Your voice is a powerful instrument. And like all instruments, it must be amplified to get the best results.
One way, among others, is using quality microphones to amplify it. Microphones will bring out the power and clarity of the voice when singing.
Not only will a quality microphone make your voice sound as crisp and possible but, it will also bring out the texture, frequency of your voice.
When you use a proper microphone, you tend to develop confidence in your voice and your audience will definitely appreciate it as well.
However, microphones are designed for different purposes. Some are fine-tuned for instruments, some for live performances, some for studio recording, and much more.
Whether you’re into podcasting, creating YouTube videos, live performances, or live broadcasting, you must invest in the right microphone. That’s very crucial for your success.
Not just quality but the right microphone that will enhance and bring out the beauty of your voice.
In this article, I’ll take you through the different types of microphones and specifications, what you should look out for when shopping for microphones, and lastly, I’ll leave you with some recommendations for the best microphone for recording vocal.
Let’s jump right into it, shall we?
What exactly is a vocal microphone?
A vocal microphone, in simple terms, is an acoustic-electric transducer that converts sound into an electrical signal.
It simply detects the human voice and transmits it in the form of an electrical or digital signal.
The human ear can detect a very wide range of acoustical pressures just like microphones, which are designed with the science of acoustical sound aka audio.
Okay, relax! I know that’s a little technical.
All I’m saying is microphones have the same range of sensitivity as the human ear.
Let’s look at the different types of microphones.
TYPES OF VOCAL MICROPHONES
There are about three different types of microphones. Each of these three has its uniqueness and strength. Each mic, when used correctly with the right tools, can be heavenly just as much as it can be hell when used incorrectly.
However, I’ll be discussing the three types concerning vocals recording, both live audio and studio performances audio.
- Dynamic Vocal Microphones
- Condenser Vocal Microphones
- Ribbon Vocal Microphones
DYNAMIC VOCAL MICROPHONES
Talk about ruggedness, resilience, and stability, then you have dynamic microphones. Dynamic mics can withstand the wear and tear of a home studio, and also survive heavy fall. Yea, they are that strong.
Dynamic mics are not very sensitive and the most preferred for live performances audio. They have a unidirectional sound pattern, also called a cardioid pattern. It means they only pick up sound from the direction they are being pointed and shut out all other sounds from other directions.
Also, this unidirectional quality of dynamic vocal microphones makes it also suitable for home recording when your room seems to be your worst enemy. You can easily shut out the noise and enjoy your recording.
Dynamic vocal microphones work on the theory of magnetic induction. It has a small moving diaphragm that converts acoustic pressure(sound waves) into electrical signals. It uses no extra battery but needs preamps.
Examples include Shure SM57 and Sennheiser MD 421-II.
In summary for live vocals recording, dynamic vocal microphones are the best.
CONDENSER VOCAL MICROPHONES
Say ‘Hi’ to the rich cousins of dynamic vocal mics; condenser vocal microphones.
Condenser mics are more expensive, sensitive, and a lot fragile than dynamic microphones. Hence, they are exclusively for studio recording.
Condenser mics are a lot clearer in sound compared to dynamic mics. They are more balanced, powerful, and crisp.
One interesting thing about condenser mics is their ability to make the sound better than before. It has a top end-bump that gives extra air to the sound it picks and that makes it sound a lot nicer,more like an extra push.
Besides, unlike dynamic mics, condensers have more polar patterns and this makes it range wider and more versatile.
First is the Bi-directional pattern which makes it able to pick sound from the front and behind the direction the mic is pointed, shutting out sounds from the sides.
Second is the Omnidirectional pattern which gives the mic ability to pick up sound from all around the direction of the mic. This is where the versatility of condensers comes to play.
There are two types of condenser microphones;
- The Large Diaphragm Condenser Mics
- The Small Diaphragm Condenser Mics.
Examples of condenser mics are Shure SM81, Road NTS, etc.
Condenser mics require about 48V of power to function. This is also called Phantom Power. For your condenser mics to function perfectly, ensure it is connected to audio that can supply the required power.
Generally, for your studio recording, condenser microphones are the best.
RIBBON VOCAL MICROPHONES
Examples include Royer R-121,Audio Technica and Cascade Fathead. Ribbon mics are the oldest in the game.
They’ve been around since the ’50s and ’60s before dynamic and condenser mics came out.
They are very fragile, more fragile than condenser mics, and very expensive.
Ribbon mics are bi-directional and mostly preferred in a room that is well padded to reduce the amount of sound it picks.
For vocals recording the best mics to use depends on various factors like the vocal tones, genres of music, etc.
To make it easier this is what we suggest;
If you’re a warm singer then dynamic mics are the best. Dynamic mics will accentuate the singer’s natural tone and texture. Also genres like rock and metal, the dynamic mic is your best pick.
For a bright singer, condenser mics are mostly preferred. That will calm and enhance the singer’s vocal tones. Besides, for genres like pop and alternative, you should go for condenser mics.
Ribbon mics are better for genres like Jazz, Folk, Blues, and even Reggae.
Remember, you could have all the quality mics out there and still not have good production. In a nutshell, your amps and techniques are as important as the mics you use.
Alongside the different types of microphones, we’ve discussed some important features of a microphone such as; Bidirectional pattern, Omnidirectional pattern, etc.
Let’s look at other audio features of the top vocals recording microphones:
These terms deal with the receptiveness to audio signal or AC. It is measured in ohms. A microphone with low impedance can retain audio quality when approximately 5 meters of cable.
A high impedance could mean that other qualities of the mic are poor not just audio.
Manufactures pride themselves on the distance/range their products, microphones, can detect. Well, knowing the range it can detect is not as much as important as it’s the degree of responsiveness.
Your reasons for buying mics will determine which you should buy. For vocals, a mic that can detect high frequencies and mid-range is the best fit.
I’ve told you about unidirectional, bidirectional, and omnidirectional patterns. Another common feature is the ability to switch between two directionality, which is called the variable directionality. An example is Blue Yeti. It’s a good fit for home recording, besides, it comes with a USB Mic connection.
Now that we’re through with that, let me give some tips when shopping for microphones. Ready?
- Your Vocal Mic Budget: Take a chill pill and ask yourself ‘what’s my budget?’. Here is the kicker, the word ‘best’ is very relative. Definitely to get the best mics to start from $1500 upward coupled with some powerful amplifiers. I’m guessing that’s not what you had in mind. Generally, a budget from $300 will get you a good microphone example is Rode NT1.However, expensive does not necessarily mean quality. An expensive microphone for Jazz singers is not ideal for a soul singer.Make sure you’re sure of your vocal tones and the purpose of buying. That will lead me to my second point.
- Studio or Live Recording Vocal Mic: If you’re doing a studio recording, omnidirectional mics are your best pick because of its high sensitivity. And for live performances, you should go for unidirectional mics. They are sturdy and durable.
- Shop Before Buying Your Vocal Mic: It’s only wise to check different models and specs of microphones before you niche down on one. This will allow you to test different products with your voice and see which fits best. Also, you should do some search before storming the market and probably, ask a friend who knows more about microphones to accompany you.
Finally, let’s consider some of the best microphones for vocals recording. This is list is in no particular order.
1. Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone for Recording Vocals:
Shure SM7B is one of the best mics for vocals. Shure SM7B has a wide range and a flat response frequency. These features are responsible for the super clean delivery of the microphone.
Besides, it also has a pop-filter that eliminates background interference, technical glitches, or unwanted breath and that makes its production greater.
And because of its dynamic microphone, it comes with a classic cardioid pattern, a.k.a. unidirectional pattern, that shuts out noise from other directions apart from the one the mic is pointed.So keep an eye out for the classic cardioid pattern audio.
Bonus Info: Micheal Jackson recorded his hit album, Thriller, with Shure SM7B. You can’t go wrong with Shure SM7B.
2. Shure SM58- LC Microphone For Recording Vocals:
SM-58 comes with a brightened mid-range, bass roll-off, and a frequency range of about 50 to 15, 000Hz bandwidth. Massive, huh?. And because of this impressive frequency range, it is one most suitable for vocals. Especially, during live performances.
It has an in-built spherical filter for eliminating interference and to reduce noise while handling, it comes pneumatic shock mount. It’s a dynamic mic with a cardioid pattern and you know what that does already. No external noise or sound can penetrate.
Shure SM58 is one of the best vocal recording microphones.
3. Neumann TLM 103 SET Vocal Mic For Recording Vocals:
When you hear the brand, Neumann, what comes to your mind should be quality. For studio owners, Neumann needs no introduction. However, their products don’t come cheap.
This model of Neumann microphone, TLM 103, is relatively inexpensive compare to other Neumann products. It comes with a large-diaphragm responsible for its high-end performance.
This model, however, is known for its extremely low noise level, 7dB-A. It’s a cardioid microphone and has a pop-filter to remove interference.
Besides, it has a shock mount to reduce disturbance while handling. Generally, it is easy to use and a decent fit for recording vocals, especially in the studio.
4. Sennheiser EW 100 G4-835-S Vocal Microphone:
With about eight hours of battery life and 330′ transmission range, EW- 100 has become a household name in the industry.
It is a cardioid and only picks up sound from the singer and cuts-off ambient stage noise.
It comes with a 100-G4 rackmount receiver and offers an auto-frequency scanning of about 1,680 UHF frequencies which spans across 42MHz bandwidth. Sennheiser EW is expandable and links over 10 receivers concurrently.
It’s a good pick for both studio and live vocals recording.
5. SE Electronics V7 Vocal Mic:
SEV7, known for its durability and sturdiness, is built tour-tough with Zinc alloy. It comes with a specially designed Aluminum voice coil for a natural delivery and a touch of crispiness. It has a super-cardioid responsible for its great amount of gain and feedback after cutting off noise interference.
And to prevent reverberating and rumbling, it has a capsule insulated shock mounting and an internal windscreen to lessen explosives and mechanical glitches.
SE V7 offers quality productions that are worth more than its price. You should check it out.
6. Rode NTIA Anniversary Vocal Condenser Mic:
In the world of studio recording, Rode NT1A has become a solid force to reckon with. It can’t be sidelined. Rode microphones are known for their ever-evolving precision and technology.
Rode NT1A is considered one of the quietest mic in the world with a noise level of about 5dB-A. It comes with dust care to protect the mics from particles.
An incredible mic for vocals and guitars.
And there you have it, vocals microphones, and some of the best ones out there.
And No!, we can’t cover everything about vocals microphones in this single piece, however, we are sure you’re no longer a novice to vocal microphones and can now storm the market to get the best one for you. Happy Shopping!.