Best Vocal Mics For Live Performances

best live vocal mic

Last Update: September, 2019

Imagine what it would be like to go on stage oron air and your voice rings out with crystal clear clarity. The mic you’re using perfectly amplifies the bass of your voice, and you know that your audience is captivated.

This dream could easily be yours with the right mic. Along with your other equipment, your mic is a key piece of creating enchanting sounds. A mic can boost the bass in your voice, carry high pitched notes to transcendental levels, and mutually benefit your vocals and overall sound.

With these goals in mind, you might be wondering where to start your search. There are two main types of mics: dynamic microphones and condenser microphones.

Condenser mics can produce a faster, more detailed sound. However, dynamic mics are best for live performances. The mics we will be focusing on today are known for their robust, hardy quality for a variety of sounds.

This buying guide will help ensure that your signature sound is flawlessly amplified for your audience.

Live Vocal Mic

Summary

Shure SM58-LC

 Shure SM58-LC Cardioid Vocal Microphone

The most popular choice for studio recordings and live shows, this mic boosts a wide sound range and its durability will last you for years. Features that are tailored for live events cut out background noise while enhancing the main sound source.

Sennheiser E835

Sennheiser E835

This mic’s consistent and clear sound make it a perfect choice for almost all situations. Bass voices will truly benefit from its slow roll-off and definition.

Shure Super 55 Deluxe Vocal Microphone

Shure Super 55 Deluxe Vocal Microphone

This mic’s far out vintage design makes it a classic in its own right. Its swivel mount and metal casting make this a durable, bad to the bone mic.

Rode M1 Live Performance Vocal Mic

 Rode M1 Live Performance Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Microphone

This is one of the most versatile mics – reviewers use it for a variety of things from live shows to recorded videos and podcasts. With its hardy design, you will not find a more multipurpose mic.

Shure BLX24/B58

Shure Instrument Condenser Microphone Standard BLX24/B58-J10

If you want a professional quality microphone that is easy to use for entry-level needs, this is the mic for you. This simple, yet durable, mic will provide warm, smooth sound during your live shows.

Our Picks For The Best Live Vocal Mics

Pros:

  • Highly versatile
  • Sturdy, strong build
  • Perfect for mid-range vocals

Cons:

  • Weak for extremely dynamic ranges

More About Shure SM58-LC

Let’s face it, the Shure SM58-LC is the most lucrative and widely used mic on the market for live vocals right now. Its much-deserved reputation can be heard in professional studios and live performances everywhere for a variety of different sounds – jazz and metal both can benefit from this durable mic.

The Shure SM58-LC has a frequency response between 50 and 15,000 Hz, tailoring it for midrange vocals and controlling for the proximity effect. A highly effective built-in spherical wind and pop filter block out breath and wind sounds. Its shock-mount system cuts out handling noises, while uniform cardioid pickup pattern boosts vocals and cuts out background noise.

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Shure SM48-LC

Shure SM48-LC Vocal Dynamic Microphone, Cardioid

Shure BETA 58A

Shure BETA 58A

Sennheiser e945

Sennheiser e945

Pros:

  • Rich, detailed sounds
  • High end responsiveness
  • Compact and easy to use

Cons:

  • Poorly handles high pitched voices

More About Sennheiser E835

The Sennheiser E835 is a great mic with a strong metal body that produces clear, uncompromised sound. It is perfect for a range of vocal performances with a frequency response of 40 to 16,000 Hz.

What’s more, the Sennheiser backs this mic with a 10-year warranty. It provides uniform response with on- and off-axis and controls for background noise and wind/breath sounds. On top of all that, it is easy to use and comes with a microphone clip and pouch to make using and transporting this mic a breeze.

>> Related Content: Best Mic For Voice Overs

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Shure SM48-LC

Shure SM48-LC Vocal Dynamic Microphone, Cardioid

Shure BETA 58A

Shure BETA 58A

Sennheiser e945

Sennheiser e945

Pros:

  • Easy to use
  • Beautiful vintage appearance
  • Great for podcasting and stage recording

Cons:

  • No wind/pop filter

More About Shure Super 55 Deluxe Vocal Microphone

The Shure Super 55 Deluxe Vocal Microphone is a vintage beauty with its iconic chrome plating and lively blue foam details. This workhorse mic immediately brings to mind retro shows in the 70’s and packs an auditory punch.

This mic will provide a fullspectrum of sounds and is easy to use without an on/off switch getting in your way. However, with no pop/wind filter, care must be used to prevent excess unwanted noise. This classic mic will ship out to you with a padded pouch and a swivel mount on the mic base for ease of motion.

Shop Related Products

Shure SM48-LC

Shure SM48-LC Vocal Dynamic Microphone, Cardioid

Shure BETA 58A

Shure BETA 58A

Sennheiser e945

Sennheiser e945

Pros:

  • Produces defined, warm sound
  • Nearly eliminates handling noise
  • Versatile mic

Cons:

  • Emphasizes high pitches

More About Rode M1 Live Performance Vocal Mic

This multipurpose mic offers spectacular live performances for vocals and many instruments. Reviewers of the Rode M1 Live Performance Vocal Mic hail it as a wonderful tool for recording podcasts and instrument routines. It is ergonomically designed to reduce handling noise and provide a balanced output.

You can rest easy knowing that Rode provides a lifetime warranty after registration and user guides can easily be found online. The mic comes with a handy zipper carrying case and a fitted attachment for a microphone stand, making it easy to step up where ever you are.

Shop Related Products

Shure SM48-LC

Shure SM48-LC Vocal Dynamic Microphone, Cardioid

Shure BETA 58A

Shure BETA 58A

Sennheiser e945

Sennheiser e945

Pros:

  • Great for entry-level needs
  • Warm sound for close-up, bass voices
  • Easy to use

Cons:

  • Poor transmitter signal may lead to wireless dropouts

More About Shure BLX24/B58

The Shure BLX24/B58 is the ideal novice microphone system. It comes with a wireless receiver, handheld transmitter, microphone clip, and a padded zipper case. The wireless system comes with two batteries and has a bright LED display. You’d be right to say that this package is a steal.

A pneumatic shock mount system adds to its ruggedness and allows for rough handling during live shows. Not only that, but this mic is built for close-up vocals with a lot of bass. This mic is easy to use right out of the box with simple guides available online.

Shop Related Products

Shure SM48-LC

Shure SM48-LC Vocal Dynamic Microphone, Cardioid

Shure BETA 58A

Shure BETA 58A

Sennheiser e945

Sennheiser e945

Things to consider when buying a live singing microphone

There are quite a few things to consider when buying a live singing microphone, especially when considering that you have to cut through the mix of other instruments and background noises.

The range of microphones to choose from is obviously quite large, so it is important that you pinpoint exactly what you’re looking for when buying a live singing microphone.

Polar pattern, impedance, and sound signature are just a few things you’ll need to consider when choosing your microphone.

Polar Pattern

A polar pattern is the sound graph which tells you which direction the microphone will absorb sound from. It is the shape of the mic’s field of sensitivity.

There are two common types of microphones: omnidirectional and unidirectional. Less common amongst live singing microphone is a bi-directional mic.

An omnidirectional microphone picks up sound from all directions while a unidirectional mic primarily hears sound from one general location and blocks sound from all others.

A bi-directional mic picks up sound from the left and right directions while excluding sound from the top and bottom of the mic.

Within these different types of common microphones are the different polar patterns that will help you best understand where the sound is absorbed. The three polar patterns arecardioid, supercardioid, and hypercardioid.

The cardioid polar pattern is a heart-shaped pattern which places mic sensitivity around the sides of the microphone and directly in the center. It rejects unwanted sound from entering the mic approximately 180 degrees opposite of the direction of the microphone.

The supercardioid pattern accepts more sound from the center 180 degree surface area, but more side sound is rejected. And the hypercardioid goes out even further to accept more than 180 degree sound, but less side sound once again.

Understanding polar patterns is important when choosing a live singing microphone as you want only the singer’s voice to be heard as opposed to the instruments and background noise.

Impedance

Impedance can be a little difficult to understand, but it can best be thought of as the amount of resistance of electric current an electronic device has.

A good rule of thumb when choosing a microphone is to choose a mic that has the same or lower impedance than the audio equipment that the mic is being plugged into.

Low impedance is considered to be less than 600 ohms while high impedance is generally greater than 10,000 ohms.

In this case the higher the number does not necessarily mean the better the microphone, so be mindful of this during your search.

Sound Signature

Finding the right sound signature will help to improve the sound quality of your voice as it comes through the sound system.

Each type of microphone has its own frequency response characteristics and they can emphasize one frequency over the other.

The trick here is to find the frequency that best complements your voice. If you have a higher pitched voice, a microphone that favors a treble sound frequency may not be the best as it will pick up the harsher high tones.

On the other hand, a deeper voice would want to use a mic that has better definition of the bass frequencies, so your voice does not get lost or muffled within the sound.

Proximity Effect

Although proximity effect is not something that is mentioned as a specification when looking at microphone specs, it is something to consider when purchasing a microphone.

When you get very close to any type of directional mic, except usually for an omnidirectional pattern mic, you will notice that there is an increase in the lower frequencies of your voice coming through the sound system.

It makes them sound meatier and warmer. Normally male singers will take advantage of this feature in order to enhance their voices. If this is something you are looking for, be sure to keep it in mind as you search.

Max SPL (Sound Pressure Level)

Max SPL indicates the maximum volume your microphone will reach. This is usually measured in decibels and it is the maximum volume that is reached before you reach feedback and distortion.

Normally a singer cannot ever reach this level, but if you are planning on using your mic on amplifiers then it would be wise to consider the max SLP of the microphone you are purchasing.

You definitely want a mic that has a high SPL so you don’t end up blowing out the sound system before your performance even begins.

Types of Microphone

When searching for the best live vocal microphone, you must understand also the different types of microphones out there.

The two primary types of microphones are dynamic microphones and condenser microphones. The way these two microphones produce sound causes them to differ in the type of microphone they are.

Dynamic microphones use a thin diaphragm to move the sound waves as your voice pours into the mic.

When this happens, motion in a vocal coil, which is suspended in a magnetic coil, is induced. An electrical signal is then generated that feeds the sound into the audio equipment. This process produces a more robust sound than that of condenser microphones.

Condenser microphones, on the other hand, use a delicate conductive diaphragm that is paired with a metal disk which forms a capacitor.

When sound hits the capacitor, the diaphragm stretches and changes the capacitance of the arrangement. A change in output voltage is then triggered which creates the electric current audio signal.

This audio process produces a sound that is more detailed and fine-tuned.

Conclusion

With so many microphones on the market, the process of finding the right one can be a bit tedious and time consuming. We hope that this guide will be a huge help in narrowing down exactly what you should be looking for when purchasing the best live vocal mic for your voice.

Take your time and test out all the different mics you think will work best while keeping in mind what you need to be looking for. Soon, you’ll be on your way to purchasing an awesome microphone and killing it up on stage.

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