When I started my career as a record producer, I was hyper-focused on finding the best microphone to record my artists with. After all, vocals are the most crucial and sensitive instrument to record, because even casual listeners can notice a harsh or unnatural sound.

That’s why you need to take special care when picking the right mic for the job. In this quick article, I’ll share with you the 3 types of microphones you should be looking for when recording singers, rappers… or even podcasts and voice-overs!

 

SOLID-STATE CONDENSER MICS

 

 

Overall sound: Bright, clear, detailed.

PROS: Perfect for Urban, Pop, and EDM where the vocals should always sound “in your face”. They are also great for very quiet and intimate vocals (think Billie Eilish). Generally speaking, they are the most versatile mic type as they will suit most artists.

CONS: Most models under $300 sound incredibly harsh. Solid-state condenser mics are also very sensitive, so they are gonna pick up a lot of room noise and it’s easier to clip your preamp when recording an artist that’s very dynamic or doesn’t have a good mic technique.

My favorites: Lauten Audio Clarion, Austrian Audio OC818

Good budget alternatives: Rode NT1, Aston Origin, Audio Technica AT2035

Additional notes: Don’t bother looking for cheaper models. I tested every single condenser microphone under 350$ (more than 30) so you don’t have to! The 3 budget mics I mentioned are the only ones I suggest for serious studio use, and the Rode NT1 is my favorite among the three.

 

TUBE CONDENSER MICS

 

 

Overall sound: Flattering, smooth, larger-than-life.

PROS: Great choice for recording shrill/sibilant artists or if you want a more organic and colored sound for genres like R&B, indie, folk, or blues.

CONS: Shouting and loud singing can introduce distortion and might result in a recording that’s too colored for your taste. The heat from the tube will condensate the vocalist’s breath and warp the capsule over time, so they should always be mounted upside-down. You’ll probably have to replace the tube every few years or so.

My favorites: Sontronics Aria, Telefunken 215E

Good budget alternatives: Warm Audio WA-47

Additional notes: Good sounding tube mics are expensive, period. Sub $500 models are crap, and decent ones only start from the $900 mark.

 

DYNAMIC MICS

 

 

Overall sound: Neutral, less detailed.

PROS: They are less sensitive than condenser mics, so they don’t clip your preamp as easily, but more importantly, they don’t pick up as much room ambiance and reverberations. This makes them the perfect choice to record aggressive/loud vocalists (hip-hop, rock, metal) or if your room is untreated.

CONS: Not ideal for softer, intimate songs that need a more detailed vocal sound.

My favorite: Shure SM7B

Good budget alternatives: SE electronics V7, Shure Sm58

Additional notes: Dynamic mics are a great choice for remote collabs. They are generally cheap and don’t pick up as much room reflections as condensers, so artists with a limited budget can collab with a producer and keep bouncing ideas back and forth until it’s time to go to the studio and properly record the song.

I’ll generally use a dynamic mic for the final recording if I’m recording an extremely aggressive or loud vocalist. Rap and rock/metal artists particularly sound great with the Shure SM7B. This mic can also sound good for mainstream artists occasionally, but it’s rarely my preferred choice for pop and electronic projects. Having said that, if you absolutely have no option to treat your room, then the Shure is probably gonna be your only bet no matter the genre or voice type.

 

A FEW THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND

 

While some microphones are studio workhorses, every artist will sound better on a particular mic, so if you can take advantage of the retailers’ return policy, I suggest trying out 2-3 mics and then keeping the one that suits you the best.

Also remember, expensive doesn’t always equal better when it comes to choosing mics. Some artists sound better with a cheap Rode NT1 than they do with a vintage tube mic costing 5000 bucks!

Work with what you got. If you can’t afford an expensive mic, learn how to mix the one you have to make it sound great, or give the song to a professional mixing engineer (check out my mixing service here).

That’s all for this one! If you got questions feel free to DM me on Instagram, I got you!