Gear Report: Vocal & Band Microphones 2024

by | Audio, Audio Connections, Gear, Gear Report, Production

When it comes to buying the very best vocal & band instrument microphones, the decision is hugely personal. It really comes down to the qualities of the voice it will be capturing and whether it’ll be used in the studio or on the stage. It can be hard to know where to start – especially when there are so many mics to choose from.

Vocal and instrument microphones are designed with the science of acoustical sound in mind. The range of acoustic pressures (e.g., frequencies) that the human ear can detect is very wide, and this is also true for any detectors of sound, such as microphones.  It’s easy to take our gear cues from our favorite artists, but on finding out the cost of high-end recording and live equipment, it can bring us back down to earth with an almighty thud. There are plenty of superb quality mics out there that don’t cost a fortune but will still do your vocals the justice they deserve. In this Gear Report, we’re looking at some of the best vocal mics available today, aimed at a variety of situations and budgets.


1. Senal MC24-EL Long Shotgun Microphone

 

The Senal MC24-EL is a battery-/phantom-powered long shotgun microphone that delivers broadcast-quality sound in the studio or on location. It maximizes the rejection of sound coming from the sides and rear of the mic and can be used as a directional microphone to capture full, rich, natural-sounding audio for speech and dialog. Thoughtfully designed and engineered for demanding video productions, ENG, and broadcast applications, the MC24-EL delivers quality sound, and its rugged brass frame ensures it is capable of withstanding the rigors of recording anywhere. The microphone features a high-grade condenser transducer that captures detailed and accurate sound. It has a broad frequency response of 40 Hz to 20 kHz and delivers clear sound reproduction with full lows, present mids, and crisp highs. There is a selectable high-pass filter at 180 Hz that minimizes unwanted noise and rumble. The microphone runs on 48V phantom power which is available from most professional video cameras, mixing boards, or recording devices, and runs on a single AA battery (over 400 hours) for those DSLRs, computers, and other devices where phantom power is not available. The mic is suitable for mounting on a boompole, a mic stand, or a camera, and includes a foam windscreen, a mic clip, and a 5/8″ (mic stand thread) to 3/8″ (boompole thread) adapter. The microphone is covered with a matte-black rubberized coating that reduces handling noise and ensures trouble-free recordings when being operated. The finish also rejects unwanted light reflections. It is built with a gold-plated XLR connector and comes in a leatherette pouch.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Form Factor: Stand/Boom Mount
  • Element Type: 1x Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid
  • Frequency Range: 40 Hz to 20 kHz
  • Maximum SPL: 130 dB SPL RMS (Phantom Power, 1 kHz, 1% THD) / 115 dB SPL RMS (Battery Power, 1 kHz, 1% THD)
  • Analog Output: 1x XLR 3-Pin Male
  • Power Sources: Battery / Phantom Power
  • Dimensions: 0.8 x L: 11.2″ / ø: 20.32 x L: 284.48 mm
  • Weight: 5.3 oz / 150.25 g
  • Included Accessories: Foam Windscreen, Mic Clip, 5/8 to 3/8″ Adapter, Leatherette Pouch, Limited 2-Year Manufacturer Warranty

REASONS TO BUY

  • 11.2″ Long, Stays Out of Frame
  • Operates on AA Battery or Phantom Power
  • Selectable 180 Hz High-Pass Filter

2. Shure SM58 Vocal Microphone

Shure SM58 Vocal Microhone

No live vocal microphone list would be complete without the world’s most popular mic — the Shure SM58. Introduced in 1966, the SM58 has become the industry standard for handheld dynamic vocal microphones. Like its SM57 stablemate that proceeded it, the SM58 is based on the Unidyne III cartridge developed by Shure in the late 1950s. The SM58 is, in fact, a ’57, with an additional meshed ball grille that acts as an effective pop filter. Virtually every serious live sound and studio mic locker contains several (sometimes dozens of) SM58s. Why? Because you can hand one to any vocalist or place it in front of most instruments with excellent results. And this mic is virtually indestructible — which is important whether you’re gigging solo at your local bar or embarking on a world tour.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response:50Hz-15kHz
  • Max SPL:94dB SPL
  • Output Impedance:150 ohms
  • Sensitivity:-54.5 dBV/Pa (1.88 mV)
  • Color: Black
  • Connector: XLR
  • Dimensions:6.3″ x 2″
  • Weight:0.66 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Zipper Pouch, Mic Clip

REASONS TO BUY

  • Amazing value
  • Bomb-proof construction
  • Versatile
  • A smooth frequency response with a nice touch of peak-free brightness.

3.  Beyerdynamic TG V90r Vocal Microphone

Beyerdynamic TG V90r Vocal Microphone

A ribbon microphone, onstage — really? Yes, really. The Beyerdynamic TG V90r vocal mic captures clean vocals onstage without being high-maintenance. It’s not delicate, and its high output doesn’t require a special preamp. Its cardioid pickup pattern reduces stage noise. And whereas most ribbon mics exhibit notorious proximity effect, the Beyerdynamic TG V90r vocal microphone remains natural-sounding even when brushing against a singer’s lips. Its ultra-sensitive 2-micrometer aluminum ribbon also makes it great for percussion and other instruments where the ability to capture fast transients is an asset. Whether erratic handling or inadvertent phantom powering, the TG V90r mic — like all Beyerdynamic TourGroup microphones — is built to handle whatever the road serves up.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid
  • Frequency Response:30Hz-20kHz
  • Output Impedance:200 ohms
  • Color: Black
  • Connector: XLR
  • Dimensions:7.12″ x 1.90″
  • Weight:0.7 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Mic Clip

REASONS TO BUY

  • Can sound wonderful when used well
  • Good feedback rejection
  • Seems very robust and well built.

4. Neumann KMS 105 Vocal Microphone

Neumann KMS 105 Vocal Microphone

For studio owners, the name Neumann needs no introduction. But the Neumann KMS 105 makes no-compromise studio-grade sonics and legendary build quality available to front-of-house engineers in a supercardioid condenser mic built to meet the challenges of vocal use onstage. As you would expect from any Neumann microphone, the KMS 105 mic delivers full-frequency response, superior resolution, and accurate transient tracking. The KMS 105’s elastic shockmounted capsule features three metal basket layers that virtually eliminate plosives and sibilance. This vocal microphone is also appealingly lightweight, making it a delight to use in live performance.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response:20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL:150dB
  • Output Impedance:50 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio:76dB (A weighted)
  • Self Noise:18dB (A weighted)
  • Color: Matte Black
  • Connector: XLR
  • Dimensions:7″ x 1.8″
  • Weight:0.66 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Stand Clamp, Microphone Pouch

REASONS TO BUY

  • Comfortable to use.
  • Low handling noise.
  • Excellent immunity to monitor feedback.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Clever protection case.
  • Tailored frequency response.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • Affordability

5.  Earthworks SR40V Vocal Microphone

Earthworks SR40V Vocal Microphone

If you’re after studio-quality vocals onstage, the Earthworks SR40V handheld condenser microphone is another entry that’s definitely worthy of consideration. The SR40V’s tight hypercardioid pickup pattern, lightning-quick transient response, and extended frequency range captures breathtaking vocals with the lifelike presence and silky air you thought you could only achieve in the studio. Capturing the subtle details that dynamic vocal microphones typically miss, the SR40V gives your live shows the studio polish that makes them sound like “the record,” without resorting to excessive EQ or effects. In fact, the Earthworks SR40V microphone sounds so amazing, you’ll also want to use it in the studio. It’s no wonder many sound engineers and producers consider this to be one of the best microphones for recording vocals

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Frequency Response: 
20Hz – 40kHz
  • Polar Pattern: 
Cardioid
  • Sensitivity: 
10mV/Pa (-40dBV/Pa)
  • Power Requirements: 
24-48V Phantom, 10mA
  • Peak Acoustic Input: 
145dB SPL
  • Output: 
XLR-3M
  • Minimum Output Load:
 600Ω, balanced between pins 2 & 3
  • Noise:
 20dB SPL (A weighted)
  • Dimensions
Length: 7.25 in. (184mm)
 Max dia: 1.95 in. (55.3mm)
 Min dia: .97 in. (27.5mm)
  • Weight: 
.80lb (363g)

REASONS TO BUY

  • Studio sound quality in a live mic.
  • Rugged construction and long warranty.
  • Great feedback rejection.

6. Lewitt LCT 440 PURE VIDA Condenser Microphone – Limited-edition Rainforest Green

True versatility can be a rare trait in microphones, but Lewitt’s LCT 440 PURE VIDA Condenser Microphone possesses exactly that. This limited-edition version of Lewitt’s LCT 440 PURE microphone supports the worthy “Rainforest of the Austrians” environmental protection project, sporting a Rainforest Green finish to support the saving of Costa Rica’s rainforests. Sound-wise, the LCT 440 PURE VIDA boasts a high-end design with a cardioid polar pattern, gold-sputtered Mylar diaphragm, and a 110-ohm internal impedance. A max SPL of a whopping 140dB lets you reliably capture everything from vocals and acoustic instruments to guitar cabinets, making it a perfect all-arounder. Lewitt’s prestige engineering provides you with their high-end capsules and circuit design, sure to make this LCT PURE VIDA 440 a studio staple in no time.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type:Condenser, Externally Polarized
  • Polar Pattern:Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size:1″ (25.4mm)
  • Frequency Range:20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL:140dB SPL (0.5% THD @ 1kHz)
  • Output Impedance:110 ohms
  • Sensitivity:27.4mV/Pa, -31.2dB/Pa
  • Signal to Noise Ratio:87dB (A-weighted)
  • Self Noise:7dB (A-weighted)
  • Connector:XLR
  • Power Source:48V Phantom Power
  • Dimensions:5.43″ x 2.04″ x 1.42″
  • Weight:10.9 oz (310g)
  • Included Accessories:Shockmount, Windscreeen, Magnetic Pop Filter, Transport Bag
  •  

REASONS TO BUY

  • 140dB SPL allows for reliable recording of acoustic and amplified sound at high volumes
  • Internal impedance of 110 ohms provides strong signals that preserve high-end frequencies
  • 3-micron gold-sputtered Mylar diaphragm and pressure gradient transducer enable consistent, high-quality capture

7. Audix D4 Hypercardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Make sure your sound’s low-end has that propulsive kick! The D-4 really puts that extra “oooomph” in your kick drum, bass amp, and other low instruments thanks to its flat, linear response.  Designed, machined, assembled and tested by Audix in the USA, the D4 is a dynamic instrument microphone used for stage, studio and broadcast applications. The D4, which is characterized with a hypercardioid pickup pattern for isolation and feedback control, is equipped with a VLM™ (Very Low Mass) diaphragm for natural, accurate sound reproduction. The D4 is lightweight, compact and easy to position. With a wide frequency response of 40 Hz – 18 kHz and the ability to handle sound pressure levels

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type:Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern:Hypercardioid
  • Frequency Response:40Hz-18kHz
  • Output Impedance:200 ohms
  • Color:Black
  • Connector:XLR
  • Weight:0.28 lbs.

REASONS TO BUY

  • 144dB SPL
  • Isolates each instrument’s “sweet” spot
  • Superior transient respons

8. Sennheiser e 906 Supercardioid Dynamic Instrument Microphone

Need a versatile mic to handle drums, percussion, amplifiers and other instrumental sources? Sennheiser has the answer with the e 906, a supercardioid dynamic mic that’s custom designed for great instrument reproduction! The e 906 instrument microphone is especially tailored for guitar amps, and is also excellent for percussion and horns. The e 906 features a switchable presence filter which allows you to tailor the sound characteristics to different sound requirements and styles. The filter is adjusted via a slide switch on the microphone. The slide switch is tamper-resistant – to change positions, just use a pointed tool such as a small screwdriver. The switch has three positions: one boosts the presence range (with a mid frequency of 4.2kHz) for aggressive metal rhythm guitars. The Normal position is great for classic rock. And the third position attenuates the presence range, with a mid frequency of 4kHz, for warm and smooth jazz and blues sounds.

 

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type:Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern:Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response:40Hz-18kHz
  • Output Impedance:350 ohms
  • Color:Black
  • Connector:XLR
  • Weight:0.31 lbs..

REASONS TO BUY

  • Switchable presence filters (3 levels)
  • Frequency response 40Hz-18kHz
  • 10-year factory warranty

 


9.Shure Beta 91A Condenser Boundary Microphone

Thanks to its ultra-powerful low-end response, the Shure Beta 91A excels in every low-frequency situation. While kick drums are the obvious application, that’s not all this boundary condenser microphone can do. It’s also an effective way to capture pianos or any other bass-intensive source you can think of. Benefit from maximum gain before feedback, by virtue of a custom-tailored half-cardioid polar pattern, while impressive SPL handling effortlessly tackles extra-loud sources. A high-quality mic capsule design and integrated preamp yield superior attack and punch for studio-quality sound reproduction.

The Beta 91A includes a 2-position contour switch to maximize clarity, as well as a low-profile design that enables it to fit anywhere.  A 2-position contour switch on the bottom of the Beta 91A enables you to selectively filter its low-mid frequency response without necessitating any external gear. Set it for a flat response for natural-sounding audio reproduction, or flip it to the low-mid scoop setting for heightened attack and added low-frequency punch. This switch is perfect for situations where your signal needs a bit more clarity.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type:Boundary Electret Condenser
  • Polar Pattern:Half-Cardioid
  • Frequency Response:20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL:155dB
  • Output Impedance:146 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio:64.5dB
  • Self Noise:29.5dB (A weighted)
  • Color:Black
  • Connector:XLR
  • Weight:1 lb.

REASONS TO BUY

  • Sounds transparent and virtually noiseless
  • Comfortable and balanced

10.  sE Electronics X1 S Vocal Microphone

sE Electronics X1 S Vocal Microphone

If you need a high-quality condenser microphone that’s versatile enough for any studio task, check out the sE Electronics X1 S. This cardioid condenser mic features sE Electronics’s handcrafted gold-sputtered 1″ diaphragm and an all-metal capsule for clear, vibrant sound capture and long-term reliability. The X1 S vocal microphone is equipped with a 2-position pad and low-cut switch that let you fine-tune it to any source; this added versatility makes it an ideal choice for general-purpose studio deployment. The X1 S mic is well suited for tracking vocals. In fact, we’d say it’s one of the best microphones for recording vocals. Its smooth, forgiving nature brings out the lushness in female and male voices, regardless of genre. These same qualities also make the X1 S microphone an excellent choice for tracking acoustic instruments such as acoustic guitar and piano.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size:1″
  • Max SPL:160dB SPL (with pads)
  • Output Impedance:125 ohms
  • Self Noise:9dB (A weighted)
  • Low Cut Filter:80Hz, 160Hz
  • Pads:-10dB, -20dB
  • Connector: XLR
  • Color: Black
  • Power Source:48V phantom power
  • Weight:0.97 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Shockmount, Pop filter

REASONS TO BUY

  • The X1 mic is solidly made and capable of giving good results on both vocals and acoustic instruments.
  • The Project Studio Reflexion Filter performs well (in conjunction with the obligatory duvet).
  • Good value.

11. RODE NT1-A Vocal Microphone

RODE NT1-A Vocal Microphone

The RODE NT1-A cardioid condenser microphone boasts full-frequency response, ultra-low self-noise, and a maximum SPL rating of 137dB, which makes it adept at capturing everything from a delicate airy singer to a screaming metal vocalist. The NT1-A mic’s low self-noise ensures that even the faintest whisper will be captured in minute detail. The microphone ships with a shockmount, pop screen, dust cover, and a mic cable. This vocal microphone’s sheer versatility, combined with its gentle price tag, has made the RODE NT1-A a must-have for any studio regardless of budget.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type: Pressure Gradient Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size:1″ (25.4mm)
  • Frequency Range:20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL:137dB SPL
  • Output Impedance:100 ohms
  • Sensitivity:25mV/Pa (-32dB)
  • Self Noise:5dB A weighted
  • Connector: XLR
  • Color: Silver
  • Power Source:48V phantom power
  • Dimensions:7.48″ x 1.96″
  • Weight:0.71 lbs.
  • Included Accessories:SM6 Shock Mount, Pop Filter, 20′ Mic Cable, Dust Cover, NT1-A ‘Studio Secrets’ DVD

REASONS TO BUY

  • Detailed sound with a rich, warm character.
  • Very nicely made.
  • Comes with plastic carry case and stand mount.

REASONS TO AVOID

  • No shock mount, pad switch or LF filter

12.  Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone

Shure SM7B Vocal Microphone

A broadcast standard vocal microphone that’s equally at home in the music studio, the Shure SM7B has endeared itself to a diverse talent pool that includes rap artists, metal vocalists, and radio announcers. Perhaps most famously, the SM7B was used for Michael Jackson’s vocals on his groundbreaking Thriller album. The SM7B vocal microphone features a cardioid pickup pattern and flat, wide-range frequency response plus switchable onboard high pass filter and separate presence boost. The SM7B mic works wonders on metal vocals and is a mainstay in both recording and broadcast studios. It’s a dynamic microphone, and as such its lower sensitivity allows it to capture the raw intensity of an incredibly loud performance and round off the edges for a cohesive vocal track that holds its own in dense metal mixes. Originally designed as a broadcast microphone for spoken word applications, the SM7B also rates highly with rappers, who like the way it captures nuances of inflection and evens out their performances

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response:50Hz-20kHz
  • Output Impedance:150 ohms
  • Sensitivity:-59 dBV/Pa
  • Low Cut Filter: Bass Roll off
  • Color: Black
  • Connector: XLR
  • Dimensions:7.49″ x 2.5″
  • Weight:1.69 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Windscreen, Switch Cover Plate

REASONS TO BUY

  • Effective on-board frequency response filters
  • Excellent vocal reproduction
  • Off-axis and internal noise rejection
  • Build quality

13. Audio-Technica AT4050 Vocal Microphone

Audio-Technica AT4050 Vocal Microphone

The Audio-Technica AT4050 features a low-noise transformerless design, three polar patterns, an 80Hz highpass filter, and a 10dB pad, the AT4050 microphone is a solid choice for even the most demanding recording applications. The AT4050 mic delivers transparent highs and mids, nicely balanced by a rich low end. The mic’s transformerless design virtually eliminates low-frequency distortion and provides excellent transient response. Given its polished performance, impressive versatility, and reasonable price tag, it’s no wonder the AT4050 microphone is popular all over the world.

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Omni, Figure-8
  • Diaphragm Size:0.84″ (21.4mm)
  • Frequency Response:20Hz-18kHz
  • Max SPL:149dB (159dB w/10dB Pad)
  • Output Impedance:100 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio:77dB
  • Self Noise:17dB
  • Low Cut Filter:80Hz (-12dB/octave)
  • Pads:-10dB
  • Connector: XLR
  • Color: Black
  • Weight:1.12 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Shock Mount, Dust Cover, Carry Case

REASONS TO BUY

  • Excellent technical performance.
  • First‑rate build quality.
  • Very versatile.

14.  AKG C414 XLII Vocal Microphone

AKG C414 XLII Vocal Microphone

Because of its ability to handle many different sources, the AKG C414 microphone multi-pattern condenser microphone has seen heavy action in the world’s top recording studios, performance venues, and broadcast facilities. AKG has upped the ante with their C414 XLII vocal mic, improving the C414’s already-legendary versatility. With its nine polar patterns, state-of-the-art componentry, and reference-grade results, the AKG C414 XLII mic is a great choice for breathy, intimate female vocals or any source where you need nuanced reproduction with a delicate sense of air

SPECIFICATIONS

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Omni, Wide Cardioid, Cardioid, Hypercardioid, Figure-8
  • Diaphragm Size:1″ (25.4mm)
  • Frequency Response:20Hz-20kHz
  • Max SPL:140dB SPL (158dB w/18dB Pad)
  • Output Impedance:200 ohms
  • Signal to Noise Ratio:88dB A weighted
  • Self Noise:6dB A weighted
  • Low Cut Filter:40Hz, 80Hz (-12dB/octave), 160Hz (-6dB/octave)
  • Pads:-6dB, -12dB, -18dB
  • Connector: XLR
  • Color: Dark Gray/Gold
  • Power Source:48V phantom power
  • Weight:0.66 lbs.
  • Included Accessories: Stand Mount, Shock Mount, Pop Screen, Windscreen, Carry Case

REASONS TO BUY

  • Handles high-SPL sources excellently
  • Flat, full frequency response
  • Very versatile.

 

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