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 May 2021 edition, we saw shifts in the rankings with several mics tied for top spots. This has the effect of nudging a perennial favorite, the Shure SM57 away from its position. Because of its utility and legendary status as a studio staple, I have decided to keep it on the list as an author's pick. We also included an unexpected favorite as a budget option.

The Best Dynamic Microphones

Author & Contributors

Raphael PulgarRaphael Pulgar

An audio engineer of 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.

Shure Beta 58A

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 4450+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$159
Shure Beta 58A

The Beta 58A is a handheld dynamic microphone specifically tailored by Shure for vocals, based on the iconic SM58.

It sacrifices some of the versatility of the popular Shure mic to focus on capturing vocals better. To achieve this, Shure added more emphasis on the higher frequencies at 4kHz and 9kHz, resulting in a clearer sound that befits singers.

Proximity effect is also reduced via bass roll off, so there's no sudden increase in the lower frequencies as you get closer to the mic.

Finally, the Beta 58A has a narrower Super Cardioid polar pattern for better noise rejection, and it comes with an internal shock mount for preventing handling noise.

Specifications:

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Super Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-16kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals & acoustic guitar

Pros

As expected from a Shure branded mic, the Beta 58A gets a lot of thumbs up for its solid build. But more than that, most of the positive reviews point to its good sound quality as its best trait. Even experienced users describe this mic as the best that they've ever used, so much so that some even prefer using the Beta 58A in the studio over condenser microphones. Many describe this mic as brighter sounding, when compared to the SM58.

Cons

Speaking of bright, some users are not too fond of the mic's brighter tonality, and prefer cheaper mics with the added bass due to proximity effect. This is more of a preference issue than an actual problem with the mic.

Overall

If you're looking for a quality vocal mic that will last you a lifetime, then go get the Shure Beta 58A.

Shure Beta 58A Frequency Response Chart:

Shure Beta 58A frequency response chart

Shure Beta 58A Polar Pattern Chart:

Shure Beta 58A polar pattern chart

Sennheiser e935

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 1300+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Sennheiser e 935 Vocal Dynamic Microphone

At publication time this was 1 of 3 Equal Highest Rated Dynamic Microphones along with the Sennheiser e906 and Shure SM7B.

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

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

Its cardioid polar pattern gives singers standard proximity and positioning, to reduce the need for technique adjustments when switching from a different mic.

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.

Pros

Amazing is a good one-word adjective that summarizes market sentiment for the Sennheiser e935. Those who have switched from other brands report big improvements in sound clarity, with many specifically mentioning the reduction of unwanted low-end, which in turn allows you to better capture nuances and articulation in the upper middle frequencies. Many are also happy with its reliability, having used it extensively on the road.

Cons

Interestingly, vocal clarity is not always a good thing, especially if you are a rock, blues or folk singer who needs the extra low end. But aside from these preference issues, the Sennhesier e935 continues to do well in the market.

Overall

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

Sennheiser e935 Frequency Response Chart:

Sennheiser e935 Frequency Response Chart:

Sennheiser e935 Polar Pattern Chart:

Sennheiser e935 Polar Pattern Chart:

Sennheiser e906

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 1800+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Sennheiser e906 Supercardioid Dynamic Microphone

At publication time this was 1 of 3 Equal Highest Rated Dynamic Microphones along with the Sennheiser e935 and Shure SM7B.

The Sennheiser e906 has gained popularity over the years as an alternative to using a mic on a stand.

It was designed to lay flat on the grille cloth of guitar amps.

While a bad practice when using top-address microphones, the e906's side address design makes for more consistent placement both live and in the studio.

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

Pros

While excellent on guitar amps, many users also found them to be great with high SPL and spiky transient sounds like drum shells. All around praise for the build quality and durability can also be seen on numerous reviews. Some have compared the sound signature to be close to the Shure SM57. While not exact, some audio comparisons I listened to do have some similarities.

Cons

No consistent negatives that we could find other than the odd damaged packaging complaint.

Overall

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

Sennheiser e906 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Chart:

Sennheiser e906 Frequency Response and Polar Pattern Chart

Sennheiser e945

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 1200+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$200
Sennheiser e945 Dynamic Supercardioid Handheld Microphone

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

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

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.

Sennheiser mentions that this mic features Neodymium ferrous magnet with boron, which is not easily affected by environmental changes.

Specifications:

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

Pros

Users, including experienced ones, are definitely impressed, using words like wow, incredible and great to describe the mic. But what struck the most is how many simply "love" the mic for the improvements that it brought to their sound, be it in terms of sound quality or in terms of noise and feedback suppression. There are also reports from many long-time users who attest to the Sennheiser e945's reliability.

Cons

Of the few negative comments, most of them point to singing style preference. What's interesting is how some perceive this mic to be to thin sounding, while others feel that it adds a bit more low end than they wanted.

Overall

Being the flagship of Sennheiser's best selling dynamic microphone line, the e945 gets an easy recommendation.

Sennheiser e945 Frequency Response Chart:

Sennheiser e945 frequency response chart

Sennheiser e945 Polar Pattern Chart:

Sennheiser e945 polar pattern chart

Shure SM7B

98
GEARANK

98 out of 100. Incorporating 4550+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$399
The Shure SM7B Studio Dynamic Vocal Microphone

At publication time this was 1 of 3 Equal Highest Rated Dynamic Microphones along with the Sennheiser e935 and Sennheiser e906.

Much has been said about the Shure SM7B, which is expected given its legendary status as one of the holy grails of dynamic microphones.

Originally designed for broadcasts, the SM7 series was quickly adopted by recording studios for musical use; the "B" variant being the latest.

Modern engineers have found the SM7B's frequency response to work great with aggressive / screamed vocals with tracks fitting in the mix exceptionally well.

The additional low frequency was achieved through careful tuning of an augmented SM57 capsule and making an enclosure, shock mount and filter, integrated into the design.

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

Pros

Many users said the SM7B was a "gamechanger" when they added it to their arsenal. For vocals, the mic captures almost any voice with great finesse, even aggressive shouted/screamed vocals. For electric guitar, the SM7B was noted by some as a more refined sm57 with more bottom end.

Cons

According to Shure's official documentation, the mic requires an audio interface or preamp that can provide at least 60dB of gain, otherwise the mic can be too quiet.

Overall

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. Just make sure your existing gear is up to spec with the gain requirement.

Shure SM7B Frequency Response Chart:

Shure SM7B Frequency Response Chart

Electro Voice RE20

97
GEARANK

97 out of 100. Incorporating 600+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$449
Electro Voice RE-20 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

Proximity effect is the phenomenon where the bass and treble 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 RE20 also gets used as an instrument mic or for miking up guitar cabs.

To help attenuate excess bass, there is a bass tilt down switch which makes the RE-20 viable for miking louder sources like bass amps as well as kick drums.

Specifications:

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

Pros

Many users note that despite its status as a broadcast mic, the RE20 is incredibly versatile. One even experimented with using it as a room mic (which is usually reserved for large diaphraghm condensers) to great success. Podcasters and voice over artists also often note that their voices sound best on the RE20 and often request it from the studios they go to.

Cons

The only significant con we've seen is the price being a barrier to entry.

Overall

If your production or vocal style needs you to be right up close to the mic, there's no better mic than the RE20. It works great as an instrument mic as well, adding to its versatility.

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

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.

The Peavey PVi 2 has no extra features aside from an on/off switch, which is expected given its pricepoint.

Specifications:

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

Pros

What most people did not expect however, is that they'd be getting a great mic for the price. Many users note the mic's reliability, and sound quality to be that of mics usually twice as expensive. The majority of its positive reviews compare the mic to more expensive ones.

Cons

Some received defective units. To ensure returns, purchase from a reputable seller.

Overall

The mic comes as a surprise to many given the price. While the sound quality was more than people expected, the rugged build, long term durability and price makes it a great first mic or to get a bunch as backup mics for your studio or venue.

Author's Pick

I decided to choose this one among the others because of its versatility and status as a studio staple microphone. No top list would be complete without it.

Shure SM57

96
GEARANK

96 out of 100. Incorporating 5900+ ratings and reviews.

Street Price: 

$99
Shure SM57 Dynamic Cardioid Microphone

The Shure SM57 is easily one of the most popular instrument-friendly mics on the market today.

Decades after it was first introduced, it is still among the most widely used mics for instruments, which include acoustic guitars, guitar amp cabinets, percussion instruments and many more.

From its release in the '60s up to now, there's no escaping the SM57 in the many recordings it has been used on, be it on guitar cabinets, snare drums, or even presidential speeches!

It continues to be especially popular in rock music, where it is used to mic almost everything, sometimes even vocals.

And this widespread use in rock is ironic in the sense that the designer of this mic was not a fan of rock music.

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

Pros

The Shure SM57 is often described as great workhorse microphone that you can truly rely on. It also gets a lot of commendation for its sound quality and flexibility, from professionals who make the most out of the mic, to home recording musicians.

Cons

It's not easy finding commonly reported issues, especially with the continued improvement of its production process. Still, there are a few who do not like its sound coloration.

Overall

If you're looking for no less than something worthy of the title "industry standard", then the Shure SM57 will definitely impress you.

Shure SM57 Frequency Response Chart:

Shure SM58 Frequency Response Chart

Shure SM57 Polar Pattern Chart:

Shure SM58 Polar Pattern Chart

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

An audio engineer of 20 years who specializes in rock and metal recordings, he also plays guitar and produces original music for his band and other content creators.

Aside from endlessly window shopping and watching hours of gear reviews for leisure, he enjoys playing competitive FPS games, MMORPGs and caring for his 5 cats. He is primarily influenced by guitarists like Kurt Ballou and Paul Gilbert. His favorite pieces of gear are his Ibanez RG550RFR, Orange Brent Hinds Terror amplifier and EQD Acapulco Gold fuzz.

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.