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You may find it easy to mike someone who sings like a diva or a balladeer. Yet, when it comes to miking screaming vocals, you cannot just use any mic at hand. You need to find the mic that will allow you to capture the aggressiveness and rawness of screaming vocals. Moreover, you should choose a mic that can withstand and handle the sonic abuses that screaming vocals bring in. You should also be cognizant of the important factors to consider when choosing a mic for screaming vocals.
My Screaming Vocals Microphone Recommendations
If you are shopping around for a screaming vocals microphone, it would be useful to start with the cheap ones at the onset. You must not break the bank by buying very expensive microphones because you might regret them later on if they don’t work well.
You don’t need to buy, for example, high-end condenser mics that provide more brightness, for if you position it in front of a guitar cabinet, it may end up sounding hateful.
Of course, you can use it for your screaming vocals recording, and you might love it very much, but you can’t use it for other applications. So, if you want to zero in on the ideal mic for such applications, it will help to consider these two different types of microphones:
Among the dynamic microphones at hand, you can never go wrong with the use of SM57. You may have other preferences, but this mic is undoubtedly a reliable mic that works well for beginners. If you are recording guitars, however, you can always go for the Royer R121 ribbon mic. It costs far more than the Shure SM57. Moreover, it sounds a bit different.
Nevertheless, this difference is only minimal and not really huge. The Sennheiser 409 would also be an excellent choice. Yet, for sure, you will be shelling out more money for this mic. Instead of going for this mic, I would readily suggest that you settle for the SM 57.
However, if your guitar doesn’t sound great with the SM 57, more likely, it will also not sound well with other types of mics.
If you are on a shoestring budget but want a condenser mic for screaming vocals, you can settle for the MXL mics. But which one among the MXL mics should you choose. Of course, nobody would care about your choice, and you won’t also figure out the difference among these MXL mics unless you would read reviews on each of their mics.
At the start, you can buy an MXL mic worth $100. Using this mic, you can learn much about its sound. But once you’ve learned the basics, and decide to upgrade, then you’ll be wise enough to know the difference. You can check out the MXL V69 too. It is worth around $300, and it is a condenser mic.
One caveat is you need to warm it up for thirty minutes before you use it. Such a thing, however, can be very problematic if you want to speed up things. Thus, it is highly recommended to settle for cheaper ones worth $100 to avoid such an issue.
You can find other condenser microphones that are within the $100 price range. You can also check them out, but don’t overthink about them. The thing is, any of them can work well with you as a beginner and can get you busy with your recording.
Buyer’s Guide: Factors to Consider When Shopping Around for a Mic for Screaming Vocals
Given the myriads of mics in the market today, you will get confused as to which mic is the most appropriate for screaming vocals. Yet, if you know the following important factors to consider when choosing a mic for screaming vocals, you can easily zero in on the right mic:
Proximity Effect and Directionality of the Mic
Mics come with different polar patterns or pickup patterns. Some pickup patterns, of course, are perfect for screaming vocals because they can capture the nuances and aggressiveness of screaming vocals. If you would, for example, select a directional microphone that comes with proximity effect, you will add weight to your vocal performances.
If you work, for example, with cardioid mic, you will discover that the closer you get to the mic, the more you increase the bass of your voice. This effect is referred to as “the proximity effect.” If you are conscious of this proximity effect and apply it well, you can then control the sound of your vocals. You should also use a pop filter to lessen the popping sounds.
When selecting a mic for screaming vocals, you should consider its frequency response. You should find a mic that is tailored for screaming vocals. Distorted vocals, of course, bring in a wide range of harmonics. So, you need to consider this factor when choosing a mic for screaming vocals. You can use a mic with a frequency response ranging from 3kHz to 6kHz to bring all the harmonics out. You can also reduce the harshness of the scream if you use high-frequency roll-off.
Screaming vocals are very distinct and pronounced and come with minimal dynamic range. Hence, you can choose a mic with low sensitivity for screaming vocals. Low-sensitivity microphones can perform well in capturing the heavy vocal performance while diminishing the subtleties of sounds produced by the vocals.
Consider How to Avoid Clipping
Screaming vocals are usually characterized by a lot of clipping. So, if you want to record screaming vocals, you should try to avoid these clippings. Clipping is a wave distortion form that occurs when the amp is overdriven or when the amp is taxed to deliver something beyond its capacity.
This means that mics can be overworked. If you bombard it with very loud sounds, a mic will produce clipping. So, in your microphone choice, you should choose a mic that can handle the overloaded vocals and still capable of processing it to deliver crisp and clear sounds.
Consider its Noise Rejection Capability
You want your recording to be as free of noise as possible unless you want to include the ambient noise. Noise rejection, of course, is a property that your mic should have. Mics that can reject unwanted sounds are better for use in recording screaming vocals.
Consider Its Versatility
Mics are not inexpensive. The best mics, for example, can fetch at more than a thousand dollars. So, if you are going to choose a mic and are on a budget, you might want a mic that you can use for screaming vocals and other types of music genres. This will save you money while addressing your recording needs for different types of musical genres.
Live Performance Vs. Studio Recording
Doing a recording and live performance are two different things. If you would record, for example, screaming vocals, you can always opt for a lighter and less durable mic. However, if you are using the mic for live performance, you should choose a mic that can take enough beatings. Moreover, you do not want to spend much money on a mic that will be used for live performance. On the contrary, if you intend to use the mic for recording in the studio., you can always opt for a high-end mic that is expensive.
The 7 Most Recommended Mics for Screaming Vocals
Knowing the factors to consider when buying a mic for screaming vocals will draw you closer to choosing the most suitable microphones to miking and record your screaming and metal vocals more effectively and precisely:
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1) Manley Reference Cardioid Microphone
The Manley Ref-C is also a tube condenser mic that is perfect for metal vocals. It comes with a fixed cardioid pattern. This pickup pattern leads to a better and warmer proximity effect for vocals. Its 6-micron capsule provides a bright presence that you would surely love.
It comes with a 10dB pad on the microphone, but it is capable of 150dB SPL. This mic has been one of the top choices by producers and engineers when recording loud vocals.
Furthermore, the Manley Ref-C unit comes with a rugged outboard power supply that offers high quality. Moreover, its vacuum tube is hand-picked for its low noise as well as excellent reliability. It also offers great highs, warm and clear mids, as well as powerful bass.
2) Royer Labs R-121
Recording Magazine once lauded the Royer Labs R-121 as one of the classic mics of this century. It is the Royer Labs’s flagship mic and is re-engineered to push ribbon mics back into the recording studio. As a ribbon mic, it delivers the best qualities of what a ribbon mic should be.
The Royer Labs R-121 comes with a warm and natural sound, making it ideal for tracking brass and electric guitar. It works with high sound pressure levels, while at the same time, it delivers a smooth and suave sound.
It also has an offset ribbon transducer that enables the ribbon element’s positioning nearer the mic’s front side, allowing for more room for its prime magnetic field. This feature lets this mic maintain a full frequency response when you engage in high SPL recordings sans cracking.
It is an excellent studio companion. You can use it to mic an electric guitar amp, a kick drum set, an acoustic guitar, or even a human voice. The resulting sound is smooth and completely natural sounding.
This mic comes with a figure-of-eight polar pattern that lets it sound awesome in different positions with minor adjustments. Thus, it is perfect for various recording applications like that of recording duets or full band. The back and front lobes of this mic are sensitive. The side nullifications, however, are sharp and precise.
Most microphones shy away from such demanding applications as recording guitars, drums, and brass instruments. Yet, the Royer Labs R-121 thrives in such applications.
It also performs well with choral and orchestral recordings. Moreover, it has a 300 Ohms output impedance. Plus, it offers a well-balanced response, full low-end, realistic mids, and sweet high-end. Hence, this mic is a good investment for musicians who want to capture best their instruments’ sounds.
3) Electro Voice RE-20 Cardioid Microphone
Another good choice, if you are looking for a mic for screaming vocals, is the Electro Voice RE-20. It is a highly professional cardioid mic that is full of dynamism. It has a heavy-duty built-in pop filter that lessens proximity effects. Moreover, its internal shock mount lessens the noise created by vibrations.
The Electro Voice RE-20 also comes with pop filters that cover its acoustic opening. It has a frequency response ranging from 45Hz to 18kHz. Plus, its case material is made of steel, and its connector type is 3-pin XLR. It also comes with a maximum diameter of 54 mm. When used in recording metal vocals, you can greatly capture the variety of emotions of the vocals.
This mic is also used often for kick drums as well as on guitar amps. Hence, it can handle different levels of voice. It also comes with a high-pass switch. Moreover, it can be positioned to the sound sources without any loss in clarity. This makes this mic perfect for tight vocals. The RE-20 is also like the Shure SM7B and almost of the same price as the Shure SM7B.
4) Shure SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
The Shure SM7B is best for recording screaming vocals. Moreover, many producers and studio owners consider this mic the ideal for metal vocals. It comes with a wide frequency response. It also features a cardioid pattern. Plus, it comes with dual-band and switchable passive EQ, as well as a built-in filter. It also offers a flat and wide-range frequency response that brings in awesomely natural reproduction of speech.
The Shure SM7B also comes with fantastic sound pressure levels (SPLs). You will unlikely overload this mic unless you can produce a sound louder than the 180 dB SPL. The Shure SM7B is one of the most recommended by metal bands. Moreover, it is optimized for precluding broadband interference caused by monitors of computers. It also enhanced the rejection of the so-called electromagnetic hum.
Furthermore, it does come with an air suspension shock isolation that virtually eliminates the noise created by mechanical transmission. It also comes with an effective pop filter that eliminates the need for add-on protection against pops and plosives. Besides, it comes with an A7W’s detachable windscreen that is meant for reducing plosive sounds. Its low sensitivity implies that it is designed not to pick up the background noise. It is, however, designed for handling aggressive vocals.
5) Sennheiser MD 421 II Cardioid Dynamic Mic
The Sennheiser MD 421 is perfect for recording conditions as well as for broadcasting applications. It comes with a large diaphragm and great dynamism that can handle high SPLs, making it perfect for recording loud sounds like that of the screaming vocals. It features a full-bodied cardioid pattern along with five-position bass control. This makes it perfect for recording instruments as well as vocals.
The Sennheiser MD 421 is also great for recording some metal guitars. It is a favorite for kick drums and toms. It also features an effective feedback rejection and clear sound reproduction. Moreover, it has easy handling due to its pronounced directivity. This rugged professional microphone is also resistant to humidity and dust, and thus, it is expected to last longer.
6) Shure SM58 Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone
If you are looking for a microphone for live performance, your best option will be the Shure SM58. This popular mic comes with sturdy construction and is perfect for live performance. Its frequency response is perfect for screaming vocals.
It comes with a bright midrange along with bass roll-off. It also has a uniform cardioid polar pattern that helps in isolating the background noise and main sound source.
The Shure SM58-CN also features a pneumatic shock-mount system that limits handling noise. Moreover, it comes with a built-in pop filter. Its ruggedness and great sounds make this mic perfect for screaming vocals.
7) Shure SM57-LC
One excellent mic you can use for screaming is the Shure SM57-LC. It is still the best mic for recording your guitar and has remained an industry standard for professional recording. The good thing about the Shure SM57-LC is its affordability. It also features a dynamic moving coil and is very durable.
It is also perfect for the most challenging applications like that of miking someone who screams. It also offers great clarity and is ideal for guitar recording. Moreover, it is almost identical to Shure SM58, its cousin.
The Shure SM57-LC offers a contoured frequency response that always comes with clean and rich vocals and superb instrumental reproduction. It also provides professional quality reproduction of the sounds of percussions, drums, and instruments like amplifiers.
It features a uniform cardioid polar pattern that isolates the primary sound source while lessening background noise. Plus, its durability is well-known throughout the recording world. It also comes with a frequency response ranging from 40Hz to 15,000 Hz.
Recording screaming vocals requires the use of different types of mics. It requires the use of mics that are designed for screaming vocals. The screaming vocals, of course, is characterized by aggressiveness and rawness. Thus, the mic that you should use for this type of vocals should be capable of withstanding sonic abuses. Moreover, the mics for live performance and recording of screaming vocals should be different. You can use a fragile and sensitive mic for recording. Yet, for live performance, the mic that you should use should be capable of handling enough beatings.
Why Would You Need a Specific Mic for Screaming Vocals?
There are various reasons you would need a special mic for screaming because if you’re not using a mic designed for such type of singing, you may end up experiencing problems with the capture of your voice. Below are the reasons for choosing a mic designed for screaming:
- It Helps Avoid Clipping: Recording screaming vocals sound would necessitate a particular type of mic because very loud sounds are prone to clipping. Of course, clipping is a certain type of wave distortion that occurs when you overdrive your amplifier and try to push it beyond its working capacity. When someone screams on the mic, expect clipping to happen. You can find mics designed for handling screaming sound, and it is this type of mics that you should purchase if you want to engage in screaming.
- Versatility: Another factor that you need to consider when choosing a mic for screaming is versatility. A mic that you can perfectly use for screaming is always a versatile mic because you can also use it for other applications like singing and rapping. You can also use it for recording guitars and other instruments. Hence, if you opt for a mic for screaming, you can be sure that you can use it for many other applications in your recording studio.
Guides on Using The Microphone Correctly When Recording Metal or Screaming Vocals
Once you have chosen your mic, it would be best to know some valuable tips on how to maximize the use of your mic when recording. Here are some simple tips on how to optimize the use of your mic:
- If you are recording in the studio, just stand a few meters from the mic. This will help isolate your vocals. This will also make your voice less muddy and make your vocals smooth and clear.
- Your recording studio room should be well-treated. You should ensure that the acoustics of the room is right and that you have a vocal booth. If your recording studio room is not well-treated, you can use a portable sound booth to make your room sound professional.
- You should use a mic stand to lessen vibrational noises. Moreover, the mic stand will keep your mic stable.
- You can use a pop filter to minimize popping plosives. Excessive plosive sounds may be difficult to deal with afterward during the mixing process.