There are plenty of vocal microphones on the market, so finding the one that meets your needs can take time and effort, especially if you have a limited budget.
You can find many budget-friendly mics that are excellent for recording vocals. In this article, we will review the best vocal mics under £/$500 and discuss the different types of mics available for purchase.
Types of vocal microphone
There are three main types of microphones based on their design: dynamic microphones, condenser microphones, and ribbon microphones.
Dynamic mics are affordable, durable, and very versatile. They are less likely to distort while handling loud noises than condenser mics.
Given their low sensitivity, a dynamic mic can handle high SPL. They are also less likely to create distortion when capturing high SPL sources. But what is SPL? SPL stands for ‘sound pressure level’, which means the highest sound level a microphone can handle before distorting.
How dynamic mics work
Dynamic mics work by electromagnetic induction and convert sound waves into electric signals. In other words, a dynamic mic has a diaphragm attached to a coil of wire.
When the sound waves hit the diaphragm, it then vibrates, making the coil move back and front. The movable coil of wire vibrates with the magnet and induces an AC voltage. For this reason, they are also known as moving coil microphones.
Condenser mics are more sensitive to lower and higher frequencies. Out of the other mic types, the condenser mic provides the best high-frequency audio reproduction.
How condenser mics work
Condenser mics use electrostatic technology to work. Their metal diaphragm is attached to a metal plate, and both of them have electrodes attached to them. The sound hits the diaphragm, changes the distance between the two, and creates something called capacitance.
Condenser mics come into two categories: large diaphragm condenser microphones and small diaphragm condenser microphones. The small and large diaphragm condenser microphone have a high sensitivity rating.
Ribbon microphones were commonly used among presenters in the early days. They provide a warm and vintage tone and work ideally when taming harsh high-end sounds. Such mics are fragile, so you must use them carefully and position them correctly.
The ribbon microphones make both vocals and instruments sound very clear, and they are also a good option for guitar amps and drum overheads.
How ribbon mics work
In comparison to their counterparts, the ribbon microphones work differently. They feature an extended rectangular diaphragm of thin aluminium and magnets on each end. Hence, when the sound waves hit the diaphragm, they vibrate and create an electric current.
Things to consider when selecting a vocal microphone
Whether you need a microphone for speech or vocals, you must ensure that you get a high-quality and durable one. Since there are so many options, here are some things to consider to make the right choice.
As the name suggests, the frequency response refers to the range of frequency the mic can detect. It shows how well the mic can reproduce the signals it picks up.
The frequency response is typically measured in Herz, with the ideal frequency response for recording vocals at 80Hz-15Hz.
A transient response refers to the mic’s ability to capture short peaks. The mic can accurately recreate transient sounds within its audio signal when it has an accurate transient response.
Generally, a faster transient response is preferred. However, when performing metal and rock, a slower transient response is more beneficial for dirtier vocals.
The polar patterns in a microphone determine which sounds will be recorded and which will be rejected. The most common polar patterns include cardioid, hyper-cardioid, omni directional, bi-directional, shotgun, and multi-pattern microphones.
The cardioid polar pattern captures sounds from the front and blocks any other sounds. That said, the hyper-cardioid pattern features an even narrower area of sensitivity and is intended for loud sound sources.
Compared to cardioid mics, omnidirectional mics capture sounds from anywhere in the room. Therefore, they are often used as studio microphones.
The bidirectional (Figure 8) mics capture the sounds from the front and the back, blocking any sound waves from the sides.
Finally, multi-pattern mics are more versatile than other mics due to their ability to switch patterns.
In terms of vocals, getting a mic with higher sensitivity is recommended.
The recording environment plays a big role in which mic to opt for. If you are recording vocals in an untreated room for instance, a mic with lower sensitivity is a good option, as it will not pick up unwanted noise. But if you’re in a controlled space or treated room, like a recording studio, then a higher sensitive mic would work wonders.
As mentioned, vocal mics pick up sounds through the diaphragm capsule, which vibrates when in contact with the sound. Hence, diaphragm size affects how the mic deals with sound pressure, dynamic range, etc.
Mics with a small diaphragm size are known as pencil mics, and they can handle high-pressure sound levels, making them perfect for an acoustic guitar and other acoustic instruments.
The mics with large diaphragm sizes can easily capture the differences in sound levels and are used in studios for recording vocals and instruments. The mics with middle diaphragm size combine both specifications and are used for live performances.
What do you want to use the microphone for?
The type of microphone you need can be determined by what you plan to record. Whether you are using a mic for live vocals or looking for a mic for your podcast, you need a versatile one with incredible quality.
The type of mic to use for a vocal performance also depends on the genre of the music you will perform, the mic placement, and your vocal style.
Although it is a no-brainer, we must mention that a mic’s price point is also important to consider. Nowadays, you can find an impressive vocal mic for you for an affordable cost without compromising the sound quality.
The microphones we really like are:
Best for producers and podcasters
Designed for: Recording vocals and instruments
Best feature: Provides natural sound production and smooth vocal delivery
Comes with: Detachable Windscreen and RPM602Switch Cover Plate
- A frequency response range from 50Hz to 20kHz
- The mic has a sensitive pop filter for any unnecessary sounds
- The mic is suitable for studio and home recording, podcasts, and voiceovers
- Offers incredible sound production
- Provides natural reproduction of music bass roll-off and mid-range-emphasis controls
- Not ideal for novice users
Ideal large diaphragm mic for studio-grade recordings
Designed for: Vocalists, musicians, and content creators
Best feature: Shockmount with detachable pop filter
Comes with: Anpop shield, XLR cable, and a dust cover
- The NT1 mic captures smooth high frequencies
- Features a bipolar output buffer and JFET impedance converter
- A condenser microphone with a neutral frequency response, allowing you to adjust when mixing the vocals
- Features external shock mount and pop filter
- The recording pack comes with a dust cover
- Requires device for phantom power
A leading mic in vocal clarity
Designed for: Live vocal performances, backup singers, and public speakers.
Best feature: Isolate vocals and cuts background noise
Comes with: Zippered storage bag and a microphone clip
- The Shure SM58 reduces noise from the background and has excellent built-in quality
- An affordable vocal mic providing vocal clarity
- Low-end and high-end frequency response
- Provides warm audio quality
- Sturdy all-metal construction
- One of the best vocal microphones for live performance
- Requires external pop filter
Sennheiser MD 421 II
Best mic for studio and broadcast applications
Designed for: Solo and group recordings
Best feature: Five-position bass control
Comes with: Microphone clamp for 3/8″ thread
- A vocal microphone designed for vocals, acoustic guitars, and drums
- Quality audio that is pleasant on the ears
- Versatile microphone for studio recordings and live performances
- Impressive audio production
- Picks up low noise
- The mic’s clip is fragile
Audio Technica AT2035
Best for musicians and podcasters
Designed for: Vocals and guitars
Best feature: Custom shock mount
Comes with: Premium protective case
- The Audio Technica AT2035 provides detailed high-end and low self-noise
- Equipped with a switchable high pass and low cut filter
- A mic tailored for various applications, offering warm sounds pleasant to hear
- The mic reduces low-frequency distortion and proximity effect at the source
- Handles high sound pressure level
- Lovely warm sound
- The mic doesn’t have a carry case
Aston Microphones Spirit
Designed for: Vocals and subtle acoustics
Best feature: Built-in pop filter
Comes with: Mounting brackets and a mic thread adapter
- A multi-pattern condenser providing plosive-free recordings
- A versatile mic offering clear audio productionPros
- The mic features an adjustable microphone thread adapter
- Delivers an open sound with a slight high-frequency boost
- The mic has a Robust mechanical design
- Usual high quality standard from Aston MicrophonesCons
- The mic is a little heavier than other mics
Pristine quality and incredible versatility
Designed for: Vocals and instruments
Best feature: Outstanding dynamic range
Comes with: Spider-type shock mount and a metal carry case
- The AKG C414 provides distortion-free recording and crystal-clear audio
- A dual-capture system delivering excellent highs and defined lows
- Lightweight and durable microphone capturing every nuance of the audio.
- Incredible transient response
- Wide range frequency response
- It handles vocal sibilance enabling you to record louder sources without distortion.
- It can make certain voices slightly harsh
Summary – Best Vocal Mics Under 500
As can be seen, there are many microphones under £/$500 to choose from online. Hopefully, after reading this post, you will be able to find the best vocal mic that perfectly fits your needs.
We have also provided factors to consider while shopping, as they can help you make a more informed decision.
Therefore, if you are looking for a budget-friendly option and a versatile mic for a professional or home studio, the options above are excellent choices for performers and musicians.
Which mic is the best for vocals?
Some of the greatest microphones for vocal studios include Shure SM7B, Rode NT1-A, Shure SM58, and others.
The best vocal mics provide clear vocal production and block unwanted noise from the background.
Which cheap mic is the best for singing?
For a professional vocalist, one of the best vocal mics for a live performance is the industry-standard cardioid Shure SM58 mic. Although you it’s important to understand that a cheap mic may not be the best mic for what you need.
Which mic is best for singing also depends on which situation you’re in. The best microphone in a recording studio or on a live stage will be very different – so figure out what you need the mic for first!
Which mic is best for singing under 1000?
As a professional singer, you can find plenty of mics under 1000 that will do the job for you and showcase your gifted voice correctly.
Some of our recommendations include the Neumann TLM 102, AKG C314, Sennheiser MD-441U, Warm audio WA-251, and others.
Is SM57 good for vocals?
If you are wondering whether the Shure SM57 will perform well in vocal music, the answer is yes. There are lots of vocal mics on the market, and this one is designed to provide smooth vocal and speech production. A condenser mic such as this can be a good choice when needing a vocal mic.