The Best Dynamic Microphones - Live & Recording

The Highest Rated Dynamic Microphones

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No mic collection is complete without a great dynamic mic. For those starting out with recording, it's likely that your first and only microphone is a large diaphragm condenser. To complement that, a dynamic mic fills in the limitations that a condenser usually has.

Dynamic mics trade off sensitivity for high SPL handling without distortion and tighter polar patterns. Being less sensitive means that dynamic mics are better at rejecting background noise or unwanted bleed from other sources. This makes them ideal for picking up sound from a specific source or angle while rejecting sound from other directions. Dynamic mics also require no external power to operate.

In this July 2022 edition, we saw some changes in rankings with two mics tied for the highest rated spot. This has the effect of nudging the Sennheiser e935 out of sharing the top spot.

The Best Dynamic Microphones

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Shure SM57

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 7100+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
Shure SM57 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

Cons

  • Not for delicate sounding sources
  • Needs foam filter to avoid vocal plosives

Pros

  • Extremely versatile
  • Great frequency response for various sources
  • Amazing long term durability and ruggedness
  • High SPL handling

The SM57 is able to record almost anything in the studio save for the most quiet sound sources that require absolute detail. It excels in handling electric guitar, drums and aggressive screamed vocals (with a pop filter or foam windscreen). My personal favorite use case scenarios for the SM57 includes electric guitar cabs and screamed vocals. Guitar amplifiers, especially tube amps, sound best when played at higher volumes. With the SM57 I am able to crank guitar amps to get the saturation I need without worrying that the mic would overload or distort. Same goes for screamed vocals.

Shure SM57 Grille Front
The diaphragm of the SM57 is encased in a hard-wearing plastic head with a metal grille.

It's the first mic engineers reach for when they want to mic up a snare. I've used my personal one to mic up live snares countless times over the years and it's always predictable and consistent. It's one of the mics that you learn proper mic technique with because of its consistency. Want more ring? angle the edge of the snare. Want more of the snap? aim for the center with the mic 2 inches above the outer rim. It's a great learning tool to get great drum sounds and a good baseline for mic selection even when you expand your mic locker.

What I don't like about the SM57 is how hit or miss it is with sung vocals. Some singers sound great on it without much work while others sound brittle. It's this single inconsistency that I find makes me reach for a good condenser microphone. Another is that it's not the best mic for spoken word or podcasts. That task is better suited to the Shure SM7b which has a bit more detail and low end extension. But at nearly 4 times the price, the SM7b is only marginally better than the 57 in a lot of other aspects.

EVERY studio has to have at least one SM57. Its versatility is unmatched and is one of, if not the best microphones to record electric guitar and screamed vocals. While it might not get you the detail of a good cardioid condenser microphone, energetic rock singers sound great on it.

I've recorded some samples to demonstrate the SM57 which you can listen to in my extended SM57 review.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-15kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms (300 ohms actual)
  • Applications: Live and recorded guitars, guitar amps, vocals, drums & more

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace Sunscape 85/100
Gearank Raphael Pulgar 96/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Shure SM57 Frequency Response Chart:

Shure SM58 Frequency Response Chart

Shure SM57 Polar Pattern Chart:

Shure SM58 Polar Pattern Chart

Sennheiser e935

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 1550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Sennheiser e 935 Vocal Dynamic Microphone

Cons

  • Not for those who want more low-end

Pros

  • Great clarity for vocals
  • Stage ready noise rejection
  • Standard proximity and positioning
  • Good build quality

The e935 is part of Sennheiser's flagship 900 series Evolution mics, a professional stage mic that's better tuned for vocal clarity, with improved transients.

It is equipped with an internal shock-mounted capsule that is ready for the noise of bigger stages.

This results in sound clarity that better captures nuances and articulation. It also has just enough low-end to give it a full sound, without overwhelming the mids. Interestingly, vocal clarity is not always a good thing, especially for rock, blues or folk singers who need the extra low end.

Its cardioid polar pattern allows for standard proximity and positioning, which removes the need for technique adjustments when switching from a different mic.

As expected from Sennheiser, the e935 feels solid, it lives up to the brand's reputation for reliability and durability.

If you're looking for a stage ready mic with emphasis on vocal clarity, then do check this one out.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-18kHz
  • Impedance: 350 ohms
  • Applications: Designed for Live Vocals, Can be used for Recording, Acoustic Guitars, and Guitar Amps.

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
The Greatest Song Editor 96/100
Gearspace AndyHowell 90/100
Audiofanzine Libertopanik 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Sennheiser e935 Frequency Response Chart:

Sennheiser e935 Frequency Response Chart:

Sennheiser e935 Polar Pattern Chart:

Sennheiser e935 Polar Pattern Chart:

Sennheiser e945

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 1500+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Sennheiser e945 Dynamic Supercardioid Handheld Microphone

Cons

  • Not enough bass for some applications

Pros

  • Super cardioid pattern
  • Consistent sound
  • Good noise and feedback suppression
  • Clear and focused sound

The e945 is Sennheiser's flagship handheld dynamic microphone, which means that it encapsulates the best of what the company has to offer.

At its core is a dynamic mic capsule with super cardioid polar pattern, fine tuned to capture vocal nuances even on a busy and loud stage.

Sennheiser mentions that this mic features Neodymium ferrous magnet with boron, which is not easily affected by environmental changes. This makes it a consistent sounding mic, which is important in performances.

It is a reliable workhorse mic with good build quality. The capsule is shock mounted inside the mic to prevent handling and impact noises. All of these features are further complemented by hum-compensating coils which prevent electrical interference.

Summing all of that, this mic provides improved sound quality, along with better suppression of noise and feedback than most other handheld dynamic mics in this price range.

While I appreciate its midrange clarity and good low-end, those who are used to low-end heavy mics may find this to be thinner sounding, otherwise it's a great mic.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Super Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-18kHz
  • Impedance: 350 ohms
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace Jettison 90/100
Audiofanzine ericthegreat 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Sennheiser e945 Frequency Response Chart:

Sennheiser e945 frequency response chart

Sennheiser e945 Polar Pattern Chart:

Sennheiser e945 polar pattern chart

Sennheiser e906

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 2000+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Sennheiser e906 Supercardioid Dynamic Microphone
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Dynamic Microphone along with the Shure SM7B.

Cons

  • Limited to side address use
  • Not suitable for vocals

Pros

  • Good high SPL handling
  • Great for miking guitar cabinets.
  • Consistent and repeatable sound.
  • Side address design makes it easier to setup
  • Solid build quality

The Sennheiser e906 is an instrument mic with side address, designed to lay flat on the grille cloth of guitar amps. It has gained popularity over the years as a guitar cab mic, an alternative to using a mic on a stand.

Its side address design allows for easier setup, and consistent placement both in live and in the studio. This consistent setup means repeatable results, which is especially important in recording.

Being an instrument mic, it is capable of handling high SPL sound sources, so it can be used to handle other loud instruments, including the spiky transient sounds of drum shells.

For miking up guitar cabs and drum shells, the e906 deserves a spot in your microphone cabinet. It's a consistent performer that will last you for years.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40Hz-18kHz
  • Impedance: 350 ohms
  • Applications: Live and recorded guitar amps, vocals, drums and other high-SPL sound sources

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Guitar Interactive Editor 94/100
Gearspace James Meeker 80/100
Audiofanzine Mattfig 100/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Sennheiser e906 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Chart:

Sennheiser e906 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Chart

Shure SM7B

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 6650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$399
The Shure SM7B Studio Dynamic Vocal Microphone
At publication time this was the Equal Highest Rated Dynamic Microphone along with the Sennheiser e906.

Cons

  • Needs preamp with 60dB of gain
  • Too boomy for conventional vocal use

Pros

  • Great instrument/amp mic
  • Similar to SM57 but with more low-end
  • Ideal for aggressive/scream vocal styles
  • Super durable and reliable

Much has been said about the Shure SM7B, which is expected given its legendary status as one of the holy grails of dynamic mics. Originally designed for broadcasting, the SM7 series was quickly adopted by recording studios for musical use, especially for vocals.

The "B" variant is the latest of this line, having additional low frequency achieved through careful tuning of an augmented SM57 capsule, and integrating the shock mount, filter and enclosure into the design.

This one has frequency response that work great with aggressive, shouted and screamed vocals, resulting tracks fitting in the mix exceptionally well. These types of vocals are hard to capture using conventional mics that focus on clarity. It is also a good mic for instruments and guitar amps, behaving like the iconic SM57, but with more bottom end.

The mic requires an audio interface or preamp that can provide at least 60dB of gain, otherwise the mic can be too quiet. The Cloudlifter is perfect for the job.

There is no reason not to own an SM7B if it's within your budget. It's one of the best mics in the market today for vocals, and it will last you a lifetime. Just make sure your existing gear is up to spec with the gain requirement.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Bass roll-off control
  • Mid-range emphasis / Presence boost control
  • Applications: Studio Vocals and Voice overs, Electric Guitar

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace Zarkov 90/100
Audiofanzine MatrixClaw 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Shure SM7B Frequency Response Chart:

Shure SM7B Frequency Response Chart

Electro Voice RE20

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 650+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$449
Electro Voice RE-20 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

Cons

  • A bit hefty and heavy

Pros

  • Prevents bass boosting proximity effect
  • Versatile use for vocals and instruments
  • Flat response similar to condenser mics
  • Reliable and durable

Proximity effect is the phenomenon where the bass get boosted the closer a sound source is to the microphone capsule. The RE20 was developed for broadcast situations so that the speaker can sound consistent whether they're up against the grille or sitting back on a chair.

Electro Voice calls the technology Variable-D and it's meant to stop the bass from becoming overly boosted when the source is up close. The Variable-D technology makes the RE20 behave like a condenser mic, while retaining the durability and noise rejection properties of a dynamic mic. As such it is incredibly versatile, useful for vocals and instruments a-like.

With this mic, you won't have to worry about bass emphasis as the singer gets close to the mic. It is also useful for non-musical voice recording like podcasting and voice over work.

The RE20's consistent bass response makes it very useful for close miking instruments and guitar cabinets, it does the job with as little coloration as possible, even when positioned very close to the sound source. It also has a bass tilt down switch which makes it viable for miking even louder sources like bass amps and kick drums.

And to get all these tasks done reliably, the RE20 has a robust and solid build. This also means that the mic is a bit heavy, which can be a bit of a problem when it comes to stands and positioning.

If your production or vocal style needs you to be right up close to the mic, there's no better mic than the RE20. And since it's also a great instrument mic, you are getting more value for your money.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz-18kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Applications: Studio Vocals and Voice overs, Electric Guitar

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearspace {-} 90/100
Pro Audio Files Danny Echevarria 98/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Electro Voice RE20 Frequency Response Chart:

Electro Voice RE20 Frequency Response Chart

Electro Voice RE20 Polar Pattern Chart:

Electro Voice RE20 Polar Pattern

Budget Option

Peavey PVi 2

94
GEARANK

94 out of 100. Incorporating 70+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$50
Peavey PVi 2 Dynamic Microphone

Cons

  • Bass is a bit boomy

Pros

  • Familiar handheld mic response
  • Good off-axis rejection for the price
  • With On/Off switch
  • Solid build and durable

Microphones aren't usually the first thing to come to mind when mentioning Peavey as they're more known for their amplifiers, powered speakers and mixers.

The Peavey PVi 2 is an affordable dynamic microphone that, like most affordable mics, takes influence from the Shure SM58. And for the price, it is doing quite a good job, having similar response, sound quality and off-axis rejection as more expensive mics.

It also shares the same downside, which is boomy bass, which is especially obvious when miking up close due to proximity effect.

It has no extra features aside from an on/off switch, but it does provide all the essential functions and quality at a very accessible price point.

In addition to good sound quality, It also sports a rugged build that ensures long term durability.

Its price to quality ratio makes it a great first mic, and it can also be a good option for those who need budget-friendly backup mics.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 45Hz-18kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Applications: Studio Vocals and Voice overs, Electric Guitar

Things to Consider When Buying a Dynamic Mic

Cardioid Polar Pattern

Polar patterns describe the way a mic rejects or listens in to sound. The Cardioid polar pattern is the most popular for dynamic mics because it blocks sounds that come from the back and sides (monitors, stage noise, instruments etc), while accepting the sounds directly in front of the capsule. Other variations of the Cardioid polar pattern include the super cardioid and hyper cardioid, both of which have a more front focused pattern, for even more noise rejection, the downside of which is restricted positioning.

Frequency Response

Think of frequency response as a default non-adjustable EQ that's built into a microphone. Ideally, we want it to as transparent and flat as it gets, but this is never the case, given the various hardware components that mics have. Engineers and musicians take advantage of these frequency response variances by pairing mics with the right vocal timber or instrument tone. For example, you don't want to pair a high pitched voice with a mic that emphasizes the highs, rather, you want a mic with a bit more low end to complement the sound source. If you are unsure, the best course of action is to look at the mics used by your favorite singers and instrumentalists and start from there.

Applications

Most dynamic mics come in the familiar handheld form factor and are meant for singers and the speaking voice. But since dynamic mics have capsules that can handle high SPL (sound pressure level), they can be used to mic virtually any sound source, with the right positioning. Dynamic mics are popularly used on loud instruments like guitar speaker cabinets, drums and other percussion instruments. Still, there are more specialized mics that can do better, but it is nice to know that dynamic mics are flexible when needed, albeit with some compromise on sound quality.

Proximity Effect

The proximity effect describes the increase in low frequencies when you get close to a microphone. Ideally, we don't want any increase in frequencies, but there are some who have put the proximity effect to good use, more notably rock singers and rappers who are looking to add more low-end oomph to their voice. These days, some mics are built with less of it, while others are well loved for their proximity effect. This has prompted some manufacturers to clearly supply tone variation lines in their frequency charts when close to the mic, so that users will have an idea what to expect.

Max SPL (Sound Pressure Level)

This specification points to the maximum volume in dB (Decibels) that a microphone can handle without introducing distortion. And since volume varies per frequency (example: louder at lower frequencies or vice versa), this specification usually has an @ frequency label, so it can get complicated.

Thankfully, you don't have to worry much about this because dynamic microphones don't have built-in electronics to overload, they are limited by the mechanical movement of the diaphragm. This allows them to handle anywhere from 150dB to 180dB, which are extreme levels you will not encounter in normal conditions. If you do encounter distortion, the problem could be that the mic is clipping the preamp which you are plugged into, and the solution is simple, up the levels of the preamp, or get a better mic preamp, or move further a way to lower the volume levels.

On/Off Switch

Many professional handheld microphones don't have an On/Off switch to prevent accidental turn offs. Still there are some who prefer to have this extra control, which can be useful for smaller events where you have to leave the mic often.

Dynamic Microphone Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2018 and the latest edition was published on May 5, 2021.

Our main criteria for this guide includes dynamic microphones that are meant for music, be it for singing or for miking instruments, and are readily available from major US music equipment retailers. Even with these limitations, we ended up with a shortlist of 88 dynamic mics, along with relevant reviews and ratings that totaled to over 75,500 sources. All of these were fed to the Gearank Algorithm, which in turn gave us rating scores our of 100 that reflect actual market sentiment. These are the scores that we used to rank the mics, the highest rated of which are featured above. For more information about our methods see How Gearank Works.

About the Author and Contributors

Here are the key people and sources involved in this guide's production - click on linked names for information about their music industry backgrounds.

Lead Author & Researcher

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

I've been an audio engineer for 20 years specializing in rock and metal recordings, and also I play guitar and produce original music for my band and other content creators.

Some of the recording gear I use in my studio includes the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, Focusrite Scarlett Solo, Samson QH4 Headphone Amp and Cloudlifter CL-1. My mics include Aston Origin, Aston Element, Shure SM57, Rode NT1, Rode PodMic, MXL V67G and more as mentioned above.

Contributors

Alexander Briones: Supplemental writing.
Jason Horton: Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the Shure SM7B, Sennheiser e935, Shure SM57 and Sennheiser e906.

The individual product images, frequency response charts and polar pattern charts were sourced from their respective manufacturers' websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation.

Comments

Is there an SPL rating in the

Is there an SPL rating in the e945? Many manufactures offer this, but I cant find it on the sennheiser and I need something that wont clip.

It's a dynamic microphone, so

It's a dynamic microphone, so clipping should never be an issue. Hasn't ever been on my Senn.

I need a microphone to use to

I need a microphone to use to give a speech and then pass on to others who might want to say something. I would like one with a 5 start rating, but not too expensive. The room might have 75 people in it and instead of talking loudly, I would like to use a microphone. It is for a Salute to Reuben, my husband who recently died. This is for a get together of friends, relatives, etc. After eating, is when the speaking will take place. It might only last a few minutes if no one wants to speak. Can you help me?

There aren't any good

There aren't any good microphones with a perfect 5 star rating, however the GLS Audio ES-58-S will to the job nicely.

If you a hiring a PA System (sound mixer & speakers) or if the venue is providing one, suitable microphones are usually included so you might not need to buy one.

need recommendation for

Need a recommendation for microphone for a high-harmony singer w/ occasional lead parts...does not like to "eat" the mic and voice is not loud (aka...doesn't project if that's the correct term)

Hi Tracy,

Hi Tracy,

My pick would be the Shure Beta 58A for its tight pickup pattern and clarity in the 5khz range. I do however suggest practicing proper mic technique since singing too far away from any microphone will introduce problems with mixing as the engineer will have to increase the input gain to get a stronger signal. Higher input gain will also make the microphone more sensitive to ambient sounds and eventually, feedback. Take advantage of the proximity effect (bass increase when singing closer to the mic) to thicken a voice from a singer with less than optimal projection. "Eating" the mic is also a sign of bad technique and I'm glad your singer doesn't do that but they shouldn't be afraid of getting up close. The Beta 58A doesn't get boomy from using the mic closer to the mouth so they can be confident with their tonality through the FOH.