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Your Ultimate Guide to Studio Microphones

If you’re looking to enhance the quality of your recording into sounding more superior and top-notch by standards, then it may be time for you to invest in a studio microphone.

Whether you plan to record music, produce podcasts, or improve the sound quality of your voice in online video calls or live streams, studio mics can make all the difference in the overall audio – may it be raw or edited.

However, you can’t just buy the first mic you see or purchase the same one as your favorite artist and expect the best without even doing any research. You can buy the most expensive studio mic on the market, but if it doesn’t suit the requirements you need based on how you will use it, then the quality of your sound recording may not be what you hoped for.

To help you in finding out which mic you should invest in, here’s your ultimate guide to studio microphones and our top picks for the best studio microphones that are available in the market.


In A Hurry? This is the Best Studio Microphone

Making waves since 1925, Shure started off as a one-man company that sells radio kits and components to radio stations. With a rich history and many years of experience in developing microphones and audio electronics for broadcast stations, Shure has achieved legendary status in said industry.

Known to be the go-to and do-all mic for many in the industry, the Shure SM7B is arguably the best studio mic to date. An extremely versatile mic that picks up cardioid patterns, the Shure SM7B can be applied for vocals, instruments, streaming, broadcasting, and content creation use.

Its bass-roll off control and mid-range emphasis allow vocals to come off as clean, clear, and crisp may the setting be in a recording studio or for a live performance. This studio microphone can also be used as a dual-mic amp setup as it’s able to clearly pick up distorted instrument sounds and screamed vocals without much mud, boom, or muffles thanks to its built-in pop filter and built-in internal “air suspension”.

The versatility and durability of the Shure SM7B make it a favorite microphone for many, including world-famous artist and performer, Michael Jackson, who used the original Shure SM7B when he recorded his vocal takes for the song “Thriller”.


At A Glance: Our Top Picks for the Best Studio Microphone

BEST OVERALL
Shure SM7B

If you plan on using your studio mic for various applications with differing requirements, the Shure SM7B may be your safest and best choice…

BEST ENTRY LEVEL
Shure MV7

A great entry-level microphone that beginners to intermediate users can easily plug and play regardless of the application…

BEST FOR CONTENT CREATION
Audio-Technica AT2020

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a condenser microphone that is perfect for podcasts, streaming, and gaming use since it’s built for a USB connection. This studio mic boasts…

BEST HANDHELD CONDENSER
AKG C636

The sound reproduction of the AKG C636 is ideal for live studio sessions or intimate live settings as it is able to reproduce vocals to…

BEST COMPACT MIC
Neumann TLM 102

The Neumann TLM 102 is a vocals specialist mic that will give you a clean and clear voice quality across the frequency range. This large-diaphragm condenser microphone is versatile…

BEST LOW NOISE MIC
Rode NT1

The Rode NT1 is ideal for vocals and instrument applications wherein you would want to create a classic vintage sound finish. It’s also the perfect…

BEST LARGE-DIAPHRAGM CONDENSER
Neumann U 87 AI MT

One of the leading brands for microphones, Neumann is a Germany-made studio mic that has over 50 years of studio credentials. With that said, the Neumann brand…

BEST BARITONE STUDIO MIC
TZ Audio Products Stellar X2

A lesser-known studio mic that is seen as a hidden gem by those in the inner circle of the industry, the TZ Audio Products Stellar X2 is a condenser microphone perfect for…

BEST SPEECH BASED STUDIO MIC
Electro-Voice RE20

A large-diaphragm dynamic range microphone, the Electro-Voice RE20 excellently counters proximity effect even when recording up close, which makes…

BEST VERSATILE STUDIO MIC
Lewitt LCT 640 TS

The Lewitt LCT 640 TS is deemed as the ‘innovative mic’ as it is extremely versatile in applications, pickup patterns, and…


What is a Studio Microphone?

A microphone may be the most important audio recording equipment you will need when setting up your home or professional studio, which means it pays to invest in the best one.

Unlike the standard mic or built-in mics on devices, a studio mic can superiorly enhance the quality of audio as its features and components are specially built to meet specific and more complex requirements. This mainly explains why microphones are priced differently from one another regardless of their common main purpose, which is to convert acoustical energy into electrical energy (audio signal).

Before we dive any deeper into this guide on the best studio microphones, it would be good to take a look at the 7 basic parts of a mic in order to fully understand how they work if you haven’t yet. By knowing such, it will be easier to discern the features you will definitely need in a studio mic to meet the requirements of your intended application and use.

The Common Types of Studio Microphones

Generally, there are 10 different types of microphones. However, studio mics differ in the sense that they are mainly categorized as either dynamic or condenser. Let’s further differentiate the two.

Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones capture sound by having sound waves hit their diaphragm, causing the attached coil to move and ultimately mimic the sound. They are built to withstand high sound pressure levels, making them ideal for capturing loud sounds in big places.

Due to their built-in features and custom-built, dynamic microphones can deliver top-quality sound despite any movement in the room or if it’s handheld. This makes them a go-to studio mic for big places, loud events, and live performances where you want to fill and cover every corner of an area. We’ve sourced the best dynamic mics out there in case you’re interested in going loud and big.

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones capture sound by having sound waves press against their diaphragm causing their fixed plate to move and mimic the sound in great detail and accuracy. They are built with lightweight and thin diaphragms, making them ideal for capturing more intricate and intimate sounds in closed and studio settings.

Due to their built-in features and custom-built, condenser microphones are more sensitive and responsive to vocals and high frequencies. This makes them a go-to studio mic for recording audio tracks, voiceovers, drum overheads, and instruments like an acoustic guitar in controlled settings.

How to Choose a Studio Microphone

May these be expensive microphones or budget mics, the sound quality of your studio mic will significantly depend on precisely meeting the specific requirements you will need for your intended purpose and application.

There are a lot of factors to consider to help you determine what kind of microphone you may need. For this guide, we have narrowed and simplified it down to the two most important points of consideration when choosing a studio mic specifically.

Application

How will you use the studio mic? The common applications for studio microphones would be for recording vocals, instruments, streaming, gaming, content creation, podcasts, speeches, or broadcasts. Each application requires different polar patterns, and frequency ranges, and has a specific type ideal for it.

Location

Where do you plan on using the studio mic? Determine if it will be used in a vocal booth, home studio, for live events, large areas, or a small room. A studio mic can choose to focus on the faintest of nuances or just the loud sound sources depending on the type and model.


Top 10 Best Studio Microphones

ImageProductDetailsCheck Price
Shure SM7BShure SM7B• Type: Dynamic
• Pickup Pattern: Cardioid
• Versatile do-all mic
Check Prices on Amazon
Shure MV7Shure MV7• Type: Dynamic
• Pickup Pattern: Cardioid
• Has real-time tone correction
Check Prices on Amazon
Audio-Technica AT 2020Audio-Technica AT2020• Type: Condenser
• Pickup Pattern: Cardioid
• Has mix and volume control
Check Prices on Amazon
AKG C636AKG C636• Type: Condenser
• Pickup Pattern: Cardioid, Unidirectional
• Excellent off-axis accentuation
Check Prices on Amazon
Neumann TLM 102Neumann TLM 102• Type: Condenser
• Pickup Pattern: Cardioid
• Can be used as a dual-mic amp setup
Check Prices on Amazon
Rode NT1Rode NT1• Type: Condenser
• Pickup Pattern: Cardioid
• Excellent self-noise level
Check Prices on Amazon
Neumann U 87 AI MTNeumann U 87 AI MT• Type: Condenser
• Pickup Pattern: Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Figure-8
• Switchable low cut and attenuation pad
Check Prices on Amazon
TZ Audio Products Stellar X2TZ Audio Products Stellar X2• Type: Condenser
• Pickup Pattern: Cardioid
• Impressive midrange
Check Prices on Amazon
Electro-Voice RE20Electro-Voice RE20• Type: Dynamic
• Pickup Pattern: Cardioid
• Excellently counters proximity effect
Check Prices on Amazon
Lewitt LCT 640 TSLewitt LCT 640 TS• Type: Condenser
• Pickup Pattern: Omnidirectional, Wide Cardioid, Cardioid, Supercardioid, Figure-8
• Versatile and innovative
Check Prices on Amazon

Let’s Go Over Each Studio Microphone

If you plan on using your studio mic for various applications with differing requirements, the Shure SM7B may be your safest and best choice. Hailed as the “go-to and do-all” mic in the industry, this studio mic was originally designed for radio broadcasts.

Its bass-roll and mid-range emphasis allow vocals to come off as clean, clear, and crisp each time, making it an ideal studio mic for applications wherein the audio quality of “speaking” or vocal tracks need to be properly enunciated and heard.

With its excellent bass roll-off control, this is also a favorite studio mic for live performances as it’s able to do vocal isolations that will accentuate a raw and natural sound. May it be used for pop, rap, or rock vocals, this dynamic cardioid mic is a favorite of many recording artists including the likes of Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan, and Metallica.

Packing a mid-range emphasis with presence boost control, this can be used as a dual-mic amp setup that can clearly pick up distorted instruments and screamed vocals while maintaining a clean and clear quality. However, its self-noise level can be a bit too much, making its sound pickup “too quiet” for some.

Looks familiar? You may have seen it in some behind-the-scenes clips of your favorite recording artists in the recording studio or in ASMR videos on YouTube as this studio mic is the most commonly used microphone in the professional or home studio.

Coming from the manufacturer of the renowned Shure SM58, this model is almost certain to be one of your best options.

Pros and Cons of the Shure SM7B

ProsCons
✔ Versatile
✔ Built-in pop filter
✔ Built-in internal “air suspension”
✔ High build quality
✔ Can be used as a dual-mic amp setup
✘ Requires at least a 60dB gain boost from an audio interface or mic preamp as it can be “too quiet”

A great entry-level microphone that beginners to intermediate users can easily plug and play regardless of the application. 

Meeting various requirements, the Shure MV7 remains versatile while maintaining a friendly budget. It’s simple, easy to use, and comes with helpful tools and apps depending on where you plug it in. 

Since it features a real-time tone correction, this dynamic cardioid microphone saves time that would have been spent on post-production or equalizing the recorded audio. It even has a built-in headphone, which allows for direct mic monitoring while recording.

Pros and Cons of the Shure MV7

ProsCons
✔ Dual output
✔ Real-time tone correction
✔ Solid build
✘ Lightning cable is sold separately
✘ Plain design

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is a condenser microphone that is perfect for podcasts, streaming, and gaming use since it’s built for a USB connection. This studio mic boasts a medium-weight diaphragm and extended frequency response, which gives off a rich, deep, and crisp sound for vocals.

A growing cult favorite for YouTubers and streamers, the Audio-Technica AT2020 has a mix and volume control function that can blend your mic’s signal with pre-recorded audio.

Since the Audio-Technica AT2020 is a desktop studio mic, you have to pay extra attention to its placement to prevent noise vibrations and unwanted sound source pickup.

Pros and Cons of the Audio-Technica AT2020

ProsCons
✔ Aesthetic vintage design
✔ Perfect for desktop use
✘ Can be fragile
✘ Will need a separate boom or mic stand to prevent noise vibrations

The sound reproduction of the AKG C636 is ideal for live studio sessions or intimate live settings as it is able to reproduce vocals to a tee and reject feedback. Giving off a very clean sound, this condenser microphone has a high frequency range with excellent off-axis attenuation.

This sleek condenser microphone is easy to the eyes as it is easy to hold and carry for a long time because it weighs light. Despite it being a handheld microphone, its ability to reject feedback and noise is impressive due to its double-shock suspension system.

Pros and Cons of the AKG C636

ProsCons
✔ Very clean sound
✔ Excellent off-axis accentuation
✔ Well balanced response
✘ Pricey

The Neumann TLM 102 is a vocals specialist mic that will give you a clean and clear voice quality across the frequency range. This large-diaphragm condenser microphone is versatile enough to pick up vocals, acoustic guitars, and brass instruments in a cardioid pickup pattern.

Perfect for vocal applications like clear singing, speech, streaming, and podcasts, the Neumann TLM 102 gives off an airy but woodsy broadcast-like warm sound due to its upper mid, rich low end, and low-mid ranges.

With a wide-range frequency response, this is a go-to mic for artists of the blues and jazz genres. This large-diaphragm condenser microphone also has a built-in pop shield that can also pick up brass instruments without drowning out vocals.

However, it is on the pricier side as the Germany-based company, Neumann, designed this studio mic with multiple vocal applications in mind without sacrificing aesthetics and its compact size.

Pros and Cons of the Neumann TLM 102

ProsCons
✔ Excellent vocal quality and clarity
✔ Classic and solid design
✔ Can be used as a dual-mic amp setup
✘ Pricey

The Rode NT1 is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone ideal for vocals and instrument applications wherein you would want to create a classic vintage sound finish. It’s also the perfect mic for people who are looking to do some post-processing work after recording.

This condenser microphone needs to be placed strategically and carefully when it’s beside a sound source that can be too loud as it lacks a pad. If you put it beside guitar amps or drums, it can give you a less than desirable sound.

It is however able to impressively produce minimal external vibrations due to its custom Rycote Lyre suspension system, dual-layer stainless windscreen, and low noise level down to 4.5dBA, making it an excellent low noise mic that can be placed in drum overheads or on pianos.

Pros and Cons of the Rode NT1

ProsCons
✔ Low noise
✔ Clear sound quality
✔ Integrated shock mount and pop shield
✔ Durable design and build
✘ Must buy separate kits for upgrades
✘ Lacks a pad
✘ Metal model has a heavy shock mount

One of the leading brands for microphones, Neumann is a Germany-made studio mic that has over 50 years of studio credentials. With that said, the Neumann brand is almost synonymous with expensive microphones, but given the resulting quality, it is totally understandable.

The Neumann U 87 AI MT is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone that gives clear and balanced sounds. Its flat frequency response makes for a strong and crisp vocal presence end result, but is also versatile enough to record anything from an acoustic guitar to drum overheads, which makes it another favorite for recording artists to use in the studio or vocal booth.

It can pick up multiple polar patterns as it packs a switchable low cut and attenuation pad, ideal for vocal applications such as podcasts, broadcasting, speaking, and recording vocal tracks. It has a deficient low noise level so recording rock vocals are welcome here.

Pros and Cons of the Neumann U 87 AI MT

ProsCons
✔ Clear and balanced sounds
✔ Versatile in application
✘ Pricey

A lesser-known studio mic that is seen as a hidden gem by those in the inner circle of the industry, the TZ Audio Products Stellar X2 is a condenser microphone perfect for vocal applications. It gives a smooth and warm sound to the sound source and audio signal it picks up as it packs a frequency response in the low midrange.

Considering its affordable price, this condenser microphone gives an impressive midrange in its ability to soothe down high-pitched and sibilant sounds.

Pros and Cons of the TZ Audio Products Stellar X2

ProsCons
✔ Affordable
✔ Stylish design
✘ Limited versatility in application use

A large-diaphragm dynamic range microphone, the Electro-Voice RE20 excellently counters proximity effect even when recording up close, which makes it a favorite for vocal applications like voice-overs, broadcasting, podcasts, and streaming.

Designed to give more focus to vocals by including a bass tilt-down switch to attenuate bass, guitar amps, and other loud sound sources, this studio mic is perfect for those who are looking to highlight their vocals. 

Ideal for recording vocal styles that will also sound intimate but whisper-like, the Electro-Voice RE20 is the preferred mic of Thom Yorke, vocalist of Radiohead.

Pros and Cons of the Electro-Voice RE20

ProsCons
✔ Counter proximity effect
✔ Gives focus to vocals
✘ Pricey

The Lewitt LCT 640 TS is deemed as the ‘innovative mic’ as it is extremely versatile in applications, pickup patterns, and outputs. A dream for those who are looking for multiple uses but have varying requirements, this multi-pattern large-diaphragm condenser microphone is a mic rolled into one.

May it be recording a person playing an acoustic guitar in a studio, a live performance of a singer belting out, or a streamer in a home studio, the Lewitt LCT 640 TS can adjust accordingly.

While other microphones can only pick up one polar pattern and have one mode and a single output, this studio mic has multiple. It can work either in regular multipattern microphone mode or in dual mode. The microphone’s backlit logo will indicate which mode you are on so you are guided accordingly. 

However, with so many functionalities, others find this mic to be too complex and difficult to use. It is important to take note though that you are paying for the functionality of a bunch of other microphones in just a single mic.

Pros and Cons of the Lewitt LCT 640 TS

ProsCons
✔ Versatile in applications and polar patterns
✔ Multiple attenuation and roll-off options
✔ Stylish design
✔ Comes with accessories
✘ Complex functions can make it difficult to use
✘ Pricey

Best Studio Microphones Comparison

ImageModel NameSound QualityDesignFeaturesPriceTotal RatingCheck Price
Shure SM7BShure SM7B9.59.59.59.59.5Check Prices on Amazon
Shure MV7Shure MV79.59.59.58.59.3Check Prices on Amazon
Audio Technica AT 2020Audio-Technica AT20208.59.599.59.1Check Prices on Amazon
AKG C636AKG C6369.59999Check Prices on Amazon
Neumann TLM 102Neumann TLM 1029.599.589Check Prices on Amazon
Rode NT1Rode NT199988.8Check Prices on Amazon
Neumann U 87 AI MTNeumann U 87 AI MT9988.58.6Check Prices on Amazon
TZ Audio Products Stellar X2TZ Audio Products Stellar X28.5898.58.5Check Prices on Amazon
Electro-Voice RE20Electro-Voice RE2088.58.588.25Check Prices on Amazon
Lewitt LCT 640 TSLewitt LCT 640 TS98988.5Check Prices on Amazon

Final Note

Purchasing a studio mic may be pricey and a tedious process, but it is an investment that will surely be worth it. It can make all the difference in your finished project provided that you are able to meet the correct requirements your application needs.


Frequently Asked Questions

What microphone do singers use in the studio?

There are two most commonly used types of microphones by singers: dynamic and condenser.

Dynamic microphones are preferred by singers when they would like to capture loud sounds in big places, making them a go-to mic for live concerts and loud events. A large diaphragm condenser microphone is great for singers who would like to fill a large place with their vocals.

Condenser microphones are preferred by singers when they would like to capture sounds in great detail. Small diaphragm condensers are more sensitive, which is why they are mostly used in small studios and preferred by singers who want a more intimate sound.

However, there are a lot more factors that come into play when choosing the best microphone for vocals, so it’s best to check out the guide we have created just for this application.

Does a studio mic make you sound better?

Yes, it does, provided that you are able to meet the correct requirements for your intended application and use.

What mic should I get for my studio?

Determine first the size, location, and sound source you intend on recording or enhancing. After which, you can determine if a dynamic microphone or a condenser microphone would be best for your studio.

How much is a studio mic?

Microphones are priced differently based on a lot of factors, which is why there are expensive microphones and budget mics due to their varying features.

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Ash Burnett

Hailing from Chicago, IL - Ash made his break into journalism at the age of 23 writing music reviews for a local website. Now in his late 30's and after being pulled closer towards the technical side of the music and live gig industry, he founded Shout4Music to write thorough microphone reviews.

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