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Best Vocal Mics

Best Vocal Mics

Ten vintage and modern microphone models that every music producer should know.

Finding the ideal microphone for your vocal recordings is a crucial step in achieving professional-quality sound. This guide features a list of the most coveted vocal mics, revered for their ability to capture the human voice with exceptional clarity and warmth.

We also explore modern options that use modeling technology to replicate the sound of these classic microphones. Whether you're in a studio setting or recording at home, any of these microphones will provide the performance and versatility you’ll need to elevate your vocal and instrument recordings.

For many home and project studio producers, a large diaphragm condenser mic is one of the most important and expensive investments you will make to achieve professional quality recordings.

1. Telefunken ELA M 251: A Studio Legend
Famous for its detailed and open sound profile, the Telefunken ELA M 251 is a favorite among artists like Beyoncé. Its smooth high-frequency response and solid low-end make it perfect for dynamic vocal performances, capturing a rich, authentic tone.

2. Sony C800G: Crystal Clear Vocals
The Sony C800G, known for its bright and clear sound, is preferred by top producers and artists like Dr. Dre & Justin Beiber for its ability to highlight vocal clarity and presence. Its innovative cooling system maintains low noise levels, ideal for modern music production.

3. Neumann U47: Timeless Warmth
The Neumann U47 has been used by legends such as Frank Sinatra. It offers a warm and rounded sound, ideal for adding natural depth to vocals, and its tube microphone design captures rich midrange details.

4. Neumann U87: The Industry Standard
A staple in recording studios globally, the Neumann U87 is celebrated for its versatility and superior sound quality. Known users include Taylor Swift. It captures detailed vocal performances with precision, adaptable to various recording situations with its three selectable polar patterns.

5. Neumann U67: Versatile & Warm
Favored by artists like Paul McCartney for its smoothing effect on harsh tones, the Neumann U67 offers warmth and versatility with its tube design and multiple polar patterns, perfect for various recording environments.

6. AKG C414: A Modern G
The AKG C414, used by artists such as Radiohead, is a multi-pattern condenser microphone that handles a wide dynamic range effortlessly, ideal for capturing everything from soft vocals to loud instruments.

7. AKG C12: The Vintage Favorite
The AKG C12 is a vintage microphone beloved by artists like Adele for its silky smooth sound and exceptional clarity. Its ability to capture the finer details of vocal performances makes it a coveted choice for both studio recordings and live performances.

8. Shure SM7B: The Broadcaster’s Choice
Known for its rich, smooth sound, the Shure SM7B has been used by artists such as Michael Jackson. It is especially effective in controlling plosives and minimizing background noise, making it ideal for both music and podcasting.

9. UA Sphere DLX: Modern Innovation
This microphone uses advanced modeling technology to emulate the sound characteristics of all the classic microphones listed above, allowing artists to switch between different sounds to perfectly match their vocal style. It provides unparalleled flexibility and creative control over recordings.

10. UA Bock 251: A Hand-Made Tube Masterpiece
The UA Bock 251 gives you the smooth, open tone of the iconic ELA M 251, the first mic presented in this article and considered by many to be the greatest vocal mic ever made. Each UA Bock microphone is handmade in Santa Cruz, California, to the exacting specifications of world‑renowned mic designer David Bock.

The UA Sphere DLX modeling microphone system gives you the sound of classic mics used by everyone from The Beatles and Frank Sinatra to Beyoncé to Radiohead.

Choosing the Right Mic for Your Vocals

The mics featured in this guide are among the best for vocal recording, chosen for their unique attributes and ability to capture nearly any style of vocalist. But finding the ideal microphone for your needs will depend on the specific characteristics of your voice, the style of music, and the recording setting.

When choosing a vocal mic, consider variables such as acoustics of your recording space, the type of vocals you are recording, and your budget. Experiment with different microphones when possible to find the perfect match for your voice and style. This ensures that every nuance of your performance is captured, elevating the sonics of your recordings.

— Ezra Meijer