Are you considering a career as a singer? Have you been uploading videos with the hope of getting noticed? If so, you need some decent kit to help you along, including a good microphone.
The best microphone for YouTube singing may be different from the best mic for pop vocals in the studio, or for a live performance. Your choice will depend on your budget, performance style and the equipment you use. But all should enhance your sound.
In this article, we’ll explain the various options on the market, including what they do and which environments they suit.
Best microphone for singing
If you want to put in a great singing performance then you’ll need to use the right microphone for the situation. Microphones can be distinguished by their type: dynamic, condenser, ribbon and USB. The differences are found in their capsules, which is the part you sing into that picks up the sound. Another way to distinguish microphones is by their polar pattern, which is the direction it picks up sound.
You can get omnidirectional microphones that pick up sound from all angles and bidirectional, or figure of 8, that picks up front and back. Any microphone with a focused direction is a cardioid microphone, which can be slightly directional or highly focused, known as super or hyper-cardioid. But for making your own videos, you can begin with a simpler model.
Do you need a mic for YouTube singing?
In theory, no. Some people sing without any amplification at all. But a good mic will help you sound better, and this is important if you want to get noticed. Many stars like Mabel Dua Lipa and Stormzy were discovered via YouTube. And there are lots of other aspiring artists on there. So it’s worth giving it your best shot. Microphone technique is very important too. But you need to find the right microphone first.
Find out more about what we think are the best microphones are for singers and when you might need to use them.
Choosing the best mic for YouTube singing
YouTubers can use a wide variety of microphones. If you’re singing on YouTube then you should get a condenser to try and record the best quality that you can (more on these shortly). However, this can be expensive. If a condenser is out of your price range, then a cheaper dynamic microphone will be fine for you.
USB microphones are great for YouTubers that want a quick and easy mic for their computer. USB microphones can offer good value but won’t have the same level of sound quality and studio microphones. However, most YouTubers aren’t obsessed with getting high-end studio-quality sound for their videos. Here are some good options if you’re just starting out or experimenting with singing on video…
- Blue Microphones Snowball Ice USB Microphone
- Rode NT USB Microphone
- Audio-Technica AT2020 USB Plus
- Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone
- AKG Perception 120 USB Condenser Microphone
- Shure MV5 Digital Condenser Microphone
- Audiotechnica ATR 2100 USB/XLR Microphone
Best budget microphone for YouTube
The difference between the cheapest microphone and most expensive will be clear to many people. Microphones are definitely an important part of making something sound good but there are limitations. A microphone can’t make you sing in tune or improve your vocal tone.
At the lower end are dynamic microphones and a great live mic, such as the SM58, will usually cost under £100. There are more expensive live microphones and even some dynamic recording microphones can cost a few hundred pounds.
Condensers and ribbon mics tend to be more expensive. Over £100 is to be expected and good value condensers can be found between £250 to £500. It is common for condensers to be close to £1000 and vintage condensers can even go for close to £10,000, maybe even more.
Cheap microphone for YouTube singing
The best cheap microphones for recording vocals tend to be from Rode. They are positioned as providing great value for a great price and offer many entry point microphones, such as the NT1A. NTK and NTR microphones are cheaper than many other tube and ribbon microphones on the market and have been reviewed well for their sound quality.
Shure, Sennheiser and SE Electronics are other brands that can provide great value. The Shure SM58 is regarded as one of the best value microphones that you can get for live performance. Every venue you go to will have one and there isn’t much competition for a live vocal mic.
These brands work out to be much cheaper than the likes of Neumann and Telefunken, which tend to be well over £1000 and are regarded as the top end of microphones. However, even Neumann does a cheaper option in the TLM series that are under £1000.
Best mic for pop vocals
Performing pop music live (on stage or on-screen) requires a robust and durable microphone. These are almost always dynamic microphones but we there are also some high-end condensers that can be used live. They should also be highly directional so that they are only focused on the singer and no other instrument or monitor.
- Shure SM58 Dynamic Microphone
- Sennheiser e 935 Dynamic Microphone
- AKG D5 Dynamic Microphone
- Shure Super 55 Dynamic Microphone
- Blue Microphones en-CORE 100 Dynamic Microphone
- Beyerdynamic M 88 TG Dynamic Microphone
- Neumann KSM 105 Condenser Microphone
- Shure KSM 9 Condenser Microphone
Some singers like to roam around while performing and may even be looking at choreographing some dance routines. Choosing to use wireless vocal systems can limit your options but there are still some great mics that you can use.
- Shure BLX24UK/SM58 Wireless Vocal System
- Trantec S4.04-HD-EB-GD5 Wireless System
- AKG WM40 Mini Wireless Vocal Set
- Sennheiser EW100 G4-835–S-GB Wireless Vocal Set
- Audio-Technica ATW 1102 Wireless Microphone System
- Sennheiser XSW 1 E ME3 Wireless Headset System
- Shure BLX14E/P31-T11 Wireless Headset System
Microphone for singing at home
The Shure SM58 is a great microphone but it may not be the best option for recording. First of all, it is dynamic so it won’t have the same recording quality as a condenser. There are plenty of other microphones that are made for recording vocals that will deliver better results.
Recording vocals at home can be difficult. There are a lot of external sounds that are out of your control, such as neighbours and traffic. Furthermore, the sound of some microphones can be seriously affected by the acoustics of your room. Therefore, it is best to record with a microphone that is better suited for home recording.
Usually, we record vocals with a condenser. However, a dynamic microphone such as an SM7B may be better for home use where there’s a lot of background sounds. Either way, you want to make sure that your microphone is highly directional so that it won’t pick up external sound sources.
You should also look at investing in a vocal shield or reflexion filter. This provides an acoustic barrier around the microphone that will help block out external sounds. It will also help prevent any room reflections that can have a negative effect on the sound.
Microphone for recording vocals on computer
Condenser microphones are great for vocals because there are a lot of vocal frequencies that a dynamic mic may not pick up. They are very rarely suited for live performance but are perfect for the studio. Studio microphones can seem like the opposite of a live microphone. They aren’t handheld and are made to be mounted on a mic stand.
As a result, they are bigger and can capture more frequencies of your voice. They are usually condensers but there are some dynamic microphones that can get good results.
- Rode NT1A Condenser Microphone
- Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Microphone
- AKG C214 Condenser Microphone
- Audio-Technica AT4050 Condenser Microphone
- Shure SM7B Dynamic Microphone
- Sennheiser MD421-II Dynamic Microphone
- Rode NTK Valve Condenser Microphone
- Neumann U87 Tube Condenser Microphone
What microphone does Ariana Grande use?
Professional singers will use a variety of microphones for different purposes. They will tend to know what their go-to microphone is in the studio and will have a set of live microphones that they will use.
Ariana Grande has a good but expensive taste in microphones. She uses a Telefunken U47 in the studio, which is one of the highest quality valve condensers for singers. She also uses high-end wireless microphones, Sennheiser SKM 5200 and 9000 (both over £1000), for live performance. However, for her home studio, she’s been seen to use a Shure SM7B, which is far cheaper than any of the other microphones.
Although even superstars have some tech fails from time to time…
Which microphone is best for singing?
It completely depends on the situation and your preference. But condensers will typically give you better sound quality. They are far less practical than dynamic mics as they can be pretty big. A dynamic mic like an SM58 can fit in a small bag whereas some condensers come in large cases.
Condenser tube mics often come with their own power supply. Valves inside microphones will need more power than phantom power can supply so tube mics are usually accompanied by their own source of power.
Ribbon microphones differ from condensers and dynamic microphones. They usually provide a richer sound quality than dynamic microphones but, compared to a condenser, they roll off their frequencies at the higher range. This leads to ribbon microphones having a warmer sound as brightness, and even harshness, are results of a larger proportion of higher frequencies. Ribbon microphones can also be quite expensive. There are cheaper options for around £500 or less but most will be around £1000 or even double that. Here are some of the best ribbon mics for vocals…
- Royer R-121 Ribbon Microphone
- Cloud Microphones JRS-34 Active Ribbon Microphone
- Blue Woodpecker Ribbon Microphone
- Shure KSM313 Dual Voice Ribbon Microphone
- Coles 4038 Studio Ribbon Microphone
- Rode NTR Ribbon Mic
- SE Electronics VR2 Voodoo Active Ribbon Microphone
Did you know that more expensive, sensitive microphones may be more revealing of your flaws? It’s best to go into a recording studio or music store and try out different microphones to see which one sounds best for you. Every singer is different and some microphones will work better for you than others. While mics can’t work miracles, they can emphasise your sound.
- How do you use a microphone on YouTube?
There are lots of ways to do it. You can attach a wireless mic to your clothing or head if dancing. Or place the mic out of sight on a table in front of you. If you have a funky retro mic, you may want to hold it or have it in the shot on a stand.
- What’s the best microphone for rapping?
Those that just want something to plug in and speak into shouldn’t be looking to make a large investment and USB microphones could be the way to go. If you’d prefer something more advanced, check out these mic options ideal for rapping.
- What type of mic needs phantom power?
Many condensers require phantom power, which is 48V power from an external source. Many audio interfaces will include a phantom button. Most condensers that don’t come with their own power source will be redundant if you don’t have access to it. Phantom power has been known to damage ribbon mics.
Which do you think is the best microphone for YouTube singing? Do you have a favourite mic for pop vocals? Let us know in the comments below.