8 Best Vocal Recording Microphones of 2019

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Every mic can record speech and vocals, but they don’t all give the same results or user experience. This guide looks at some of the current best recording microphones. Don’t skip this short introduction if you’re new to these products. Makers often promote mics as being ideal for a broad range of applications. That’s usually not true, so it pays to be vigilant.

Some mics work better for speech, others for vocals, instruments, studio, and live performances. That’s why it’s vital to choose a recording mic with great care. What do you need it to do? It’s important to be specific as you answer that question.

MXL Mics 770
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Connection: 3-Pin XLR
Natural sound, beginner-friendly, all-metal body, high-pass filter, value.
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Best Value
Shure SM58-LC
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Connection: 3-Pin XLR
Multi-use microphone, built-in filter, decent noise rejection, clip, pouch.
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Top Pick
Neumann Nickel TLM 102
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Connection: 3-Pin XLR
Compact size, perfect tone, multi-uses, mic mount, 5/8–3/8 adapter.
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Everyone Has an Opinion

It’s easy for first-time buyers to get overwhelmed as they try to choose a new recording mic. That’s because there are so many products on sale. There are also different types, prices, and opinions out there. It’s easy to become influenced by a confident-sounding reviewer. However, most of these guys are trying to sell the products they assess. Thus, there’s bound to be a degree of bias in their take.

Also, most of the costlier recording mics provide exceptional audio. Everyone has opinions, but they’re subjective and based on personal preference more than anything. That’s why you should think carefully about what you need the mic for and the tone you expect it to produce.

Different Types of Microphone

This short section explains the three different kinds of microphones available for voice. They are advertised first by how they work, which determines the name of the product. They are:

  1. Dynamic mics
  2. Condenser mics
  3. Ribbon mics

The ones used most for recording speech and vocals are the dynamic and condenser types. The next thing recording artists look for is the directional characteristic. That refers to the mic’s pickup or polar pattern. These patterns define how a mic responds to sound from different angles:

The three microphone polar pickup patterns are:

  1. Cardioid (unidirectional): picks up sound from the front and a little from the sides
  2. Omnidirectional: 360° sensitivity; picks up sound evenly from all side
  3. Bidirectional (figure-8): picks up sound equally from the front & rear; ignores the sides

There are variations of the above that narrow or widen the mic’s directional sensitivity.

OK, let’s now look at the strengths and weaknesses for each of the microphone types.

About My ‘Recording Microphones’ Guide

You should now know something about recording microphone types, polar patterns, and uses. Next, note down your maximum budget to help narrow down the choices. There are 8 short reviews here. Each one highlights the product’s advantages, any disadvantages, and suitable applications. The first three reviews are for the Best Budget mic, followed by Best Value, and then the Editor’s Top Pick.

Recording Microphones Comparison Table

1. MXL 770 Multi-Use Condenser Mic | Best Budget

MXL 770 Multi-Use Condenser MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The MXL 770 condenser microphone is a superb choice and worthy of the Best Budget slot. It’s a multi-purpose mic that budding artists can use across a wide range of applications.

  • Best feature 1: Multi-purpose condenser recording microphone
  • Best feature 2: Excellent price to performance ratio
  • Plus points: Natural sound, beginner-friendly, all-metal body, high-pass filter, value
  • Minus points: No pop filter, no XLR cable, rickety shock mount

MXL Mics 770 Condenser Mic Highlights

The price-to-performance ratio for this mic takes some beating. Voice actors and vocalists get to appreciate the clear, natural sound of the MXL 770. The high end is pleasing to the ears, and the bass is solid. It’s one of the few entry-level mics that professionals won’t sneer at. Combine the sound quality with an all-metal body, and we have a mic that punches high above its price tag.

Musicians also appreciate the MXL 770 for amplifying instruments, both electric and acoustic. Although it sounds great for talk, I’d recommend this mic mostly for musical applications. But then tone can be subjective so you may disagree, and that’s fine. Whoever you are, whatever you want a mic for, you’ll want to shortlist the MXL 770 if it fits your budget and recording needs.

The Not So Good

The main disappointment with the MXL 770 is that its good-looking shock mount is rickety. I’d say it’s an insult to what is an otherwise excellent microphone that deserves better.

The MXL 770 needs a couple of items to complete. One is an XLR cable, and the other a quality pop filter. Some mics include these things, and others don’t. XLR cables are not expensive, so buy the best that you can afford. The same goes for pop filters. A few extra dollars can make a big difference here. Read the user reviews if you need guidance with any of these products.

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Tech Specs
Brand: MXL Mics
Mic Type: Multi-purpose condenser
Connection: 3-Pin XLR
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Power Supply: 48V phantom
Maximum SPL: 137 dB
Frequency Range: 30Hz – 20kHz
Signal to Noise Ratio: 74dB
Pad: -10 dB
Product Dimensions: 6.22 x 2.32”
Product Weight: 16 oz.
Warranty: 1 year limited
The Pros
Multi-purpose condenser mic
Superb price/performance ratio
Cool design
Natural sound
Metal body
High-pass filter
Excellent value
The Cons
No pop filter
No XLR cable
Rickety shock mount

2. Shure SM58-LC Dynamic Vocal Mic | Best Value

Shure SM58-LC Dynamic Vocal MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.9/5

Shure’s dynamic SM58 mic has stood the test of time and deserves the Best Value slot. It’s a favorite for stage vocalist around the world for a plethora of reasons. Let’s take a closer look.

  • Best feature 1: Favorite mic in its class the world over
  • Best feature 2: Exceptional build quality
  • Plus points: Multi-use microphone, built-in filter, decent noise rejection, clip, pouch
  • Minus points: No cable, no ON/Off switch

Shure SM58-LC Vocal Mic Highlights

The Shure SM58 family of mics is built like a tank and sets the standard for others to aspire to. That sounds like a cliché, but this thing can withstand some severe abuse and still work. It has an all-metal body and metal-mesh grill. There’s even foam behind the grill to help eliminate plosives. The SM58 is a brilliant choice for podcasters, YouTubers, and music demos, as well as stage use.

To get the best out of this—and most dynamic mics come to that—it needs an activator. Microphone activators turn 48V of phantom power into around 25dB of clean gain. It’s something to think about if you’re entering the world as a stage vocalist. The mic sounds fantastic—anyway—and has decent noise rejection. Accessories include a standard clip and a zippered pouch to keep it all together.

The Not So Good

Shure’s SM58-LC Dynamic Vocal Microphone is a favorite for singers and well-priced. But at almost 100 dollars (at the time of writing), you’d think they’d throw a mic cable into the deal. Cables are not expensive—the gripe is more to do with the inconvenience of buying items separately. This version doesn’t have an ON/OFF switch. Consider the Shure SM58S if that’s a feature you want.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Shure
Color: Black
Form Factor: Handheld
Mic Type: Dynamic vocal
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Cable: Standard 3 pin XLR
Power Supply: Active speaker
Frequency Response: Tailored
Product Dimensions: 10 x 4 x 10”
Product Weight: 21.6 oz.
Warranty: Limited 2 year
The Pros
Favorite mic for stage performers
Exceptional build quality
Sounds fantastic
Consistent audio, reliable
Multi-use microphone
Built-in spherical pop filter
Decent noise rejection
Standard clip
Zippered carry pouch
The Cons
No cable included
No ON/OFF switch

3. Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Mic | Top Pick

Neumann TLM 102 Condenser MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.8/5

The Neumann TLM 102 is the Top Pick for this guide and the most expensive product on the page. It’s a high-quality, large-diaphragm condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern.

  • Best feature 1: Large-Diaphragm microphone w/ cardioid pickup
  • Best feature 2: Exceptional build quality
  • Plus points: Compact size, perfect tone, multi-uses, mic mount, 5/8–3/8 adapter
  • Minus points: Quite expensive, no cable, no storage box

Neumann Nickel TLM 102 Mic Highlights

Neumann TLM 102 large-condenser microphone is a work of art. The all-metal body and grill is first-rate and has a decent weight to it. The body is compact and featureless, which adds to the pure beauty of this thing. The tone is amazing too. This mic is a superb all-round super-smooth recording tool. And it performs as well as a spot tool for instruments as it does for or vocals.

Neumann’sw TLM 102 can handle extremely loud sound sources. It’s also capable of working with low volumes sounds thanks to its fast-transient response. There’s a mic mount included in the box and a 5/8 to 3/8 microphone stand adapter, but nothing else. If the TLM 102 checks all the boxes, and the price is within budget, then there are no reasons not to consider this beauty.

The Not So Good

Okay, the cost is relative, but for budding enthusiasts the Neumann Nickel TLM 102 is expensive. Heck, they don’t even supply a cable for the microphone. Make sure you get a cable in if you don’t already have one. It’s also worth asking the seller if they can include one with the mic considering its price. A more significant gripe is that there’s no hard storage case to protect this precious tool.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Neumann
Mic Type: large-condenser
Connection: 3-Pin XLR
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Power Supply: Phantom +48V
Maximum SPL: 144dB
Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Impedance: 50 Ohms
Signal to Noise Ratio: 73dB
Product Dimensions: 9.8 x 4.6 x 2.6”
Product Weight: 7.36 oz.
Warranty: 2 years limited
The Pros
Large-Diaphragm microphone
Exceptional build
Beautiful, compact design
Incredible sound quality
Multi-uses (vocals & instruments)
Mic mount
5/8 to 3/8 adapter
The Cons
Quite expensive
No cable included
No storage/travel case

4. Shure PGA58-LC Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Mic

Shure PGA58-LC Dynamic Cardioid Vocal MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

Meet the PGA58-LC. It’s a highly-affordable cardioid dynamic microphone primarily for vocal applications. It looks fab, feels great in hand, and it has Shure brand recognition.

  • Best feature 1: Brand name entry-level microphone for singing
  • Best feature 2: Solid, all-metal build
  • Plus points: Reliable performer, ON/Off switch, clip, carrying pouch, exceptional value
  • Minus points: Limited to vocal use, no 5/8 to 3/8 stand adapter

Shure PGA58-LC Vocal Mic Highlights

Shure’s PGA58-LC has an all-metal construction—including its wire mesh—and it feels rock solid. This version also has an ON/OFF switch at the side of the body. Shure advertises it as a vocal mic, and that’s where it shines most, to be honest. The cardioid pickup pattern works well and you don’t need to swallow the capsule to be heard. It’s one of the best out there for entry-level lead or backing singers.

The Not So Good

There’s little to complain about with a brand name microphone at this price. I wouldn’t rate it for amplifying guitars or other instruments, though. Nor is it the best choice for studio work. It is, however, an ideal entry-level mic for vocals and especially live performances. A 5/8–3/8 stand adapter would have been welcome. Still, one mustn’t complain considering the low cost of the PGA58-LC.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Shure
Mic Type: Dynamic vocal
Connection: 3-Pin XLR
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Frequency Response: 50Hz to 16kHz
Sensitivity: -55dB
Impedance: 150Ohms
Product Dimensions: 3.5 x 10 x 5”
Product Weight: 10.37 oz.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
Brand name entry-level mic for vocalists
Solid, all-metal build
Reliable performer
ON/Off switch
Microphone clip
Carrying pouch
Exceptional value
The Cons
Limited to vocal use
No 5/8 to 3/8 mic stand adapter

5. AKG D5 Dynamic Vocal Microphone

AKG D5 Dynamic Vocal MicrophoneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.5/5

The AKG D5 is another entry-level dynamic vocal microphone. It costs a little more than the Shure PGA58-LC above, so let’s see if it offers something valuable for the extra bucks.

  • Best feature 1: Rugged, long-lasting construction
  • Best feature 2: Supercardioid pickup pattern
  • Plus points: Pleasing tone, crisp audio, mic mount, zipped pouch, value for money
  • Minus points: Some handling noise, not ideal for instruments

AKG D5 Vocal Microphone Highlights

AKG Pro Audio’s D5 vocal mic has a robust, all-metal build and spring-steel grill. It fits well in hand and is comfortable to hold for extended periods. There are no on-body features, which is often a good thing with handled mics. AKG tuned its D5 specifically for voice applications, which means it’s primarily a vocal tool. It’s ‘okay’ as a spot mic for instruments, but I wouldn’t buy it only for that purpose.

Perfect for Solo Vocalists

The D5 has a supercardioid pickup pattern which is another plus point for solo vocalists. That’s because it offers more side rejection than a regular cardioid pattern. The pickup area is 100–110°. The standard cardioid has a pickup angle of between 120–130°. The latter is ideal if two people are sharing one mic, as is often the case with backing vocalists. So, one is only better than the other in certain situations.

Consider the AKG D5 if you need a resilient stage microphone for solo vocals. It’s also the right choice for those with concerns over excessive background noise. Lastly, the extras in the box include a mount and a zippered storage pouch for the mic.

The Not So Good

The AKG D5 is a little susceptible to heavy handling noise. It’s only something that energetic, hand-swapping performers will experience, though. It’s not going to shine as a spot mic for instruments, but then AKG doesn’t make such claims. Look for an alternative if you need something for guitar cabinets. As an entry-level vocal mic, though, the AKG D5 is hard to beat in its price category.

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Tech Specs
Brand: AKG Pro Audio
Mic Type: Dynamic vocal
Connection: 3-Pin XLR
Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
Frequency Response: 70Hz to 20kHz
Maximum SPL: 147dB
Impedance: 600 Ohms
Sensitivity: 2.6 mV /Pa
Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 2.8 x 5.5”
Product Weight: 11.29 oz.
Warranty: 2 years limited
The Pros
Rugged, long-lasting construction
100–110° pickup angle
Superb side noise rejection
Resilient stage microphone
Pleasing tone
Crisp audio
Mic mount
Zipped pouch
Value for money
The Cons
Handling can be noisy
Not ideal for instruments

6. Rode Versatile NT-USB Studio Condenser Mic

Rode Versatile NT-USB Studio Condenser MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

In sixth place is the popular Rode Condenser NT-USB Studio Recording Microphone. It’s a side-address mic that uses a standard cardioid pickup pattern and sports some impressive controls.

  • Best feature 1: Integrated headphone amp
  • Best feature 2: Stereo 1/8” headphone jack
  • Plus points: Plug-n-play, USB connectivity, wide compatibility, on-body controls, accessories
  • Minus points: Tacky stand, limited usage, some background noise

Rode NT-USB Condenser Mic Highlights

Microphone Compatibility: Windows PCs, Apple Mac OS computers, and iPads.

Rode’s NT-USB studio condenser microphone sounds beautifully clear and natural. Most users are happy with the sound this puppy produces for mainstream vocals and speech. However, it does have a few limitations that you can read about in the final section.

Features and Accessories

The Rode company is famous for it’s affordable, quality mics. Its NT-USB offers plug-n-play simplicity with a wide range of devices (see above). The all-metal build oozes quality and feels significant. That includes the control knobs on the side, which are notoriously loose on some brands. The top dial changes how much of the sound source you hear. The bottom one controls the headphone volume.

Below the two knobs is a headphone port for users that want zero-latency monitoring. There isn’t a gain control, though, which is surprising. This studio condenser mic has a lot going on. It’s a genuinely versatile recording tool for singers and instrumentalists.

The microphone comes with a full accessory kit. In the box are a metal pop-shield, a ring mount, mic stand, and a super-long 19.6ft cable. That’s everything you need to start recording.

The Not So Good

The tacky plastic stand that comes with the Rode NT-USB is next to useless. It’s just not sturdy enough to support what is a top-heavy recording mic. It deserves a more robust, metal support. The mic is perfect for speech and mainstream vocals, but not so good at handling loudness. That pretty much rules out bashing musical instruments and screaming rock singers.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Rode
Mic Type: Studio condenser
Connection: USB
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Power Supply: Plug-in device
Resolution: 16-bit
Frequency Range: 20Hz–20kHz
Maximum SPL: 110dB
Package Dimensions: 7.2 x 2 x 2.4”
Product Weight: 18.4 oz.
Warranty: 2 year
The Pros
Integrated headphone amp
Stereo 1/8” headphone jack
Plug-n-play simplicity
USB connectivity
Broad device compatibility
On-body controls
Full accessory kit
The Cons
Tacky, weak stand
Limited usage (see review)
Some background noise

7. Rode Anniversary NT1-A Vocal Condenser Mic

Rode Anniversary NT1-A Vocal Condenser MicView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.7/5

The penultimate review goes to another quality recording microphone from Rode. This one is the NT1-A Anniversary. It’s primarily a vocal condenser XML mic package.

  • Best feature 1: Metal shock mount w/ attached pop shield
  • Best feature 2: All-metal construction
  • Plus points: Phantom power mic, XLR cable, NT1-A Studio Secrets DVD, protective pouch
  • Minus points: Needs interface and or a preamp (optional)

Rode Anniversary NT1-A Mic Highlights

The Australian Rode Anniversary NT1-A is an excellent large diaphragm microphone. It’s an XLR mic that uses 48V phantom power (20ft cable included). The NT1-A is ideal for vocals and as a spot mic for instruments. Its all-metal construction feels as good as it looks. The kit comprises a unique metal shock mount with an attached studio-grade pop shield.

One of the NT1-A’s standout features is its 5dBA self-noise level. To put that into perspective, it’s among the quietest studio mics around. The tone is pleasing across a broad range of recording applications. And lastly, the included ‘NT1-A Studio Secrets DVD’ is sure to be helpful to some.

The Not So Good

This mic is not super-expensive, but it is high-quality. Still, it’s not ready to go out of the box unless you have an interface. If not, then you need to buy one. A separate preamp is also a good idea. Some audio interfaces include preamps, but they can be next to useless, especially on cheaper models.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Rode
Mic Type: Cardioid condenser
Connection: XLR
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Power Supply: Phantom 48V
Acoustic Principle: Pressure gradient
Maximum SPL: 137 dB
Frequency Range: 20Hz–20kHz
Maximum Output Level: 13.7mV
Dimensions: 7.48 x 1.96 x 1.96”
Product Weight: 73.6 oz.
Warranty: 1 year
The Pros
Metal shock mount w/ pop shield
Quality, all-metal build
Phantom power mic
XLR cable included
Pleasing tone
Suitable for broad applications
NT1-A Studio Secrets DVD
Protective pouch
Value for money
The Cons
Needs an audio interface
May need a preamp

8. Shure SM7B Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

Shure SM7B Dynamic Cardioid MicrophoneView on Amazon

Editor’s Rating: 4.6/5

The last review goes to the Shure SM7B. The look and feel of this dynamic cardioid mic are second to none. The build is all-metal, and the finish is an excellent example of precision engineering.

  • Best feature 1: Immaculate finish, all-metal build
  • Best feature 2: Includes fat windscreen
  • Plus points: Versatile, mounting system attached, air suspension system, back panel cover
  • Minus points: Price, quiet mic; needs a mic activator

Shure SM7B Dynamic Mic Highlights

Shure’s SM7B comes with a pre-attached quality mount system. It has an XLR port and a mic stand as part of a single unit. The design of this mic means it can’t accommodate a shock mount, but don’t worry. The built-in air suspension system exists to eliminate handling noise and knocks. The bottom of the mic is interesting with its two switches. One is a low-cut filter, and the other a mid-boost switch.

Incredible Versatility

The sound reproduction of the Shure SM7B dynamic microphone is accurate and natural. Its cardioid polar pattern does a superb job at rejecting unwanted background noise. Another neat feature is the 3 tone modes, i.e., flat (off), high pass, and mid-boost. They can prove invaluable if you need to enhance the audio with specific situations. Most dynamic broadcast mics only offer a single tone.

It’s an exceptional choice for podcasts, broadcasting, and musical applications, especially vocals. However, it’s a little less impressive with instruments, but more than workable nonetheless. And the included fat windscreen vastly reduces plosives and helps to cut down higher frequencies.

The Not So Good

This is a much-loved microphone, but it is expensive for budding amateurs. There are excellent entry-level mics around for less than half this price. The time to consider the Shure SM7B is when your projects start to make money, be that online or on stage. It’s also quiet, which is typical for a lot of dynamic mics. Thus, it needs a mic activator for some applications, which adds further to the cost.

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Tech Specs
Brand: Shure
Mic Type: Dynamic Broadcast
Connection: 3-pin XLR
Polar Pattern: Cardioid
Power Supply: Plug-in interface
Frequency Response: 50Hz–20kHz
Sensitivity: -59dBV / pa
Impedance: 150 or 300 ohms
Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 2.5”
Product Weight: 27.04 oz.
Warranty: 2 years limited
The Pros
Immaculate finish
Robust, all-metal build
Incredibly versatile
Accurate, natural sound reproduction
Rejects unwanted noise well
Includes fat windscreen
Attached mounting system
Air suspension system
Three tone modes
Back panel cover
The Cons
Quite expensive
Quiet mic; needs and activator
0/50 ratings