Updated on Mar 14, 2023
If you're searching for the best microphone for vocals, then you've come to the right place. The Musician Nerds have been working with microphones for a lifetime in every setting you could imagine. From home studios to music halls, we understand the importance of having just the right mic for the job.
This list will consider the various ways you would use a microphone and the different budget needs of our readers. The best part about vocal microphones is that there's an option for everyone, and with the proper knowledge, you can get the most bang for your buck. We'll be looking at some good options for both live & studio vocals.
We’ll run you through our list of mics before getting into why we love each choice. Continue reading after that to find out more about live vs. recording vocal microphones. Now, let us find the best microphone for vocals!
Many will tell you that the Shure SM58 Dynamic Handheld Vocal Mic is the best microphone for vocals when singing live, and for most people, that's probably true. The built-in features are essential for a singing microphone, and the low price point brings this quality mic to those on a budget, making it even more accessible.
If you've ever seen a studio microphone sitting in a cagey-looking device, that's an external shock mount. This handheld mic offers a brightened midrange with low bass roll-off and provides well-rounded audio which brings your voice to life. The built-in pneumatic shock mount allows you to move around on stage without the risk of handling noises disrupting your audio.
The Shure SM58 also provides an internal pop filter for reducing undesirable wind and breathing noises. The advanced cardioid pickup pattern will help keep the background noises from getting in and causing feedback. These features are essential for a live mic, so if you're looking for a microphone on stage, this is likely the best microphone for vocals.
Feel free to checkout our review: Shure SM58 Review.
Rightfully sitting at the top is the Shure SM7B, arguably the best microphone for vocals. Not only does this microphone offer astounding sound quality, but it is also the most versatile high-end mic I've ever owned. For those two reasons alone, this is (almost) always my go-to microphone for recording vocals on a computer.
From YouTubers to diamond-certified artists, the Shure SM7B is popular amongst some of the most famous people in the world. This microphone's three most common uses are voice-overs, rock vocals, and hip-hop vocals. To provide an example for each, Joe Rogan uses it for his podcast, The Breakfast Club, for rap showcases, and Michael Jackson on Thriller.
This Shure microphone is also notoriously quiet. We talk more about this in our article why is the Shure SM7B so quiet? But it's a very low output microphone. That being said, it's also good practice to use microphone preamp anyways, and the Cloudlifter CL-1 is the most commonly paired gain booster for this microphone. And take it from me, it's so worth it!
What makes this dynamic microphone so popular? It mainly affects your vocals, allowing them to pop with a well-rounded sound, from crisp highs to warm lows. The definition adds to your voice, making it one of the microphones for singing. For a microphone in this price range to sound as good as it does is fantastic. If you can afford it, this is the best microphone for vocals.
Feel free to checkout our review: Shure SM7B Review.
In my personal opinion, the real best microphone for vocals when singing live is going to be the Sennheiser e945 Super-Cardioid Dynamic Handheld Mic. Though not as popular as the Shure SM58, the Sennheiser e900 series is the gold standard for live microphones.
I first purchased this microphone years ago because I heard it was what celebrities used on stage. Of course, now I believe that's a silly reason to buy a microphone, but I can tell you that the audio is definitely worth the cost. However, you don't need the best audio ever for live performances, and the SM58 above will be more than enough for most.
The Sennheiser e945 boasts a Neodymium ferrous magnet with boron, which protects the stability from climate conditions. This single feature adds a level of versatility that many live microphones do not have. The level of detail and definition this mic will bring to your voice is exquisite, and I couldn't say enough good things about it.
Because of the price point for this mic, I wouldn't use it as anything other than a singing microphone. There are significantly better options for recording at comparable costs; however, you may find it the best microphone for live vocals.
The entire e-series is packed with the best microphones for singing. But as I said before, it’s not really necessary to have for most people, but if you’re like me and want the best microphone on stage, look no further.
If you’re looking for the best microphone for vocals for voice-over work on a budget, the Rode Podmic is one of the finest choices. Rode was the first brand I ever considered when I was younger for my home studio. The level of detail you get from their affordable microphones is almost as noteworthy as that of Shure. The Rode Podmic is probably my favorite of theirs for that reason.
This vintage-looking broadcast microphone looks like it was pulled straight out of a radio show. This mic uses a dynamic capsule with permanent polarization to capture your voice despite what you would think from appearance. What's even more remarkable is it has the same wide-frequency response we expect from condenser mics, adding to the layer of detail this microphone brings to your voice.
Just as the name suggests, the Rode Podmic is optimized for podcast & broadcast use, which is why it’s one of my personal favorite microphones for voice overwork. At the low price point, this microphone comes in at, it's amazing what it's capable of, and I recommend checking it out. This may be your best microphone for vocals if you're starting on YouTube or another similar medium.
Feel free to checkout our review: Rode Podmic Review.
Arguably the most popular & well-known USB microphone for voice-over work is the Blue Yeti USB. Many vloggers will tell you this is the best microphone for vocals on video. This USB mic boasts a tri-condenser capsule array, giving it a massive level of versatility. Whether recording in a conference room or sitting alone, optimize your audio with their multi-pattern selection.
Some of the unique features you'll get from this computer microphone are gain control & a mute button. The ability to actively change your volume, or shut it off completely, is beneficial for live streaming, podcasts, and other remote calls. The level of detail in the audio is incredible, even comparable to studio microphones, thanks to the high sensitivity.
Before, we mentioned the multi-polar pattern options, including cardioid, bidirectional, omnidirectional, and stereo. This allows you to record almost anything, from vocals to instruments, as well as one-on-one interviews with your guest on the other side. So, if you’re looking for the best microphone for vocals specifically for voice-over work, the Blue Yeti USB is worth giving some extra consideration.
Feel free to checkout our review: Blue Yeti USB Review.
The Electro-Voice RE20 is yet another option on this list for podcasts that we think are worth mentioning because of how powerful and popular it is. When we say popular, what we mean is if you listen to the radio at all, the odds are you've heard it being used. The way it's able to transform your voice into broadcast-worthy audio is absolutely astounding.
The Electro-Voice RE20 is the classic sound of FM Radio, providing a smooth & natural sonic character. The frequency response, which falls between 45Hz - 18kHz, is specifically tailored for speech, making it the perfect vocal microphone.
While it may use the traditional cardioid pattern like others on this list, they take it a step further with the Variable-D, which offers minimal proximity effect. If you don't know what that means, you'll be able to move around the microphone without any change in the level of output from the microphone.
Many people compare it to a studio condenser due to the high level of performance and frequency depth. There are many vocal microphones out there that tailored to your voice, but very few can compare to the power of the Electro-Voice RE20.
Once again, if you’re looking for the best microphone for vocals with voice-over work, the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone is definitely worth looking into. With massive popularity amongst the podcast and YouTube community, this microphone has a lot of credibility on the market thanks to its superior audio quality and features.
As a USB Microphone, the Audio Technica AT2020USB+ offers the convenience of plug-and-play with any computer device (so long as you have a port for it). The wide-range frequency response adds depth and detail to your vocals, giving the effect of studio-grade quality on your projects.
The Audio Technica AT2020USB+ is also optimized for vocal use specifically, with a fixed-charge back plate permanently polarized as a cardioid mic. This will help keep the sound input focused on you & your voice.
One of my favorite features of this USB microphone is the mix control. This allows you to blend your microphone audio with pre-recorded samples, which is why it's essential for voice-over work. There is also a headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring. All of these features make it easy to see why it's considered the best microphone for vocals.
Suppose you're looking for something similar at over half the cost. In that case, you should check out their other model, the AT2005USB. The more affordable sibling mic still provides that amazing quality for voice over work with the plug-and-play convenience but focuses more on brightened mid-ranges as a dynamic mic. You can find our review on it at AT2005USB Review. Either way, you'll be in great hands.
Or checkout our review: Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Review.
The last essential best microphone for vocals on computer devices is the Samson Go, a small travel-friendly device that clips right on to your laptop screen. As you can tell from the picture below, this microphone is tiny, making it very portable. I first purchased mine a few years back when recording audio out in the woods at night.
To this day, I'm amazed by the level of detail this microphone offers in such a small package. As you might suspect, this is not your average "on-the-go" recorder, and I would never recommend it for "taking notes." No, this microphone is so powerful you could sing into it and throw it into your favorite DAW if you wanted. However, there may be some better options for singing.
Another way I like to use the Samson Go is for remote working. As I write this article, society is quarantined, and I've found myself in hundreds of meetings over video. Zero-latency monitoring is a super handy feature as well to prevent delays. There’s a lot you can do with this microphone, and it’s really affordable, as with most Samson microphones. For anyone on the go, it's going to be the best microphone for vocals that you can get.
We could go on and on about the best microphone for vocals on the market, but why are we qualified? For starters, we've been working with microphones for ages and have healthy obsessions with every kind. From vintage ribbons to modern-day USB microphones, we've used them all and continue to look at the new brands on the market.
Our founder has also been working in home studios since childhood, and he knows a whole lot about trying to record vocals in less-than-optimal spaces.
We look for a couple of essential features to qualify as the best microphone for live vocals. The needs of a live mic vs. those of a recording microphone are very different, and making the wrong choice can seriously hurt your audio quality.
There's likely to be audio playing from all around you when performing live, from the back speakers to the band by your side. When audio enters the microphone, it creates unpleasant feedback.
The best live vocal mic will prevent this by utilizing a cardioid pickup pattern, which will isolate the main sound source & reduce background noise. The Shure SM58 is a great example of that.
Another feature we look for is a built-in shock-mount system for reducing handling noises. When moving around on stage (or using a stand), the last thing you need is "booms" and "bams" going through the speakers.
Lastly, the best live vocal mic will have a built-in pop filter. On stage, we don’t have the luxury of creating the best possible sound environment as we would in a studio. These features all help keep the audio as pure and clean as possible.
As we've mentioned above, the best microphone for live vocals does not equal the best microphone for vocals for computer work. When it comes to recording vocals, depth and accuracy are key to adding production effects to enhance the vocals. Think of sound waves like pixels on a TV; the more you have, the better the resolution (2K vs. 4K).
Condenser microphones are known for their high sensitivity, which leads to the levels of depth we’re talking about here. However, low-end condensers can be tricky to work with, and if you don't have a noise-free environment (or the means to be noise-proof), forget about it!
However, this list considers all of these factors as well. When people are on a tight budget, I often point them to the Shure SM58, as it does just enough to get the job done right. From the noise-canceling features we mentioned earlier to the affordable price point, it's a well-rounded choice for a dynamic, and Shure, in general, is my favorite dynamic microphone brand.
The Shure SM7B has been used as a recording microphone for ages and was my second studio microphone. I purchased this beautiful mic because my environment had a lot of noise, and that wasn't an issue with this mic.
But that's a giant leap, a $100 microphone to $400, and it doesn't have to be one or the other. The Blue Yeti series works wonders & plugs right into the computer. I would recommend stretching to their X or Pro model if possible if you want the best microphone for vocals, but overall, it's a solid choice for a budget home studio.
Hopefully, you can find the best microphone for vocals off of this list. If you did indeed go with one of our choices, let us know in the comments below! We love hearing about how they work for you, and if you have any music, share it with us as well!
Do you think we're missing an important choice on this list? Let us know! Our team of experts is always willing to go out and try new microphones or hear your arguments for why one trumps another. Our goal is to make the most accurate list possible for our readers, so your feedback is always appreciated.
Posted on Oct 16, 2020
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