We've been taking a deep dive into vocal recording in recent weeks here at MusicRadar, covering everything from vocal mixing and vocal processing to the joys of pitch correction.
Though modern music software has never been more capable of improving vocal recordings, the most reliable way to get a solid take - aside from being a great vocalist - is to work with a decent set-up. That means using a quality audio interface, top-notch cables, and an excellent vocal microphone.
These don't come cheap, though, and we know that many bedroom producers aren't looking to drop four figures on a microphone - or even three. With that in mind, we've put together a run-down that covers six of the best budget vocal mics on the market.
If you're after a more comprehensive list, check out our buyer's guides to the best vocal microphones or best cheap microphones.
1. Audio Technica AT2020
For those who are on a budget, the quality of vocal recordings you get with Audio Technica’s AT2020 has to be heard to be believed. With its heart-shaped sound capture area, this cardioid condenser presents an isolated and accurate voice. It’s exceptionally well-balanced and can also serve as an all-rounder in the studio.
2. IK Multimedia iRig Mic Studio
IK’s mobile-friendly pro studio mic is surprisingly robust for its size. Its low-noise, high definition preamp, onboard gain control and large-diaphragm capsule bely its small size, and let you grab your voice, wherever you are, with absolute class. Its diverse array of connectivity options mean it’s not limited to one studio setup either.
3. Røde NT1
Available as a bundle pack, complete with pop filter and XLR, the NT1 brings a vintage character to vocals, despite its ultra-modern internals. The mid-range response of the NT1 is particularly notable, while extremely low handling noise and shock-mounted capsule guarantees no interruptions in its job, to help give your voice clarity and focus.
4. Lewitt LCT 440 Pure
A true condenser vocal superstar, Lewitt’s 440 Pure has garnered giddy acclaim for its capacity to handle the human voice – from impactful rap to soaring falsetto. Its gold-sputtered 1” capsule and shock mount ensures faultless audio capture, with its gold-plated XLR connector and design showing off its build quality. It's one of the best budget vocal mics we've tested.
5. Aston Microphones Spirit
The release of the Spirit marked the moment when the industry suddenly listened up and took proper notice of UK-based manufacturer Aston Microphones. With a triple-state switchable polar pattern and large diaphragm condenser, the Spirit delivers crystal clear vocals with ease. Its durable build means it’s ready for regular use.
6. Shure SM7B
From the undisputed gods of workhorse microphone design, Shure’s SM7B presents all-round vocal dynamite. Whether you’re wanting to speak, rap, sing or host – the SM7B’s air suspension shock isolation and internal pop filter eliminates any unwanted interference, leaving just your vocal to sparkle as intended. The classic cardioid pattern rejects any off-axis audio.