Substandard sound can adversely affect the way listeners perceive the quality of the music and the talent of the musicians. To have the perfect bass, pitch, and tone, it is imperative that the right quality of microphone be chosen for recording vocals.
Thomas Edison was the first person to be awarded a patent for the carbon transmitter (carbon microphone) in 1892.
A microphone is an extension of the singer’s voice or musician’s sound source. With the right microphone and setting, the sound can be magnified to be fuller, warmer, and more powerful. It is this entire sound package that needs to be recorded and worked upon in order to make a song or soundscape. Since the quality and price expectations vary drastically among professional and home studios, choosing a suitable microphone among the multitude of options available today can become extremely tedious. This Techspirited article discusses some of the best microphones for recording vocals.
Voted as the best microphone by Sound On Sound magazine in 2012, Neumann U 87 Ai is used by professionals all around the world.
✦ It has a dual-diaphragm capsule that is protected by a head grille.
✦ This professional standard condenser studio microphone is equipped with switchable omnidirectional, cardioid, and bidirectional (figure-8) polar patterns.
✦ It features switchable 10 dB attenuation and can handle an SPL range of 127 dB without distorting.
✦ Its high-pass filter minimizes low frequencies to a large extent, thereby, lending more focus on the main sound source.
Cost: USD 3600.00
At the first glance, this compactly designed microphone may seem weak; however, the TLM 102 will give you more bang for the buck.
✦ The Neumann TLM 102 contains a large diaphragm cardioid capsule that boasts of a high SPL of 144 dB, which enables recording of drums and high sounds.
✦ It has a slight boost that exceeds 6 kHz and provides linear frequency response while recording vocals.
✦ Its rated impedance is 50 ohms and frequency range is between 20 Hz – 20 kHz.
✦ This microphone has a low-noise circuitry that records natural sounds without adding excess coloration.
Cost: USD 700.00
Chris Cornell, the vocalist for the bands Soundgarden and Audioslave, uses RØDE microphones, and that in itself must say a lot about the high quality standards of this microphone.
✦ The RØDE NT2-A set contains a HF1 1″ capsule condenser diaphragm microphone, SM6 shock mount with pop filter, dust cover, and a 6 m XLR microphone cable.
✦ There are extra frequency controls, three-position pick-up patterns, high-pass filter switches, and pad on the body of the mic itself.
✦ This mic comes with a 10-year warranty and a tutorial DVD that has been hosted by Grammy-nominated producer and sound engineer John Merchant.
Cost: USD 699.00
It’s a two-time winner of the Music Industry Association (MIA) awards.
✦ The sE2200a series also comprises the sE2200a II C (Cardioid) and sE2200T. The sE2200a II Multi-Pattern condenser microphone features a back-to-back hand-crafted 1″ diaphragm.
✦ It allows three polar patterns, which include cardioid, figure-of-8, and omni.
✦ It has an impedance of greater than 200 ohms and can handle high headroom SPL of 135 dB and extremely low noises.
✦ This microphone comes with a high-pass filter and a 10dB pad.
Cost: USD 500.00
This is another large diaphragm condenser mic that was intended to be a more affordable alternative to the C414 by AKG.
✦ It features a 1″ capsule with integrated suspension that helps minimize noise.
✦ It is also equipped with a switchable 20 dB attenuation pad that can handle high SPL ranging up to 156 dB.
✦ This microphone has a switchable bass-cut filter that enables the main sound source to be recorded with minimal proximity effect.
Cost: USD 497.00
✦ This side address condenser microphone has a fixed cardioid pattern.
✦ Its most important feature is its tensioned large diaphragm.
✦ The AT4040 is known for its drastically low noise of 12 dB SPL and impedance of 100 ohms.
✦ Its frequency roll-off is 80 Hz and response ranges between 20 – 20,000 Hz.
✦ Its maximum input sound levels are at 155 dB SPL, whereas its wide dynamic range is of 133 dB.
✦ This microphone has a switchable roll-off and 10 dB pad, as well as an integral XLRM-type 3-pin output connector.
✦ The mic comes in a protective case that contains a dust cover and an AT8449 model shock mount that fits ⅝”-27 threaded stands.
Cost: USD 495.00
Audio-Technica AT2050 is considered as one of the best budget microphones in the market.
✦ It comes with large dual-diaphragms and switchable 10 dB pad and 80 Hz filter for high pass.
✦ It also provides three polar patterns which include the omni, figure-of-eight, and cardioid, and a shock mount and soft pouch.
✦ The frequency response of the AT2050 ranges between 20-20,000 Hz, whereas its dynamic range is 132 dB and 1 kHz at Max SPL of 159 dB.
Cost: USD 370.00
For the features it offers, the Perception P420 is by far the most economically priced mic among the lot.
✦ This mic is equipped with a 1″ dual diaphragm microphone, and switchable pre-attenuation pad with SPL applications going as low as 20 dB and maxing at 155 dB.
✦ It also has a switchable bass-cut filter of 300 Hz.
✦ It also features cardioid, omnidirectional, and bidirectional polar patterns.
Cost: USD 359.00
The MXL V69 MogamiÂ Edition is a tube condenser microphone.
✦ Its frequency response ranges between 20 Hz – 18 kHz and provides a single cardioid polar pattern.
✦ This microphone has a 12AT7 dual-triode vacuum tube and comes with a shock mount and 3-year warranty which includes a 1-year warranty for the tube.
✦ Its output impedance is 200 ohms and can handle the Max SPL of 140 dB. This microphone comes with an aluminum flight case and dust cloth as well.
Cost: USD 299.00
Surely, we cannot forget to mention the Shure Beta 58A. This dynamic microphone is used by vocalists the world over and by some very famous bands, such as Snow Patrol and Mos Def.
✦ Compared to the legendary SM58, the Beta 58A features a supercardioid polar pattern instead of providing the vocalist with only a cardioid pattern.
✦ Secondly, this microphone offers greater sensitivity and frequency response at 50 Hz – 16 kHz.
Cost: USD 200.00
Disclaimer: The prices mentioned here may differ as per location and offers.