We figure out how to choose a microphone for recording vocals and select the best microphones in terms of price and quality.
Choosing the right microphone means ensuring a third of the success of high-quality vocal recordings. An inappropriate or poor-quality microphone will ruin the sound of the vocalist and the whole song. Therefore, the choice of a sound recorder must be approached with responsibility.
The question “Best Budget Microphone For Vocals?” every musician wondered at least once. It would seem that it’s enough to find a device that is suitable in price and quality and pick it up in a store, but in reality it’s not so simple. In the conditions of a home recording studio, when there are no funds to buy a whole fleet of microphones, I want to make the only right choice the first time.
We studied the market and selected thirty of the best microphones for recording vocals in the low, middle and high price segment. When compiling the list of devices, external factors affecting the choice of the microphone were not taken into account: the structure of the room, the presence of sound insulation, individual voice features. We chose microphones only in terms of price and quality.
How to choose a best microphone for recording vocals
The direction of the microphone determines how the microphone records the surrounding space and is selected for the room in which the recording is being made. By direction, microphones are divided into several types:
- Omnidirectional and hemispherical;
- Unidirectional – cardioid, supercardioid, hypercardioid and hemocardial;
Omnidirectional microphones respond to all sounds around them, that is, they record sound both in front of and behind themselves. Omnidirectional microphones are perfect for recording several vocalists or percussion, as well as in cases where the room has unique acoustic characteristics. Hemispherical microphones respond to signals from one side of the sphere, but they remove them as clearly and honestly as possible.
Unidirectional cardioid microphones record the signal in front of the microphone, ignoring everything that happens on other sides. Such devices are the best choice for home recording studios and non-ideal acoustic rooms in which there is no way to equip a full-fledged vocal room. By adding such a microphone to the sound-absorbing screen behind the microphone, you can eliminate unwanted room echoes.
Supercardioid microphones have a narrower area for capturing sound in front of them, but at the same time they collect a little signal behind them. Hypercardioid microphones develop the ideas of supercardioid devices: an even narrower area for capturing sound in the front and a wider area for the back. Semi-cardioid microphones are often used in lectures, meetings, and other speaking events.
Bidirectional microphones are more versatile due to the ability to switch the radiation pattern. The price of such devices is much higher than that of omnidirectional or unidirectional microphones, but in return the sound engineer receives a device that is ready for recording in different rooms.
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Pros and Cons of Microphones of Different Directions
- Depend on the acoustics of the room;
- Record the natural reverb and echo of the room;
- Do not have acoustic insulation;
- They have low sensitivity to the sounds of human breathing;
- They have an extended range of low frequencies, which is suitable for recording instruments with low sound.
Unidirectional cardioid and supercardioid microphones:
- Isolate unwanted sounds and signals coming from the side and from the rear of the microphone;
- Less sensitive to the acoustic properties of the room;
- They have the maximum difference in the sound of signals coming from the front and rear.
- Almost completely insensitive to sounds coming from the side;
- They have the maximum possible isolation from the adverse effects of the room, extraneous noise and feedback effect;
- Prevent sound leakage.
- Used during speech recording;
- Isolated from any adverse sounds, which is useful when recording a drum kit.
People have the unpleasant habit of constantly moving from the microphone. The sensitivity of the microphone helps minimize the loss in volume of the sound signal due to the movement of the vocalist. It was good sensitivity that made the Shure SM7B microphone an indispensable tool on radio stations.
Microphone Frequency Response Range
The reproduced frequency range of the microphone allows you to understand what instruments and sound sources can be recorded using the device. Some microphone models record more high frequencies, others low frequencies, and still others have balanced sound. For this reason, the sound of the same instrument is different when recording with different microphones.
The range of reproduced frequencies of the microphone may be the main argument in favor of buying a particular model. Decide which instruments and vocals you will record. Think about which frequencies you can amplify or cut with the equalizer, and which ones you can leave clean. This will reduce the number of suitable microphone models.
Source of power
Almost all microphones require + 48V phantom power. If budget devices prefer to be powered by a sound card, then more expensive microphones often come with their own external power source.
If you have frequent offsite sessions, look towards phantom powered microphones. If the microphone is planned to be used only in the studio, then feel free to consider devices with a separate power source.
Microphone noise level
Noise level is one of the biggest disadvantages of budget microphones. In a foreign method, the noise level is referred to as “Noise Floor”, and its value reflects the noise level that the microphone produces.
A microphone connected to the sound card emits background noise even when no recording is in progress. Noise arises for various reasons: interference from the mains, operation of a preamplifier or audio interface, poor-quality cables. It is difficult to identify the real reason, and it is almost impossible to find out the real microphone noise level without testing with your equipment.
Dynamic range microphone and headroom
The dynamic range of the microphone is the difference between the minimum and maximum volume levels of sound that can be recorded by the microphone. Within the dynamic range, the microphone will record the full spectrum of frequencies, while beyond its boundaries the microphone will pass individual frequencies.
Hadrum – a dynamic stock microphone, in which it records a signal without overload.
Before buying a microphone, decide which sound sources you will record. If you are not talking about recording too quiet or loud instruments, then choose models with averaged values.
Microphones for recording vocals: 20 Best Budget Microphone For Vocals
01 TASCAM TM-80
Average price: 60$
It is first in our list of Best Budget Microphone For Vocals. TASCAM’s budget entry into the microphone market has been more than successful. In terms of level, the microphone is slightly better than the especially popular SAMSON C01, but the manufacturer gives a spider, cable and a rack when buying it. The microphone sounds quite adequate for its price: there are frequency dips, neutrality is lame, but you can still write speech and vocals. If you are short of money, but you still want to equip the vocal part of your home studio, then the TM-80 will be an excellent choice as the first device.
02 sE Electronics X1 S
Average price: from 99$
The best microphone for recording vocals in the category of up to 10,000 rubles. The new version of the X1 S is characterized by a low amount of noise when working with quiet sources and a large amount of amplification, as well as a completely neutral and even sound. The model copes with Russian vowels and sibilants, which is rare among budget models. Ideal for aspiring musicians as the first serious microphone for a home recording studio.
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03 AKG D5
Average price: 80$
A direct competitor to the legendary Shure SM58 microphone. The AKG D5 is a device for those who need a versatile microphone for vocals. The device copes equally well with work in the studio, and with concerts.
04 Samson METEOR USB
Average price: 60$
best budget usb microphone for vocals. One of the most popular budget microphones on the market: METEOR often becomes the first microphone for aspiring musicians. The sound picture is better suited for speaker work, but the device also copes with vocals recording without any problems. Separately, it is worth noting the presence of the MUTE button, which is useful to those who stream.
05 Samson C01U PRO USB
Average price: 75$
Despite the presence of many negative reviews, one of the leaders in sales in the budget segment. Affordable price, normal for a device of a similar level of voice transmission. There is no point in demanding a lot from such a device, but as the first microphone, the C01U is quite suitable.
06 Shure SM58
Average price: 90$
One of the most popular microphones for live performances. Among the advantages: low price, built-in pop filter and resistance to any interference. In addition, it is worth noting the structural strength – in terms of survivability, the Shure SM58 can safely compete with the Nokia 3310. The model is not perfect (lacks high frequencies), but it will be an excellent choice for beginner sound engineers and young rock singers working in their own studio.
07 Rode m3
Average price: 99$
Budget condenser microphone with a small aperture. The miniature Rode M3 is suitable for recording vocals, acoustic guitars and power tools. The model can work from phantom power or 9V batteries, which makes the device mobile and convenient for working in the field.
08 AKG P120
Average price: 89$
The third version of the AKG Perception 120, dubbed the P120, is somewhat similar in sound to the less expensive Audio-Technica AT2020. The signal sounds easy, with a slight touch of compression, high frequencies are smooth, but not boring. Of the immediate advantages, it can be noted that the microphone is suitable for most voices, including women, who need a little less sharpness and more depth. The AKG P120 is far from being the quietest microphone, but the noise it produces does not interfere with recording anything. If you want more in the same way, look towards the P220 – it is more expensive, but higher than the level.
09 Audio-Technica AT2020
Average price: 100$
A convenient option for beginner musicians and those who want to get the maximum quality at an affordable price. Audio-Technica AT2020 nicely decorates the voice and clearly conveys the timbre. Working with the device is simple to disgrace – just connect the microphone to the computer and select as the input source to start recording vocals or conducting a podcast.
Audio-Technica released two AT2020 models: one with a USB connection, the second with a standard XLR connector. The price difference between the two varieties is minimal, so choose the one that is best suited to your studio.
10 JZ Microphones HH1
The lightweight JZ Microphones HH1 sounds brighter than most dynamic microphones. Unlike the Shure SM58, the output signal of this model is more powerful (thanks to a gain of +3 dB), and the output noise is much less even when working with quiet sound sources.
11 AKG C1000S
Average price: 130$
Directivity: cardioid, hypercardioid
Perhaps the most versatile microphone of all. Every musician and sound engineer should get the C1000S: the device is suitable for recording any instruments, studio and concert vocals. Add to this the equally clear and high-quality transmission of any signals and the ability to work even on batteries to understand why it is called the “Swiss knife” from the world of microphones.
12 Lewitt LCT 240
Average price: 140$
The Austrian company Lewitt is known for its microphone Lewitt LCT 640, considered a true classic in the world of microphones. Since not everyone can lay out almost € 900 for a microphone, the company released a simplified and very cheaper model of the device. Lewitt LCT 240 has a powerful timbre and solid tone, which is perfect for deep male vocals. There is no trace of manual assembly in the device, but the minuses of the microphone end there.
13 Sontronics STC-2X / STC-3X
Average price: € 224
Sontronics STC-2X makes vocal recording a pleasure. A clear and detailed sound, a dense bottom without drops in frequency and a pleasant effect of presence, manifested in frequencies in the region of the upper bottom. If the STC-2X will be difficult to get, feel free to switch to STC-3X – an updated version of the second generation.
14 NADY SCM 1000
Average price: 100$
Directivity: cardioid, omnidirectional, Figure-8
The microphone has been produced for over 20 years and has long been considered the best in terms of price and quality. Sounds like sE Electronics S1 X, Audio-Technica AT2020 and AKG P120. With a warm and fairly pleasant sound, the device has exactly two drawbacks:
- For 20 years, NADY have not learned how to sell their goods: everything comes in a simple cardboard box and looks like you are buying a terrible Chinese, not a high-quality device;
- On sale you can find many cheaper, famous and, most importantly, high-quality microphones.
15 ktava MK-319
Average price: € 249
Condenser Oktava MK-319 has a wide aperture, warm and clear sound. The device performs equally well when recording any sound sources, although its sound may seem somewhat flat. The creators claim that they tried to ensure accurate transmission of signals so that everything recorded sounds exactly the same as in reality. Whether it is true or not is an open question.
16 Blue Microphones Spark Digital
Average price: $ 230
The Spark Digital microphone is designed for those who are used to recording in the field. At the heart of the device is the classic Blue Microphones Spark model, in which the XLR port is replaced with USB. The model is characterized by pleasant sound and ease of use: you can record even from tablets and smartphones on Android and iOS.
17 MXL V69 ME
Average price: $ 300
Despite the excessive brightness when transmitting voice, the MXL V69 ME has a rich tube sound and the ability to add extra beauty to any voice.
18 Avant Electronics Avantone CR-14
Average price: from $ 250
Directivity: omnidirectional, Figure-8
Inexpensive ribbon microphone in retro styling, featuring versatility. Avantone CR-14 is suitable for recording vocals, as well as for any musical instruments – guitars, keyboards, strings, percussion. The sound is warm and a little gloomy, so get ready for a little post-processing vocals around the top.
19 Violet The Wedge
Average price: from $ 849
High-quality performance, soft and warm sound, catchy retro design. Violet The Wedge is an excellent choice for recording vocals at a near professional and professional level.
20 AKG Perception 820 Tube
Average price: from $ 700
this is last in our choice of Best Budget Microphone For Vocals. The flagship model of AKG. Perception 820 Tube offers quality builds and pleasant soft sound. Additionally, the device is equipped with a switch that allows you to change sound parameters without moving the microphone in space.