A home studio is a great way to take on your hobby or build your career as an emerging artist. Think about it. You build your own path and work your own hours. Doesn’t get any exciting as this, doesn’t it?
But there are a couple of things you’ll have to sort out before you get started. And in this case, the right equipment should be on the top of your list. Fortunately, you’re reading the words of someone who has tried and tested some of the best microphones for singing at home. Let’s just say that I like to be thorough and can never settle for anything other than the best.
Anyway, throughout my years of home-recording, I can attest to one simple fact: the right microphone makes the world of a difference. And that’s exactly why I’ve created this comprehensive yet detailed guide to purchasing the best mic you’ve ever bought.
Low Budget Options
Whether you’re a beginner or aren’t sure of how serious you are about home-recording, a budget-friendly microphone is a great way to start. I personally started my home-recording journey using the all the gear mentioned in this list. It’s always a good idea to get yourself something fairly inexpensive until you’re finally ready to take the plunge with something pricy.
This is primarily why I’ve created this section to help emerging artists invest in the best equipment. Here are a couple of the best cardioid mics you will find on a budget:
Shure SM58-LC Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone
Now when I was new to home-recording, I knew I couldn’t start my side-gig with a $500 investment so that’s when I began exploring my options. Priced under $100, this sure is one hell of a microphone that offers the best bang for your buck. It provides a frequency range of 50 to 15,000 Hz. It has a well-made spherical shape that prevents unnecessary breath noises when you’re recording. My buddy needed an extra mic for his kid’s school play, and it performed pretty well, minimizing background noise.
I have to say I was impressed by the sturdy hold of this model, it doesn’t feel cheap at all. Also, I had this mic for a couple of years now so I know it’s built to last.
Keeping all this mind, this is a great starter gear for singing at home. I’ve definitely worked with better but it was perfect for my adolescent days when I was starting off. We now use it as a spare or for some of our outdoor gigs. You can also use it for different instruments, I’ve personally found that it works great for guitars.
Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Studio XLR Microphone
OK, so let me just say that this particular model is a sight to see. I mean, it looks great. My bandmate Mike bought this beauty on impulse and man, were we surprised by how great it works. Priced under $85, this microphone is the best of the best out there if you’re on a limited budget. We used it for a couple of our home-recording gigs and it worked perfectly.
The only minor inconvenience is that the mic requires phantom power so it isn’t your usual USB mic. We used a conversion box to connect the mic to our laptop and didn’t face any problems. You will also need extra cables as this one doesn’t come with any. But for $84, do you really think you should complain?
Blue Snowball iCE Condenser Microphone, Cardioid
Say hello to this ultra-easy to use, plug and play gear. Initially, I bought this for some low-key practice sessions but it really proved to be quite an all-rounder. Priced under $45, it’s a bit unbelievable how much you can get done with this old-school condenser mic. It offers crystal clear audio with no drivers to install when you use it on your PC or Mac (I was pretty thrilled about that).
I was also impressed that it does not pick up any background noise. I’d say this is a great beginner’s mic especially if your work is mainly PC/Mac related. Apart from recording vocals, this mic also does a pretty decent job for recording podcasts or videos for your YouTube channel. And yes, it is Skype-certified so you can also use it for conference calls or meetings. I personally really liked the versatility of this mic, it’s a good option if you’re still setting up your home studio or need to share an extra mic at home with your family.
Neewer NW-700 Professional Condenser Microphone
In all my years of home-recording, I always appreciate brands that throw in extra cables and accessories when selling their products. Because otherwise, you might come home realizing that you don’t have the right cable to plug in your new buy which results in an additional delay. And that’s exactly why I recommend this microphone to save you from such problems.
This incredibly awesome kit includes everything any beginner would be happy to start off with. Apart from the mic, you’ll also get a mount, XLR audio cable, pop filter, ball-type foam cap, adapter, phantom power supply, scissor arm stand and an XLR female to XLR male cable. Now, isn’t that a mouthful? And it’s all for under $50.
For its low price, it’s a fairly decent product that you can use to get started. Especially if you’d like to avoid the hassle of buying additional equipment. I used this when I starting out my luck with content creation. It’s also fairly easy to install which is one less thing I had to worry about.
Blue Yeti USB Microphone – Blackout
Now this one is a personal favorite of mine for its exceptional sound quality alone. It’s a bit pricier than your standard budget-friendly options but it’s definitely worth it. I received this as a gift from my girlfriend because my old microphone was wearing down and I was too stubborn to buy a new one. Either way, it obviously worked out well for me because it landed me this beauty (in addition to the beautiful woman I already landed!).
What I absolutely love about this product that I’ve relied on for years is that offers multiple pattern selection. This means that you can play around with bidirectional, cardioid, omnidirectional and stereo mode– whatever works best for you. I also liked that I was able to find tons of information on how to use the mic on the internet – that is always a bonus. It also offers great real-time control and comes with an instant mute button. For its price, it offers tons of great features without you having to experience latency delays.
Overall, I had a great time testing out this mic on my birthday and I’d definitely recommend it to all you folks. Also, if it makes any difference, you can purchase this mic in a number of colors, I really liked the black one my girlfriend got me but you can choose any color you like for yourself.
Best Mics for Singing At Home: Professional-Grade
Though heavy on the pockets, it’s always worth making the right investment at the right time. Once you have navigated your way around the market and have spent some time practicing with low-budget microphones, it’s time you move over to the big ones. In this section, I’ll be recommending some of the best of the best that I’ve worked with over the years.
Here is a list of some of my personal favorites:
Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic
Now this isn’t just one of my favorite mics – it happens to be a popular favorite around the world. With its fantastic sound quality and sturdy build, home-recording will become a breeze. I’ve used this trooper for a microphone for singing and for my guitar and I was 100% satisfied both times. I am personally a huge fan of the large diaphragm and its dynamic capsule. I noticed a considerable improvement in sound quality after I purchased this mic.
The frequency range is pretty decent and it comes with a two-year warranty which is also a bonus. I’ve also found that the mic works excellently for all kinds of instruments and is also great for radio broadcast announcers. Just give it a listen and I’m sure you won’t be able to work without it anymore.
Rode NTK Premium Tube Cardioid Condenser Mic
More on our extravagant section, this microphone works as a hell of an investment, and I can say this for sure because I’ve been using it for years. But let me be straight up honest with you, it’ll result in quite a dent in your pocket costing roughly around $530. Since this is a cardioid microphone, it is exceptionally great for recording vocals and does a pretty good job with recording pianos and guitars too.
I’m personally also a fan of how great the product looks. It just sets a good vibe when you’re recording at home. I did a lot of research before buying this mic and I found that replacing the tube should help you end up with even better, smoother results. Yes, it’s a tad pricy but I’d say it’s completely worth it if you want to achieve exceptional quality sound. And if I’m being completely honest, some of the best microphones can cost even more so I found this one pretty reasonable.
sE Electronics X1 S Complete Studio Bundle
Like I mentioned earlier, I’m a huge fan of bundle deals since you actually end up saving top dollar. I bought this killer 6-in-1 microphone bundle when I was revamping my home studio and was finally ready to take a plunge with slightly pricier equipment.
The package included a large condenser mic with a large diaphragm, a reflexion filter, metal pop shield and a mic stand. I personally loved the metal pop shield – I recommend you get one yourself if you don’t already have one. This will instantly minimize any extra sounds that your mic would pick up otherwise, All in all, I was pretty satisfied with this mic since it offers a great value for money.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Microphone
So now that we’ve listed down the top mics for singing at your home, it’ll be wise to brush up the basics now. Here are a couple of factors you should consider before making your purchase:
Types of Mics
We definitely can’t move much further unless we cover the different types of microphones. If you’re absolutely serious about home-recording then I strongly suggest you read up as much as you can about various kinds of equipment:
Dynamic microphones are the most popular kind of mics out there. You’ve probably seen a lot of them growing up! These mics typically work like mini loudspeakers, converting electrical signals into sound. In terms of construction, the inside of a dynamic microphone always includes a wire coil and a magnet which helps create the electric current.
Dynamic mics are an excellent option if you’re all about amping up the sound, they work best with loud bass drums or electric guitars. Additionally, because of its simple design and functionality, dynamic mics can take a lot of wear and tear and typically last quite long.
Now a condenser mic offers a bit more complexity that you wouldn’t find in the humble dynamic mic. Because of its sensitivity and added responsiveness, condenser mics work well for recording subtle sounds.
As far as its construction is concerned, this mic features two capacitor plates that are powered by an external source. Bear in mind, using a condenser microphone requires some efforts since you’ll need an XLR cable. But it definitely is worth it if you’re looking for exceptional sound quality.
The downside is that condensers can be quite fragile and won’t take a fall very well. Which is why, if you are looking for something a bit more heavy-duty, dynamic mics may work better. On the other hand, if you don’t want to compromise on sound, this is exactly what you should get.
Since most new musicians rely on computer-based recording, USB mics have become quite popular. In these cases, you can invest in high-quality soundcards along with high-end digital mixing boards that allow you to connect all necessary equipment such as mics. And above all, USB mics are often a top choice since all it requires is a simple plug and play. So, if you’re a beginner or just someone who wants to simplify work, a USB microphone is highly recommended.
These microphones feature a similar construction to dynamic mics, but feature a thin ribbon in place of a diaphragm. In my experience, I’ve found that ribbon mics work great for studio-time when recording vocals or instruments. It also tends to be bit expensive because of its fragility and construction but it’s worth it if you’re a serious artist. The detailed sound is definitely something that you check out once in your lifetime.
Note: Since this guide strictly focuses on mics that are great for singing at home, I highly recommend using cardioid microphones. Not only does it work well but also provide the best value for your money. As you work your way up, you can move onto ribbon mics but even then, keep in mind that these can be pretty fragile.
In simple terms, the polar pattern defines the microphone’s field of sensitivity in terms of picking up sounds. There are three types of polar patterns that you need to know about:
- Omnidirectional: As the name suggests, this kind of mic responds to sound from all directions. This isn’t ideal if you’re recording vocals since the mic might pick up background noise and no one wants that.
- Bidirectional: Often termed as Figure 8, this kind responds to sounds from east and west. This microphone performs fairly well with smart positioning since it completely blocks out noise from all the other sides.
- Cardioid: This type of mic roughly features a heart shape, hence its name. It’s designed to pick up sound from only one side.
I can’t emphasize how important this is. For recording vocals, I highly recommend you invest in cardioid microphones. As mentioned above, this particular gear is the best in terms of excluding background noise and is great for vocals.
However, if you’d rather purchase a multi-purpose, versatile mic, you get yourself something that offers multiple polar patterns such as Blue Yeti’s USB Mic.
This is another factor that you’ll have to take into account when purchasing a microphone. As the name indicates, this factor defines the range of frequency your mic can pick up. And since this guide is about the best gear for singing, you’re better off with something that offers mid or high range. High frequency mics are excellent for recording vocals or guitars. On the other hand, low frequency mics can come in handy for recording bass. Opt for something that’ll satisfy your needs and requirements.
FAQs about Home Recording
I get a ton of questions from rookies or amateur artists who are setting up their own home-recording studio (even if that happens to be your own bedroom). Here are a few questions that I’m frequently asked:
Are condenser mics good for singing?
Hell yes. Owing to its complexity and sensitivity towards sound, condenser mics are great if you really want everything to sound natural. These microphones have a better frequency response and offer a louder sound output. Since we’re mainly focusing on recording vocals here, I would suggest you get your hands on a large-diaphragm microphone.
How can I record quality vocals at home?
Now this is one question that deserves an insanely detailed response but I possibly can’t cover absolutely everything. My best suggestion for young artists who are starting out is to get all your research done. And I mean it. Recording equipment can be expensive hence you definitely don’t want to spend your money on something that won’t benefit you in the long run. Talk to some of the guys at your local music store and figure out what kind of sound you would like to achieve.
Once that’s sorted out, the next step is to invest in the best mic, ideally a condenser one but the choice is yours. Next, focus on positioning the gear right. Starting off anywhere near 6 to 10 inches should be good otherwise you will pick up background noise in your recordings. Also make sure the your mic is positioned away from the walls, this will prevent it from picking up room resonance. I also advise you to invest in a pop shield as it will significantly impact the quality of your recordings.
Another important factor you need to pay attention to is the axis of the microphone. Try moving the mic left and right to see what axis works best for you.
What do I need to record singing at home?
If you’ve gone around and conducted a survey, you’ll find that studio recording time can be pretty expensive. This is a price that not every artist can afford when they’re just getting started. But on the other hand, setting up your own home studio can seem pretty daunting too. The good news is that you should be able to find some fairly inexpensive stuff if you look carefully. And if you’re smart enough (to do the right research), you should be able to set up a pretty decent home recording studio at home.
Here’s everything you’ll need to get started:
- A microphone (duh!)
- Digital audio workstation software
- Studio monitors
- Audio interface
- Cables (very important, always buy spare if you can)
- Digital keyboard
- Instruments that you might need
Wrapping it Up
Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my detailed guide and found a mic for your needs.
With time, you’ll learn how investing in the right equipment will definitely help you in your journey to quality home recording. Feel free to ask questions and tell me about your favorite mics in the comment section below. Good luck!