Studio Gears

8 Best Microphones for Vocals 2020 – Good Sound Under Budget

In order to let you fully understand what those specs mean, I highly recommend you to check out the ultimate guide to studio microphones first, where I went through different types of microphones and what those technical specs mean. This guide can help you determine which microphone you need.

For live shows, we are looking for dynamic microphones, and for vocal recording, most of the time we are looking for large condenser microphone.

 

OK, let’s dive in…

1. Shure SM 58

best dynamic microphones

Shure SM 58 is the most popular vocal microphone on the market, especially for live shows, almost every live shows you’ve ever seen you can see the vocalist holding the SM 58. It’s very durable that can handle any live performance abuse. The grilles design acts a pop filter. SM 58 is also great for recording purpose, maybe it’s not as decent as other high-end studio microphones, but see the quality you can get with its low price, SM 58 is definitely the winner in this price range.

  • Dynamic
  • Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 50 – 15,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 300 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 150 dB
  • Sensitivity: 1.88 mV / Pa

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SM 58S is the model with an on/off switch which is useful for live shows.

Shure SM 58S

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2. Shure Beta 58A

Beta 58A is like the upgrade version of SM58, you can say it’s the king of live vocals. It has a natural presence boost at 4kHz and 9kHz, the frequency response is very suitable for vocals. The clear sound and clarity can make your vocal cut through the mix. The supercardiod polar pattern gives Beta 58A a high resistance to feedback and also minimizes background noise. Beta 58A is a reliable microphone design for live vocals.

  • Dynamic
  • Supercardioid
  • Frequency response: 50 – 16,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 140.5 dB
  • Sensitivity: 2.6 mV / Pa

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3. Audio Technica AT2020

When it comes to vocal recording, condenser microphones are our go-to microphones. AT2020 has been considered to be the ideal first condenser microphone for home recording. The price is very affordable for most beginners and the quality is pretty enough for home studios. AT2020 has a smaller diaphragm which gives it a brighter sound for vocal. I’ve tried this microphone for a variety of styles, I must say I’m really impressed by the quality it delivered in its price range.

  • Large Diaphragm Condensor
  • Cardioid
  • Diaphragm size: 16 mm
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 100 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 144 dB
  • Sensitivity: 14.1 mV / Pa
  • Self Noise: 20 dB-A
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 74 dB-A

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Audio Technica AT2035

AT2035 is a better choice if you have a little more budget. I prefer the performance of AT2035 on vocals and it has a low-frequency roll-off switch at 80 Hz and a pad to prevent it from overload.

  • Large Diaphragm Condensor
  • Cardioid
  • Diaphragm size: 24.3 mm
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 120 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 148 dB
  • Sensitivity: 22.4 mV / Pa
  • Self Noise: 12 dB-A
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 82 dB-A
  • Low cut filter: 80 Hz
  • Pad: -10 dB

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4. MXL 990

People often compare MXL 990 with AT2020 because they are in the same price range and have a similar performance. In fact, MXL 990 is even cheaper than AT2020 and sounds better on vocal in my opinion. AT2020 is the best beginner condenser microphone because of its versatility but when it comes to vocal recording, I think the winner is MXL 990.

  • Large Diaphragm Condensor
  • Cardioid
  • Diaphragm size: 17.1mm
  • Frequency response: 30 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 130 dB
  • Sensitivity: 15 mV / Pa
  • Self Noise: 20 dB-A
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 80 dB-A

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You can also take a look at MXL 770, it has a low cut switch and a pad. I found MXL 770 sounds warmer than MXL 990 on vocal. The price is also surprisingly low.

MXL 770

  • Large Diaphragm Condensor
  • Cardioid
  • Diaphragm size: 22 mm
  • Frequency response: 30 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 137 dB
  • Sensitivity: 15 mV / Pa
  • Self Noise: 20 dB-A
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 74 dB-A
  • Low cut filter: 150 Hz
  • Pad: -10 dB

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5. Rode NT1-A

You can’t find a better deal than this. Rode is known for its mid-priced high-quality microphones. Crystal clear sounds and great dynamic range describe the characters of Rode NT1-A. The sensitivity is very high and the self-noise is super low, Rode NT1-A can promise you to always deliver clean and clear sounds. The price is also pocket-friendly, I think it’s the best vocal microphone for home studios.

  • Large Diaphragm Condensor
  • Cardioid
  • Diaphragm size: 25.4 mm
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 100 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 137 dB
  • Sensitivity: 25 mV / Pa
  • Self Noise: 5 dB-A
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 89 dB-A

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Rode NT2-A

Ride NT2-A is a warmer and smoother alternative to NT1-A. It’s also a multiple pattern microphone that has pads and low cut filters which make it an extremely versatile condenser microphone. For vocal recording purpose, I think NT1-A is good enough.

  • Large Diaphragm Condensor
  • Multiple pattern: Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Figure 8
  • Diaphragm size: 25.4 mm
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 147 dB
  • Sensitivity: 16 mV / Pa
  • Self Noise: 7 dB-A
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 87 dB-A
  • Low cut filters: 40, 150 Hz
  • Pads: -5, -10 dB

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6. sE Electronics sE 2200

Some claim that Rode NT-1A is too bright for their vocalist, if that’s your case, you can consider sE Electronics sE 2200. It’s based on sE Electronics award-winning sE 2200a and give it some updates. One of its biggest features is every capsule is hand-crafted and well tuned in their own factory, this can ensure it always gives you the best quality and the best sound performance.

  • Large Diaphragm Condensor
  • Cardioid
  • Diaphragm size: 25.4 mm
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 50 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 125 dB
  • Sensitivity: 23.7 mV / Pa
  • Self Noise: 12 dB-A
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 82 dB-A
  • Low cut filters: 80, 160 Hz
  • Pads: -10, -20 dB

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If what you want is more than a good sounding vocal microphone, then check out sE Electronics sE 2200a II. It’s an extremely versatile condenser microphone with 3 different switchable polar patterns.

sE Electronics sE 2200a II

  • Large Diaphragm Condensor
  • Multiple pattern: Omnidirectional, Cardioid, Figure 8
  • Diaphragm size: 32 mm
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 135 dB
  • Sensitivity: 22.39 mV / Pa
  • Self Noise: 16 dB-A
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 78 dB-A
  • Low cut filter: 60 Hz
  • Pads: -10, -20 dB

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7. AKG C214

What if you can have the legendary sound without costing an arm and a leg, here’s your chance to get your desired sound. AKG C214 is the affordable version of AKG C414. The biggest difference between the two microphones is AKG C214 isn’t a multiple pattern like AKG C414, but the similarity of their sound performance is very good enough for vocal recording.

  • Large Diaphragm Condensor
  • Cardioid
  • Diaphragm size: 25.4 mm
  • Frequency response: 20 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Max SPL: 136 dB
  • Sensitivity: 20 mV / Pa
  • Self Noise: 13 dB-A
  • Signal to Noise Ratio: 82 dB-A
  • Low cut filter: 160 Hz
  • Pad: -20 dB

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8. Shure SM 7B

It’s unusual to see a decent dynamic microphone special design for vocals. Shure SM 7B is most used for rock and metal which has screaming vocals, it’s almost an industry standard. Michael Jackson recorded his vocal of Thriller with the original Shure SM7. Although the Max SPL doesn’t state in the official website, it’s believed to have over 150 dB of Max SPL. Shure SM 7B is a bit expensive for people on a budget, but regard its amazing quality, it’s worth the investment.

  • Dynamic
  • Cardioid
  • Frequency response: 50 – 20,000 Hz
  • Output Impedance: 150 Ohms
  • Max SPL: N/A
  • Sensitivity: 1.12 mV / Pa
  • Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis

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