Best Microphones For Recording Rap Vocals

Best mic for rap vocals

Last Update: April, 2019

When you're a musical artist, you find passion and meaning in each word you write. You take great care in crafting each lyric, verse, and song. Specifically, in rap, it's important that each word be heard, so your listeners and fans can get the full effect of your message.

To fulfill those needs, it’s crucial you use a microphone that doesn’t distort your words and that provides a warm and strong sound quality, without coming across as harsh or abrasive.

Not all microphones are made equal. We’re going to take a closer look at some of the makes and models available to ensure that when you record your well-crafted music, your recording does it justice.

Specifically, we’ll be focusing on the five models listed here.

Microphone

Summary

Audio-Technica AT404 Cardioid Condenser Mic

Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

A great starter microphone that helps eliminate basic recording troubles; easy to adjust for use with different instruments, voices, or recording systems.

Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Mic

Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Microphone, Cardioid

Sleek and compact design; comes with several accessories to improve your overall sound quality, especially in home studios.

Rode NT1-A Cardioid Condenser Mic

Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Complete home studio setup; virtually eliminates any underlying or background noise.

AKG C214 Condenser Mic

AKG C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Versatile in application, a user has control over even the most minute detail.

MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Mic

MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Multi-purpose model; high-quality design allows for dynamic range, success at high and low frequencies.

Pros:

  • Transformer-less circuitry virtually eliminates low-frequency distortion
  • Technically-advanced large diaphragm tensioned specifically to provide smooth, natural sound
  • Exceptionally low noise, wide dynamic range and high-SPL capability for greatest versatility

Cons:

  • Some users report a ‘dullness’ when recording, so if you’re looking for exceptionally bright sound quality, this may not be the best choice for you.

More About The Audio-Technica AT404

The AT4040 side-address condenser microphone was designed to be a perfect blend of technical aptitude and artistic inspiration. The microphone is created with a large diaphragm to provide smooth sound quality and exceptionally low noise.

That limited noise is due to circuitry set up that operates sans transformer, which means cleaner output signals regardless of your instruments, sound effects, or digital recording system.

The AT4040 is versatile because of its dynamic range and high-SPL, making it a reliable choice for a variety of applications, whether performing live or recording in the studio. Due to the brand’s reliability, you can trust that your microphone will meet the highest consistency and standards.

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Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

MXL GENESIS Flagship Tube Condenser Microphone

Pros:

  • Very high maximum sound pressure level
  • Simple, compact design recommended for home studios
  • Transformerless circuitry eliminates interference

Cons:

  • Users noted a bass boost when recording vocals, which sometimes does not fit the desired vocal track and requires equalizing

More About The Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Mic

The TLM 102 sets a new standard in performance and value among Neumann studio microphones and other microphones in its class. Its compact design makes for a sleek appearance, while still incorporating all the components you'd expect and need.

The TLM 102 also features a largediaphragm, similar to the AT4040, which delivers impressive sound quality. The TLM 102’s sound pressure capability specifically allows for percussion, drums, and amps to be recorded at extremely high output levels, and its fast transient response is beneficial for acoustic recordings.

But it’s not just about instruments; the TLM 102 also includes features to highlight your vocal recordings too. It has a slight boost above 6 kHz, to make sure your voice stands out within your overall mix, while still making sure each component is clearly defined.

There are also a couple extra structural components that can help you while recording: the microphone’s elastic suspension system helps eliminate any excess noise, and a pop screen helps you to avoid any harsh consonant sounds in your vocal recording.

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Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

MXL GENESIS Flagship Tube Condenser Microphone

Pros:

  • Extremely low self-noise level (5dBA) makes this an extremely quiet studio microphone that’s ideal for recording vocals
  • Includes extra tools to make sure you have everything you need to get a truly professional home studio recording setup
  • Extended dynamic range, and high SPL capability

Cons:

  • Some users report a possible short or malfunction, making the microphone unusable if left dormant for a period of time

More About The Rode NT1-A Cardioid Condenser Mic

The RODE NT1-A boasts to be one of the world’s quietest studio recording microphones. RODE is a fairly well-known name, even among amateurs, but this specific cardioid condenser model emphasizes that low noise, making it a great tool for vocal and instrument recordings.

The microphone promises high quality, warm sound, with extended range, clarity and high SPL capability usually reserved for pricier models.

The RODE NT1-A comes with accessories to supplement your home studio recording. A studio grade pop shield and shock mount help control your excess noise. A 20-foot long microphone cable gives you flexibility in your set up, plus it even comes with an instructional DVD with recording tips to help get you going if you’re just starting out.

Shop Related Products

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

MXL GENESIS Flagship Tube Condenser Microphone

Pros:

  • Integrated suspension to reduce mechanical noise and/or vibration from a stage
  • Dynamic range, highly-detailed, up-front sound
  • 20-dB attenuation pad and low cut filter can be used in sound fields as high as 156 dB SPL

Cons:

  • Some users report vocal recordings sounding too bright, which may not be the desired tone or sound quality for the application

More About The AKG C214 Condenser Mic

The AKG C214 is a large-diaphragm condenser microphone. It’s designed to give you high quality at an affordable price.

As compared to other AKG models, like the C414, the C214 offers several perks to boost your recordings. For example, the suspended one-inch capsule helps to reduce mechanical noise.

A switchable attenuation pad allows you more control over your volume and sound quality, permitting recordings as loud as 156dB SPL. Meanwhile, a switchable bass-cut filter allows close-up recording without the issues that come with proximity effect.

You will be able to control how your microphone picks up lower frequencies, in order to shape your sound how you want it.

Shop Related Products

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

MXL GENESIS Flagship Tube Condenser Microphone

Pros:

  • Multi-purpose small-diaphragm microphone
  • Warm sound quality with extra clarity at the top end
  • Field Effect Transistor preamp with balanced, transformerless output for noise reduction

Cons:

  • Some report discovering previously absent, low-frequency humming sound in the background after use over time

More About The MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Mic

The MXL 770 condenser microphone is a favorite for singers and rappers alike. It boasts a steady, solid bass, and upfront high-end. It is user-friendly enough for beginners but also has all the features a seasoned professional would look for.

The MXL 770 even uses a high-quality FET preamp to help you develop an advanced sound quality with wide, dynamic range. The MXL 770 is also wired using Mogami, a high-caliber cabling system that improves performance.

The low-frequency roll-off also helps eliminate background noise and rumbling, leaving you with exceptional sound quality for vocal, acoustic, piano, or string recordings.

Shop Related Products

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

AKG Vocal Condenser Microphone

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

Electro-Voice RE320

MXL GENESIS Flagship Tube Condenser Microphone

Factors to Consider when Buying Mic for Rap Vocals

As you can tell just by analyzing a few models, there are a lot of factors to consider in order to make sure you choose the best microphone for your voice and your songs. While you can read through some of the nuances in the above compare and contrast, you can read below for a few of the main overall factors to take into account before making your microphone purchase.

Diaphragm

You may have noticed many of the models we’ve discussed are listed as a large or small diaphragm. What does that mean, and which is better for you? Let's break it down.

In addition to the overall aesthetic and size differences, there are some variances in sound quality between small and large diaphragm models.

Large diaphragm condenser microphones boast minimal self-noise, which is extremely helpful for recording rap vocals. However, in other aspects, the smaller diaphragm takes the lead.

A small diaphragm microphone can better sense high frequencies; it also provides a more consistent and even sound quality, which we’ll talk about more next.

Sound Quality

When it comes to recording rap vocals, you'll want to make sure you choose a mic that eliminates the proximity effect, or any other low-frequency distortions. 

You’ll want to avoid any hard consonant sounds, so a mic with a pop filter could also be something to have on the checklist. That could be an added expense depending on which microphone you choose, but more on accessories below.

Ultimately, you want to minimize any mechanical, handling or background noise; you are looking for the clearest, natural sound possible while you're recording. And while you may not have to worry about the highest decibel levels, like during a live performance, you should focus on upfront sound and even tone.

Accessories

Some microphones come with additional accessories or gear that can help you with your recording setup.

You read above about a few such add-ons, like a pop filter, shock mount, and mic stands. Other microphones come with their own recording software that you can use.

You'll need to consider what you already have and what you need to make sure you're not wasting your money. But also consider whether the mic will require extraneous equipment for your specific use, or if the stand-alone unit will suffice for your application.

Type of Microphone

There are several different types of microphones you can choose from when making your selection. Singers may be more inclined to research ribbon microphones, but the two main types of mics best suited for rap vocalists are dynamic and condenser.

But that’s not to say those two designs are similar; in fact, there are some major elements that set the two genres apart. You can read more about those differences below.

What Mic to Use - Dynamic or Condenser?

When considering your new microphone purchase, you’ll need to know more about the type of microphone you need. There are two main types to get to know: dynamic and condenser. While they may all seem similar, there are distinct differences you should be aware of.

Dynamic microphones are tailored for wide-reaching stage performance, while condenser microphones are adept for recording music and vocals.

When it comes to recording rap, a dynamic mic creates a stuffier, boxy sound. Condenser microphones are the typical pick because they have a stronger audio interface, resulting in a clearer, brighter quality.

Conclusion

Recording your music is really the last step in creating your song. It takes a lot of passion and time to come up with lyrics and a beat that convey your meaning. Once you're finally able to perfect that process, putting your voice on the tape is the ultimate payoff.

You want to make sure, whether at home or in a studio, that your recording setup utilizes the best equipment to fit your needs. For recording rap, we know that means a condenser mic that can isolate details and is well-suited for vocals.

You’ll want to eliminate background noise and make sure your voice is front and center, coming across smooth, and even over whatever track you decide fits best.

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