How to Choose the Best Microphone for Vocals
Looking to make the jump from casual singer to dedicated vocalist? Whether you’re performing live or recording new tracks, Shure has put together a guide to the best microphones for vocals.
Being a vocalist is different these days. You can perform an intimate gig to thousands online or record an absolute banger with just a laptop. You can sidestep the gatekeepers and forge your own path. But you’ll still need a microphone capable of conveying your commitment to every single note. A mic that will elevate your voice.
This guide is focused on quickly helping those singers who are getting serious about making music and looking to take their craft to the next level. Finding the right vocal microphone can make all the difference, but it can also be a time-consuming and sometimes confusing process.
So we’ve cut through the static. Here are 8 great vocal mics:
A good mic is more than just a tool to make yourself be heard. Singers rely on them to capture the finest details of their voices. You’ll want to select a microphone that’s the right fit for the timbre and characteristics of your voice, as well as how and where you intend to use it.
Stage or studio?
One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is whether you want a microphone for performing live or recording at home or in a studio. There are plenty of mics that can do both stage and studio extremely well, but it’s wise to give some thought to where you’ll primarily be using a microphone before purchasing one.
Because even if there are microphones that operate in both live and recording settings, quite often engineers have designed them with a specific job in mind. For example, a sensitive large-diaphragm condenser like the PGA27 is ideal for picking up delicate Billie Eilish-style vocals recorded in a quiet space (like your closet) sealed off from the rest of the world.
But performing onstage in front of an extremely loud rock band? In that case, you’re probably going to want a dynamic microphone like the Beta 58A, which has been designed to reject stage noise and handle high sound pressure levels.
So, an important question for any prospective mic purchaser: Are you planning a gig or getting ready to record new songs? Let’s look at some stage mics first.
Vocal microphones for live performance
THE PGA58 – Need an affordable yet still great-sounding mic to take to band practice or gigging? The PGA58 is a professional option offering renowned Shure quality and performance. It also has a handy on/off switch for smooth handovers between performers.
THE SM58 – There’s a very good reason this microphone is a live performance legend. With an amazing shock mount and built-in pop filter, the SM58 provides warm, crisp vocals no matter if you’re in a humongous stadium or cozy club. It’s famously reliable and sounds just as good in a recording studio.
THE BETA 58A – No offense to your bandmates, but this microphone is likely to become your best friend onstage. The Beta 58A’s brighter sound will give your vocals a mighty presence in the mix. Plus, it works harder to shield your voice from all the noise around you.
THE BETA 87A – This condenser mic will put your vocals on a pedestal. The Beta 87A is one of the most popular microphones in its class. Its tailored to the upper midrange to bring your voice forward while still providing great isolation from other sounds.
THE KSM8 – No compromises. Not on sound. Not on performance. Not on looks! The KSM8 Dualdyne™ sets a new standard for vocal microphones. This mic has been meticulously crafted for world-class performances at elite venues – or wherever you happen to be singing.
Vocal microphones for home studio recording
THE SM7B – From rap to rock, this powerful microphone delivers smooth, warm vocals every time. The SM7B captures the finer details of every performance while its rugged construction reduces unwanted distortion from louder singers. It looks like a legend because it is one.
THE PGA27 – Looking for a microphone able to pick up the finer points of your vocals in the studio that you can still toss in a backpack and head to your local open mic night? Then look no further than the PGA27, a quality condenser microphone that’s also great for recording instruments. You’ll even get a shock mount and padded carrying case for an unbeatable value.
THE KSM32 – Step up your studio game to the next level with this versatile large-diaphragm condenser microphone. The KSM32 has an extended range to pick up all the nuances of your singing with stunning clarity while recording. Say hello to your home studio’s new secret weapon.
Choosing the right mic
Of course, the vocal mics mentioned above are just a small sampling of the Shure product line, but they are a good place to start. Once you’ve narrowed down your search, you might find there are other microphones to consider as well. Looking at the Beta 87A for your next tour? Be sure to check out the SM86 and KSM9 handheld condensers. Mulling over the PGA27 or KSM32 for your home studio but need something in between pricewise? Give the SM27 a look.
If you still aren’t quite sure where to begin, simply answer a few questions and we’ll tell you which is the perfect mic for your needs.
And remember, the most important thing to keep in mind when selecting a microphone is that you’re happy with how your voice sounds. So head down to your local music store and ask to try out a few different models. Hearing is believing!