Buyer's Guide Table of Contents
Last Update: September, 2023
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 mics and condenser microphones.
Condenser mics can produce a faster, more detailed sound. However, dynamic mics are best for performances. The live vocal 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 as you narrow down your options to the best microphones for live vocals.
Live Vocal Mic
The most popular choice for studio recordings and live shows, this mic boasts a wide sound dynamic range and its durability will last you for years. Features that are tailored for live events cut out noises in the background while enhancing the main sound source.
This mic’s consistent and clear vocal 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
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 Vocal Mic
This is one of the most versatile live vocal 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.
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
More About Shure SM58-LC
Let’s face it, the Shure SM58-LC is one of the most widely used microphones 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.
Even those who aren’t in the music industry recognize this mic. It’s been around since the mid-60s and aside from a few improvements and adjustments, this live performance mic has stayed the same. While it’s a well loved mic and has been relied upon by music sensation and karaoke enthusiasts alike, it remains affordable for just about anyone.
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 noise, while uniform cardioid pickup pattern boosts vocals and cuts out background noises.
The impressive specs aren’t the only attention grabbing feature about this mic, though. It’s built to withstand a lot and is one of the most durable mics available on the market today. Don’t worry about dropping it or a little extra wear and tear if you want to travel with it. The Shure SM58-LC can handle whatever you throw at it.
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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 live vocals with a frequency response of 40 to 16,000 Hz.
With a 150dB maximum SPL and an internal shockmount, this mic can handle loud live vocals and reduce any handling noise that might otherwise be picked up in the background. It also features special engineering that allows the mic to have a consistent pick up spot with very little change in tone. This is thanks to the cardioid polar pattern the mic is equipped with.
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.
The Sennheiser E835 is the brand’s affordable mic, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in durability or quality. In fact, some musicians prefer it over the well loved Shure SM85-LC.
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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. If you’re looking for aesthetic but don’t want to sacrifice sound quality, the Shure Super 55 will be right up your alley.
This live vocal mic provides a full spectrum 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.
Equipped with a supercardioid polar pattern, this vintage style mic provides crisp, modern sound. It has a frequency response of 60Hz to 17,000Hz and an impedance of 150 ohms. Many users, however, have noted that after 10,000Hz, the mic doesn’t perform as well. So while it can still be used at higher frequencies, the sound won’t be nearly as clean.
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More About Rode M1 Live Performance Vocal Mic
This multipurpose mic offers spectacular live performances for vocals and many acoustic instruments including the acoustic guitar. Reviewers of the Rode M1 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.
The Rode M1 aims for an understated appeal and its live sound quality is good. If you tend to move away from the mic and have difficulty with sound not being picked up, then the Rode M1 should be at the top of your list.
This sensitive mic delivers natural, warm vocals even from a foot away. For singers and soloists that find it difficult to stay close to the mic, this is a fantastic solution. This solid mic continues to pick up on the sound around with a cardioid polar pattern that protects against side noise, but if you have a loud band behind you, you might want to reconsider. It's best for capturing a very natural tone and a mellow sound, being both perfect for the recording studio or for recording instruments.
The mic is durable and robust, but won’t feel heavy if you decide to use it as a handheld mic for a performance. It’s slim and sleek with a pleasing design and the satin black makes it blend seamlessly into any type of performance.
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 wherever you are.
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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.
Even though this mic is wireless, it’s still easy to set up and use. The receiver is small and the controls are easy to navigate. Once the mic’s receiver is connected to the PA system, all that’s left to do is choose a channel and match it on both the mic and the PA system.
While there is no risk of interference with the Shure BLX24/B58, it’s important to remember that the receiver needs to be in sight of the mic, so about 300 feet. If it’s not, then the signal will fail. You’ll also want to ensure the batteries are fully charged.
A pneumatic shock mount system adds to its ruggedness and allows for rough handling during live shows. You shouldn’t be too aggressive with it, though, and avoid mic drops. This mic is built for close-up vocals with a lot of bass. This good mic is easy to use right out of the box with simple guides available online.
The Shure BLX24/B58 delivers a very clear sound. It has a frequency response of 50Hz to 15,000Hz and weighs less than half a pound. As a dynamic, supercardioid mic, it performs well in any venue.
When it comes to wireless mics, the Shure BLX24/B58 is easy to use and affordable. Even for singers who aren’t tech savvy or are unfamiliar with the inner workings of a PA system, you’ll be able to set up your mic no matter where you go. It’s just that easy!
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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 vocal 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.
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 vocal 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 vocal 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 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.
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.
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 the dynamic mic and the condenser microphone. 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 the condenser mic.
Condenser mics, 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.
ConclusionWith 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 performance 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. With the right vocal mic, you’ll be on your way to killing it up on stage.