- Shoestring budget but itching to record quality vocals?
- We compare 10 of the best vocal microphones money can buy.
- 3 price points to guide your decision.
10 Best Vocal Microphones Under $700
It’s pretty self-explanatory that if you want to record vocals, you need a microphone! In order to create a digital version of you or someone else’s singing, you need to find a way of converting sound into an electrical signal – which is essentially what a microphone does.
A producer’s choice of microphone will come down to a number of factors such as the type of music being recorded, the vocalist’s timbre or style and sometimes even the recording environment.
In this article, I go over 10 of the best vocal microphones available on the market in 2019. I’ve separated sections into 3 price points, to help you navigate your way:
- Best Vocal Microphones Under $150
- Best Vocal Microphones Under $400
- Best Vocal Microphones Under $700
Mics Under $150
1. Samson CO1
- Multi-purpose studio condenser microphone with large 19mm diaphragm
- Cardioid pickup pattern with excellent off-axis rejection
- Perfect for vocals, guitars, stringed-instruments, drums and more
- Rugged mic design with heavy-gauge mesh grille
- Gold-plated XLR connector
The Samson CO1 is the cheapest mic on our list. Despite the insane price, the mic itself is actually sturdy and provides a fairly flat frequency response, making it a good ‘all-rounder’ for the aspiring beginner.
The mic itself comes with a cardioid polar pattern, which you can’t change, however, it does include an LED which illuminates when phantom power is switched on (and also helps if you are unsure which side to sing into!).
It is worth bearing in mind that this is a budget mic and it does generate a certain amount of noise compared to higher budget microphones.
This isn’t an issue if you are singing close to the mic itself, but if you are a quiet singer (or even singing far away from the mic) this can cause some problems.
It’s a great entry point if you are looking to purchase your first condenser mic (so long as you aren’t expecting the sound of a Neumann).
✔ Simple to use
✘ Users have noted that it generates a small amount of self-noise
2. Shure SM58
- Frequency response tailored for vocals, with brightened midrange and bass rolloff to control proximity effect
- Effective built-in spherical wind and pop filter. Frequency response: 50 to 15,000 Hz
- Pneumatic shock-mount system cuts down handling noise.
- Uniform cardioid pickup pattern isolates the main sound source and minimizes background noise
An SM58 utilizes a cardioid polar pattern and is great for producing a warm but clear vocal sound. With excellent rejection to the base of the mic, it is a good choice if you wanted to record vocals at the same time as another instrument such as a guitar.
The SM58 also has its own grille, eliminating the need for a pop shield.
The mic is extremely sturdy as well (which is one of the many reasons why they are so popular in a live setting) and whilst they may lack a certain amount of crispness that you would get with other condensers, they are still fantastic for vocals.
You’ll often hear the SM58 referred to exclusively as a ‘live mic’ however it’s still a great choice for studio recordings. In fact, Andy Johns (producer for the Rolling Stones and Rod Stewart) often chose an SM58 in the studio for vocal takes, as did Mike Frondelli, engineer for Billy Idol.
✔ Reliable and durable
✔ Can be used for live as well as studio production
✔ Great sounding mic at a budget price
✘ Tone can be too warm for some vocalists
3. Audio-Technica AT2035
- This Certified Refurbished product is manufacturer refurbished, shows limited or no wear, and includes all original...
- Large diaphragm for smooth, natural sound and low noise
- High SPL handling and wide dynamic range provide unmatched versatility
- Custom shock mount provides superior isolation
- Switchable 80 Hz high-pass filter and 10 dB pad
The AT2035 is an incredibly popular condenser mic, again with a cardioid polar pattern.
This mic includes an 80Hz High Pass Filter and a -10dB pad, and on purchase, you also receive a custom shock mount and protective pouch.
Audio-Technica themselves are one of the more reliable brands of budget to mid-range mics both in terms of sound quality and reliability, though I have found that the build quality does suffer (just don’t drop them and you should be fine).
The mic has a fairly flat frequency response, meaning it won’t add much in the way of ‘character’ to your vocal recordings, but it will still give you a crisp and clear response with a warm mid-range.
The mic is capable of handling higher levels of SPL due to its pad option, meaning should you need a mic for recording a guitar amp as well as vocals, for example, then this is a good choice for you.
✔ Comes with pad and HPF switch
✔ Pleasantly flattering tonal characteristics
✘ Some users have reported that the bass response can be a little on the heavy side
4. SE Electronics X1A
- Large-diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone with -20dB Pad 100Hz Highpass Filter
The X1 itself was praised for its ability to compete with more expensive models, whilst retaining a budget price. As a result, the X1A is an excellent entry-level choice for recording vocals.
The X1A is a cardioid condenser mic and is an update to the original SE Electronics X1 model. It comes with a -20dB pad, meaning you have an added level of control should you be recording a particularly loud singer, and a High Pass Filter of 100Hz helping you can eliminate a large amount of ambient room noise.
The mic can become quite boomy due to the proximity effect (where the closer you get to the mic the more low end is present), however, this is easily countered by positioning your singer a little further back from the mic or using the HPF.
As a bonus, you’ll also get an SE Electronics swivel mic clip and thread adapter.
✔ High-quality sound at a budget price
✔ Quiet sounding mic
✔ Includes clip and adapter
✘ Users have reported that the rubberised coating is hard to clean
Mics Under $400
1. Rode NT1A
- as the seller is the only authorized fulfilled by dealer, and purchases from unauthorized dealers carry no
- Delivers a warmth, extended dynamic range, and high SPL capability typical of more expensive offerings
- An Incredible self-noise level of only 5dBA makes this an extremely quiet studio microphone
- The low noise makes it an ideal vocal microphone as well as perfect for recording guitars and percussion
- Includes everything you need to get a truly professional vocal recording and is ideal for home studio recording
The Rode NT1A is a very popular condenser mic. This model is an updated version of the original NT1, with the main difference being the circuitry and wider frequency response in the newer model.
The design is simple, with a cardioid polar pattern. Whilst the higher end Rodes do offer more in terms of extra options such as high pass filter, this is still a fantastic choice if within your budget.
The mic itself is extremely quiet with a high sensitivity, which eliminates any issues should you be recording a quiet vocalist giving you a clean signal from the outset, but it’ll also mean you can capture the finer details in their voice. The only downside is some will find the low end of this mic may require some correcting in the mix.
The NT1A will give you a well-balanced sound and is capable of handling high levels of SPL, should you need to record louder instruments as well as vocals.
Check out Bryson Tiller’s vocals on ‘Don’t’ which were recorded using an NT1A. In fact, Bryson was even known to record in hotel rooms with a simple setup, which shows that you don’t necessarily need a multimillion-dollar studio to get great results!
✔ Well-balanced sound
✔ Extremely low machine noise
✔ Includes shock mount
✘ Some corrective EQ’s may be needed for low-end
2. SE Electronics sE2200a
- SE Electronics sE2200a II C Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser Microphone OPEN BOX
The sE2200a is one of the most popular SE Electronics condenser mics in this price range. This model allows you to switch between cardioid, omnidirectional or figure of 8 polar patterns.
For vocals, this is great as you have the option to capture more of the sound of your room or even experiment with multiple vocalists singing at the same time.
Whilst the sE2200a can also be used on instruments, you’ll really feel the value for your money when recording vocals. You’ll get a crisp and detailed recording throughout the frequency spectrum (with a little warmth in the low end) and the -20dB pad means there is more flexibility when recording a louder vocalist.
In exchange for your hard-earned cash you’ll also get a shock mount and pop filter.
✔ Choice of polar patterns
✔ Reliable and flexible mic (also great for instruments)
✔ Crisp sound
✘ No cons for the price
3. AKG C214
- Sonic character of the C414 XLII for beautifully detailed recording of lead vocals and solo instruments
- Outstanding dynamic range and ultralow noise for close-up recording of high-output sources of up to 156dB SPL
- Switchable 20dB attenuator and bass-cut filter for close-up recording and reduction of proximity effect
- Integrated suspension to reduce mechanical noise and vibration from stage
- Roadworthy design all-metal die-cast body with shock- and scratch-resistant finish
Chances are if you visit a professional studio you’ll find a set of AKG C414s. The C214, however, was designed to offer a similar microphone to its bigger brother but without the price tag.
The C214 is a versatile condenser mic with an impressive dynamic range. It is capable of handling high SPL levels and offers a High Pass Filter up to 160Hz.
It does only offer a cardioid polar pattern, unlike the C414 which has multiple options. However, the mic is still extremely versatile.
If your budget can stretch to a pair of C214s, they are not only a great option for vocals but a hugely popular option for drum overheads. Purchasing a pair will aid you, in the long run, should you start to record drums (or any other instruments).
✔ Rugged and well-built
✔ Cheaper than C414
✔ Great for powerful singers
✘ Not as many switching options as C414
✘ Some users feel it is quite thin sounding
Mics Under $700
1. Shure SM7b
- Flat, wide-range frequency response for exceptionally clean and natural reproduction of both music and speech
- Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis (presence boost) controls with graphic display of response setting
- Improved rejection of electromagnetic hum, optimized for shielding against broadband interference emitted by computer...
- Internal "air suspension" shock isolation virtually eliminates mechanical noise transmission
- Highly effective pop filter eliminates need for any add-on protection against explosive breath sounds, even for close-up...
The SM7b is an iconic microphone and heralded as one of the best dynamic microphones. It can be heard across countless hit albums by Michael Jackson, Metallica and more.
You’ll struggle to find much negative to say about the SM7B, in fact Michael Jackson himself swore by this mic. Whilst it is in the more expensive range of mics in this review it is well worth the investment.
As it is a dynamic mic, you will need to apply a fairly high amount of gain to your preamp, but the mic is great at eliminating unwanted mechanical noise and the cardioid polar pattern rejects off-axis sound really well.
You’ll also find a bass roll-off and mid-range emphasis controls and a pop filter included which helps eliminate any unwanted vocal pop sounds. The mic will give you a warm, smooth tone that is great all round.
The SM7B performs particularly well with louder vocals, such as metal or punk, as well as rap. It’s also a great option for voice over or podcast recording.
Watch any footage of Metallica in the studio and you’ll often see James Hetfield holding an SM7B. It was also the mic of choice for most of Michael Jackson’s Thriller album.
✔ Industry-standard mic
✔ Great at off-axis rejection
✔ Full sounding
✘ High level of gain needed (some users combine this with a cloud lifter for an extra gain boost)
2. Rode NTK
- ENSURE YOU BUY GENUINE RØDE PRODUCTS! Products from sellers which say ‘fulfilled by Amazon’ under the price are NOT...
- Buy only from Amazon.com (labelled ‘shipped and sold by Amazon.com’)
- A premium valve condenser microphone designed to provide incredible detail and warmth in the studio
- The electronic circuitry complementing this very sensitive transducer includes a hand-selected twin-triode 6922 valve...
- The rich valve sound is ideal for vocals, acoustic instruments, drum overheads, guitar amps and pianos
Because of the use of the NTK’s valves (or tubes) in its circuitry, the microphone offers a distinctively warm and smooth sound. Again, a cardioid polar pattern giving excellent rejection to the sides of the mic, you can’t really go wrong with an NTK in your vocal setup.
The capsule of the microphone is internally shock-mounted, which means its good at eliminating unwanted sounds caused by knocks or vibration. Its sound is rich and is great for adding more coloration to your recordings and its low level of self-noise means you’re hearing an accurate signal without and interference.
Typically valve microphones are high priced, however, the NTK gives you a much more wallet-friendly option. You can hear it in action on Nickelback’s ‘The Long Road’ album.
✔ Extremely warm sounding
✔ Cheaper than other tube mics without compromising quality
✔ Internally shock-mounted
✘ Requires external power
✘ Tubes may need replacing from time to time
✘ Associated with Nickelback
3. Neumann TLM102
- Large-diaphragm microphone with cardioid directional characteristic (pressure gradient transducer)
- Compact Neumann design
- Very high maximum sound pressure level (144 dB)
- Slight presence boost above 6 kHz helps vocals to shine in the mix
The Neumann TLM102 is a crisp sounding condenser that sounds great with vocals due to its signature sound, which musically accentuates the range of 8 -12 Khz.
The mic has a cardioid polar pattern but doesn’t offer any pad or high pass filter switches. This does enable Neumann to cut the sale price of the microphone but that doesn’t reflect on sound quality at all.
The mic is made with an in-built pop filter, although it would still be recommended to use one, and it gives a well balanced overall tone that is really suited to vocals.
The mic is noticeably smaller than most other condensers and comes with a very sleek black design. You’ll find a warm tone to the mic, with a crisp top end presence that sounds pleasant without becoming too harsh.
✔ Great mic for vocals
✔ Neumann brand at a fraction of the price
✘ No case or shock mount included
✘ Sensitive to proximity effect
✘ One polar pattern
Last update on 2020-09-19 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API