10 Best Condenser Mics for Vocals in 2022 – Best Review Guide

(Last Updated On: November 13, 2022)

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With the hundreds, if not thousands, of condenser microphones on the market, how do you know which mic is best suited for your vocals? And which one guarantees superb sound clarity and quality while being warm and rich? Even if you have a stunning voice, the sound can vary from mic to mic, so it’s crucial to learn about different condenser microphones and which ones perfectly complement your vocals.

Best Condenser Mics for Vocals

Today, we have 10 of the best high-quality condenser microphones designed and built by the most reputable audio companies in the world.

As their average price spans from $4000 to $11000, the top 5 leading condenser mics are not for the faint of heart. You do, however, get what you pay for, so with that price range, expect to learn about some of the leading condenser microphones in the world of recording used by legendary artists like The Beatles and Adele.

The other 5 microphones are also excellent and perform remarkably in both home and professional studios. Their average price ranges from $145 to $1200, making them more accessible to artists and musicians on a modest budget looking to achieve a wonderful sound.

Also Read: Can I Use Condenser Microphone Without Phantom Power?

What’s the difference between condenser and dynamic microphones?

difference between condenser and dynamic microphones

All microphones work the same way; they convert sound waves into voltage, which is then sent to a preamp. However, condenser and dynamic microphones each use a different technique to convert this energy.

Dynamic microphones use electromagnetism, while condenser microphones use variable capacitance.

Electromagnetism uses sound waves that vibrate the diaphragm to create electricity, which is then boosted by a transformer before it’s sent to the microphone’s output, producing sound.

Condenser microphones work as a battery. Sound waves cause a magnetic plate behind the microphone’s diaphragm to vibrate, which leads to a voltage boost caused by a phantom power supply (+48V) and then sent to the microphone’s output. The phantom power supply boost is critical because you won’t get much of a signal without it.

All condenser microphones require an external power supply to function properly, as they are “active” microphones. (Contain active circuitry.)

On the other hand, dynamic microphones are passive and don’t need an external power source to function.

Regarding sensitivity, condenser microphones have much higher sensitivity than dynamic mics. This is why we only see condenser microphones in professional recording studios. They do a much better job capturing quiet and distant sounds than dynamic mics. However, they tend to be too sensitive to loud sound sources, which is why we only see dynamic microphones on most stages. You don’t want to be attending a live comedy show, and hear the comedian’s breath and swallow every 3 seconds, even sounds coming from backstage, which is why they’re always handed a less sensitive dynamic mic to perform with.

Dynamic mics do, however, have the upper hand when it comes to durability. Most dynamic mics are very durable and ruggedly built. They tend to handle hard falls much better than condenser mics, which is another reason you will see them more with live performers, public speakers, karaoke bars, and many other places. This doesn’t mean that condenser mics are built with cheap materials; they are also made to last. However, you might want to avoid dropping a condenser mic as it is more fragile than a dynamic mic.

10 Best Condenser Mics for Vocals:

  1. Neumann U47
  2. AKG C12VR
  3. Neumann U67
  4. Blue Bottle
  5. Neumann TLM 103
  6. AKG C414 XLII
  7. Shure KSM32
  8. Rode NT1
  9. Stellar X2
  10. AKG P220

10 Best Condenser Mics for Vocals in 2022

1. Neumann U47

Features

  • The VF14, a plug-in style amplifier pentode tube in a steel housing, developed by Telefunken.
  • Cardioid and omnidirectional polar patterns.
  • Neumann’s special hand-wound transformer, located at the bottom of the capsule.
  • Gold membrane for a super extended working life.

From Frank Sinatra to The Beatles, this legendary microphone has captured the most incredible vocals in history. This condenser microphone is the king of all condenser microphones, thanks to its incredibly warm and rich tone. 

The U47 was the first mic ever created by Georg Neumann GmbH in Berlin and became the industry standard microphone in the early fifties and beyond. It is an example of the excellence and accuracy of German engineering, with a perfect combination of a head grille, diaphragm, tube, and output transformer working in unison to produce an unmistakable tone. It is the number one microphone on our list and will likely hold this ranking for many years to come.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • The first switchable pattern condenser microphone ever made.
  • Vintage, warm, detailed, and smooth, high-quality sound.
  • Solid Build.
  • Used by the most iconic artists in the world.

Cons:

  • Very expensive.
  • Original version was discontinued. You can find the Neumann U 47 Fet or the U48 on the market today.

2. AKG C12VR

Features

  • The AKG C12 VR is an enhanced version of the highly sought-after AKG C12 built 1953-1960.
  • Edge-terminated CK12 capsule and original 6072A vacuum tube.
  • Selected state-of-the-art components.
  • Nine remotely selectable polar patterns.
  • Dual-diaphragm, 1″ diameter gold sputtered Mylar foil.
  • Frequency response: 30Hz–20kHz (±2.5dB from published curves.)
  • Impedance: 200 ohms (±25%); recommended load impedance: 1000 ohms or greater.
  • Sensitivity at 1kHz: 10 mV/Pa for all patterns; -40dB (dB re 1 V/Pa.)
  • Aluminum flight case, N 12 VR remote power supply, H 15/T elastic suspension, MK 12V R 30-foot connecting cable, and W 42 foam windscreen.

The AKG C12 VR is a 9-pattern large-diaphragm tube condenser microphone based on the legendary AKG C12, which many producers and engineers regarded as one of the holy grails of tube condenser mics. It is handcrafted in Vienna and built using the highest quality components for low distortion and noise. The C12 VR features nine polar patterns; cardioid, omnidirectional, and figure-8; plus 6 intermediate stages, making it highly versatile. It also features high SPL handling and a 10/20dB pad, which means you can use it on the loudest sources without fear of overload.

The AKG C12 VR has been used by artists like John Mayer, Pharrell Williams, and Ozzy Osbourne.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • High-quality components and solid build.
  • Crystal-clear, detailed and warm sound.
  • Super versatile due to its 9 polar patterns.

Cons:

  • Very expensive.

Also Read: How To Connect Condenser Mic To A Preamplifier

3. Neumann U67

Features

  • Classic transformer-balanced tube circuit.
  • Beautifully balanced sound with ruler-flat frequency response.
  • A superb vocal microphone for both male and female singers.
  • Exceptional versatility; suitable for virtually any source.
  • Balanced sound in three polar patterns.
  • Switchable high-pass filter and 10dB pre-attenuation pad.
  • New power supply NU 67 V automatically adapts to the local mains voltage.
  • Meticulously reproduced to original specifications using archived documentation.
  • Vintage case, handmade in Germany.

The Neumann U67 was introduced in 1960 and used by legendary artists like Kurt Cobain, Jimi Hendrix, John Lennon, Freddie Mercury, Michael Jackson, and many more… Is another elite condenser microphone that is back in production, built to the original specifications. The U 67 was the first microphone to utilize the famous K 67 capsule, which has since become synonymous with “the Neumann sound.” The U 67 was the first microphone to tackle modern recording methods such as close miking. It has a switchable low-cut filter and can handle high sound pressure levels of up to 124 dB without distortion.

The U 67 is also a very versatile microphone for all kinds of instruments such as strings, piano, drums, acoustic and electric guitar, and bass guitar due to its three polar patterns; Omni, cardioid, and figure-8. It has an unmatched sound quality making it adopted widely as the new studio standard.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Amazing sound quality.
  • Very versatile due to its three polar patterns.
  • Noise and distortion-free.
  • Can handle high sound pressure levels.

Cons:

  • Very expensive.

Also Read: Best Brands of Upright Pianos

4. Blue Bottle

Features

  • Included B6 Bottle Cap provides larger-than-life vocal and instrument sound.
  • Compatible with all interchangeable Bottle Caps.
  • Fully discrete Class A tube circuit with the EF86 vacuum tube.
  • Quick-change bayonet capsule mount.
  • POWERSTREAM Tube Mic power supply with a variable capsule-sensitivity dial.
  • Laser-cut SKB® carry case.

This aesthetically distinctive microphone needs no introduction. It is one of the most iconic recording mics Blue has ever produced. It comes with interchangeable mic capsules with different sound characteristics that can be swapped at any time to find the right one for any particular voice or instrument. It offers a complete, warm, and vintage sound and is the perfect go-to studio mic. It has been used by artists like Justin Bieber, Miley Cyrus, Kendrick Lamar, Usher, and many more. It may be expensive, but it’s worth every penny.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Its interchangeable mic capsules offer limitless versatility.
  • Amazing craftsmanship.
  • Extreme sound clarity and quality.
  • Distortion and noise-free.

Cons:

  • Very expensive.

5. Neumann TLM 103

Features

  • Large diaphragm capsule derived from the classic U 87 microphone.
  • Consistent cardioid pattern.
  • Broad presence boost for enhanced sound definition.
  • Balanced sound with enhanced presence.
  • Transformerless circuitry with high SPL capability.
  • Extremely low self-noise: only 7 dB-A.

The TLM 103 is another success story by Neumann. It was introduced in 1997 as an affordable alternative to the classic U87 and has subsequently achieved studio classic status. The TLM 103 is a cardioid microphone with a large diaphragm condenser capsule adapted from the classic K67/87 capsule of the Neumann U87. The TLM 103, however, offers a wider presence boost for frequencies above 5 kHz and a slightly more modern voicing that easily makes vocals and solo instruments stand out. It has rich mid frequencies and a deep, yet clean, low end.

It is also exceptionally sensitive and silent, capturing the quietest whisper and the strongest bass drum without distortion. It is the ideal condenser microphone for vocalists and instruments, especially those with a pronounced bottom end, like the double bass or cello.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Wide frequency range.
  • Distortion and noise-free.
  • Great mic for vocals and instruments.
  • High-quality sound.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Only one pickup pattern could be a disadvantage for some.

6. AKG C414 XLII

Features

  • Multi-pattern condenser microphone for a variety of applications.
  • 9 switchable polar patterns.
  • Lock mode disables all controls for live and installation use.
  • Incredible dynamic range of 152dB/
  • 3 bass cut filters and pre-attenuation levels.
  • Peak hold LED detects overload peaks.
  • Includes carrying case, pop filter, windscreen, and spider-type shock mount.
  • Pre-attenuation pad: 0dB, -6dB, -12dB, -18dB, switchable.
  • Bass cut filter slope: 12dB/octave at 40Hz and 80Hz; 6dB/octave at 160Hz.
  • Requires 48-volt phantom power.
  • Frequency range: 20 Hz-20 kHz.

Inspired by and based on the iconic C12, the AKG C414 XLII is another studio staple condenser microphone perfect for vocals and instruments. It offers nine switchable polar patterns, which takes the word “multipurpose” to another level. It comes with 3 switches on it. The first switch controls the polar patterns, the second switch controls the low-end cut filters, and the 3rd switch is for attenuation, which is extremely helpful for recordings in closer range and louder environments. It offers incredible and crisp sound quality and very low self-noise, which makes it ideal for professional studio recordings.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Flat response.
  • Works well even in loud settings.
  • Extremely versatile.
  • Lighter than other condenser microphones.

Cons:

  • Expensive.
  • Might lack in the high-end of the frequency spectrum.

Read More: White Studio Monitors

7. Shure KSM32

Features

  • Class A transformer less preamplifier circuitry eliminates cross-over distortion for improved linearity across the full frequency range.
  • Embossed, high-compliance diaphragm provides extended low-frequency response.
  • Ultra-thin, gold-layered, low-mass, Mylar® diaphragm for an excellent transient response.
  • 15 dB attenuation switch for handling extremely high sound pressure levels. (SPL)
  • Switchable low-frequency filter provides greater flexibility to reduce background noise or to counteract proximity effect.
  • Integrated three-stage pop protection grille reduces “pop” and other breath noise.
  • Internal shock mount reduces transmission of handling noise.
  • Replacement cartridge: RK374

Launched in 1998, the KSM32 is a cardioid condenser microphone mainly designed and built for professional studio use. Knowing Shure quality, It is built like a tank and provides a detailed, clean and neutral sound that is perfect for both vocals and instruments.

It comes with A 15 dB attenuation switch that allows the KSM32 to handle the high sound pressure levels (SPL) associated with drums, percussion, and ensembles and a 3 position low cut filter that helps counteract stage vibrations or proximity effects. You can purchase this beast in champagne or charcoal‑grey.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Amazing sound quality.
  • Wide frequency response.
  • Great for vocals, acoustic and wind instruments, and ensembles.
  • Very low self-noise and no distortion.
  • Extremely uniform polar response.
  • High output level and input SPL capability.
  • Superior common mode rejection and suppression of radio frequency interference.
  • Great overhead mic for drums or percussion.
  • Good value for money.

Cons:

  • No cons

Also there are different types of cartridges with different functions. So you need to choose from mm or mc cartridge, and which one will be for you.

8. Rode NT1

Features

  • Large-diaphragm (1-inch) gold-sputtered capsule.
  • Ultra-low noise and wide dynamic range.
  • Internal capsule shock mounting.
  • Includes RØDE SM6 shock mount, pop filter, and dust cover.

The Rode NT1 is another top-tier, ultra-low self-noise cardioid large diaphragm condenser microphone found in most home and professional recording studios. It offers a detailed, flat, neutral sound and a warm bass that is ideal for vocals and instruments. The microphone capsule is internally shock-mounted to reduce external vibrations, with a body made from high-grade aluminum nickel plated and coated with military-grade ceramic to withstand the demands of continuous recording. The Rode NT1 is the go-to condenser microphone for many vocalists around the world.

Also Read: Best Rode USB Microphones For Singing and Podcasting

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Great value for money.
  • Flat and neutral frequency response.
  • Great build quality.
  • Low self-noise and distortion.

Cons:

  • Cheap accessories.

9. Stellar X2

Features

  • High-quality, pure brass and Japanese imported Mylar capsule.
  • Carefully tuned sound.
  • Highly optimized transformerless JFET circuit.
  • High-grade iron build.
  • Powder-coated paint is evenly applied and heat-treated for a smooth and scratch-resistant surface.

The Stellar X2 is one of the best budget condenser mics on the market. It is highly durable, iron built and heat treated for long endurance. It is guaranteed to give you a balanced, smooth, and neutral frequency response to minimize the need for EQing and mixing after recording. Its high-quality capsule has higher sensitivity, allowing them to reproduce even the most subtle sounds. All the while offering a strong output signal, extremely low distortion, minimal self-noise, and a well-balanced audio quality. The Stellar X2 will undoubtedly surprise you despite being one of the more affordable options on this list.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Good value for money.
  • Good output level.
  • Flat frequency response.
  • Amazing build quality.

Cons:

  • No low-cut filter, attenuation, or switchable polar patterns.
  • Cheap accessories.

10. AKG P220

Features

  • Switchable bass-cut filters that eliminate rumble.
  • Switchable attenuation pad for high SPL applications up to 155 dB SPL.
  • Solid build that withstands continuous recording.
  • A spider-type shock mount in an aluminum carrying case.

The last mic on our list is the AKG P220. A large-diaphragm condenser microphone with a warm and clear sound for lead vocals, acoustic guitar, and brass instruments. It’s a fantastic all-around microphone that can also be used for streaming, recording Youtube content, and podcasting, making it highly versatile. It has a sturdy build making it ideal for long-term use. It has a built-in bass-cut filter, which is surprising given the price. Overall, it does a great job providing sound accuracy, making it excellent for live performances. The AKG P220 is a superb entry-level condenser microphone if you’re just looking to start your recording journey.

Pros and cons

Pros:

  • Very affordable.
  • Great value for money.
  • Versatile.
  • High build quality.
  • Detailed and warm sound.

Cons:

  • Harsh high-end.

Things to consider before buying a Condenser Mic for Vocals (Buying Guide)

There are hundreds of high-quality condenser mics on the market to choose from. And since they all promise to give you pristine, accurate, and detailed sound. So how do you go about choosing the right one?

buying a Condenser Mic for Vocals

There are a few factors to consider before spending your hard-earned cash on a new condenser mic. The first factor is:

Microphone Use

Why do you want a condenser microphone? Do you just need it for vocals and nothing but vocals? Or do you have other plans for your mic? Like recording your instruments, podcasting, voiceovers… you need to know your exact purpose before purchasing a condenser mic.

Budget

Condenser mics range from about $100 to $15000. Obviously, the more expensive it is, the higher the quality it probably is. But not everyone can afford a $10000 microphone even if you know it will give you outstanding results. So consider your budget while you make your list of choices.

Connectivity

This factor kind of goes hand in hand with the budget factor. Usually, budget condenser mics tend to be powered by USB. An easy and smooth way to use it is by just plugging it in and start recording.

Higher-quality condenser mics typically come with an XLR cable that you can plug into your audio interface, which also gives you better sound quality.

Also Read: How to Connect XLR Mic to Computer

Size of the diaphragm

When it comes to condenser microphones, you have small and large diaphragm mics. But what’s the difference? And does the size matter?

Generally, a small diaphragm is a ½ inch or less in diameter. A large diaphragm measures 1 inch or more.

Small diaphragm condenser microphones often have a pencil-shaped body tube with a capsule at the end. Such as the AKG C1000 S condenser microphone in the picture below.

AKG C1000 S condenser microphone

Small diaphragm microphones are typically used for instruments like the piano, acoustic guitar, and other stringed instruments, as well as drums and percussion. They are almost exclusive to recording classical music, choirs, and orchestras.

They can be used for anything due to their neutral and flat sound.

Large-diaphragm condenser microphones, like the Neumann TLM 103 in the picture below, make the sound appear larger and capture the depth of very low-frequency sounds, which is why they’re more commonly used on the human voice.

Neumann TLM 103

Polar Patterns

When recording vocals, there are 3 polar patterns to consider;

Polar Patterns

Cardioid (or unidirectional), omnidirectional, and bidirectional microphones.

A cardioid polar pattern is the most commonly used for recording vocals, as its job is to pick up sounds strictly from the front of the microphone and reduce ambient noise.

Omnidirectional microphones are not the best fit for vocal recordings because they pick up from all directions equally, which is not something you want when your goal is to record a person’s vocals and those vocals only.

Bidirectional microphones have a “figure 8” pickup pattern, meaning they’re sensitive to sounds from the front and rear but reject sounds from the sides. You don’t want this level of sensitivity when you’re recording vocals. So it’s best to stick with cardioid microphones if your goal is to record vocals solely.

Frequency Response

You’d want to get a condenser microphone with a wide frequency response to record vocals. So as long as it can reproduce sound in the audible range of human hearing (20 Hz – 20,000 Hz), it is considered good.

FAQ

Is A Condenser Mic Better For Vocals?

Yes. A condenser mic is far better for vocals than a dynamic mic. Condenser mics are more sensitive than dynamic mics and do a better job capturing vocals, and high frequencies, which is why you always see them in professional recording studios. They are accurate and capture details and more delicate sounds than dynamic microphones. They can also be used to record instruments, but not very loud instruments such as electric guitars or drums, as that loudness is too harsh on condenser microphones and better suited to be used with dynamic mics.

Are Condenser Mics Better Than Other Mics?

Even though condenser mics are more accurate, it all depends on the purpose of your use. Suppose you’re a live performer, a public speaker, or need to record instruments. In that case, you should go for a dynamic mic, as they are less sensitive and require more energy to vibrate their diaphragm, meaning they perform better with loud sounds and respond well to high sound pressure levels. Suppose you’re a vocalist, a voiceover artist, or even a podcaster; in that case, it’s best if you grab yourself a high-end condenser mic, as they are very accurate, detailed, and a lot more sensitive to high frequencies than dynamic mics. They are, however, more fragile and delicate than dynamic microphones, so it all depends on how you see things and what’s important to you.

Are USB condenser mics as good as XLR condenser mics?

If your purpose is to record vocals, we’d have to say that XLR mics take the win. Both USB and XLR mics perform remarkably, but you won’t see Justin Bieber using a USB mic to record his next single. In fact, you will hardly see any USB mics in a professional recording studio. XLR condenser mics are perfect for recording vocals, voiceovers, and instruments. However, this doesn’t mean that USB mics are absolutely useless. They both just have different purposes. USB mics are very convenient, easy to use, plug and play ready, and don’t need an audio interface to function, whereas XLR microphones do. USB condenser mics are great for podcasts, gaming, YouTube content, and online communication. So yes, we have to say they’re both equally good, but each for different purposes.

Conclusion

All ten condenser mics we discussed today are top players in the music industry and studio classics that you will eventually encounter in a home studio or a professional recording studio. Despite their evident price differences, all are guaranteed to deliver crystal-clear sound and accuracy while producing a warm and nostalgic tone. We’re not saying that a $145 microphone will produce the same sound quality as an $11 000 condenser mic or that an audio engineer will prefer to record Adele’s vocals using the AKG P220 over the classic Neumann U47, but we do promise that each of the ten microphones will perform admirably. After all, it all comes down to your preferences, needs, and budget.

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