Best Microphone for Vocals
Most people don’t like the sound of their voice in a vocal recording, but you certainly don’t want other people expressing that same sentiment. You just have to get used to hearing your own voice, but you can avoid others not liking the sound of your voice by selecting the best microphone for vocals. Whether you are recording or engaged in live performances, a quality microphone can make a significant difference in what your audience hears.
We’re going to review 9 vocal microphones in our review in order for you to draw some comparisons between which ones will provide you with the features and benefits you expect from a vocal microphone. Following our review is a buyer’s guide to help you understand how to select the best microphone for your purposes. To wrap things up, we’ll tell you which of the microphones we reviewed is the best one overall.
Our Rating of the Best Microphones for Vocals
Fifine Metal Condenser Recording Microphone – Best Affordable USB Condenser Microphone — $
Those seeking an affordable option for recording on a PC should take the Fifine Metal Condenser Recording Microphone into serious consideration. This USB condenser microphone is packaged in a solid metal case and comes with a stable adjustable tripod so you can set your microphone at the perfect angle. It features 20Hz-20kHz frequency response and a maximum SPL of 130 dB. You get a cardioids polar pattern, which helps to clarify your voice without picking up background noise behind the mic. This mic is well received when it comes to using Cortana, Discord, Teamspeak, OBS, voice chat, and live broadcasting.
- It is built durable in its metal case.
- The frequency response on this microphone is pretty flat.
- It has an excellent maximum SPL level at 130 dB.
- It works well with a wide variety of vocal recording and broadcasting applications.
- The built-in volume control adds a little extra fine tuning to a broadcast or recording.
- It is pretty affordable.
- The tripod’s stability has been called into question by some users.
- Self-noise on this microphone is common with outdated audio drivers.
A Great Choice If…
You are looking for an affordable microphone that works well in a stationary setting like podcasts, video production, voice-over work, gaming or voice chatting.
Alvoxcon USB Microphone – Best Budget USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone — $
A solid contender with the FiFine condenser mic is the Alvoxcon USB Microphone. This is a cardioids condenser microphone packaged in a solid case and comes at a budget price. It has “plug and play” capabilities with its connection into the USB port of a PC. It is supported by both PC and Mac OS, GoToMeeting, and is well suited for podcasting, broadcasting, chatting or music recording. The frequency response range on this microphone is 30Hz to 20kHz, so it drops off on the bass end just a little bit and its SPL is 140 dB. It comes with an adjustable tripod and a windscreen to get rid of popping noises.
- This is a well-built microphone with a metal case and tripod designed for desktop recording and broadcasting.
- The maximum SPL on this microphone is at a good high level at 140 dB.
- It has a low impedance at 250 ohms, which helps to prevent buzzing and feedback.
- Its polar pattern is unidirectional, cardioids, making it less likely to pickup background noises behind the mic.
- This microphone comes at a budget price among condenser microphones.
- Those with a deep baritone voice might not be pickup up at times because this microphone drops off on the low end of the frequency scale.
- Some users say that its quality is a little bit less impressive live than when used for recording.
A Great Choice If…
You want a budget-priced condenser microphone with plenty of great qualities built into a metal cased microphone for desktop recording and broadcasting.
Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone – Best Condenser Microphone Under $100 — $
A top performer among condenser microphones that comes in well below the $100 mark is the Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone. Podcasting and the YouTube revolution really took off with the original Snowball and this is an updated version of that microphone but does not include the omnidirectional switch or the -10dB recording pad, which knocked the price down a little bit. This microphone will interface with USB or XLR inputs. Its frequency response is 40 Hz to 18 kHz. You get this microphone with a solid, adjustable tripod and it comes backed by a 2 year limited warranty as well.
- This is a well-built microphone from a trusted brand name in podcasting.
- It is supported by all Mac and PC operating systems.
- Numerous broadcasting and recording platforms support this microphone.
- It is designed for desktop broadcasting with its adjustable tripod.
- You can use both XLR and USB interfacing.
- This microphone is affordable and comes backed by a 2-year warranty.
- It drops off a little bit on both ends of the frequency response, which suits the average voice, but might not be good for those with a voice tone that is either higher or lower than average.
- Some issues with microphone cable staying attached to the microphone have been recorded.
A Great Choice If…
You want to go with a well-reputed brand name and are going to be focused entirely on desktop broadcasting or recording.
Fifine Dynamic Microphone – Best Budget Dynamic Microphone — $
The FiFine Dynamic Microphone is another affordable alternative with a wider variety of recording and broadcasting options available. This microphone is a Cardioid dynamic microphone that is well-built and perfectly suited for live broadcasting or performance. It has a wide frequency range from 50 Hz to 18 kHz and it also has high maximum SPL. It includes a 14.8 ft. XLR to ¼” cable, and can be attached to higher-end systems with the separate purchase of an XLR cable. This microphone is cased in metal and comes with a pop filter as well.
- This is a durable microphone that can be used for stage or live performance as well as recording.
- It has a decently wide range frequency response.
- The maximum SPL on this microphone is going to be nearly unlimited as a dynamic microphone.
- It comes with a cable that is nearly 15 feet long and plugs into a ¼” outlet.
- This is a budget-priced microphone with plenty of versatility.
- This microphone is not well-suited for desktop recording or broadcasting because it would require the separate purchase of a stand.
- The XLR to ¼” cable requires additional equipment in order to interface with a PC.
- Its frequency response might cause those with a lower or higher than average voice to be lost at times.
A Great Choice If…
You need a durable microphone for live performance or recording on stage, then this is certainly a budget-friendly choice to keep in mind.
Geardon GED-M03 XLR Dynamic Vocal Microphone – Best Dynamic Vocal Microphone — $
Whether it is karaoke night or you need a solid microphone for stage performance or public speaking engagements the Geardon GED-M03 XLR Dynamic Vocal Microphone has you covered. This is also a cardioid dynamic microphone which minimizes background noises and has a durable zinc alloy metal casing so it can be used in situations where it might get bagged around a bit. It comes with a 15 ft. XLR to ¼” cable for connection into most sound systems and can be quickly adapted to higher end systems with the purchase of an XLR only cable. It has decent midrange frequency response and low impedance with unlimited maximum SPL.
- This microphone is cased in durable zinc alloy metal for longevity.
- It has the capability to be connected to higher end audio systems for recording or stage performance.
- It is a low impedance microphone with unlimited maximum SPL, so you won’t have to worry about a lot of additional mic noise.
- Background noise is limited by its cardioid polar pattern.
- It has rich midrange audio capabilities for the average voice.
- It is very affordable when its features are taken into consideration.
- This microphone will require the addition of a microphone stand for desktop broadcasting or recording.
- You will also have to purchase a separate interface to connect it to a PC for recording or broadcasting online.
- This microphone will miss higher frequency vocal tones as well as some lower end frequency tones as well.
A Great Choice If…
You need a solid vocal microphone with plenty of durability and quality for “live”, stage performance or to use at a podium, you can hardly go wrong with this one.
FiFine USB Wireless Microphone – Best USB Wireless Dynamic Microphone — $
There are times when you just can’t afford to be tied to one place, and that is where the FiFine USB Wireless Microphone comes in. This microphone provides you with the benefits of a dynamic microphone that can be easily interfaced to your computer using its USB receiver. You get all of the features of a dynamic microphone for live performance and stage work without the worry of which cable you need to use. It is supported by Mac and PC operating systems as well as a wide number of online platforms for broadcasting and recording. Its range is from 40 to 65 feet from the receiver and it offers 20 selectable UHF frequencies to prevent interference issues.
- This microphone alloys you the versatility of a dynamic microphone while still allowing you to broadcast or record using you PC.
- It works well with all Mac and PC operating systems and is well received by recording and broadcasting platforms.
- 20 UHF channel selection helps you avoid interference with other equipment.
- It has a decent range between 40 and 65 feet.
- It has the unlimited maximum SPL of a dynamic microphone.
- This microphone does not include a stand for desktop recording, so you will have to make a separate purchase.
- It is really not equipped for interfacing with higher end live performance or recording setups.
- The receiver does not work well unless the microphone has a direct line to it.
A Great Choice If…
You need a dynamic microphone that easily interfaces with your computer without any additional equipment and allows you to move about with wireless freedom.
Aston Origin Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone – Best Cardioid Condenser Microphone — $$$
If you are looking for a higher end microphone and aren’t as budget conscious as some, then the Aston Original Large-Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone might be a solid consideration to keep in mind. This microphone is cased in solid stainless steel and uses a 1” gold evaporated capsule for superior sound filtering. It has a flat frequency response, low impedance, high maximum SPL and a low mic noise level. This unit comes with a stainless steel mesh-knit pop filter built in and is setup for XLR connection for the highest quality sound transmission.
- The sound quality provided by this microphone cannot be equaled by any other microphone in this review.
- It has a flat frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz.
- This microphone produces low self-noise, coming in at 18 dB.
- Its maximum SPL is 127 dB, keeping it at a proper level to prevent clipping.
- The XLR connection on this microphone will make it the most dependable for delivering quality sound.
- It is cased is very durable and long-lasting stainless steel.
- This package includes just the microphone without cables or stands, which all have to purchased separately.
- Though there is a lot of quality built into this microphone it is pretty pricey for the average podcaster or YouTube video producer.
- Interfacing this microphone to a computer will take additional equipment as well.
A Great Choice If…
You already have all of the equipment, cables, and interfacing you need to make it work and are looking for a higher end microphone for broadcasting and recording.
Blue Yeti USB Microphone – Best Overall Microphone for Vocals — $$
The Blue Yeti USB Microphone is going to provide most PC broadcasters and recorders with the most affordable sound quality of the microphones in our review. This microphone comes cased in a metal body for increased durability and has a durable tripod for desktop recording. It allows you to choose your polar pattern between 3 different types with a built-in switch. It has plug and play USB interfacing and also allows gain control, muting and low latency adjustments on the mic. You will get a flat frequency response with this microphone with a satisfactory maximum SPL and low impedance. It is well supported by Mac and PC operating systems and supported by a wide range of recording and broadcasting platforms.
- This is a solid built microphone from a highly reputed manufacturer.
- You are able to choose between cardioids, omnidirectional or bidirectional polar patterns.
- You can control gain, volume, latency and mute this microphone on the unit itself.
- It comes with a tripod and is USB interfacing compatible.
- You can still get into the microphone at an affordable price.
- This microphone is a little higher priced than the others in this review.
- It will not work well for stage or live performance away from a desktop.
A Great Choice If…
You want a quality desktop microphone from a brand name manufacturer and don’t mind paying a little bit more for the additional options and features this microphone provides.
Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500 Dynamic Vocal Microphone – Best Budget Cardioid Dynamic Microphone — $
It doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg to get your hands on quality cardioids dynamic microphone as proven by the Behringer Ultravoice Xm8500 Dynamic Vocal Microphone. This is a tough microphone that is well-designed for stage and live performance. It has midrange impedance for reduced feedback and buzzing, provides decent midrange frequency response, and comes with a two-stage pop filter for reduced breath and pop noises. This mic comes in a protective carrying case and includes a stand adapter clip.
- Solid built microphone for live stage performance where it might get bumped around a bit.
- This microphone has a decent midrange frequency response at 50 Hz to 15 kHz.
- It has a built-in two-stage pop filter for low noise improvement.
- Its high maximum SPL keeps it at safe levels.
- You can purchase this microphone even if you are on a pretty tight budget.
- No cables are included with this microphone, so you will have to purchase those separately.
- Its frequency response might not pickup voices with a very low or high-frequency tone.
- It has midrange impedance so you will have to turn down gain on this microphone.
A Great Choice If…
You need a budget priced replacement microphone for live vocal performance where your mic might get bumped around more and already have your cable and interfacing setup.
Best Microphone for Vocals Buyer’s Guide
Why do you need a microphone for vocals?
If you have ever listened to a podcast or video recording that was irritating and difficult to understand, it is likely that it was recorded using the built-in microphone on whatever device it was recorded. You don’t want to have that problem if you hope to draw attention to yourself as a professional or upcoming professional. In which situations should you have a microphone for vocals?
- Recorded or live video production.
- Musical instruments or vocal music recordings.
- Voice-over work or narration.
- Virtual classrooms.
- Video conferencing.
These are some of the main applications of vocal microphones, but they are not limited to these uses alone. Essentially, anytime your instrument, voice or other audio requires clarity, you should use a microphone for vocals.
What benefits can you expect from a microphone for vocals?
Vocal microphones have characteristics that make them far superior to the microphone built-in to the device on which you are recording. Here are some of the most basic benefits:
- Less distortion and clipping (cutting out).
- Consistent volume control.
- Elimination of background noise.
- Improved vocal tone.
More than likely, it was the lack of these benefits that you have experienced when listening to badly recorded or broadcasted audio. A quality vocal microphone can make a huge difference in the quality of your sound output.
What are the different types of microphones
Knowing the right microphone for your recording needs can be confusing because there are so many different types and styles to choose from. A little bit of information about the various types of microphones can help clear this up.
In general, there are three types of microphones. Let’s take a closer look at each one and how they function:
Condenser microphones are the ones most commonly used for studio vocals. They provide details sound with a broader and smoother frequency response. They tend to have cleaner high frequencies which help with clarity. However, their mechanics are a little bit more delicate, so they tend to be used in a stationary setting.
The microphone that you see in the hands of your favorite performer or the ones you see on the stands on stage tend to be dynamic microphones. These microphones also produce a higher quality sound that condenser microphones provide, but their construction is more durable as are their inner mechanics, making them suitable for situations in which the performer is moving around a lot.
These are the least common among microphones because they are very delicate. They are essentially dynamic microphones that use a magnetic ribbon to transmit sound instead of a metal coil. The basic models also tend to cost several times more than either of the other two types. They are prized for studio work because they provide warm and smooth tonal quality. These microphones are actually best suited for digital recording, but did we mention that they are expensive?
What are some features to look for in the best microphone for vocals?
The answer to which microphone is the best will depend upon who you talk to because there are plenty of subjective or personal preferences involved in providing the answer. However, there are some general characteristics or features that tend to be present in the best vocal microphones. Here are some of the most common ones that you should keep in mind while you shop:
Dynamic or Condenser Microphone?
The first consideration is whether the best vocal microphone is a dynamic or condenser microphone. The simple answer is that each has its positive features and each has its negative features. They are built differently, have different requirements for optimum use, and will handle certain conditions better than others. Here is how the two stack up:
- Dynamic microphones transmit sound from the diaphragm of the microphone through a coil or ribbon. These microphones do not need phantom power to become live, they are more durable (except for ribbon mics), tend to be less expensive due to their simplicity, and they tend to provide better quality in rooms that are not soundproofed. However, they can produce flat audio, tend to have a lower response rate, and they don’t always capture all of the sounds being performed.
- Condenser microphones transmit from a diaphragm to an electrically charged back-plate or circuit board. Consequently, these mics do require phantom power to become live. They tend to provide high fidelity, do a better job of capturing high frequencies, and are better suited for USB capture where phantom power is readily available. However, they are more easily damaged or can be more sensitive to atmospheric conditions (temperature, humidity, etc.), and will often produce distortion in rooms that are not soundproofed.
Coloration or Distortion
One of the most important considerations to keep in mind when discussing the features of the best vocal microphones is coloration or distortion. This is a broad category, which takes in the various types of sound alteration that are present when raw sound is transmitted through the microphone into the receiving device. The best microphones will produce the least coloration of the raw audio input and will have the following characteristics:
- Low Impedance. This electrical characteristic of microphones is what creates the hum or feedback of a microphone. An impedance between 150 and 600 ohms is considered low, but when you move up into 1000 to 4000 ohms you’re in the medium range, and high impedance is anything over 25 kilohms.
- Higher Maximum SPL. Sound pressure level (SPL) is measured in decibel (dB) sound pressure level. The maximum SPL level is where the microphone starts to cut out or clip. Let’s turn to Sweetwater Sound Inc. provides a better understanding of this characteristic stating, “the quietest sound we can hear, the threshold of hearing, is 0 dBSPL. Normal conversation at 1-foot measures about 70 dBSPL; painfully loud sound is above 120 dBSPL.” To prevent painfully loud sound, most mics will start to clip at a maximum of 120 dBSPL. Maximum SPL of 135 dB gives you a higher threshold before clipping occurs and 150 dB is even better.
- Lower Self-Noise. Microphones have their own noises built into them and those noises are transmitted into your broadcast or recording, which often comes across as a hiss. To avoid hiss in your microphone, a self-noise level of 25 dB is good, but those with 20 dB or 15 dB self-noise are much prized for audio recording. Anything above 28 dB really is not adequate for audio recording. Large-diaphragm condenser mics tend to produce lower self-noise.
- Frequency Response. Another term used for this is “range,” which describes what frequency levels the microphone is going to pick up best. MicReviews explains that, “some may boost certain frequencies (like high treble notes) while others reduce (taking away the lower frequencies for clearer upper-range sound). Some don’t even alter the response (making them “flat” to give us an extremely accurate recording).” Flatter frequency response is best for the average voice. Large-diaphragm condenser microphones tend to be flatter and have a better low-frequency response.
Discussing versatility in a microphone takes on a number of different aspects. One part of the equation would certainly have to do with the various ways that the microphone might be used physically, like whether it will be stationary only, mobile only or used both ways. However, the more common understanding of microphone versatility is related to its coloration characteristics, which we just discussed. Here are the features which make a microphone most versatile:
- A flatter frequency response, which picks up a broader range of sound frequencies.
- Omnidirectional or bidirectional microphones are considered more versatile than cardioid microphones, which only pick up sound from the front of the microphone. For most audio recording, this type of versatility is not necessarily helpful.
- High or unlimited SPL, which are more commonly found in dynamic and ribbon microphones.
In general, versatility can be a good thing if you intend to use your microphone in a number of different ways, but it becomes less desirable if your main use is going to be fixed to a specific type of recording or broadcasting with little variation.
Those who record or broadcast from their desktop know that the sound quality of their work is dependent upon quality equipment, especially the vocal microphone they use. Our guide has provided you with plenty of information concerning what goes into the best microphone for vocals and some of the features and benefits you can expect to find. In our opinion, the overall best microphone for vocals in our review is the Blue Yeti USB Microphone.
The Blue Yeti allows you easy, plug and play interfacing for broadcasting and recording from your PC. It has several adjustments on the microphone itself that allow you better sound quality control where sound enters into the system. It comes with everything necessary for setting up on your desktop and it is widely supported by broadcasting and recording platforms as well as PC and Mac OS.
Others that should be kept in mind because of their various attributes are the Geardon GED-M03, which is the best dynamic microphone included in our review. However, if you need a little bit more affordable desktop recording and broadcasting option, then you can hardly go wrong with the Yeti’s little brother, the Blue Snowball iCE.
Regardless of which of the microphones in our review you like best, getting a quality sound recording and broadcasting is best achieved through the purchase of quality equipment, so sharpen your vocals with the purchase of one of the best microphones for vocals available.