Microphone Recommendations (for Vocal Recordings)

Hey guys,

I am seeking for a great microphone, for the sole cause of vocal recordings. Just got deeper into writing songs/lyrics, while most vocal artists ask for a composer's vocal sample, so they know which words belong where exactly (especially as some don't read sheet music). Of course the sound quality of a laptop inbuild mic is straight out of question – even for a demo. I don't think that I will use my own vocals in any future productions, but who knows. Because of that fact it's quite hard for me to define a price mark though, but 100 USD or higher is alright.

Any recommendations for good mics? Does it have to be XLR for a good quality?

Cheers,
-Frederic
 

bill5

Active Member
If I understand this correctly, you're looking for a good vocal mic...but you have no idea who will be singing into it. That makes a mic suggestion difficult to start, but making it harder is you give no other information, like where will this be recorded (a studio? a well-treated room at least?), what kind of music, etc.

And really "a good vocal mic" is far too vague of a request IMO to give much of a meaningful reply. There are many good mics out there, even at the lower end of $100 or so ballpark you suggest, but some mics work well for some and not for others. Of course this won't stop people from throwing out the commonly accepted favorite/trendy mics, but that's IMO worthless to you.

As for XLR, there are some good USB mics, but for the most part, yes, I think it's safe to say you want an "XLR mic." And no offense but it sounds like you need to do a lot more research and learn a lot more about mics in general before going out and buying a mic.
 

nas

Active Member
If you want a great all round dynamic mic that has stood the test of time and is inexpensive then go for a Shure SM57, every studio should have at least one They are very versatile dynamic mics.

A little more and you can check out Shure SM58 or Beta 58 dynamic .

Another versatile condenser mic is the Rode Nt1A, it's a little bright and can be a little harsh on female vocals but it covers a lot of ground its also has very low self noise.

A little more and a Shure SM7b might be worth checking out.

These mics are between 150-400 USD.
 

W Ackerman

Just me
If you want a great all round dynamic mic that has stood the test of time and is inexpensive then go for a Shure SM57, every studio should have at least one They are very versatile dynamic mics.

A little more and you can check out Shure SM58 or Beta 58 dynamic .
+1 on Shure SM58 for vocals - although as @bill5 notes, response and taste can vary among individuals. Discriminating vocalists have their own favorite(s). One advantage of the Shure models is that you can use them to hammer nails, fight off groupies, and tenderize meat. Depending on output and impredence requirements, you may need to boost the signal into some interfaces. I always have a Cloudlifter CL-1 in my bag.
 

dzilizzi

I just hang around pretending I know something
So you are just looking for a mic to do guide vocals in that will be replaced by another singer? Do you need to have a mic for the other singer or just for you? If just guide vocals, @nas is right and a Shure SM57 is a decent all around mic. Otherwise, you may want to go for a decent condenser mic.

XLR connection is the easiest, as you don't have to worry whether you TRS is balanced or unbalanced. Most audio interfaces have at least one.
 

Quasar

Senior Member
I watched a video a while back where a guy offered that a Shure SM57 + an A81WS windscreen (he claimed that this specific model is better than a cheaper windscreen, it cost $30+) can make the 57 sound very much like the much pricier SM7b. Then he demonstrated this to IMHO good effect, at least as much as one can tell from a compressed YouTube video.

So I did this, and though I've never had an SM7b to compare it to, I really like the quality of the sound that comes out of this combo. It seems to accentuate something akin to the fuller low-end and wide response the SM7b is known for, definitely better than the 57 with a pop filter or a smaller, thinner windscreen, and more rounded than an SM58. Just my amateur experience and opinion. YMMV and all of that.
 

MarcusD

Senior Member
Lewwit or Aston microphones. Lewwit in particular have some good offerings that are not too expensive and good quality like the 440 pure or cheaper 240.
 
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OP
FredericBernard
And no offense but it sounds like you need to do a lot more research and learn a lot more about mics in general before going out and buying a mic.
I have to (respectfully) disagree. The initial question was vague, yes, but I certainly wont need a whole lot of research as you pointed out.

Anyhow, thank you for the excellent advice! I will most likely go with the Rode Nt1A.

Thanks!
-Frederic
 

BassClef

Active Member
If you can spend around $300. I'd opt for two mics... a Sure SM58 and a Rhode Nt1A. Those two mics will cover a GREAT many applications.
 

cloudbuster

New Member
...wait a sec...the Rode Nt1A is only about halve price at Amazon etc.

Certainly the one I want to go with though.

Thanks
-Frederic
You can't go wrong with the NT1A IMO. Even later on, when you own different mics for every day of the week or hair/eye colors of your singers :shocked: it's still a great piece of kit. As someone else mentioned the NT1A is a tad 'bright' but a little EQ takes care of that... I've used mine (2*) for all kinds of recordings and love them to bits ... the low noise floor gives other way more expensive mics a serious run for their money.
 

bill5

Active Member
Respectfully disagree. The NT1A is notoriously harsh on the high end. You'd probably be much better off with the NT1, if you're dead set on a Rode, or any of a number of other comparably priced mics. But again, it depends on the specifics of what/who you are recording. No one mic works best for everyone or every situation, to say the least.
 
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OP
FredericBernard
@bill5 and @Diablo3

Thanks for sharing your ideas on the NT1A.

Basically I need a warm and full sound out of the box, for vocal composer samples, which I send on to singers. Too busy at the moment to do EQ all the time. Though for just samples I need certainly something better than a 50$ USB mic.

Do you think the NT1 is far better, or only in a descent range?

Thanks!
-Frederic
 

bill5

Active Member
In fairness I have not used the NT1, but it seems to be getting universal praise wherever I look, take that for what it's worth (maybe nothing!). I mostly suggested it in case you felt Rode was the way to go.

If warmth is a huge factor, have you considered a ribbon mic?
 

Diablo3

Active Member
I'd get the MXL 770 or 990 or V67G, they aren't as nasty as the NT1A, and the NT1 is just "darker" than the NT1A.

Problem with reviews on YouTube is that you're hearing your interface, your headphones, etc, not the actual thing. But in real life I would really stay away from anything Rode (based on my NT1A experience... I have 2... but tried to see how they would work as overheads on drums, on vocals you know my thoughts).

Yeah, I wouldn't get an/a usb mike, I have the Blue snowball... it looks AMAZING as paper weight. That's why I haven't thrown it into the garbage can or given it away (plus only 2 positions now work out of 3).

I am very passionate about this and I would be very careful on spending any penny on anything.
At the end of the day only you will know what's good or not, and probably sometimes you will think something is good then a month later or 2 weeks you will realize it is not (after honey moon time).
Then you will realize you wasted time and money.

And yeah, everyone has an SM57, maybe a friend of yours can lend you one so you can tell if that would be ok with you (literally even the guy who maws your lawn has one :P ).

I've had a Blue Bluebird, was "great", now I have a Blue Baby Bottle, which is pretty good for the price (both way better than the Rode's). Also, don't get the IK Multimedia XLR... :P
 

SomeGuy

Active Member
I personally recommend modeling microphones for this purpose. Having a blast with my Slate ML-1 & 2 (ML-1 is for vocals, ML-2 for instruments) and notice a big difference between the various mic models that come with the software. I just cycle through the different mics until the vocals sound clear vs the mix and print the vocal down so I dont need to keep the plugin on. This allows me to really craft the vocal sound per song, or even change for verse / chorus, all after recording! Really fantastic. I hear the Townsend labs mic Modeler is even better, but was out of my price range.
 

Polkasound

Senior Member
Of course the sound quality of a laptop inbuild mic is straight out of question – even for a demo.

Does it have to be XLR for a good quality?
This gives me the impression you're looking for more of a recording solution than a specific mic recommendation.

What you're going to want to start with is a basic audio recording setup: a mic and an audio interface to connect it to your laptop. (XLR is the industry standard, so all interfaces that have a mic preamp will be XLR.)

If you're merely sending scratch tracks to singers to learn from, then any $35 mic and vocals recorded in a kitchen or bedroom will suffice. But if you're going to be using the tracks you sing for any other purpose, or want better-sounding tracks to send to singers, then you'll want to bump up the quality of your recorded vocal tracks in a few different ways that go beyond a mic recommendation:

1. A good mic. Don't buy a $35 mic. High quality mics start at around the $100 price point, and you can defer to all of the good advice given earlier in this thread for choices.​
2. A pop filter to reduce plosives​
3. Acoustic deadening material so that you don't sound like you're singing in a kitchen or bedroom.​
4. Processing software (and/or hardware) most importantly a compressor/leveler​
 

Nick Batzdorf

Moderator
Moderator
The XLR plug itself means little, but every mic worth its salt uses that connector.

You can't go wrong with an SM58 or better yet beta SM58. They're very forgiving dynamic mics that have been used on 50 billion recordings and concerts.

EDIT: Actually the SM57 is the standard one. But what I said about the 58s is still right.

But rather than list what I own, which is what people here always do when someone asks for a recommendation (and I have the chafed anus to prove it), you have to think about how you're going to use the mic.

In general, dynamic mics like the SM58 have diaphragms with more mass than condenser mics, which gives them a more smooth sound since they don't react quite as quickly. Condenser mics, which require power (usually supplied over the XLR connector you're asking about), tend to be more detailed because of their lighter diaphragms.

If you're looking at condensers or higher-end dynamic mics, you have to ask whether you're after an accurate mic or a character mic with an opinion. Large-diaphragm condenser mics can give you a larger-than-life sound, for example, or they can be accurate.

You can get lucky and find a name-badged Chinese large-diaphragm condenser mic for $100 that isn't half bad, though, so I wouldn't begin and end my search with the SM58.
 
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