Choosing the Best Vocal Mic in the Crowded Market

NT 1-A microphones

When choosing the best type of microphones for podcasts, performance, or recording, it may take some time to decide what you need and what your budget will allow. You should also have some idea of what will be the sound level, tone, and power of the vocals you plan to record. For example, you may want a different sound for singing that you would for a podcast. For one, you may need your voice to powerful, while the other may require a mellow, conversational tone.

Best Types of Microphones Comparison Table

Microphones that are genuinely spectacular for recording instruments may not be the best type of microphones. Accurately documenting the human voice demands the best type of microphones with a specific dynamic range as well as one that only picks up the sound in front of it. Otherwise, it can be overwhelmed by ambient noise or the sound of other instruments.

How We Determined the Best Type of Microphones

This list identifying the best type of microphones required that we consider sales figures from outlets such as Amazon, Best Buy, Sweetwater, and other online stores. It also dictated that we rely on those with hands-on experience with the products, customer reviews, and star ratings. We understand that newer and more expensive mics may not have enough ratings to be useful. In these cases, we considered features, reputation, and reliability, as well as information from various technical sources.

Hopefully, we have chosen from a wide enough range of prices and specs that there will be something to assist you in your quest for the best type of microphones.

The Best Types of Microphones

We hope to give you an idea of what to look for and why it will be useful to you when purchasing a microphone. You may see a name brand or a style that you have been unaware of that warrants further investigation. While there is always very little negative feedback when dealing with the best of the best, if we find something negative, we will make mention of it here.

Here are our picks for the best type of microphones.

Warm Audio WA-47

  • Large-diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone with 9 Polar Patterns
  • Wood Presentation Box
  • External PSU

Based on the famous classic ‘47 that recorded the vocals on countless hit records for over 50 years, the Warm Audio WA-47 uses a JJ Slovak 5751 vacuum tube, a large diaphragm, and a nine-pattern condenser microphone pickup. The best types of microphones on the market, this model gives extraordinarily clean and clear vocals for speech or song.

Warm Audio produces this “vintage” microphone using all the techniques that made the best types of microphones worthy of that title for decades. Vacuum tube circuitry brings a clear, natural, and pleasing sound that other designs can’t match.

Features

The WA-47 has nine built-in coverage patterns and can handle up to 140 decibels SPL. It has nine polar patterns built-in so that it can adjust to the configuration of the room or the people around a table. Although it can handle up to 140dB SPL (decibel - Sound Pressure Level) and use for recording piano, drums, and guitar, the WA-47 shines brightest when capturing and transcribing the human voice. If you have the money to get one, you simply can't buy a better vocal microphone that the Warm Audio WA-47.

Specifications

Measuring a full 18 by 13.8 by 5.5 inches and weighing 12.75 pounds, it is considerably larger and heavier than most others on this list. The package includes the microphone, the power supply, a shock-mount, a Gotham 7-pin GAC-7 cable, and an IEC power cable.

  • Mic Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Variable
  • Frequency Range: 20 HZ~20 KHZ
  • Output Impedance: 200 OHMS
  • Weight: 14.2 ounces
  • Color: Metalic

Reviews and pricing

The Warm Audio WA-47 has a rating of 5 out of 5 stars on Amazon (with only one review) but averaged 4.5 out of 5 stars on Sweetwater and on several other pro gear outlets we checked.

Audio-Technica AT2035 Condenser Microphone

  • Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source
  • Large diaphragm for smooth, natural sound and low noise
  • Pop Filter to eliminate the annoying "plosives" from your recordings
  • 10ft. XLR Cable to connect the mic to your mixer or interface
  • Microfiber Cleaning Cloth

Choosing the best types of microphones from Audio Technica is a difficult task. After investigating the better ones, we have decided on the AT2035. The flood of positive reviews it garnered over many outlets made it the most obvious choice based on reliability as well as performance. A condenser mic with a switchable 80Hz high-pass filter, it also comes with a 10-decibel pad for emphasizing the mid and higher ranges of the human voice. Whether you are equipping a mobile music business or equipping a band, the AT2035 is an ideal microphone when your aspirations are high, but your budget is not.

Features

With a large diaphragm, the AT2035 has a smooth, natural sound that is also low in noise. The wide dynamic range and ability to handle high decibel levels give it amazing versatility. The custom-made shock mounts offer noise reduction and isolation. The cardioid pattern helps reduce noise from the sides and rear of the unit. This isolates the sound source directly in front of the mic.

Specifications

Measuring 9.8 by 9.8 by 2.8 inches, the AT2035 weighs just under pounds.

  • Mic Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Range: 50 HZ~20 KHZ
  • Output Impedance: 150 OHMS
  • Weight: 1.69 pounds
  • Color: Black

Reviews and pricing

Rated 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon, the average rating from Sweetwater averaged 4.5 out of 5. 

Shure SM7B

  • Flat, wide-range frequency response for exceptionally clean and natural reproduction of both music and speech
  • Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis (presence boost) controls with graphic display of response setting
  • Improved rejection of electromagnetic hum, optimized for shielding against broadband interference emitted by computer monitors
  • Internal "air suspension" shock isolation virtually eliminates mechanical noise transmission
  • Highly effective pop filter eliminates need for any add-on protection against explosive breath sounds, even for close-up vocals or narration

The next popular contender for the best types of microphones is the Shure SM7B, another excellent dynamic microphone with a cardioid pattern. While the prevailing opinion puts condenser microphones at the top of the best types of microphones list, some extremely well-made dynamic mics also belong on that list. The SM7b has earned its place as one of the most preferred live and stage mics. Michael Jackson used the SM7 for most of his recording career, including when he recorded “Billy Jean.”

The Shure SM7B has been in use since the 1970s and has proven itself in the studio, on stage, and at live events. It is legendary as the best types of microphones on our entire list.

Features

The flat, wide-range frequency response provides exceptionally pure and natural reproduction when used for either music and speech. An internal "air suspension" shock isolation for the pickup virtually eliminates any mechanical noise from transmission. The effective built-in pop filter eliminates the need for additional protection from “P Pops” and breathing sounds.

Specifications

  • Mic Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Range: 20 HZ~20 KHZ
  • Output Impedance: 120 OHMS
  • Weight: 0.89 pounds
  • Color: Black

Reviews and Pricing

Renowned by customers for its smooth sound and full frequency response when recording music or speech, the SB7b will not let you down. Noted for a soft bass roll off and mid-range presence in mixes, it offers a subtle and distinct sound for vocals.

Rated at 4.4 out of 5 stars on Amazon and 4.5 on Sweetwater. 

The Blue Yeti Pro

  • Three custom condenser capsules and four different polar pattern settings: Cardioid, Stereo, Bidirectional and Omnidirectional
  • Cutting-edge A-D converter chip and separate analog circuit path for use with professional studio mixers and preamps
  • Built-in headphone amplifier for zero-latency monitoring, and direct controls for headphone volume, pattern selection, mute, and microphone gain
  • 15 Hz - 22 kHz frequency response. Headphone Amplifier : Signal to Noise 114dB. Yeti Pro is not capable of simultaneous analog and digital operation. To ensure proper operation, only connect the digital (USB) or analog (XLR) connectors at any given time. In the event Yeti Pro becomes unresponsive, simply unplug all connections for 10 seconds and re-connect your Yeti Pro with the desired output cable.
  • 192 kHz/24 bit Sample/Word. Proprietary capsule design to capture sounds with detail and articulation

Our hands-down favorite USB microphone, the Blue Yeti, is an excellent microphone and our favorite for studio and podcasting use. We recommend their “Pro” version because the audio quality comes close to the best condenser mics. Being both a USB and an XLR microphone, it offers flexibility when used with any studio or computer arrangement.

The Blue Yeti is, hands down, the most popular consumer microphone on this list. Many times it has won “Best USB Microphone” laurels virtually every time they are rated or reviewed. If you are looking for the best types of microphones for connecting to a computer or laptop, you have found it.

Features

The Blue Yeti Pro provides 24-bit/192kHz audio resolution for excellent recording quality. The three-condenser-capsule allows you to switch between a cardioid, a bidirectional, an omnidirectional, and a conventional stereo pattern. This makes it perfectly adaptable to any recording studio or situation. You can monitor your recording with an onboard headphone jack in real time. Switches for gain, volume level, and a mute button allow you to make live adjustments to your sound. It boasts an elegant vintage-looking “capsule” design with a matching desktop stand but also has a traditional microphone stand connection. It is instantly compatible with either PC or Mac computers and will work with your favorite studio recording software.

Specifications

Measuring 4.72 by 4.92 by 11.61 inches and weighing 2.2 pounds, the detachable cable is 2 meters long and connects to any USB port.

  • Mic Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Variable
  • Frequency Range: 20 HZ~20 KHZ
  • Output Impedance: 16 OHMS
  • Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Color: Black and chrome

Additional USB Specifications

  • Power Required/Consumption: 5V 500mA (USB)/48V DC (analog)
  • Sample Rate: 192 kHz
  • Bit Rate: 24-bit

Headphone Amplifier Specifications

  • Impedance: >16 ohms
  • Power Output (RMS): 130 mW
  • THD: 0.009%
  • Frequency Response: 15 Hz - 22 kHz
  • Signal to Noise: 114dB

Reviews and pricing

Noted for its excellent sound, adjustability, and durability, the Blue Yeti Pro has several additional accessories available online. A solid, hefty, and substantial desktop stand with a rubber pad on the bottom makes it virtually impervious to room vibration. One customer review described it as being “Built like a tank.”

The Blue Yeti Pro received 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon and 5.0 out of 5 on Sweetwater, with an overall online review rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars.

AKG C414 XLII

  • Sonic character of the famous AKG C12 delivers astounding sound quality for lead vocals and solo instruments
  • Nine selectable polar patterns for the perfect setting for every application
  • Three attenuation levels (-6/-12/-18dB) for close-up recording or high-output sources of up to 158dB SPL
  • Three switchable different bass-cut filters to reduce wind noise, stage vibration or proximity effect
  • Overload warning with audio peak hold LED to detect shortest audio peaks

AKG is one of the most famous and respected microphone brands in the world. The C414 is yet another, and likely the best of their quality vocal recording microphones. Like the Blue Yeti, the C414 provides multiple polar patterns to make it ideal for various recording circumstances. It features high-quality engineering and design, which delivers long-life, solid construction, and exceptional sound.

There is a detectable boost in vocals range, meaning that vocals and other solo instruments will stand out above the rest when recorded. The AKG C414 XLII is one of the best types of vocal microphones available by one of our favorite manufacturers. It has earned an honored place on this list.

Features

The multi-pattern condenser microphone, with nine switchable patterns, accommodates a variety of situations. The provided ‘Lock” mode prevents inadvertent switching during use. It has a switchable pre-attenuation pad that sets to 0db, -6db, -12db, and -18db. It comes with a handsome carrying case, a pop filter, a windscreen, and a “spider”-type shock mount.

The dynamic range of the C414-XLII rates at a shy-high 152dB.

Specifications

The AKG C414-XLII measures 11.3 by 9.6 by 5.5 inches and weighs 4.35 pounds.

  • Mic Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Variable. Omni, Wide Cardioid, Cardioid, Hyper-cardioid, and Figure-8
  • Frequency Range: 20 HZ~20 KHZ
  • Output Impedance: 200 OHMS
  • Weight: 4.35 pounds
  • Color: Dark gray and gold

Reviews and pricing

The AKG C414-XLII rates at only 3.9 out of 5 stars on Amazon, but a full 5.0 out of 5 stars on Sweetwater. Internet ratings average at 4.6 out of 5 stars. Besides an excellent AKG reputation for quality, they also enjoy a reputation for first class customer support.

Mojave Audio MA-200

  • Protective Case and professional grade shockmount &cables included
  • Hand-selected 3-micron 1" capsule
  • Jensen audio transformer and ultraclean signal path
  • Military grade JAN 5840 NOS vacuum tube
  • Internal switchable power supply voltage

Nothing makes your voice sound as smooth and creamy as a vacuum tube microphone. The MA-200 by Mojave reinforces that concept. Some studio reviewers have referred to it as their secret weapon in bringing out the rich tones of the human voice. While mostly used in the recording community for vocals, it delivers the same exceptional sound quality when recording an acoustic guitar.

Features

Designed by the legendary microphone genius David Royer, of “Royer Labs” fame, the MA-200 boasts military-grade Jan-5840 vacuum tubes, three gold-sputtered capsules, and Jensen audio transformers. If you know anything about pro-level microphones, you're probably already impressed right now.

Specifications

The MA-200 weighs 13 pounds and measures 7.62 by 2 inches.

  • Mic Type: Tube Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Range: 30Hz~18kHz
  • Output Impedance: 200 OHMS
  • Weight: 13 pounds
  • Color: Black and brass

Reviews and Pricing

Rated a perfect 5.0 out of 5 stars on both Amazon and Sweetwater, the MA-200 earns respect from amateurs and professionals alike. You can also find a refurbished unit from a reputable seller.

The Rode NT1

  • Amazon as the seller is the ONLY authorized Fulfilled By Amazon Dealer
  • Purchases from unauthorized dealers carry No Warranty
  • Acoustic Principle: Pressure Gradient
  • Polar Pattern: Cardio
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz - 20kHz

Consistently one of the best budget vocal microphones of all time, the Rode NT1 is somewhat legendary in the recording studio community as a top-of-the-line starter mic. While also very good for string instruments such as piano, guitar, and bass, it is outstanding when capturing the dynamic ranges of the human voice. It could be one of the best decisions you can make if you are building a home recording studio. The Rode NT1 will serve you well as an all-around microphone that won’t bust your budget.

Features

The Rode NT1 is the first microphone with the transducer suspended on the inside of the mic using the Rycote “Lyre” suspension system. This keeps the internal vibrations to a minimum and makes the NT1 “the World’s Quietest Studio Microphone,” as they boast on their packaging. The NT1 measures a mere 4.5dBA of self-noise.

Machined of 6061 aluminum and nickel plated, the NT1 resists corrosion and discoloring with ceramic coating for a long-wearing finish. It includes an all-metal pop filter, a mic stand attachment, and a carrying bag dust cover. Made in Australia, the NT1 boasts an outstanding 10-year warranty — an excellent feature for a microphone in this price range.

Specifications

Measuring 7 by 2 by 2 inches, the Rode NY1 weighs just under a pound.

  • Mic Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Range: 20Hz~20kHz
  • Output Impedance:100 OHMS
  • Weight: 15.9 ounces
  • Color: Black ceramic

Reviews and Pricing

Rating 4.2 out of 5 stars on Amazon and a full 5 out of 5 on Sweetwater, the NT1 remains a consistent hit with a base of very satisfied customers. They are quick to mention the quiet operation, sound quality, and toughness of this unit and that it stands out far above the competition in this price range.

Time to Purchase the Best Type of Microphones

We have outlined several types of microphones for several different circumstances. If you are operating a computer-based recording studio or doing voice-over work, you will do very well with the Blue Yeti Pro with USB connection capability. Should you be starting up a home studio on a budget, the Rode NT1, the Audio-Technica AT2035, or the Shure SM7b might be what you need. If money is no object, go for the Warm Audio WA-47 or the Mojave Audio MA-200. If you simply must have the best of the best, the AKG C414 XLII consistently sits at the top of the heap.

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