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What Type of Microphone is Best for Recording Vocals?


One of the best ways to give justice to vocalists is to use the best type of microphone for recording their vocals. Whether it’s a live performance or a studio recording, the type of vocal mic you will be using can greatly affect the sound quality and how the vocalist will sound.

While the vocal talent and acoustic environment will also play major roles in the overall vocal recording, vocal mics have a great say in the matter too. With that said, read on to find out the best type of vocal microphones to use for studio and live applications.

Which Microphone is Best for Vocal Recording?

The best vocal microphones are the ones that not only capture the voice of the user but also highlight the characteristics of one’s voice. The ability of your vocal microphone to do so will depend on the intended application — is it a live vocal recording or for studio use?

Live Vocal Recording

What Type of Microphone is Best for Recording Vocals?

If you plan on using your vocal microphone for live applications, then the best microphone for you is a dynamic microphone.

Live applications tend to require vocal microphones that are more durable due to the physical activity and movements that might occur and dynamic microphones are known for how sturdy they can be. Even if they get passed around or accidentally drop to the ground, dynamic microphones will not easily break or get damaged. Should you need stability, then a mic stand can easily solve this while helping prevent noise from holding the vocal microphone with your hand.

On the technical side, dynamic microphones can also withstand loud noises better than other microphone types. This is an important factor to consider if your recording environment is outside or if there’s a live audience to avoid signal distortion and the possible pickup of bass frequencies.

Dynamic cardioid mics are also great for gain-before-feedback, which is the usual case needed when on stage due to loudspeakers and the sound reinforcement used in the location. Live vocal microphones can provide the best gain-before-feedback if you position dynamic cardioid mics away from stage monitors and place them behind the front-of-house loudspeakers.

Given that live recording applications will also have multiple audible spectrums and sound sources in the area, you will need a vocal microphone that has a colored frequency response. Dynamic microphones have a frequency response that will not be too sensitive to other frequency responses around them.

They will allow more gain-before-feedback while capturing clear vocals. Said colored frequency response of dynamic microphones will also help in adding presence boost and low-end roll-off.

When using a vocal microphone for live applications, you will also need to be mindful of the quality of your vocal presence range. Dynamic cardioid microphones are great at boosting the vocal presence range. Choose a dynamic cardioid mic that can help increase the sensitivity of its present range of frequency response to help amplify vocals while maintaining speech clarity.

The general vocal presence range is around 3 kHz to 6 kHz and a good dynamic cardioid mic can help cut vocals amidst a live performance.

Studio Vocal Recording

Condenser microphones make for the best studio microphones. A condenser microphone is great at picking up detailed and nuanced sounds so you are assured that the detail of your voice and what you say can be picked up.

Unlike dynamic microphones, condenser vocal microphones are more sensitive and delicate. Given this, they are great as studio microphones since the user will be doing fewer movements and the setting is more controlled.

Many professionals would also dub large-diaphragm condenser microphones the best studio microphones for recording vocals because of their natural frequency response, consistent cardioid polar pattern, and ability to give the vocal presence range enough boost. All these factors help in capturing one’s voice loud and clear for easier mixing.

For studio use, vocal microphones need to have a colored frequency response since sound sources are more focused. With that said, the best microphone for this application is a condenser microphone that has a wide frequency response. Aim for condenser vocal mics that have solid low-end and high-end frequency responses for a natural but fuller sound. Said frequency response will also help in isolating sound sources, which is great if you have other instruments in the recording studio.

Choose condenser vocal mics that have low self-noise to you can also capture a clean vocal recording. Large-diaphragm condenser vocal microphones are great at achieving this and they also add richness and warmth to a user’s voice.

Is a Dynamic Mic or Condenser Mic Better for Vocals?

While there are plenty of microphone types that can be used for vocal microphones, the two most commonly used ones are dynamic mics and condenser mics. Choosing which is the best microphone will depend on the application and your intended vocal recording quality.

Dynamic Microphone

What Type of Microphone is Best for Recording Vocals?

Dynamic vocal microphones are the best mics for live applications. The colored frequency response of these dynamic vocal microphones will help in amplifying the voice of the user despite there being other sound sources in the area. A dynamic cardioid microphone is the best vocal mic that can reject extraneous sounds while highlighting the voice of a user.

However, dynamic vocal microphones are not great at rejecting plosives. To compensate, opt for dynamic vocal microphones with heavy diaphragms so they can still somewhat resist plosives that can be picked up during live recording sessions.

Condenser Microphone

Condenser vocal microphones are the best mics for studio applications. If you would like each detail and nuance of your voice or speech to be picked up, then these make for great vocal microphones. With the addition of a pop filter, you can also prevent plosives from getting picked up.

One can also opt to use omnidirectional microphones as these are great at resisting plosives and proximity effects. However, omnidirectional microphones can affect vocal quality.

This type of microphone has a neutral-leaning frequency response so your vocal recording will have enough room for mixing, editing, and adjustments. This is also why condenser mics, especially shotgun types, are a favorite amongst TV and movie sets.

Final Note

What Type of Microphone is Best for Recording Vocals?

The best microphones for recording vocals will vary depending on the application: live or studio. When it comes to live applications, dynamic mics are the best vocal microphones to use whereas condenser mics are better used as studio microphones.

Now that you know the best microphone types used for recording vocals, you’re one step closer to finding out the best vocal microphone for you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are condenser microphones good for?

A condenser vocal microphone is great for studio use. It has the ideal low noise to help capture a clean and clear vocal recording. Condenser vocal mics can also accurately pick up sounds and nuances so the enunciation of words can be clearly heard.

Naomi Feller

Originally from the East Coast, Naomi started singing as young as 3 years old. In her early teens Naomi made some embarrassing YouTube videos before settling on a love for Podcast editing. When she's not pouring over endless amounts of audio, she lends her expertise to us here at Shout4Music with her crystal clear and finely tuned microphone reviews.

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