There are such a lot of essential elements when it comes to recording a great vocal sound. The right take, the right mix, and the right microphone all play an enormous role. If you want to enhance your sound, you can always practice your singing, or learn new mixing techniques. However, if you used the incorrect mic, you may be stuck. With all that riding on your choice of vocal microphone, it’s essential to know what it takes to choose the best one. In this article, I’ll go through the basics of selecting a mic to record your vocals and provides recommended microphone choices to suit all types and budgets.
Let’s get started.
How to choose a vocal mic
There’s way more to choosing a mic than just shopping for the most expensive one you can afford.
In fact, you might be surprised to learn that the most expensive mic isn’t all the time the best choice—especially when it comes to vocals.
Instead, you’ll need to take many more elements into account as you shop for a mic.
Budget is essential, however, the type, sound, and features of your mic all make a difference.
Different microphone types capture sound utilizing different methods. Each one has strengths and weaknesses that have an effect on your sound.
If that weren’t enough, two mics of the same kind can sound radically different from one another.
Some mics require phantom power, or a strong preamp to perform their best. Others connect directly to your computer via USB.
In the end, the one way to really know if a mic works effectively for your voice is to try it.
It may not be possible to try every single mic, so here’s a helpful quiz from Shure that will help you narrow down your options.
Each choice in the Shure Mic Match quiz was carefully chosen to address the needs of beginner and intermediate producers and creators.
Each one in detail is a good way to get an overview of various microphones and how they will work for you.
7 Shure vocal mics to consider for recording
With all that in thoughts, here are seven solid microphone choices from Shure and why they work well for recording vocals.
Polar pattern: Cardioid
Price: $99 USD
The Shure SM58 is one of the hottest microphone choices of all time. It’s been the first selection for live vocals for many years.
However, all the essential qualities that make the SM58 a fixture of pro stages worldwide are good for recording too.
It includes a nice tight cardioid polar pattern with great off-axis rejection and impressive frequency response in the essential areas for vocals.
It’s also durable, compact, and super affordable.
If that weren’t enough, the SM58 sounds nice on many instruments other than vocals. That’s why it’s one of the best investments you could make for your home studio.
If you’re new to vocal recording and you want a strong mic to get started, it’s hard to recommend another choice over the Shure SM58.
Kind: Large-diaphragm condenser
Polar pattern: Cardioid
Price: $199 USD
Condenser mics are another microphone type that can come with a high price tag.
Pro studios usually invest thousands in a single mic of this kind, and it’s easy to see why. Large-diaphragm condensers produce a polished studio vocal sound that works great in a mix.
However, do you really have to spend a fortune to get a condenser mic that sounds good and works effectively for vocals? Not always.
Shure’s capable PGA range of microphones is based on the same technology that powers its flagship models.
It’s the first place to look for great mic performance on a budget.
The PGA27 large-diaphragm condenser is comparable to a different pick on this list—the SM27.
If you liked the options of the SM27 however can’t quite stomach the price, think about the more accessible PGA27.
Polar pattern: Cardioid
Price: $399 USD
Another basic Shure mic with an enormous reputation is the SM7B.
It’s been an industry standard in broadcasting for many years, however, it’s become one of the go-to microphone choices for podcasters, live streamers, and YouTubers. These content creators love the SM7B for how well it captures the human voice.
However, it’s not just spoken word that works great with this mic. It’s also the best choice for recording vocals, even in professional studios that can afford priceless vintage classics.
The SM7B is unique among professional studio mics due to its large-diaphragm dynamic design.
That makes it able to deal with the fast transients from aggressive vocal types with ease.
It also makes it rather less sensitive and better at rejecting the noise and room reflections that aren’t easy to get rid of in a home studio.
The SM7B is maybe most well-known for its use by pioneering engineer Bruce Swedien. Swedien used it to record Michael Jackson’s vocals on some of his greatest albums. That’s a pretty big endorsement!
If you mostly record vocals at home and also you want a pro mic that’s well suited to the task, the SM7B is the best choice.