foam windscreen and an adapter.
If you are looking for a lightweight microphone but with remarkable sounds, not to mention its minimum visibility, this is undoubtedly the perfectly designed microphone for you. Use it for videos, and surely, you will be the envy of the town in no time.Check at Amazon for pricing
2. Shure KSM32 Condenser Mic
A certified Class A microphone, Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone is perfect for both studio and live applications usage. Light enough at its 1.1 pounds, it has a cardioid polar pattern and a filter with low frequency which virtually eliminates all the background noises.
It also makes use of an ultra-thin, high-compliance and embossed Mylar diaphragm. These features are specially created for instrument recording and vocal tracking. It also has the pop protection and quality construction, making it a real Shure design.
Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone has an incorporated three-stage pop security grille which reduces pop and breath noises. Its internal shock mount, on the other hand, lessens the transmission of noises created by handling.
With remarkable specifications, some of the usual applications for Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone are during voice recording such as broadcasting and voice over, acoustic instruments like guitar, piano and percussions, wind instruments like woodwind and brass, low frequency instruments like electric bass and kick drum, overhead making for percussion or drums, ensembles and room ambiance pickup.
As for performance characteristics, Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone has an extended frequency response, relatively low self-noise, outstanding low-frequency reproduction, high output level and input SPL capacity. It also boasts of a zero-crossover distortion, uniform polar response and better-quality common mode elimination and control of radio frequency intrusion.
This is no doubt the microphone that will allow give you the utmost satisfaction in your recording, may it be inside a studio or live. Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone is one gadget you must have if you are looking for a condenser microphone to aptly handle your instrument recording and vocal tracking.Check at Amazon for pricing
3. MXL 990 Condenser Microphone
From the leading producer of audio products for love sound markets, broadcast, post production and music recording, MXL, is considered the most boundary-breaking in the industry of microphones.
Being known for their creation of best microphone varieties, from condenser to dynamic and ribbon microphone solutions, it is not a surprise that the very first impressive featured condenser microphone carries the MXL name.
The company is being considered as one of the industry’s forerunners, giving sounds of high quality that makes them almost at the same level with producers of more expensive microphones.
MXL 990 Condenser Microphone is regarded as the very first condenser microphone with high quality that became a common device for working musicians. The said microphone has a huge diaphragm and FET preamp, allowing the production of proficient sound quality, both in analog and digital recordings.
It never fails to amaze artists with its high end, silky, solid and tight mid and low range reproduction. This is not really a big surprise for microphones from MXL are specially created and engineered as signal processors, music accessories and recording tools for musicians, consumers, audio professional and hobbyists.
For its physical features, the MXL 990 Condenser Microphone has a vintage body design with a noticeable champagne finish. This durable microphone comes with a custom shock-mount, carrying case and microphone stand adapter.
A real step up in the microphone industry, it will not be a question that MXL 990 will remain to be glorious in its days.Check at Amazon for pricing
4. Studio Projects C1 Condenser Microphones
The Studio Projects C1 condenser microphone seems to be one of the front runners for affordable and high quality sound. For a little while now Studio Projects have been running up the rear very quietly while producing microphones that are offering rival quality to the musicians in the industry, and at a good price.
The C1 microphone quite clearly surpasses its price tag with the quality of recordings it produces. The Studio Projects C1 microphone has been produced and created for many different users within the studio.
If you are looking for top quality vocal recordings for many vocal styles without the wallet bursting price, then the Studio Projects C1 condenser microphone is a must when it comes to consideration!
5. Rode S1 Condenser Microphone
Since rode gained international recognition as a company that can make a quality microphone, they have generally always focused on the studio microphone, and have in most cases, done it well.
However, the Rode S1 condenser microphone steps out of these boundaries and into the sphere of LIVE performance. The S1 is a special microphone and encompasses everything you want out of a microphone for touring and recording.
As Rode, have been working on producing great studio microphones they decided to come up with a microphone that wasn’t just great for studio recordings, but also had the durability and ruggedness needed for a handheld performance/touring microphone, and the Rode S1 was created!
The specifics of the Rode S1 microphone are pretty enticing too, with it having studio recording quality specifications, rugged metal construction and the ability to handle low noise, making it fit for most occasions.
The microphone is perfect for vocals both in and out of the studio and is made to bring out the vocals and drown out the added outside noise. It is also powered via Phantom power.
Since the launch, the Rode S1 is fast becoming popular and if you are searching for something to handle both studio recordings and live sets without having to spend on two different microphones, the Rode S1 Condenser Microphone could well be the one for you.
Large Diaphragm Microphones (LDs)
Usually the first choice for studio vocal recordings or any other sound recording that requires a deeper final sound. There is a common myth about Large Diaphragm Microphones duplicating lower sound frequencies better than Small Diaphragm mics but this is actually not the case. Small Diaphragms are better at picking up recordings more evenly, which includes deeper bass sounds.
Be sure when using any condenser mics that you should have a pop screen available because they are prone to picking up transient noises that end up resulting in distortion.
Small Diaphragm Microphones
These are usually the first choice when you want a reliable, wide frequency and the highest transient response which as mentioned above this is the “speed” of your mics recording. These are the first choice for most concert recordings and would be the best microphone for recording guitar for example.
When you look at the differences between the Dynamic mics, you end up with a tougher, less fragile mic that is moisture resistant and can handle a bit more rough handling. Dynamic microphones such as the Shure SM57 or Shure SM58 are widely known for both recording quality and their overall durability. Any venue with live concerts for example will have a handful of these Dynamic microphones on hand and definitely go the distance.
The upside is the power supply isn’t required for these mics but the overall quality is not 100% accurate. Because of their limited frequency response these mics are more ideal for high sound pressure levels caused from loud live music such as guitar or drums.
So, that is a bit of technical information but I think it is necessary if you are just learning about recording.
So – What is the best microphone for recording vocals?
You will definitely want a large diaphragm condenser microphone if your budget allows. Look for the very decent Shure SM7B or if you are looking for a cheaper alternative, you cannot beat the Shure SM58
What is the best microphone for recording guitar?
I would recommend a decent small diaphragm condenser microphone. Your choices will be Oktava MC012 ($99), Marshall MXL 603S ($99) or the higher end Neumann KM184 ($730).
The best condenser microphones use XLR cables and require phantom power in order to work.
Because of phantom power, condenser microphones do not require the volume on preamps to be turned up really loud. Condenser microphones tend to by crisper and louder than dynamic microphones.
They are almost essential if you’re using a cheaper preamp because cheap preamps tend to make a loud hissing noise when turned up.
Neumann and Sony many high-end condenser microphones while MXL and Audio-Technica make low to mid-end condenser mics. The difference in pricing does not reflect the difference in quality between microphones.
Often, it’s the name on the mic, rather than its sound qualities that determine the price tag.
Dynamic microphones are usually used in live stage settings and broadcasts.
They tend to sound a bit duller and require preamps to be turned up loud.
Many people think dynamic microphones are unprofessional, but little do they know that Michael Jackson even used a dynamic microphone to record his albums.
The main advantage with dynamic microphones is that they usually cost less than condenser microphones and have different sound qualities.