The right tools to express yourself…
Getting the best out of your vocal, be it for live performance or for studio recordings relies largely on the microphone you choose, so what’s the best microphone for vocals?
Not only is it down to the fundamental quality of the microphone, but also about its polar pattern. As we’re concentrating on vocal mics here, we’ll stick to cardioid microphones. These are designed specifically to capture audio right in front of them, whilst keeping background noises to a minimum.
For live applications, you’re going to want to use a dynamic microphone as they are much less sensitive than something you would use in a recording studio, such as a condenser microphone. Alternatively, in the studio you might want to play around with a mixture of dynamic and condenser microphones, depending on your vocal style and the desired result.
With all that in mind, let’s have a look at our best pick of microphones for your vocals.
1. Shure SM58 Dynamic Microphone
Where else to start but with the legendary Shure SM58. Arguably one of the greatest vocal microphones for live use out there. Purpose-built to be used for vocals, the Shure SM58 features a uniform cardioid pickup with a 50Hz to 15kHz range. Even though the SM58 isn’t the most expensive mic around, you can guarantee that professional venues all over the world will have them in their inventory.
A seriously versatile, reliable and high-performing vocal microphone that will last, the SM58 is an absolute must for all live vocal performers. It doesn’t disappoint in the studio either!
2. Marantz Professional MPM-1000 Condenser Microphone
Marantz are no strangers to professional audio equipment and the fact that they have got into the microphone market is quite exciting. The MPM-1000 delivers on outstanding sound and build quality yet Marantz have kept costs low. As well as being excellent for vocals the MPM-1000 can also play nice with instruments making it highly versatile. There’s even a USB version too!
As with some others on this list, you will be gifted all required accessories to begin recording and broadcasting from the get-go.
3. AKG WMS40 Handheld Wireless Microphone System
The AKG WMS40 Handheld Wireless Microphone System offers total freedom of movement on the stage. Easy to setup and boasting a universal power supply for worldwide use, the AKG WMS40 system is comprised of the SR40 mini receiver and HT 40 mini handheld transmitter mic. All that you need to do is switch them both on, allow them to sync up and you’re good to go. Offering a whopping 30 hours’ worth of performance off a single AA battery, you can rest assured that the system can go the distance throughout the most demanding of sets.
Everything is provided to get you up and running out of the box – including a single AA battery and universal power supply with US/UK/EU adapter
For those who want to double-up on microphone options then the AKG WMS40 Mini 2 Vocal Set Dual Channel is the ideal choice.
4. Sennheiser E935 Cardioid Microphone
The Sennheiser E935 Cardioid Vocal Microphone is a fantastic model for touring artists who need a solid and reliable performer. A rugged metal construction features a shock-mounted capsule for increased protection against impact whilst minimising handling noise – perfect for those who like to move around on stage. Sennheiser’s hum compensating coil minimises electrical interference to ensure that your vocal performance isn’t hindered by unwanted noise.
Sennheiser are so confident in the E935’s ability to perform that they include a 10-year factory warranty with every model. Not only that but you’ll also receive the MZQ 800 microphone clip, a pouch to keep it safe when not in use, and a user manual for everything you need to know about your mic.
5. Sennheiser XSW1-835 Wireless Microphone Vocal Set
For those that don’t want the constraints of a cabled microphone whilst upholding the requirement for impeccable clarity, the XSW1-835 wireless mic set from Sennheiser is our best choice. Built on the world-renowned 835 microphone the capsule delivers nothing short of the best clarity.
To this end, Sennheiser needed to design a wireless system where the clarity would not be impeded in any way. All we can say is that they were 100% successful. Complete with internal antennas with built-in switching diversity, 10 selectable channels over a huge UFC frequency range. The XSW1-835 is ideal for the biggest of venues.
6. SE Electronics X1 S Condenser Microphone
Another entry for SE electronics here but this time in a condenser mic form is the X1 S microphone. Whilst not just strictly a vocal mic, the X1 S can be you ‘go-to’ microphone for all of your recording needs. The large-diaphragm design makes the X1 S a fantastic vocal mic, thanks to its linear frequency response. The timbre of both male and female singers translates beautifully, allowing an appropriate amount of headroom in the upper-frequency range to give a sweetly rounded quality.
SE Electronics mics feature in professional studio’s all over the world and once you begin recording with it, you’ll understand why – simply outstanding.
7. Line 6 XDV-35 Lavalier Wireless Microphone System
Something a little bit different now, we’ve got the Line 6 XDV-35 Lavalier Wireless Microphone System. For those who’d rather go down the hands-free route during live performances, there’s always the clip-on mic. Better suited to those who’re delivering a spoken word performance or conducting an interview, the XDV-35 offers and affordable option for those who are presenting on stage or to camera and need to use their hands.
Line 6 wireless systems offer superb performance for their price. Boasting true 24-bit performance across a 10Hz to 20kHz frequency range up to a whopping 275 feet, the XDV-35 offers total freedom of movement with the utmost fidelity.
8. Rode NT USB Studio Quality USB Microphone
For the times when you need to record vocals on the go, be it broadcasts for news, podcasts or when inspiration strikes, the Rode NT USB condenser mic has you covered. Active electronics within the microphone handle all of the analogue to digital conversion for you. So, you can simply plug into your computer, load up your software, and get professional grade recordings instantly.
The Rode NT-USB also comes bundled with a case, tripod stand, pop-shield and a ring mount making this a really great plug and play recording solution right out of the box.
Be sure to keep up to date with all of our microphone range at the Dawsons website.
Rob Mather is a multi-instrumentalist and DJ from Huddersfield, England. Rob enjoys an active career as a performer and writer of many styles of music. Rob is also heavily engaged in providing sound and lighting support for live music events and theatre productions. Rob works within the web team at Dawsons Music, where he relays his passion for music by producing great content for the Dawsons site.