Top Microphones for Singing/Vocals that won’t break the Bank

When I was just starting to learn about audio engineering, one of my first questions was;

“which is the absolute best microphone for recording vocals?”

If we take this question literally, then we would need to choose a microphone that costs at least $3000 and still, we would need to figure out which of those is the best one.

To be honest, you won’t find those types of microphones in most studios, even less in small basic home studios.

This is why I think that it makes absolutely no sense to list them in this post since no home studio owner in their right mind would ever spend that kind of money on a single mic.

In this article I will give you my list of the top 13 microphones for recording vocals which won’t make you go bankrupt.

So, for the purposes of this article I will keep all the Microphones under $700.

Important note: Condenser microphones require phantom power to work properly.

Luckily almost every audio interface on the market provides it.

Moving on…

Shure SM58

If the Shure SM58 isn’t the best-known microphone of all time, I don’t know which one is…

It’s been the industry standard both for studio recording as well as live performances.

Even extremely famous artists like Elton John use them during their live shows…

If it’s good enough for him, it’s definitely good enough for the rest of us.

The reason so many well-known artists use the Shure SM58 so much is because not only is it built like an absolute tank, but it’s also very resistant to feedback and handling noise.

Plus, the grille works as a pop filter which helps a lot, especially during live performances, to avoid unwanted plosives.

Of course, it can also be used in the studio.

If you do this, it might be wise to use a pop-filter as well to further ensure that no plosives will occur.

The Shure SM58 features a cardioid pickup pattern, which means that it will pick up sound from the front, but not from the sides and the back.

When it comes to sound quality, the Shure SM58 sounds terrific, especially considering how affordable it is.

It comes with a mid-boost as well as a bass roll-off which makes it easier for the vocals to cut through the mix without having to apply too much EQ.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Shure SM58 costs, and you can also check the customer reviews.

What you get in the Box

  • Shure SM58 Microphone
  • Microphone Stand Clip
  • Carrying Pouch

Features

  • Rugged and durable metal body
  • Great feedback rejection
  • High sound pressure handling capability
  • Shock-mounted capsule provides excellent suppression of handling noise
  • Uniform on- and off-axis response
  • Cardioid pick-up pattern provides isolation from other on-stage signals

I think that the Shure SM58 is a must-have for any home- and even professional studio.

I know what you’re thinking…

“But aren’t condenser mics usually the go-to for recording vocals?”

This is usually true, but dynamic mics definitely have their place for recording vocals, especially for live performances.

Since condensers are used a lot more to record vocals in a studio setting, here’s my next pick…

Audio-Technica AT2020

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is probably the most sold budget large diaphragm condenser microphone out there.

You can find at least a couple of them in every home- and professional studio…

The build quality is excellent, as you would expect from any Audio-Technica microphone.

It should last you a very long time!

Don’t drop it though… Condensers aren’t as resistant as dynamic mics.

The Audio-Technica AT2020 has a Cardioid pickup pattern which means that it will mostly pick up sound from the front while rejecting sound from the back and the sides.

The recording quality is excellent, especially considering the price and it has some crispiness to it which I like.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Audio-Technica AT2020 costs, and you can also check the customer reviews.

What comes in the box?

  • The Audio-Technica AT2020 Mic
  • A storage Pouch
  • Microphone Clip

Features

  • Durable Build
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • High SPL handling
  • Ideal for Home Studios
  • Requires Phantom Power

Next on the list we have another excellent and well-known dynamic microphone…

Shure SM7B

The Shure SM7B cardioid dynamic microphone has been around quite some time now.

Artists like Michael Jackson used an SM7, which was practically the same mic (the difference is that the SM7B has a Hambucking coil inside the mic and a larger windscreen), to record “Thriller”, “Off the Wall” and “Bad”.

Other artists that also use the SM7B are The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Willie Nelson, Metallica, and many more.

Its most common uses are;

  • Radio broadcasting
  • Podcasting
  • Recording loud and screaming rock vocals

Basically, it’s a phenomenal microphone.

It does, however, cost quite a lot more than the previous ones on this list.

One important thing you should know, if you’re considering of buying one of these, is that it’s a very low output microphone.

It needs a powerful preamp to boost the signal, like the ones in high-quality audio interfaces.

However, it’s one of the best microphones you could ever get, especially when talking about dynamic mics.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Shure SM7B costs, and you can also check the customer reviews.

What comes in the box?

  • The Shure SM7B Microphone
  • Windscreen
  • Back panel cover
  • Mic stand adapter

Features

  • Durable Build
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • High SPL handling
  • Ideal for Home Studios

Next on the list we have another condenser microphone which is…

Rode NT1

The Rode NT1 comes with a shock mount and the best pop filter I’ve ever seen since it has a dual layer that is much better at dispersing the plosives than conventional pop filters.

This is an immediate pro since it really is better than most other pop filters out there.

The only issue with this filter is that it has to be placed directly into the shock mount that comes with the mic, which means that it can only be used with the Rode NT1.

When taking a look at its build quality you’ll notice that it feels very durable and not cheap at all.

It has a fairly flat frequency response with some rounded cuts at 20-30Hz and 16k-20kHz.

Overall, the Rode NT1 has a full tone without having a boomy low end, plus the high-end sounds really bright without being “shrill” or anything.

Note: The Rode NT1, just like every other condenser microphone, needs phantom power to work, but it can work both with 24v as well as 48v.

Lastly, the Rode NT1 has one of the lowest self-noise levels out there of only 4.5dB.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Rode NT1 costs, and you can also check the customer reviews.

What comes in the box?

  • The Microphone
  • A Microphone Pouch
  • The shock-mount.
  • And the Pop Filter

Features

  • Durable Build
  • Low self-noise
  • Cardioid polar Pattern
  • Great value
  • Ideal for Home Studios

Next on the list…

Aston Origin

The Aston Origin is designed and built in the UK by Aston, which are quite New to the whole microphone scene and this model, the Origin, is the first of their line.

The Aston Origin has a very interesting look thanks to its waveform sprung steel head which acts like a shock absorber.

This sprung steel head is excellent at keeping the mic from getting damaged if you accidentally drop it… at least that’s what they “assure” you.

Its build quality feels extremely good since it has a very sturdy and durable design.

One really cool thing about this microphone is that it doesn’t really need a pop-filter since it’s got a sort of metal wool mesh that really does a great job at not letting the plosives get through.

This microphone also comes equipped with a -10dB Pad Switch and an 80Hz High pass filter.

The Aston Origin can be mounted directly to the stand, which is pretty cool.

Additionally, it comes with an internal shock mount which works quite well…

This is a great sounding mic and it’s incredibly competitive for its price, plus it looks damn amazing!!

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Aston Origin costs, and you can also check the customer reviews.

What comes in the box?

  • The Aston Origin Microphone

Features

  • Durable Build
  • -10dB PAD
  • High-Pass Filter
  • Built-in shock mount and pop filter

Moving on…

Audio-Technica AT2035

Just like all the other AT20’ series, the AT2035 has a great Build quality.

The body and the grille are all metal and it really does feel like a good microphone.

One difference between the AT2020 and this one is that it comes with a -10dB PAD as well as a high-pass filter.

The shock mount is made out of plastic, but it gets the job done and it’s also very durable, so no worries there.

The sound quality is just awesome! It sounds great when recording vocals as well as acoustic guitar.

For how little it costs, I don’t think that you could ever go wrong with the AT2035.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Audio-Technica AT2035 costs, and you can also check the customer reviews.

What comes in the box?

  • Audio-Technica AT2035 Microphone
  • Shock Mount
  • Carrying Pouch

Features

  • Durable Build
  • -10dB PAD
  • High-Pass Filter

Moving on…

sE Electronics sE2200a II C

Something very interesting about the sE Electronic mics is that they are hand-made, which is something that I just find mind-blowing.

The sE200a II C model is a large diaphragm condenser microphone with a cardioid polar pattern that sounds absolutely fantastic.

It also comes with a -10dB PAD as well as a High-Pass Filter which can really come in handy.

When you purchase the microphone you also get a shock mount which, even though it isn’t the best one around, is still quite good.

It does have a very flat frequency response which means that everything you record will sound like the real thing, be it vocals, acoustic guitar, or anything else.

Just like with the Rode NT1, this one provides a pop filter which also has to be mounted on-to the shock mount.

However, the one on the Rode microphone is much better.

Still, the the sE Electronics sE2200a II C is an excellent choice for everyone and it does sound absolutely amazing.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the sE Electronics sE2200a II C costs, and you can also check out the customer reviews.

What comes in the box?

  • The sE Electronics sE2200a II C Microphone
  • Shock Mount
  • Pop-Filter that mounts on the shock-mount

Features

  • Durable Build
  • -10dB PAD
  • High-Pass Filter
  • Built-in shock mount and pop filter

Next on the list we have another large diaphragm condenser microphone…

Sennheiser MK4

The Sennheiser MK4, just as you would expect from all the microphones on this list, has a very good build quality.

The body is all metal and so is the grille, which makes the whole mic feel sturdy and heavy… and I don’t think that anyone likes light microphones.

It’s primarily good for recording vocals, which is why I included it on this list…

But it’s also excellent at recording acoustic guitars.

Sadly, it doesn’t come with a PAD, a High-Pass Filter or a shock mount.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Sennheiser MK4 costs, and you can also check out the customer reviews.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Sennheiser MK4 Microphone
  • A carrying pouch
  • Microphone stand adapter.

Features

  • Great build quality
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern

Next on the list we have…

Audio-Technica At4040

The Audio-Technica AT4040 is as good of a microphone as you can get for under $300.

It’s all metal body and grille are of great quality and it should last you forever if you take good care of it.

Additionally, it comes with a -10dB PAD and a High-Pass Filter which rolls off frequencies at 80Hz at 12dB/octave.

The sound quality is fantastic!

All in all, I think that it’s one the best condenser microphone under $300, just like the Rode NT1.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Audio-Technica At4040 costs, and you can also check out the customer reviews.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Audio-Technica AT4040 Microphone
  • Shock mount
  • Storage Pouch

Features

  • Extremely well built
  • PAD and High-Pass Filters
  • Cardioid polar pattern microphone

Blue Bluebird SL

The curious thing about the Blue Microphones is that they are known both for their extremely high-end microphones like the Blue Bottle, which sells for about $4000, and their extremely budget-friendly ones like the Blue Spark and the Blue Yeti.

One thing I love about these mics, apart from being completely awesome, is how they look.

The Blue Bluebird SL is one of their medium range large diaphragm condenser microphones which features a cardioid polar pattern.

It sounds absolutely fantastic, it looks cool and it also comes with a -20dB PAD and a High-Pass Filter

What’s not to like?

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Blue Bluebird SL costs, and you can also check out the customer reviews.

What comes in the Box?

  • Everything comes in a really beautiful wooden storage box.
  • The Blue Bluebird SL microphone
  • Shock Mount

Features

  • Excellent build quality
  • PAD and High-Pass Filter

Moving on…

AKG Pro C214

The AKG Pro C214 is a pretty impressive microphone which features a cardioid polar pattern.

When looking at its build quality you will immediately be able to notice how good it is.

The body and the grille are all made of metal, although the grille does have a bit of give to it… no need to worry about this though.

It comes with a -20dB PAD switch on the one side and High-Pass Filter switch on the other.

The phantom power requirements for this microphone range from 12v to 52v.

It also has a slight boost to the “air” and upper frequencies.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the AKG Pro C214 costs, and you can also check out the customer reviews.

What comes in the Box?

  • The AKG Pro C214 Microphone
  • It comes in a great storage case
  • Shock Mount
  • Windscreen

Features

  • Excellent build quality
  • PAD and High-Pass Filter
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern

Next on the list we have…

Rode NTK

The Rode NTK is a tube microphone, which means that it will give you that awesome vintage sound we all love.

Of course, if you’ve ever done any research on tube mics you know that they tend to be extremely expensive

This is why I included the Rode NTK, because it’s a relatively inexpensive tube microphone which just sounds fantastic.

The box it comes in is very big and of great quality.

Since it’s a Tube Mic it does come with its own power supply and a “special” XLR cable which is designed to also feed the power to the mic.

Note: In the box there is also room for a shock mount, but it doesn’t come included, as well as the pop filter.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Rode NTK costs, and you can also check out the customer reviews.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Rode NTK Microphone
  • Microphone mount
  • Mic Stand adapter
  • XLR Cable
  • Power Supply

Features

  • Excellent build quality
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • Really warm and vintage sounding

And lastly, we have the best microphone on this list…

Neumann TLM 102

This is by far the best microphone on this entire list… if you have the budget for it, that is.

Even though it might be one the most expensive microphones anyone could ever consider purchasing, it feels like a work of art.

The construction quality is extraordinary, and it just looks stunning!

If you know anything about Neumann, then you know that they have long been known for making the best microphones, period…

Especially if we’re talking about vocal microphones.

Even though the Neumann TLM 102 might seem expensive, if you compare it to most of their other high-end microphones, you’ll notice that it’s way more affordable.

Most of their mics are valued at around $3000

The point of the TLM series was to make their fantastic sound accessible to everyone.

This would be the best microphone any serious singer should get, especially if you’re thinking about truly recording quality music.

Here’s a link to Amazon where you can see how much the Neumann TLM 102 costs, and you can also check out the customer reviews.

What comes in the Box?

  • The Neumann TLM 102 Microphone
  • Microphone mount
  • Mic Stand adapter

Features

  • Excellent build quality
  • Cardioid Polar Pattern
  • It sounds fantastic

Conclusion

I hope this information was useful.

Depending on your needs you might want a cardioid or condenser mic.

For live shows just go with the Shure SM58, but for recording at home I would either recommend the Audio-Technica AT4040 or the Rode NT1 because of the value they offer.

However, if you have the budget and want a microphone that will never need replacing…

Then the Rode NTK or the Neumann TLM 102 are your absolute best options.

I hope you have a wonderful day!

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