Best vocal mics 2024: Our top vocal microphones for stage and studio

Close up of the Aston Microphones Spirit condenser microphone
(Image credit: Future)

In much the same way that human voices each have a unique timbre, the same is true that no one microphone will suit every vocalist. So if you’re looking for the best vocal mics then how do you go about finding your perfect match? We’ve reviewed countless vocal mics over the years so while it’s true that every vocal is different, we’ve put together our top picks for every job.

The truth is most producers and engineers will have a variety of vocal mics on standby to cover all bases. If you’re just starting out recording vocals then we heartily recommend you grab one of the condenser mics in this guide, as they will cover a lot of bases. Likewise, if you need a vocal for live scenarios, then a dynamic mic will be your best bet. Looking to add to an existing collection? Don’t worry we’ve got you covered with tube condensers and FET mics too.

If all of this sounds a little confusing, or you just want to do some more research before you pull the trigger, make sure to have a look at our exhaustive buying advice section, which features loads of common questions answered by the expert authors here at MusicRadar. If you just want to get to the good stuff then keep on scrolling… 

Looking for a microphone bargain? Explore hand-picked savings on gear we rate and stay updated with this year's best Prime Day music deals.

Chris Corfield author pic
Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar and bass gear, to synths, microphones, DJ gear and music production hardware.

Best vocal mics: Quick list

Want to cut to the chase and find out exactly which we think are the best vocal mics on the market right now? Below, you’ll find a round-up of our top choices. You can jump to a more detailed review of every pick and better yet, our clever price comparison tool will help you find the best deal. 

The best vocal mics available today

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Here you'll find full writeups and reviews of all our favourite vocal mics. Many of these have been personally tested by our writing team too, so you can rely on our recommendations for your next vocal mic.

Best overall

Best vocal mics: Shure SM7B

(Image credit: Shure)
The best vocal mic – it was good enough for MJ

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
A lot of mic for the price
+
Perfect for podcasting and voiceovers
+
Choice of the stars

Reasons to avoid

-
Not great for live use
At a Glance

Buy if you want a vocal mic that can do it all: The SM7B is insanely popular whether you want a vocal mic for death growls, falsetto vocals, or to pick up someone softly spoken on a podcast.
Avoid if you want a live vocal mic: The design of this mic means its applications for live performance are somewhat limited.

As an all-rounder vocal mic, the Shure SM7B takes some beating. Over the years it’s been adopted by some of the music world’s biggest names – Michael Jackson swore by them – while its rich, balanced tone has found it adopted more recently by the podcasting community. 

The flat frequency response means it delivers a rich and smooth vocal with plenty of warmth and body. It's excellent at noise rejection too, only picking up whatever you place directly in front of it.

For home recording it’s a great choice as it features in-built protection against electromagnetic hum, meaning your computer monitor isn’t going to interfere with your signal. It’s also, as with all the Shure SM range, built to withstand all manner of performance situations without letting you down.

Read the full Shure SM7B review

Best for versatility

Best vocal mics: AKG C414 XLII

(Image credit: AKG)

2. AKG C414 XLII

Versatility and very high quality are order of the day

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Pickup pattern: 9 switchable patterns
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
One mic to rule them all
+
Built to last a lifetime
+
Switchable polar patterns

Reasons to avoid

-
You’ll struggle to find anyone with a bad word to say about this mic
At a Glance

Buy if you want a pro-level vocal mic: Found in pro studios all over the world, the C414 is a professional-grade microphone for capturing pristine vocals.
Avoid if you're on a budget: This microphone isn't cheap, so if your budget is tight you'll want to swerve this one.

As the most expensive mic in the line-up, the AKG C414 XLII has a lot to live up to. It’s also just about one of the most versatile microphones we’ve come across, excelling at everything from speech to vocals, via acoustic instruments and even drums

A total of nine pickup patterns are available, including combining two different patterns, meaning there is no application where this mic won’t suit, while the overall levels of quality, durability and construction are exemplary. Oh, and it sounds incredible too.

Best hybrid mic

Best vocal mics: Lewitt LCT 940

(Image credit: Lewitt)

3. Lewitt LCT 940

A superb quality, switchable tube and FET vocal mic

Specifications

Type: Large diaphragm condenser
Pickup pattern: Switchable
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent all-rounder vocal mic
+
Huge amounts of headroom
+
Easy to set up and use

Reasons to avoid

-
Some won’t like the aesthetic
At a Glance

Buy if you can't decide between tube and FET: With its multi-modes, you're essentially getting two mics in one with the LCT 940. You can also blend between the two flavours for added versatility.
Avoid if you like vintage mics: This mic is very much a modern one, from all the added extras to the aesthetic. If you like vintage vocal mics then steer clear.

Essentially two microphones in one, the Lewitt LCT 940 gives you both a tube condenser and FET vocal mic, as well as the ability to blend the two sounds to taste. A relative newcomer to the world of vocal mics, Lewitt's mic designs combine some really interesting design perspectives for the modern recording engineer.

We love the ability to blend the tube and FET sounds of this mic, which opens up a lot of interesting sonic possibilities whether you’re recording vocals, acoustic guitars, brass, or anything else really. Each side also stands on its own, with the tube side offering warmth and depth whilst the FET component delivers excellent clarity.

We like the look as well, although can appreciate some might find it a little gaudy. A separate power supply gives you polarity switching options to further enhance this mic’s versatility. There’s a bunch of filter and pad options to help you tame your sound at the source, as well as auto attenuation and a clipping history function that tells if you’re last signal clipped the mic at any point.

Best for studio

Best vocal mics: Neumann TLM 102

(Image credit: Neumann)

4. Neumann TLM 102

The legendary Neumann tone starts here

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Neumann tone
+
Small size for large diaphragm condenser
+
Versatile
+
Affordable for a Neumann

Reasons to avoid

-
Still not that cheap
-
No pad or low-cut filter
At a Glance

Buy if you want studio-grade vocals on a budget: Designed and engineered in the same factory as a host of legendary vocal mics, the TLM 102 delivers phenomenal sounds without you needing to remortgage.
Avoid if you like modern features: There are no fancy features like switchable polar patterns, built-in pads, and filters here.

Neumann is a premium German mic brand, and the TLM 102 is pitched as its most inexpensive large diaphragm condenser. Frankly, it’s not cheap but it is a more affordable option for producers, musos, or vocalists working out of modest studios to buy into the famed Neumann tone. 

Neumann clearly understands this market because, very sensibly, its engineers have developed the TLM 102 to be both small and versatile. So, while it’s perfect for vocals it’s also very capable of covering a lot of other ground too – everything from acoustic guitar to light percussion.

Its frequency response is authentically flat across the mid-range which gives it a transparent, open character that’s perfect for faithfully capturing vocals without adding any colour. The lower frequencies do have the kind of richness that’s expected from a large diaphragm condenser, but fortunately, it doesn't muddy up when close-miking.

If you’re happy investing the money, you’ll find the TLM 102 is a wonderful mic for vocals and a lot more besides. If you work with clients, they’ll appreciate the premium branding too.

Read the full Neumann TLM 102 review

Best for live vocals

Best vocal mics: Shure SM58

(Image credit: Shure)
A scene veteran, still going strong

Specifications

Type: Dynamic
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Hard to fault
+
Reliable as they come
+
Excellent noise rejection

Reasons to avoid

-
Not particularly versatile
At a Glance

Buy if you want a reliable live vocal mic: Regularly seen on stages throughout the world, the SM58 is the go-to for anyone needing a rugged vocal microphone.
Avoid if you want studio sound: While this mic might find some use in the studio, you'll want something a little more high-definition for recording vocals.

It would be remiss not to include the Shure SM58 in this list, right? We did consider omitting it, but couldn’t bring ourselves to do it. After all, for a large number of live performers, this mic has been the go-to choice for decades now. You don’t become one of the best-selling vocal mics in the world by accident. 

Widely regarded for its excellent noise rejection properties and ultra-durable build. You probably won't want to do studio vocals with this mic, but if you're on the live circuit it's a must-have in your mic locker.

As a specialist live performance mic, the Shure SM58 offers the perfect combination of reliability, performance, and durability, all for a price that sits very nicely around the $100/£100 mark.

Read the full Shure SM58 review

Best budget mic

Best vocal mics: Audio-Technica AT2020

(Image credit: Audio-Technica)

6. Audio-Technica AT2020

The best vocal mic for recording on a budget

Specifications

Type: Large diaphragm condenser
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible value for money
+
Works on lots of sources
+
Robust build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
High noise floor compared to others
At a Glance

Buy if you want to record vocals on a budget: Coming in around the $100/£100 mark, the AT2020 is a top choice for those looking to get great vocals without splashing the cash.
Avoid if you need a low-noise floor: If you're recording softly spoken vocals or podcasts we'd avoid the AT2020 as the noise floor is higher than others on this list.

The Audio-Technica AT2020 is one of the best-selling condenser microphones for good reason. Packing excellent sound quality into a robust casing, it’s a versatile workhorse mic that will deliver on vocals and plenty of other instruments.

The AT2020 is flattering to many vocalists thanks to its mid-range warmth and ever-so-slight presence peak. It captures the full bandwidth between 20 Hz and 20 kHz too, so you’ll hear every little nuance of your vocalist's delivery.

Despite the low cost, it feels incredibly robust in your hand, always a nice quality in a mic that might have to put up with abuse from life in the studio. Our only gripe with the AT2020 is that the noise floor is comparatively high, which means recording quiet sources at a distance might not work all too well.

More options...

So those are our top picks, but there are many more great options to choose from that offer something a little different in terms of features and performance. We've selected some more of our favourites below.

Best vocal mics: Aston Spirit

(Image credit: Aston Microphones)
The best of British engineering

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Pickup pattern: Cardioid, Omni, Figure 8
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Amazing value
+
Bomb-proof construction
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
Not much!
At a Glance

Buy if you want a great value all-rounder: The Aston Mics Spirit works on pretty much anything whilst sitting at a fantastic price point considering what you get.
Avoid if you need a flat response: The Spirit's various polar patterns have a slight presence bump, which may not suit your needs.

As the most expensive mic in the line-up, the AKG C414 XLII has a lot to live up to. It’s also just about one of the most versatile microphones we’ve come across, excelling at everything from speech to vocals, via acoustic instruments and even drums

As you would hope when spending this amount of cash, it sounds incredible. The lows and mids are rich and warm with clarity and definition in the top end. Due to the varying pickup patterns, you can cover pretty much all the bases with this microphone, which is why you'll find it in pro studios all over the world.

A total of nine pickup patterns are available, including combining two different patterns, meaning there is no application where this mic won’t suit, while the overall levels of quality, durability, and construction are exemplary.

Best vocal mics: Rode NTK

(Image credit: Rode)

8. Rode NTK

This solid mid-range tube condenser is one of the best vocal mics

Specifications

Type: Tube condenser
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Detailed and warm sound
+
Amazing value for money
+
Robustly engineered

Reasons to avoid

-
Some users reported slightly boxy mids
-
No low-cut switch
At a Glance

Buy if you want a pure studio vocal mic: Rode mics are well known for their exceptional performance on vocals and this mic is no different.
Avoid if you prefer modern features: There are no extra switches here, so if you prefer to add a pad or low cut on the fly then this won't suit you.

Australian brand Rode is one of the best-known microphone specialists operating today. The Rode NTK is their flagship mid-point condenser, delivering exceptional performance for vocals and other speech-related applications. Part of the NTK’s magic comes from the twin-triode 6922 tube, which adds a touch of vintage warmth to recordings. 

It's flattering on a variety of vocal styles, whether you're going for hip-hop bars or rock and roll belting.  It sounds great close up too, sounding bigger and warmer the closer you get. If you want to use it for other applications, we found it sounds great on acoustic guitars too.

We particularly like the build quality of the Rode NTK, which offers easy access to replace the tube, should you need to. As with the rest of the Rode range, there’s a lot of quality on display here at a great value price point.

Best vocal mics: Lewitt PCT 440

(Image credit: Lewitt)

9. Lewitt LCT 440

The best mid-range condenser

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Sleek design
+
Versatile
+
Built to last

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic features
At a Glance

Buy if you want something simple to use: This mic doesn't feature extras like polar patterns, pads, or filters, making it a simple plug-and-go type vocal mic.
Avoid if you want extra features: This mic is a simple affair, so if pads, low-cut filters, and switchable polar patterns are part of your work flow this won't suit.

The Lewitt LCT 440 Pure may, on paper, be a simple microphone with a single polar pattern and nothing in the way of pads or filters, but what it does, it does to such a high level that it becomes an incredibly attractive proposition. 

The mic’s 1” condenser is a thing of beauty, and is perfect for vocals – both sung and spoken – with a very low noise floor meaning there’s very little post-production required. It’s a premium set-up, for a very reasonable price indeed.  

You get an excellent selection of accessories too, with a magnetically attached pop filter, wind-shield, robust shock-mount, and a bag to carry everything in. Whilst it may not have the most features, it certainly feels like great value for your money.

Read our full Lewitt LCT 440 review

Best vocal mics: AKG C636

(Image credit: AKG)
A great vocal microphone option for speech

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Commanding speech mic
+
Great handheld performance

Reasons to avoid

-
Musicians might look elsewhere
At a Glance

Buy if you want a vocal mic for something other than singing: The AKG C636 is the perfect mic for podcasts, voice-overs, speeches, and the like. So perfect if you're producing something other than music.
Avoid if you want a studio vocal: While it would probably do a decent job as a studio vocal mic, you'll want to get something with more clarity and detail for that kind of work.

Not every vocal application involves singing. Some of us, naming no names, have singing voices which resemble the noise a burning pet shop might make. If you can picture that scene. Yet there are plenty of other scenarios where a quality vocal microphone is required; think podcasts, voice-overs, speeches and broadcast. For this, the AKG C636 is a superb choice.

The AKG C636 features a uniform cardioid pattern, designed to accentuate only what it’s meant to, while its design is geared towards reducing the vibrations caused when hand-holding the mic. Sure, music and singing situations may require a different tool, but for speech tasks this is a great choice.

Read the full AKG C636 review

Best vocal mics: Sennheiser EW 500-935 G4

(Image credit: Sennheiser)

12. Sennheiser EW 500 G4 935

Liberate your creativity with a wireless vocal mic

Specifications

Type: Dynamic
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Connection: Wireless, digital over UHF

Reasons to buy

+
Top-notch Sennheiser build quality
+
Up to 88MHz bandwidth with 3,520 selectable frequencies 
+
High RF output power
+
Neumann capsule option

Reasons to avoid

-
UHF frequencies limit use in some territories
At a Glance

Buy if you want a wireless live vocal mic: Perfect for the performer who wants to upgrade their performance, this Sennheiser wireless mic is a fantastic option.
Avoid if you want a studio vocal mic: Wireless mics aren't often used in the studio as the sound quality is better through cabled mics, so this wouldn't suit a studio engineer.

Jagger, Bowie, Beyonce, Rihanna, Sheeran, Drake, Eilish – all are legendary for their magnetic live performances. Why? Because they know how to use every inch of the stage.

If you’re a live performer looking to up your game then you simply must go wireless. Come on, unleash yourself from the shackles of your mic stand and liberate your creativity.

Sennheiser is one of the best trusted names in wireless mics and the EW 500-935 kit is the place to start if you want to invest in a pro system that can be expanded as your requirements, fame and earnings grow. It features an SKM 500 G4 handheld transmitter (the mic body) armed with a dynamic MMD 935-1 cardioid capsule. This can be swapped out for any capsule in Sennheiser's G4 range, including condensers, supercardioids and so on. It’s also compatible with some Neumann capsules, making it a great value gateway to that legendary sound.

The EM 300-500 G4 rack mountable receiver can handle up to 3,520 frequencies, and it’s true diversity too for ultra-reliable, stable performance.

Best vocal mics: Telefunken M80

(Image credit: Telefunken)

13. Telefunken M80

Dresses like a peacock, sings like a nightingale

Specifications

Type: Dynamic
Pickup pattern: Supercardioid
Connection: XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Dazzling colour options
+
Condenser-like sound
+
Unique design characteristics
+
Build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricey
-
A coloured mic isn't for everyone 
At a Glance

Buy if you want a dynamic mic that sounds like a condenser: This oddly coloured microphone has a lightweight capsule that delivers excellent noise rejection of a dynamic mic whilst still giving you a detailed sound.
Avoid if you're on a budget: This mic is one of the pricier options on this list, so if you're on a tight budget we'd avoid it.

The M80 is a flamboyant stage mic that’s available in no less than 15 colours including fluoro pink, yellow, orange and a handful of metallics. Need a mic to match your Elvis-inspired gold lamé suit? Step forward the M80. If you’re the kind of performer who lives on the very edge of good taste then you can even mix and match the colour of the body and grille to go full-on ’80s neon. Or you can rein it back in and go traditional black and chrome for sophisticated appearances. It’s your choice.

However, the M80 is much more than just a pretty face. Despite its potential for looking like a colourful toy, Telefunken’s engineers have succeeded in their quest to give it the robustness of a solid dynamic mic but with the wider frequency response of a condenser. The holy grail of performance mic tone.

They’ve achieved this by arming the M80 with a lightweight capsule that features a thin yet tough diaphragm. The resulting character is open, airy, detailed but strident. Despite its elevated sensitivity, transients are well tamed and handling noise is subdued. 

Build quality is top-notch and, although it’s not cheap, it’s a real step up from less expensive mics such as the Shure SM58. Just be aware that this is a super-cardioid mic with a focused pattern, so if you’re a lively performer be careful not to move too far off-axis.

Lewitt Pure Tube microphone in a home studio

(Image credit: Chris Corfield)

14. Lewitt Pure Tube

The best studio condenser for vocals

Specifications

Type: Condenser
Pickup pattern: Cardioid
Connection: 7-pin XLR

Reasons to buy

+
Exceptional build quality
+
Ideal for layering vocals
+
Virtually noise-free

Reasons to avoid

-
 Not the most versatile 
At a Glance

Buy if you want a tube condenser for vocals: Delivering tube warmth with an ultra-low noise floor, this mic is an exceptional choice if you need a condenser mic for the studio.
Avoid if you're on a budget: Tube mics are pretty pricey and the Lewitt Pure Tube is no different. If you're looking for a budget vocal microphone then this one isn't for you.

As a tube microphone, the Lewitt Pure Tube promises smooth, rounded tonality with a low noise floor, meaning you can happily stack and layer vocal tracks to your heart’s content without fear of an ever-increasing hiss. 

Unboxing the Pure Tube is pure theatre, with the mic and its dedicated power supply coming in a seemingly bomb-proof case, while the overall product design and build quality are exceptional. 

This is not a cheap or budget microphone, but for vocalists, it could be the go-to studio workhorse you’ve been looking for. It also does a fantastic job at other vocal tasks like voice-overs thanks to its ultra-flat frequency response, leaving plenty of room for creative mixing and EQ.

Read our full Lewitt Pure Tube review

Best vocal mics: Buying advice

Woman sings into a microphone in the studio

(Image credit: Getty/Simon Winnall)

What type of microphone do I need?

When venturing into the world of vocal microphones, the first crucial consideration revolves around the context in which you intend to use them. Your microphone choice will dramatically impact the quality of your recordings or performances. Whether you're gracing a grand stage or nestled in the cosy confines of a studio, the type of microphone you select is pivotal.

 For live vocal performances on a bustling stage, you should be looking for a dynamic microphone. These workhorses thrive in environments fraught with ambient noise. Their dynamic nature imparts robustness, and the microphone capsule's lower sensitivity ensures they reject unwanted noise. They also remain unfazed by some of the more common challenges of live venues, like sudden volume fluctuations or shifts in humidity.

 However, if you're crafting vocal magic within a controlled, well-treated studio, the throne belongs to the large diaphragm condenser microphone. Condenser mics, equipped with active circuitry, display heightened sensitivity compared to their dynamic counterparts. This sensitivity captures the nuances of the human voice, delivering cleaner, more detailed recordings that exude audio brilliance.

Yet, in the realm of untreated home studios plagued by ambient noise and reflections, dynamic microphones offer a budget-friendly alternative, efficiently combating background noise due to their low sensitivity. While they may lack some nuances, especially in the upper-frequency range, their sound quality remains excellent, and post-recording cleanup becomes a breeze.

Dynamic microphones come into their own when recording metal vocals, thanks to their unparalleled robustness. A dropped condenser mic often meets an unfortunate demise, while a dynamic microphone scoffs at such accidents, with the floor bearing the brunt of the impact.


Which pickup pattern do I need?

But microphone choice doesn't stop at dynamic or condenser; it extends to pickup patterns, a critical factor shaping a microphone's performance. Omnidirectional microphones capture sound from all directions, ensuring uniform signal reception regardless of the singer's orientation.

In contrast, figure-8 microphones have weak side sensitivity but excel in front and rear pickup. Cardioid microphones fall in between, offering a directional focus. However, they can be unforgiving if the vocalist strays off-axis, leading to signal loss.

Selecting the right pickup pattern hinges on the recording environment. If you intend to use a specific room's acoustics, an omnidirectional microphone will faithfully capture its ambience. On a raucous stage or in a booth, the cardioid microphone shines, though beware of the proximity effect (a bass boost when the vocalist gets too close).

Omnidirectional microphones produce a fuller, more open sound, while cardioids offer more containment. They are preferable when combating sound leakage and feedback, though the latter can be a screeching nightmare if improperly handled.

Who makes the best microphones for vocals?

Who makes the best microphones for vocals?

As you delve into microphone options, you'll encounter established brands like Shure, AKG, and Røde, with decades of music and broadcasting history backing their quality. However, newer contenders such as Aston and Lewitt also offer stellar alternatives. Your choice should align with your specific needs and the sonic world you aim to create.

How we choose

Here at MusicRadar, we are experts in our field, with many years of playing, creating and product testing between us. We live and breathe everything music gear related, and we draw on this knowledge and experience of using products in live, recording and rehearsal scenarios when selecting the products for our guides.

When choosing what we believe to be the best vocal mics available right now, we combine our hands-on experience, user reviews and testimonies and engage in lengthy discussions with our editorial colleagues to reach a consensus about the top products in any given category.

First and foremost, we are musicians, and we want other players to find the right product for them. So we take into careful consideration everything from budget to feature set, ease of use and durability to come up with a list of what we can safely say are the best vocal mics on the market right now.

Find out more about how we test music gear and services at MusicRadar

Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar and bass gear, to synths, microphones, DJ gear and music production hardware.

With contributions from