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 selecting 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, and even podcasts or voice-overs!

 

SOLID STATE CONDENSER MICS

 

 

Overall sound: Bright, clear, detailed.

PROS: Perfect for genres like Pop, Hip-hop, and EDM, where the vocals should always sound “in your face”, or for very quiet, whispered vocal styles (think Billie Eilish). They are the most versatile mic category and will suit most artists.

CONS: Cheaper models can often sound incredibly harsh and require a lot of extra processing in the mixing stage. Unless you are a seasoned mixing engineer or intend to give it to one, it’s best to avoid cheap mics. Solid state condenser mics also pick up a lot of room noise and it’s easier to clip your preamp when using them to record artists that are very dynamic or don’t have a good mic technique.

My favorites: Austrian Audio OC818, Neumann U87

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 300$ (more than 30!!) and the 3 budget mics I mentioned are the only ones I suggest for studio use.

 

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 sound for genres like R&B, indie, folk, or blues.

CONS: High volume (ie. shouting or loud singing) can introduce distortion and might not work with the song you are working on. Also, tube mics should always be mounted upside-down in order to prevent capsule damage, as the heat from the tube will condensate the vocalist’s breath and warp the capsule over time.

My favorites: Sontronics Aria, Telefunken 215E

Good budget alternatives: Warm Audio WA-47

Additional notes: Tube mics are expensive. Good ones start from 800$ and cheaper ones are complete crap!

 

DYNAMIC MICS

 

 

Overall sound: Neutral, less detailed.

PROS: Perfect to record aggressive/loud vocalists (hip-hop, rock, metal), or if your room is untreated since dynamic mics don’t pick up as much room ambiance as condenser mics.

CONS: Not ideal for intimate songs or whispered vocals. They also require a lot of gain from the preamp and this can result in a loud noise floor.

My favorite: Shure SM7B

Good budget alternatives: SE electronics V7, Shure Sm58

Additional notes: Dynamic mics are a great choice for remote collabs. Since they are generally cheap and don’t pick up room reflections as much as condensers, 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 record the song.

For the final recording stage, I’ll use a dynamic mic only if I’m recording an extremely aggressive or loud vocalist. Rap and rock/metal artists particularly sound great with a Shure SM7B. For pop artists tho, I would suggest staying away from dynamics, unless you absolutely have no option to treat your room.

 

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 and try out 2-3 mics. Then keep the one that suits your voice the best and return the others!

Also, remember: expensive doesn’t always equal better when it comes to choosing a mic. 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 services here).

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