Top 5 Best Microphones for Recording Vocals in Your Bedroom
Investing in a decent vocal microphone is, in my opinion, the most important investment you'll make for your bedroom recordings -- along with your audio interface and recording environment, the microphone you choose can significantly impact the sound quality of your recordings. Here is a list of 5 options as you search for the best microphone for recording vocals that won't break the bank: the Rode NT1A, Shure SM7B, Neumann TLM 102, Blue Bluebird SL, and Audio Technica AT2035.
In addition to a microphone, you'll want to grab an audio interface, XLR cable, shock mount, pop filter, and mic stand to get started.
Understanding Microphone Types
Before we dive into the specifics of each microphone, it's important to understand the two main types of microphones you'll encounter: dynamic and condenser.
Dynamic microphones, like the Shure SM7B, are robust and handle high sound pressure levels well. They are great for live performances and recording loud instruments. If you're worried about poor room acoustics or noisy environments, you'll get better results with this mic because they're less sensitive and don't capture as much sound beyond what is directly on the mic. However, you may need something like a Cloudlifter to bump up the gain. This is a popular mic lately because you can record just about anywhere, but it doesn't capture higher frequency ranges as detailed as you might want.
Condenser microphones, like the Rode NT1A, Neumann TLM 102, Blue Bluebird SL, and Audio Technica AT2035, are more sensitive and accurate. They are ideal for capturing vocals and acoustic instruments in the studio, if your space is conducive to recording.
The Rode NT1A is a condenser microphone known for its clarity and warmth. It has a wide frequency response, making it excellent for capturing every detail of your vocals. The NT1A is also very quiet, with low self-noise, which is crucial when recording in a home studio where background noise can be an issue. It comes with a pop shield, shock mount, dust cover, and an XLR cable, making it a great value.
The Shure SM7B is a dynamic microphone that has gained a cult following in both broadcasting and music recording. It's known for its smooth, flat, wide-range frequency response, which is perfect for vocals. The SM7B also features excellent shielding against electromagnetic hum generated by computer monitors and other electrical devices. While it requires a high-gain preamp (like a Cloudlifter), its performance is exceptional, particularly on loud, powerful vocals.
The Neumann TLM 103 is a condenser microphone that stands out for its impressive sound pressure level handling. It can handle up to 144dB, allowing it to record louder sounds without distortion. The TLM 102 has a slight boost above 6kHz, helping vocals to shine in the mix. While it's the most expensive microphone on this list, its precision and clarity make it a worthy investment.
The Blue Bluebird SL is a versatile condenser microphone that delivers a pristine, highly-detailed sound. It features a high-pass filter to eliminate rumble and a -20dB pad to keep your sound clear and distortion-free, even at high volumes. The Bluebird SL's large diaphragm makes it particularly suitable for capturing vocals, offering a rich, full sound.
The Audio Technica AT2035 is a budget-friendly condenser microphone that doesn't compromise on sound quality. It offers a smooth, natural sound with low noise. It also includes a switchable 80Hz high-pass filter and 10dB pad, providing versatility for a wide range of applications. The AT2035 is a great choice for those starting their home studio journey.
Making Your Choice
When choosing a microphone, consider your specific needs. If you're often on the move in different recording environments, the Shure SM7B might be the best fit. If you're looking for precision and clarity and have a more dedicated recording space, consider the Neumann TLM 102. The Rode NT1A and Blue Bluebird SL are excellent for a wide range of vocal styles, while the Audio Technica AT2035 is a great starting point for those on a budget.
Remember, the best microphone for you is the one that fits your voice, your recording environment, and your budget. Take the time to research, and consider renting or borrowing microphones to test them out before making a purchase. Happy recording!