12 Best Microphones for Recording Vocals: The Ultimate Guide

by | Apr 24, 2023

Best microphones for recording vocals

Recording vocals is an essential part of any music production process. Choosing the right microphone for the job is music production equipment that is critical for achieving a professional and polished sound. With so many options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the best one for your needs.

I have compiled a list of the best microphones for recording vocals, which includes condenser, dynamic, and ribbon microphones. For each of them, I have selected the best overall, best value, most versatile, and best budget-friendly option. The list was compiled based on the four factors to consider when choosing the best microphone for vocals.

Whether you’re a professional recording artist or a beginner just starting, this article will help you choose from the best microphones for recording vocals and achieve the perfect sound for your project.

Best Condenser Microphones

To capture the nuances and subtleties of vocals in a sound-treated environment with minimal noise, a condenser microphone is the ideal choice. Here are the best condenser microphones

1. Neumann U 87 Ai (Condenser Mic: Best Overall)

Frequency Range20Hz – 20kHz
Sensitivity28 mV/Pa (-22 dB)
Polar PatternOmnidirectional

The Neumann U 87 Ai is widely considered the best overall condenser microphone available today. Its classic, warm tone is highly sought after by professional studios worldwide, and its versatility makes it ideal for a wide range of recording applications.

With a large dual-diaphragm capsule and a transformer-coupled output, the U 87 Ai delivers unparalleled accuracy in reproducing sounds. 

It also features a switchable polar pattern, allowing you to choose from omnidirectional, cardioid, and figure 8 modes. This means that you can use this microphone for a wide range of recording applications, from vocals to acoustic instruments to drum overheads.

The U 87 Ai boasts very low self-noise and a well-balanced frequency response, ensuring that your recordings are free from unwanted noise and coloration. 

If you want excellent tone, flexibility, and accuracy in your recordings, the Neumann U 87 Ai is one of best microphones for recording vocals.

2. Rode NT1 5th Generation (Condenser Mic: Best Value)

  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 25.1 mV/Pa (-32 dB)
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Connector: XLR and USB-C

The Rode NT1 5th Generation is widely considered the best value studio condenser microphone, with its clarity and low noise making it ideal for vocal recording. While it may not be the most affordable option on the market, its retail price of $249 still offers exceptional value for money. 

The latest generation Rode NT1 features state-of-the-art technology, designed to streamline the recording process for digital audio. Its Dual Connect output now includes USB-C connectivity and advanced digital signal processing, allowing for improved workflow and flexibility.

One of the most notable additions is the “unclippable” 32-bit float digital output, capable of capturing the full dynamic range of the microphone. This format enables users to adjust their audio to the optimal level after recording, making it the first of its kind in the world.

Rode also included an “unclippable” 32-bit float digital output that “captures the full dynamic range of the microphone.” The format allows “users recording in a DAW to adjust their audio to the optimal level after recording.” Rode is the first in the world to create that technology. 

Additionally, the Rode NT1 boasts an ultra-low-noise circuit, making it the quietest condenser microphone available with only 4dB of self-noise.

The package includes a studio-grade shock mount, pop filter, XLR cable, and USB-C cable, providing excellent value for the price.

For those seeking a high-quality condenser microphone with cutting-edge technology, the Rode NT1 5th Generation is an exceptional value. There is no question this is one of the best microphones for recording vocals, especially with features and quality you get at its price point.

3. AKG C414 (Condenser Mic: Most Versatile)

  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 23 mV/Pa (-33 dB)
  • Polar Pattern: Omnidirectional, cardioid, Hypercardioid, Wide Cardioid, Figure 8
  • Connector: XLR 

As far as versatility goes, the AKG C414 is the top contender of condenser mic. If you’re looking for a mic that can excel in various vocal applications and setups, this is the one to get.

What really sets the AKG C414 apart is its nine selectable polar patterns, including omnidirectional, cardioid, hypercardioid, wide cardioid, figure-eight, and four intermediate patterns in between. This allows for precision and detail when capturing sound from a single source, as well as multiple sources with varying degrees of sensitivity.

In addition to its versatile polar patterns, the AKG C414 boasts three attenuation levels (-6dB, -12dB, and -18dB) which make it suitable for recording high-pressure sound sources without distortion, especially at low frequencies.

The microphone also includes three switchable bass cut filters, which come in handy when minimizing lower frequencies caused by the proximity effect or when recording in an environment with low frequencies that cannot be controlled.

The AKG C414 even comes with a universal shock mount, pop filter, windscreen, and metal carrying case, making it an all-in-one package that’s ready for any recording situation.

4. Audio-Technica AT2035 (Condenser Mic: Budget Friendly)

  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 22.4 mV/Pa (-33 dB)
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Connector: XLR 

The Audio-Technica AT2035 is widely regarded as the best budget condenser microphone for recording vocals. The microphone has been praised for its quality and clarity despite its affordable price. One of the notable features of the AT2035 is its low self-noise, which means that it will not introduce unwanted background noise during recordings. 

Featuring a large diaphragm and high sensitivity, the Audio-Technica AT2035 is capable of capturing the full frequency range that can be compared to more expensive microphones. It also has additional features that enhance its versatility for recording vocals, including a high-pass (low-cut) filter switch that eliminates any undesired low frequencies and a 10dB attenuation pad switch that reduces distortion when recording high sound pressure levels.

In terms of sound quality, the Audio-Technica AT2035 has a smooth and detailed response across its frequency range, with a slight boost in the midrange that helps vocals cut through the mix. 

The AT 2035 also comes with a custom shock mount and protective pouch. The only thing that would need to be considered is purchasing a separate pop filter to further improve the recording quality.

Based on all of these strong features, the Audio-Technica AT2035 is one of the best microphones for recording vocals for those on a budget who don’t want to compromise on quality.

Best Dynamic Microphones

If you will be recording vocals in a room without acoustic treatment or an environment that is not quiet, a dynamic microphone is your best choice. Here is a list of the 4 best dynamic microphones.

1. Sennheiser MD 441-U (Dynamic Mic: Best Overall)

  • Frequency Range: 30Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 1.8 mV/Pa (-55 db)
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Connector: XLR 

The Sennheiser MD 441-U is widely regarded as the best dynamic microphone on the market. Based on all of its features, there is no doubt why it is overall one of the best microphones for recording vocals.

With its high-quality sound that rivals even that of a condenser mic, this microphone has been a favorite of musicians for decades. It boasts a wide frequency range and can handle high sound pressure levels while maintaining a neutral sound.

One of the key features of the Sennheiser MD 441-U is its ability to capture the exact vocal tone you want. It comes with a low-frequency contour switch that has five different positions, allowing you to adjust the low cutoff (high pass) filters to your preference. Additionally, there is a switch to boost the high frequencies.

Despite being a dynamic microphone, which usually have a narrower frequency range than condenser mics, the Sennheiser MD 441-U is able to capture a wide range of frequencies with incredible accuracy.

Thanks to its super-cardioid polar pattern, the microphone captures sound from the front and effectively rejects noise from the sides. Although it does pick up some sound from the rear of the mic, this is a small issue when recording in an acoustic treated room.

The Sennheiser MD 441-U includes a microphone clamp, and has a pop filter integrated into the microphone. However, a separate pop filter is still recommended to reduce plosive sounds. 

All of these features and Sennheiser quality make the MD 441-U the best dynamic microphone for recording vocals ovall.

2. Shure SM7B (Dynamic Mic: Best Value)

  • Frequency Range: 50Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 1.1 mV/Pa (-59 db)
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Connector: XLR 

Despite its relatively low price point, the Shure SM7B is a favorite of many professionals. One of the most significant factors contributing to the Shure SM7B‘s popularity is its sound quality when recording vocals. 

Despite its reasonable cost, this microphone is capable of producing detailed recordings with excellent clarity and definition. It is especially well-suited to recording very loud vocals since it has low sensitivity.

Additionally, the Shure SM7B was designed to optimize low end response. It has a bass roll-off switch and mid-range boost switch that can be used to reduce the low end. The switches provide a total of 4 different combinations of tones. It is helpful to reduce excessive bass created by the proximity effect when getting very close to the microphone.

The Shure SM7B is known for having a smooth and flat frequency response with a warmer tone. The cardioid polar pattern does an excellent job rejecting any off-axis sound.

Shure SM7B includes a windscreen to reduce unwanted noise and vibrations. When singing vocals, you can get more clarity by removing the windscreen, but a pop filter will be necessary to reduce plosive sounds.

3. Aston Stealth (Dynamic Mic: Most Versatile)

  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 1 mV/Pa (-60 db) Passive Mode and 150 mV/Pa (16.5 dB) Active Mode
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Connector: XLR 

The Aston Stealth is a dynamic microphone that offers versatility and high-quality sound for vocal recording. It has a full frequency range that rivals that of condenser microphones and can be used with or without power. The built-in preamp provides a sensitivity level that can be adjusted from very low to very high by using phantom power.

One of the standout features of the Aston Stealth is its four different voicings, including two tailored specifically for vocals. The V1 voicing enhances male vocals, while V2 enhances female vocals, allowing the microphone to be customized to the performer’s specific vocal style and recording environment. The other two voicings are G for guitars and D for a dark vintage ribbon sound.

The voicings that are specifically geared for vocals are V1, which enhances male vocals and V2, a setting that enhances female vocals. The G voicing is for Guitars, and D is for Dark, which emulates a warm sounding vintage ribbon microphone.

The Aston Stealth‘s unique internal shock mount system, which uses sorbothane, minimizes unwanted vibrations and handling noise, providing a clean and clear recording. 

In addition, the microphone has a built-in Class A mic preamp that offers a 40dB boost, delivering exceptional clarity and detail in vocal recordings. The Aston Stealth also includes a built-in pop shield to reduce plosives. 

Overall, all the features of the Aston Stealth make it the best versatile microphone for recording vocals.

4. Shure SM58 (Dynamic Mic: Budget Friendly)

  • Frequency Range: 50Hz – 15kHz
  • Sensitivity: 1.26 mV/Pa (-58 db)
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Connector: XLR 

The Shure SM58 is a budget-friendly dynamic microphone that is highly regarded for vocal applications. It has been a staple in the industry for decades and is known for its reliability and durability.

One of the key features that set the Shure SM58 apart is its warm sound reproduction. The microphone has low sensitivity and a cardioid polar pattern that reduces background noise, making it a favorite among musicians who want a clear, focused sound. 

The microphone’s tailored frequency response is specifically designed for vocals, with a midrange boost that enhances the singer’s presence.

Renowned artists such as Bono from U2 have used the Shure SM58 for recording vocals, attesting to its quality and reliability. The microphone’s rugged construction makes it well-suited for use on stage, while its affordability makes it a popular choice for home recording studios.

The Shure SM58 comes with a handy storage bag and has a built-in pop filter, which minimizes plosives and other unwanted noise. Overall, the Shure SM58 is an excellent choice for anyone in search of the best microphones for recording vocals with excellent sound quality at an affordable price.

Best Ribbon Microphones

If you’re after a warm, vintage sound for your recordings, ribbon microphones are an excellent choice. They’re especially useful for capturing vocals, and we’ve put together a list of the top four ribbon microphones for recording vocals.

1. AEA KU5A (Ribbon Mic: Best Overall)

  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 7.1 mV/Pa (-43 dB)
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Connector:  XLR

When it comes to ribbon microphones, the AEA KU5A stands out overall as the best ribbon microphone for recording vocals. Its exceptional versatility and superior sound quality have quickly made it one of the most popular ribbon microphones on the market.

What sets the AEA KU5A apart from other ribbon microphones is its supercardioid polar pattern. This pattern is perfect for vocal recordings as it offers excellent off-axis rejection, which means it will pick up less of the room’s ambient sound and reduce the chances of unwanted noise. Additionally, the supercardioid pattern allows the microphone to capture a more focused and detailed sound from the source, making it an excellent choice for capturing the nuances of a singer’s performance.

Another notable feature of the AEA KU5A is its active electronics, which requires an external power source. This design helps to boost the microphone’s output level and provide a more consistent sound across different recording environments. This is particularly useful when recording vocals, as it can help ensure that the singer’s performance comes through clearly and consistently.

Overall, the AEA KU5A is an excellent choice for recording vocals with a ribbon microphone. Its supercardioid pattern is key in capturing the subtleties and nuances of a singer’s voice, which makes this the best ribbon microphone for recording vocals overall.

2. AEA R84A (Ribbon Mic: Most Versatile)

  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 20kHz
  • Sensitivity: 6.3 mV/Pa (-52 dB)
  • Polar Pattern: Figure 8
  • Connector:  XLR

The AEA R84A is a must-have ribbon microphone for those seeking a versatile option to record vocals. Based on the classic R44, this modern ribbon microphone is lighter, smaller and has a reduced proximity effect compared to that iconic ribbon microphone.

The AEA R84A‘s versatility shines through in its reduced proximity effect, making it an ideal option for vocalists who prefer to sing closer to the microphone. The microphone produces well-balanced frequencies, avoiding excessive low end, which is sought after when recording vocals.

With full low to high frequencies, the AEA R84A delivers a warm and natural tone that makes it an excellent choice not only for vocals but also for recording drums, horns, and electric guitars from a few feet away. Its versatility is a testament to the quality of the microphone and a testament to its well-rounded sound.

With the AEA R84A, users get a reliable and versatile ribbon microphone, capable of producing a warm and natural tone for a variety of applications. This microphone is an essential tool for any serious recording engineer, whether in a professional or home studio setting.

3. sE Electronics VR2 (Ribbon Mic: Best Value)

  • Frequency Range: 20Hz – 18kHz
  • Sensitivity: 10 mV/Pa (-40 dB)
  • Polar Pattern: Figure 8
  • Connector: XLR

For those who want the best value for their money, the sE Electronics VR2 is the ribbon microphone to get. This microphone provides exceptionally balanced sound quality at a reasonable price. As an active microphone, it includes electronics that allow it to be paired with a variety of preamps.

Featuring a figure-of-eight polar pattern and a wide frequency range of 20Hz to 18kHz, the VR2 it is also versatile, making it an excellent choice at its price point for recording various vocal and singing styles.

Another selling point of the sE Electronics VR2 is its build quality. The microphone is housed in a full metal body, ensuring durability, while the included stand clip, stand adapter, and shock mount make it a complete package for recording. It also includes a hard wooden case to protect it from damage.

The sE Electronics VR2 offers exceptional sound quality, versatility, and accessories at a reasonable price, making it one of the best ribbon microphones for recording vocals with exceptional value.

4. Golden Age Project R1 MKII (Ribbon Mic: Budget Friendly)

  • Frequency Range: 30Hz – 18kHz
  • Sensitivity: 2.5 mV/Pa (-52 dB)
  • Polar Pattern: Figure 8
  • Connector: XLR

Ribbon microphones tend to be more expensive than the other types. However, the Golden Age Project R1 MKII breaks the mold, which makes it one of the best microphones for recording vocals on a budget.

This exceptional microphone has a passive design delivering a warm, smooth sound ideal for recording vocals. Featuring a classic ribbon microphone design with a bi-directional polar pattern, the Golden Age Project R1 MKII is able to capture a wide range of frequencies.

What truly sets this microphone apart from other budget-friendly ribbon microphones is its excellent build quality and attention to detail. The Golden Age Project R1 MKII incorporates high-quality components, resulting in a sound that truly represents the warmth and smoothness ribbon mics are known to produce.

Despite its affordability, the Golden Age Project R1 MKII is capable of producing professional-level recordings. It is an excellent choice for home recording studios and even live sound applications. The microphone comes with a soft case and XLR cable, making it an even more attractive option for those with a modest budget.

Overall, the Golden Age Project R1 MKII ribbon microphone provides great features at a budget-friendly cost. Offering an unbeatable combination of sound quality, frequency range, and affordability, the Golden Age Project R1 MKII is the best ribbon microphone for recording vocals at a affordable price.


After thorough research and analysis, I’ve presented the best microphones for recording vocals, each with its own unique features, strengths, and price points. No matter what your budget or specific recording needs may be, one of these microphones is sure to be the perfect fit for recording your next song!

About the Author

Jon Chen
Jon is a lawyer with more than 15 years of experience practicing law. His passion for music began when he was a child, which led him to learn how to play the piano, saxophone, trombone, and guitar. He enjoys analyzing music and helping others succeed and live a better life.