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The Best Microphones for Lead Vocals | Our Big 5

Published: Fri May 04, 2012  News Feed

The Best Microphones for Lead Vocals

 

 

When it comes to lead vocals, the best singer in the world could sound awful if they haven’t used the “right” mic. The mic you choose should depend on the vocalist’s voice and what does it justice. Period!

The majority of engineers and producers will usually opt for a condenser microphone for lead vox as opposed to a dynamic or ribbon mic, but there’s a lot to be said for these often overlooked two.

Just because everybody says that a certain microphone is the best for female alto’s or sounds brilliant on an acoustics’ fretboard does not mean that it will for the vocalist or guitarist that you’re working with. Choosing a mic with a good reputation is a great starting point when it comes to recording, but you should always do a little experimenting, discover what works well with your source and what doesn’t sound so great. That said... you might not want to completely discard the idea of using a dynamic microphone on lead vocals, at least until you’ve tried a few out for size.

The Big 5

In the realm of lead mics there’s something that we call the Big 5. The 5 microphones that are believed by many to be the best for vocals. The Telefunken ELA M251, AKG C12, Neumann M49, U47, U67, U87.

Now, you could ask any engineer in the world if these mics are actually any good and you will most likely get yeses all around, but like we said before, the best mic for “your artist” is a different kettle of fish altogether. Plus, those mics up there will most definitely set you back financially, which is why we’re going to give you some wallet-friendly alternatives to get you started with vocal recording.

 

Our Favourite 5 for Lead Vox

Shure SM58

The SM58 is the world's most popular vocal mic; it's massively versatile and suitable for everything from stage to studio use. Hard-wearing, rugged and reliable.

Rode NT1-A Vocal Pack

The RØDE NT1-A has deservedly become an industry standard; renowned for delivering the warmth, extended dynamic range, clarity and high SPL capability usually only featured by some of the most expensive microphones.

sE Electronics SE2000

The SE2000 studio condenser mic offers extreme value-for-money and is perfect for recording vocals and acoustic instruments such as guitars.

AKG C 414 –XLS

AKG released this new generation XLS model to replace the legendary C414. All of the improvements that were made are answers to requests from ever-demanding recording studios, broadcast stations and concert engineers, but with the basic sonic character of the original C 414 unaltered.

Beyerdynamic M 201 TG


The M-201 TG is a sensitive dynamic microphone that has a whole host of uses in the studio. It's known for being a solid workhorse which many sound engineers swear by.

 Looking For A Bargain?

So you can't quite afford anything from The Big 5... don't worry! The Wharfedale DM5 is an extremely affordable option that provides good results and is perfect for home studios that are just starting out. 

It has an on/off switch that you usually have to pay extra for - and it comes with a free lead to get you started straight away. The DM5 is one of the cheapest handheld microphones out there and is a great little mic before you can get one of The Big 5.

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SE Electronics SE2000 Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

SE Electronics SE2000 Entry level but definitely not amateur, sE Electronics produce their own components and the expertise that's poured into their high grade condensers benefits their entire mic range. So the SE2000 delivers great results on vocals and all the usual suspects, whether it's acoustic guitar, violin or vocals. The sE Electronics SE2000 is a large diaphragm, cardioid pattern condenser…

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Rode NT1-A Microphone Vocal Pack

RØDE NT1-A Vocal Pack  RØDE NT1-A has deservedly become an industry standard; renowned for delivering the warmth, extended dynamic range, clarity and high SPL capability usually only featured by some of the most expensive microphones. The NT1-A is great for vocals, guitars and many more applications. Now available as the ‘Complete Vocal Recording Solution’ this NT1-A package now includes…

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AKG C414-XLS Condenser Microphone

All of these improvements are answers to requests from ever-demanding recording studios, broadcast stations, production rooms and concert engineers, but with the basic sonic character of the legendary C414 unaltered. Engineered for highest linearity and neutral sound for beautifully detailed recording of vocals and any acoustic instrument
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Shure SM58 With Switch

Key Features: Frequency response tailored for vocals, with brightened midrange and bass rolloff Uniform cardioid pickup pattern isolates the main sound source and minimizes background noise Pneumatic shock-mount system cuts down handling noise Effective, built-in spherical wind and pop filter Supplied with break-resistant stand adapter which rotates 180 degrees Legendary Shure quality, ruggedness and reliability Cardioid (unidirectional) dynamic…

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Wharfedale DM5.0S Hand Held Dynamic Mic with Switch and Lead

Replaces the immensely popular DM2.0, delivering great value for any musicians, engineers or singers.

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Beyerdynamic M 201 TG

Another microphone from the "workhorse stable", the M 201 TG preserves its place in history through sheer performance and reliability and we are proud that it has come to feature here with the classics. A truly sensitive dynamic microphone with a range of applications spanning instruments to vocals, being particularly effective when the microphone has to be placed at…

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