Best Condenser Microphones for Vocals

(Last Updated On: February 27, 2021)
Singer singing on the condenser mic.

Are you looking for the best condenser microphone for vocals? Well, it’s not that easy to find one unless you know about the features and specs you are looking for in a mic.

Most vocal microphones that work perfectly on stage are not always a good choice to go for, especially if you are planning to use them in a studio. A great mic is the one that is capable of recording both instruments and vocals with a high level of efficiency.

Nowadays there are several features that can help you to choose the right mic. If you prefer to go on a professional angle on this, condenser mics can be a good choice to have on your list. These Mics are ideal for Musical studios and recording studios. They are very accurate, extremely sensitive and are well suited to easily capture all the details of a human voice.

Depending on your needs, you can compare different top-performing condenser mics and choose the one that perfectly suits you. The first thing that can help you to identify or choose a great mic is to know the type of applications or platforms in which the mic will be used for. If you travel a lot and often find yourself recording on the road, it might be considered good for you to go for a durable condenser microphone that doesn’t break when it bounces in the back of your car. For more precise users that want high quality performing mics, USB condenser microphones can offer more than the price. USB microphones can be powered through computers and they do not require one to have any additional software in order to work.

When looking for the best condenser mics for vocals, one thing you must consider is that condenser mics are very sensitive. Most mics can capture birds chirping in the background and this can negatively affect the quality of sound being recorded. If you work in a workspace that is not soundproofed, a unidirectional microphone might offer you more quality sound records. Unidirectional microphones are great because they tend to reduce the amount of noise that is being picked from the background.

Generally, unidirectional mics are made in a way that they can only capture the voice being projected to the microphone. These mics also reduce or improve your voice quality by silencing the hisses of letters C, S, and T. A pop filter can also be used with a condenser microphone to reduce the pop noise and sounds from pronouncing letter P. However, pop filters are quite expensive but they can save you hours of editing time.

Condenser Mic VS Dynamic Mic for Vocals

Most people think of the microphone only as something that amplifies sound, but other than that, not much thought is given to it. If you are a singer or vocalist, you should what type of mic to use for optimal effectivity. It is important that you understand the difference between a condenser and a dynamic mic because these two differ on what each one is best at or most useful for. 

A condenser microphone, also known as electrostatic mic or capacitor mic, is a device that is able to capture high frequencies or large frequency range and vocals. It works using a transducer – capacitor consisting of a thin membrane, commonly referred to as a diaphragm, adjacent to a metal plate. The sound waves are converted to electrical signal when they hit the capacitor in the mic capsule, causing the diaphragm to vibrate. Although the quality of the sound produced would vary depending on the condenser’s sensitivity and directionality, it generally produces high-quality audio making it ideal for studio use. It can pick up clear, crisp details and delicate sounds.

The dynamic microphone, also called moving coil-microphone, has a transducer that works through electromagnetic induction in which a wire coil, attached to the diaphragm and surrounded by a magnet, moves when sound waves hit the mic capsule, and are then converted to electrical signal. This type of mic is mostly used for live performances on stage because of its high capacity for amplification before causing audio feedback, resistance to moisture, and it can withstand abuse. It is great for capturing loud sounds.

With the condenser microphone as the best choice for vocals in a studio setting, here are the recommended mics along with some of their specs and features: 

1) Neumann KM 184 MT Stereo Set Condenser Microphone

The Neumann KM 184 is a compact-sized condenser microphone that works using a pressure gradient transducer that has a small diaphragm with high-precision, frequency independent cardioid polar pattern directionality that rejects sound sources coming from the back. It has a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz, dynamic range of 125dB, 15mV/Pa sensitivity, highest sound pressure level at 138dB, low self-noise at 13dB-A, and a treble lift of 9 kHz. It is ideal for multiple microphone setups if you want stereo/surround quality of sound. This Neumann KM 84 stereo set with exact spatial imaging and producing consistent sound is all you would need for stereo recording. It is useful for soloists and ensembles as well as for acoustic instruments such as the violin, cello, piano, acoustic guitar, and upright bass. 

Power requirement: +44V to +52V phantom power

Connector: XLR

Weight: 80g

Dimensions: 22mm x 107mm

Included accessories: Pop filter, two clips, and wooden box

2) Neumann TLM 103-MT-Set

This large-diaphragm condenser microphone is considered a modern classic as it is modeled after the U 87, the reference mic in studios worldwide. It works via pressure gradient transducer having a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz in a cardioid directional pattern or heart-shaped pattern, which means it is more focused on capturing sounds coming from one source at the front and rejecting sounds from the sides and rear. It has an extremely low self-noise with an equivalent noise level of 7dB-A, meaning you have freedom of placement since you wouldn’t need to put the sound source so close to the mic to obtain an acceptable signal-to-noise ratio and that it will be able to capture the faintest audible sound. The highest sound pressure it can handle before distortion starts is 138dB. With TLM (Transformerless Technology), it does not allow RF interference. This Neumann TLM 103 comes in nickel and matte black with tapered headgrille and has a swivel mount. It is recommended for vocals, classical instrument recording, and sampling for sound sources with very low amplitude.

Power requirements: +48V phantom power

Connector: XLR3F

Weight: 450g

Dimensions: 60 mm x 132 mm

Included accessories: Stand mount and wooden box

3) Sony C-100

This is a two-way condenser microphone that has a two-way diaphragm design having a wide high-frequency range of 20Hz to 50kHz.  It features switchable three polar patterns: omnidirectional that can generally pick up sounds from different directions; unidirectional that is sensitive to a sound source coming from one direction; and bi-directional or figure-8 that can capture sounds equally from the front and rear. Having this capability means that it can accommodate a variety of recording applications, keeping in mind that each directionality has a different sensitivity, dynamic range, maximum sound pressure level, and signal-to-noise ratio. Sony C-100’s two-part metal body has noise elimination capability, 10dB pad to reduce distortion, and high-pass filter to remove unwanted proximity effect or low frequencies. It is exceptionally good at capturing vocals.

Power requirement: DC 44 to 52V

Weight: 290g

Dimensions: 6.89” x 1.87”

Included accessories: Wind screen, cradle suspension, stand screw adaptor, and carrying case

4) Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Microphone

This compact condenser microphone operates through a pressure gradient transducer that has a large diaphragm capsule with a cardioid pickup pattern having a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz, the maximum sound pressure level of 144dB, self-noise of 12dB-A, and 132dB dynamic range. It has a pop shield attached to the grille to eliminate unwanted vibrations, popping sounds, and rumbles. Its transformerless circuitry produces clean and clear sounds as it reduces transmission losses allowing bass transmission down to the lowest frequencies. The TLM 102 that comes in nickel or matte black color is cheaper than other models. It has none of the rarely used features, including the pad, low cut switches, and pattern, but is still able to produce the superior sound quality that Neumann is known for. It is good for studio vocals and loud instruments.

Power requirement: 48V phantom power

Connector: XLR

Weight: 210g

Dimensions: 52mm x 116mm

Included accessories: Stand mount

5) Shure KSM 32

The Sure KSM 32 is great for live sound and vocal recording. It’s a good choice for new artists and it can be used for a small venue or a home recording studio.

When compared with other mics in the list of the best condenser mics for vocals, this mic has a good score and offers exceptional features that are not common in most modern Microphones.

The mic comes with an embossed single diaphragm that provides extended low-frequency response, 15-dB attenuation that easily handles extremely high sound pressure levels.

Its switchable low-frequency pop filter provides awesome flexibility in reducing background noise.

If you are looking for a good mic that can capture subtle details of a studio vocal performance or live event, this mic is a great deal.

6) Avantone CV-12 Multi-Pattern Large Capsule Tube Condenser Microphone

One would think that since a condenser mic is most suited for studio applications, it will not pay much attention to how their product would look. With Avantone CV-12, you couldn’t be more wrong because you can expect this tube-type mic to have great visuals with Cabernet metallic wine-red finish and polished nickel trim and grille that resemble a vintage mic. It is quite versatile with 9 selectable polar patterns, and dual-sided 32mm gold-sputtered Mylar capsules, which means you can easily record anything from different sound sources as well as expect good transient response. It has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz +/- 3dB and maximum SPL (Sound Pressure Level) of 136dB – 146dB with pad engaged. It also has rear vents that help stabilize internal temperature. The Avantone CY-12 is ideally used for studio vocals, piano, drum overheads, and acoustic guitar.

Power requirements: Dedicated PS-12 power supply with 115/230 VAC capability 

Output connector: Male XLR 7 pin 

Weight: 1.8lbs

Dimensions: 9.5” x 1.8”

Included accessories: PS-12 multi-pattern power supply with cables, custom retro Shockmount, padded wooden mic box, padded aluminum storage case, and instruction manual

7) Rode NT1 Condenser Microphone Cardioid

Well, this NT1 mic is a great deal for starters that prefer to have a smooth voice record at their own studios. The Rode NT1KIT is one of the mics that are rarely found in the category of Swiss Army Mics. Only some few top-end condenser mics can claim to provide the quality sound record with a similar high-efficiency level of the NT1KIT.

The mic features a unique double lyre suspension system that enhances superior vibration cancellation and also acts as a tensioning element. Its crisp punchy sound qualities make the mic a great deal for rappers or musicians that use rap-singing styles and vocals.

8) AKG C214 — Large-Diaphragm Condenser Mic

The AKG C214 is a cost-effective mic that is designed to produce high-quality sound output in live performances and home studios. This mic is ideal for users with limited resources, its diaphragm is designed to reduce mechanical noise and background sounds. The AKG C214 edge terminated-capsule delivers a highly detailed upfront sound that brings-out every nuance of any instrument or voice.

This mic comes with a bass-cut filter and switchable 20dB attenuator for reducing proximity effects and improving closed-up recordings. Its integrated suspension helps to reduce vibration from the stage and mechanical noise. The AKG C214 also comes with an outstanding dynamic range that facilitates close-up recording from high output sources.

The C214 is extremely good for capturing nuances of a female artist, mandolin and acoustic guitar sounds. Its roadworthy design and metal parts make it a scratch-resistant and durable microphone.

9) Blue Spark SL Large-Diaphragm Studio Condenser Microphone

It has a pressure gradient transducer in a custom-designed large diaphragm capsule with a unidirectional cardioid polar pattern sensitivity of 34.9 mV/Pa at 1kHz, frequency response of 20Hz – 20kHz, the maximum sound pressure level of 136dB, the dynamic range of 119.6 dB, and self-noise level of 16.4dB.  Blue Spark SL, with its Class-A circuitry, utilizes it’s custom JFET (Junction-gate Field-effect Transistor) design of evenly charged capsule’s backplate to deliver transparent or clean and accurate sound. It is quite versatile with its high-pass filter and -20dB pad that greatly reduces muddy and rumbling sounds and handles loud sound sources. It is good for recording vocals, pianos, guitars, and drums.

Power requirement: +48V DC phantom power

Connector: XLR

Weight: 336g

Dimensions: 220.5mm – 45mm

Included accessories: Custom Shockmount and wooden box

10) Audio-Technica AT2020

This amazing mic is on the list of the best condenser mics for vocals. It’s known for producing high-quality sound and it’s a great option for anyone running a home studio. For more efficiency, the Audio-Technica AT2020 is bought together with a pop filter in order to eliminate unwanted mouth hisses and noise. This microphone is a great deal for new beginners that would like to record their own voice or sounds with better accuracy.

The custom-engineered low mass diaphragm of the mic provides extended frequency response, the cardioid polar pattern helps to reduce any pickups of sounds or noise from the sides of the mic, hence improving the sound quality being recorded. It’s wide dynamic range and high SPL handling provides unmatched versatility. Additionally, a good mic stand is needed for AT2020 mic to further improve its audio quality.

This microphone is great for anyone who would like to record acoustic vocals from a guitar. If you are a beginner and would like to record your voice with efficiency and accuracy, this mic can do wonders and you will definitely like its overall sound quality record capabilities.

Conclusion

The condenser microphone is undeniably the optimal choice for studio recording. With all the available mics in the market today, you should check out their specs and features to determine which one would be best for what you intended to use the mic for. Cheaper does not mean it is lacking in the same way that the most expensive does not mean it is the right one for you. The brands mentioned above and models should be able to guide you in your selection process. 

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