The Best Live Vocal Mic – Handheld / Wired (May 2024)

live vocal mics
Sweetwater

Sponsorship Announcement

This gear guide is sponsored by Sweetwater and you can click through to their website to read customer reviews, check prices, or make a purchase, however all of the recommendations below have been made by the Gearank team.

This guide is about wired mics (although some can be adapted for Wireless use), so read our Wireless Microphone System Guide if you need to go wireless.

In the early days, choosing the best live vocal mic for live performances was straightforward—you’d grab any vocal mic that looked the part for a live setting and call it a day. But times have changed. Today’s market is flooded with many types of mics, each boasting unique features and responses. Selecting the right vocal mic can be overwhelming, especially when popularity alone doesn’t guarantee the ideal vocal sound.

Whether you’re a seasoned singer or just starting, finding the perfect vocal mic is a critical upgrade. So, let’s dive into the world of live vocal microphones. We’ve meticulously researched and analyzed ratings, reviews, and expert opinions to compile a list of top picks. Here’s what we considered when selecting these mics:

  • Sound Quality: The vocal mic must accurately capture your vocals without distortion, feedback, or unwanted noise. Crystal-clear sound is non-negotiable.
  • Durability: Live performances can be demanding—handling, drops, and moisture are par for the course. Our picks are built to withstand the rigors of the stage.
  • Versatility: A great mic adapts to different vocal styles, genres, and sound systems. We’ve chosen mics that play well with various setups.
  • Value: Balancing performance and price is crucial. Our recommendations offer exceptional value, meeting or exceeding expectations.

Let’s explore the best vocal mic for live performance across different price ranges. Whether you’re on a budget, aiming for a mid-range upgrade, or seeking premium quality, we’ve got you covered. Read on to discover your perfect match and elevate your vocal game.

And don’t worry about the technical jargon—over time, you’ll become a mic connoisseur. If you’re still uncertain, drop a comment below, describing your music style and any other instruments you’ll be miking. I’ll be happy to provide personalized advice.

Once you select your best live vocal mic, you should read up on the different choices available when it comes to mic stand types.

The Best Live Vocal Mics

Author & Contributors

Best Handheld Microphone Under $100

While not exactly the cheapest, most "industry standard" microphones start at this price point. If you do want to look at cheaper options, then see our guide to The Best Microphones Under $50.

Shure SM58 LC

95
GEARANK
95 out of 100. Incorporating 16500+ ratings and reviews.
$99.00
Shure
Shure SM58 LC Review: Handheld Vocal Dynamic Microphone
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Handheld Mic Under $100.

Cons

  • Although good for live vocals, I wouldn't record vocals for release tracks with it

Pros

  • The most rugged and reliable mics I've ever had
  • I've also used them for recording demos and was pleased with the result

Shure launched the SM58 way back in 1966 and the basic design of this dynamic vocal microphone hasn't changed since then.

Although there are a growing number of sound engineers who think it's about time we all moved on to more modern mics, and despite all the advances in microphone design over the last 50+ years, the SM58 remains extremely popular.

These were the first serious microphones I ever had and my bandmates and I put them to good use both at gigs and for recording demos, and I have to say that after the years of abuse we put them through I can't ever remember one breaking down or failing in anyway - these are built to last.

Shure SM Closeup
Although I've talked a lot about using the SM58 for recording demos, they are most at home on stage as a live vocal mic.

We recorded many demos using the SM58 on just about everything, from snare and toms to vocals and even guitar amps, and the dynamic mic works absolutely fine for this purpose. I wouldn't use them for vocals on a release recording, but others have done so.

More modern mics don't have the SM58's severe drop between 7 and 8 kHz. Strangely enough, this 'deficiency' has become part of the mic's trademark sound. When you sing through this live vocal microphone, you sound like many of the rock stars from the last few decades, and this is part of why the SM58 still tops the best-seller lists at so many music stores.

Some people get confused over the different versions of the SM58, but it's pretty simple - this is the SM58-LC, which doesn't have an on/off switch; there's also the SM58S, which does have a switch, and finally, the SM58-CN BTS which has no switch but comes bundled with a mic stand, clip and XLR cable.

If you want that classic rock vocal sound, this is a great cardioid dynamic mic. Even if you outgrow it later, it will outlast your singing career, and you'll find plenty of other uses for it if you get a more expensive dynamic vocal mic at a later stage.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz to 15kHz
  • Impedance: 300 Ohms
  • Applications: Live vocals, also good for live instruments and amps
  • Power Requirements: None

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Gearank Jason Horton 96/100
Gearspace John Eppstein 85/100
SoundGuys Lily Katz 94/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Shure SM58 Frequency Response Chart:

Shure SM58 Frequency Response Chart

Shure SM58 Polar Pattern Chart:

Shure SM58 Frequency Response Chart

Here's a demo comparing the SM58 to the similar SM57 which Raphael wrote an extended review on here.

Best Handheld Microphone Under $200

In this price range there is a genuine step up in quality compared to those above, so if this is your price range, take a good look at the options below.

Shure Beta 58A

96
GEARANK
96 out of 100. Incorporating 7200+ ratings and reviews.
$169.00
Shure
Shure Beta 58A Dynamic Handheld Microphone

Cons

  • Slight harshness in the upper midrange
  • Prone to plosives

Pros

  • Crisp and Precise sound superior to the SM58
  • Great feedback rejection
  • Insanely durable
  • Amazing for live vocals

The Shure Beta 58A is a dynamic super cardioid mic with excellent performance for vocalists and live performers. This super cardioid polar pattern helps it deliver clean and clear vocals without breaking the bank, with a reasonably bright character without being overly aggressive in the higher register. The microphone maintains a linear response across the entire vocal range, making it suitable for versatile singers. It has significantly improved sound quality compared to its predecessor, the classic Shure SM58.

The Beta 58A has a tighter pickup pattern, making it more resistant to feedback than the SM58. It retains the feel of the SM58 but eliminates the muddiness and honkiness. It sounds less harsh and more open. The Beta 58A has a smoother transition in the midrange and extends well above 10 kHz, resulting in a more natural sound. However, during extended listening periods, some users find it harsh in the upper midrange.

Shure is known for its rugged build quality, and the Beta 58A is no exception. It can withstand the rigors of touring and regular use. The microphone’s tighter pickup pattern makes it resistant to feedback, especially in live performance settings. The dynamic supercardioid mic design ensures high gain before feedback and superior rejection of off-axis sound. The Beta 58A strikes a balance between affordability, durability, and improved sound quality, making it a solid choice for stage vocals whether you’re a singer, musician, or sound engineer.

In summary, the Shure Beta 58A is an excellent choice for stage vocals, offering durable quality and great sound, similar to the SM58. It strikes a balance between affordability, durability, and improved sound quality.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 50Hz-16kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 94 dB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals & acoustic guitar

Shure Shure Beta 58A Frequency and Polar Pattern Charts:

Shure Shure Beta 58A Frequency and Polar Pattern chart

Best Handheld Microphone Under $300

In this price range there is a genuine step up in quality compared to those above, so if this is your price range, take a good look at the options below.

Shure Super 55 Deluxe

96
GEARANK
96 out of 100. Incorporating 1650+ ratings and reviews.
$249.00
Shure
Shure Super 55 Deluxe Dynamic Microphone (Handheld)

Cons

  • Lacks transparency as other mics in this price range

Pros

  • Vintage Aesthetics
  • Sturdy Build
  • Presence boost modernizes sound

The Shure Super 55 Deluxe has a vintage design that is visually striking and reminiscent of classic broadcasting microphones. However, while it may look cool and evoke nostalgia, its sound quality and performance leave something to be desired. The frequency response is bright but lacks transparency and can sound somewhat muffled. The mic also tends to pick up background noise excessively and is sensitive to popping sounds, which can interfere with overall performance.

On the positive side, the Super 55 doesn't have a muddy sound, and vocals remain intelligible. It boasts a sturdy build and a cardioid pickup pattern that helps reduce ambient noise and focuses on capturing sound from the front, making it ideal for isolating vocals or instruments. It also has good dynamic range, which makes it viable for different vocal styles. Additionally, the Super 55 enhances vocal presence, making it suitable for singers who want that extra punch in their performance.

While the Shure Super 55 Deluxe may be a good choice for those who prioritize aesthetics and don't mind its limitations, there are better options for serious vocal work. The mic's sound quality and performance fall short compared to some modern alternatives, and it tends to pick up more background noise than desired. While there are better options, none look as stylish as the Super 55 Deluxe while still sounding good enough for modern performances.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 60Hz to 17kHz
  • Impedance: 150 ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 94 dB
  • Applications: Live Vocals

Shure Super 55 Deluxe Frequency and Polar Pattern Charts:

Shure Super 55 Deluxe Frequency and Polar Pattern chart

Best Handheld Microphone Under $500

These are great mics that are starting to implement more upscale technologies and better build quality.

Beyerdynamic M 88 TG

94
GEARANK
94 out of 100. Incorporating 300+ ratings and reviews.
$499.00
Beyerdynamic
At publication time this was the Highest Rated Handheld Mic between $300 and $500.

Cons

  • Can feedback at loud volumes

Pros

  • Female vocals sound warm
  • Male vocals sound authoritative with depth

Made popular by Phil Collins, the Beyerdynamic M 88 TG is a Hypercardioid pattern Dynamic microphone designed for rigorous tour usage.

The TG stands for "Tour Group" and is spec'ed with a reinforced basket to withstand rough handling and damage.

Tonewise, the M 88 TG favors a rich low mid and low frequency range without sacrificing higher frequency response. This tends to make female vocals sound warmer while male voices get more authority and depth.

The Beyerdynamic M 88 TG earned its reputation as the "Phil Collins Mic" but that doesn't mean it only suits his particular voice type. The M 88 TG excels with adding weight to thinner voices and authority to deeper ones.

Specifications

  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Hypercardioid
  • Frequency Response:30Hz-20kHz
  • Impedance: 200 Ohms
  • Power Requirements: None

Beyerdynamic M 88 TG Polar Pattern Chart:

Beyerdynamic M 88 TG polar pattern chart

Beyerdynamic M 88 TG Frequency Response Chart:

Beyerdynamic M 88 TG frequency response chart

Best Handheld Microphone Under $1000

These top of the line mics get some of the best tech and build quality that you can find and will find applications both live and in the studio. If you are a singer that is looking to improve and make refinements on your live, or even recorded sound, this is the best range to look at.

Neumann KMS 105

97
GEARANK
97 out of 100. Incorporating 475+ ratings and reviews.
$679.74
Neumann

Cons

  • Many female pop singers will probably prefer the KMS 104 instead
  • Not suited to metal and hard rock

Pros

  • Very 'natural' sound
  • Works well with a wide range of voice types
  • Excellent feedback rejection
  • Excels at Pop, Rock and Jazz and similar styles

The Neumann brand is very highly regarded for their studio microphones and that reputation carries over into their live handheld mics as well. Michael Buble and Norah Jones are two well known singers who use the Neumann KMS 105 in live concert.

The supercardiod polar pattern of the KMS 105 makes it exceptionally good at rejecting sound from a full 180° behind the mic, so you can have a nice loud and clear mix in your stage monitors (if they sit in front of you). It also uses electronic compensation to control the proximity effect - it has a 120Hz high-pass filter.

Although the KMS 105 works well for most kinds of vocals, Neumann also have the similar KMS 104 (link to Sweetwater) which is optimized for female rock and pop singers.

One drawback is that unless you have a decent PA system with good mic preamps then you won't get the full value out of this mic and you may as well get a cheaper one instead. Also if you're using the Bose L1 which is popular with singer/guitarists, you won't get the benefit of the high-end sparkle this mic is capable of due to the L1 being limited to 14kHz.

The Neumann KMS 105 is best suited to jazz, middle of the road, pop, and acoustic artists where the crystal clear sound can really shine as opposed to heavy metal or hard rock artists where the fine nuances of this mic are lost on stage.

Specifications

  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
  • Impedance: 50 Ohms - Load impedance is 1000 Ohms
  • Maximum SPL: 150 dB
  • Applications: Live and recorded vocals + recording acoustic guitar
  • Power Requirements: 48v phantom power

Rating Source Highlights

Website Source *Rating Value
Audiofanzine sw80 100/100
Audiofanzine James 80/100
*Displayed values are prior to the Gearank Algorithm's adjustments it makes when evaluating the source.

Neumann KMS 105 Polar Pattern Chart:

Neumann KMS 105 polar pattern chart

Neumann KMS 105 Frequency Response Chart:

Neumann KMS 105 frequency response chart

Things To Consider When Buying A Live Singing Microphone

On/Off Switch

This might seem like a trivial issue, but it isn't. In general you do not want handheld microphones with switches that can be easily accidentally turned off. Many live audio engineers don't like on/off switches because it's really difficult to trouble shoot a mic drop-out in the middle of a performance and frustrating when you track it down to the singer turning it off. The exceptions are mics that have switch locks so they can't be turned off by mistake, or if you only intend to use them for karaoke where it's better to turn the mic off in between singers.

Dynamic vs Condenser

If you go back 20 years or so you would usually only find Condenser mics in recording studios, and mainly only Dynamic mics on stage - particularly for vocals. This was largely because condenser mics were very fragile and prone to feedback. But times have changed and advances in microphone design have meant that Condenser mics that are specifically designed to be hand held are now capable of delivering 'studio quality' results at live shows. Dynamic mics typically have a lower frequency range but sound 'warm' whereas condensers typically have a much higher frequency range and tend to sound 'brighter'. Condenser mics typically require their own power supply to work properly - either from a battery or phantom power supplied by a mic preamp or mixing desk. Dynamic mics are generally still a bit sturdier than condenser mics, but if you look after your microphones well then this shouldn't be much of an issue. If after reading this you're still unsure which type of mic would be best for you, then get one of each and spend time singing through both of them until you find which type suits your vocals.

Polar Pattern

Cardioid polar pattern This is which direction(s) a microphone absorbs sound from. For singing live you generally only want microphones that accept sound from directly in front while suppressing sound that comes from the back or the sides - this is to reduce problems with feedback coming from your stage monitors or front of house speakers. Most microphones used in live performance have a Cardioid pattern, or a variation of that, to help prevent feedback. The image on the right is an example of a cardioid polar pattern.

Frequency Response

Frequency response is measured in Hertz (Hz). Each microphone has its own characteristics in terms of which frequencies it emphasizes or de-emphasizes. An ideal microphone has a flat response across the entire range of frequencies it responds to, however that is only found in high-end mics. That said, some mics have their own idiosyncratic frequency responses which give them a signature sound musicians have come to really love in certain styles of music - the SM58's classic rock vocalist sound is a great example. If you have a high pitched voice then you might want to be careful using a mic which emphasizes the highs because without proper EQ'ing this could lead to your singing sounding harsh. If you have a low register and you really want to emphasize that then you might look for mics that are strong below 200Hz. If you know your vocal characteristics well then you'll find the frequency response charts to be quite helpful. If all this sounds a bit too technical leaving you uncertain, then get a microphone that is often used in the style of music you perform and you shouldn't have any trouble.

Proximity Effect

When you get very close to any kind of directional mic, one with anything other than an omnidirectional polar pattern, you will notice an increase in volume of the low frequencies. This can make your vocals sound 'warmer'. Typically cardioid dynamic mics have the strongest proximity effect and you see it put to good use live often by male singers and rappers. Some manufacturers supply data on the proximity effect of their microphones and when they do you'll see an extra line showing it in the frequency response chart for the mic.

Impedance

Without getting too technical, impedance can be best thought of as the amount of resistance an electronic device has to electric current flowing through it. A microphone should only be plugged into equipment that has the same or a higher impedance rating otherwise you'll get a loss of signal. Most handheld mics are low impedance (below 600 Ohms) so they generally don't have any issues when used with 'pro' sound gear. If you're unsure about the equipment you'll be using your mic with, such as a low-cost 'consumer' karaoke machine, then it doesn't hurt to check to make sure the mic you want to buy has the same or a lower impedance than the system you're going to plug it into - you can check the manuals or specification sheets of both devices to make sure.

Max SPL (Sound Pressure Level)

This indicates the maximum volume, measured in decibels (dB) you can expose a mic to before it starts having problems like distortion. Very few people can sing loud enough to ever worry about this, but if you're also going to use your mic on amplifiers or loud instruments like drums, then you should opt for a mic with a high Max SPL. If you're unsure how loud something is then you can measure that with an SPL meter - I have an app on my phone that does that which is accurate enough for this purpose, alternatively you can buy hardware SPL Meters (link to Sweetwater) which tend to be more accurate. Speaking sound pressure level, our ears aren't meant to handle too much of them, hence the need for Ear Plugs in very loud stages and venues.

Applications

This gear guide is primarily focused on microphones for live vocal performance. Some good live vocal mics can also be used for other applications such as recording or miking some kinds of instruments and/or amplifiers. Typically a good live condenser microphone will also serve you well for recording vocals or even acoustic guitar (see our acoustic guitar mic recommendations here). Good dynamic mics will sometimes work well for miking amplifiers both live and for recording. If you also like to record at home, getting a versatile mic that can serve multiple applications will allow you to get more bang for your buck. It's also advisable to get a good pop filter for clean recording.

Power Source - Phantom Power

Many of the best live vocal microphones are dynamic mics. Dynamic microphones usually don't require any power to work but Condenser microphones do. Some of them take batteries and others need phantom power. Most live mixing desks these days do provide phantom power, but not all do. If your mic requires phantom power and your mixing desk doesn't provide it then you'll need to get a mic preamp or a vocal effects processor to provide the power. Vocal processors also give you access to different Vocal Effects, including formant shift and Vocoder.

Note that for Dynamic Mics you can get a device like the Cloudlifter CL-1 to boost the mic's signal, but they in turn usually require phantom power to operate.

Best Handheld Vocal Mic Selection Methodology

The first edition was published in 2016. The current edition was published on May 14, 2024

We first scoured the US market for sub-$1000 popular and highly rated wired handheld microphones, (wireless mics are in a separate guide) including both dynamic and condenser models.

This is such a huge category, and so competitive, that we ended up with 80 microphones on our best live vocal mic short list. We collated over 78,600 product ratings, reviews and forum discussions which we fed into the Gearank Algorithm to produce the rating scores out of 100 that you see above.
Finally, we selected the highest rated mic in each of the price brackets above to recommend. 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

Contributors

Jerry Borillo: Product Research.
Alexander Briones: Editing.
Jason Horton: Shure SM58 Review, Editing and Illustrating.

Media

Main/Top Image: Created by Gearank.com using photographs of the Shure Beta 87A, Shure SM58 LC, Sennheiser e935, Neumann KMS 105 and Beyerdynamic M 88 TG.

Videos have been embedded in accordance with YouTube's Terms of Service.

The individual product images, frequency response charts and polar pattern charts were sourced from their respective manufacturers' websites, promotional materials or supporting documentation, except for the additional Shure SM58 photo which was taken by Daniel Barnett.

91 thoughts on “The Best Live Vocal Mic – Handheld / Wired (May 2024)”

  1. Hi Jason
    I play the ukulele and sing but find it very hard to stay so close to the mic on a stand and not move to the music a little. Can you suggest a vocal mic that can pick up my voice evenly if I am not consistently right on top of the mic? Many thanks

    1. Hi Kath,

      I suggest getting an Electro-Voice Re20. I own its more recent sibling, the RE320 but both have their Variable-D technology that gives you a consistent tone in a small area around the mic’s pickup point. A little compression from the mixer and that should be goood. Take note though that the mic is a bit heavy but it works well even without a pop filter.

      -Raphael

  2. I am looking to upgrade my mic. I sing with full reggae band, and my voice is soft and warm. Sometimes it gets lost with all the instruments, i am looking for a good mic that picks up my voice so i do not have to strain or “fight” in order to be heard in some parts of some songs… Which mic would be good for this type of voice?

    1. Hi AMV, Most of the time, if you’re singing live and straining, it’s either you can’t hear yourself through the monitors properly and there isn’t enough vocal compression on the mixer to even out your voice. Stage volume management is also an important factor. If you’re performing with a large PA system, there is absolutely no reason to have a stage volume louder than the FOH. Not only does it hinder your ability to hear yourself, it also gives the FOH engineer a hard time mixing your band. I suggest, before looking into mics, that your band assess stage volume management and asking your engineer for more monitor on your floor wedge. Because if you choose a more sensitive mic with your stage volume very loud, FOH mix engineer won’t be able to turn up your vocals because of the risk of feedback. If you absolutely must hear yourself while monitoring, a good Wireless In-Ear Monitor will help you hear yourself so you wont have to strain yourself. Combine good stage volume management with proper monitoring and you won’t have to strain yourself again. The FOH mix engineer will then be able to mix your voice into FOH without the stage volume affecting clarity and you will sound better as a result. I hope this insight helps. -Raphael

  3. Very surprised you didn’t get any of the Electro-Voice mics into your reviews. As someone who relied on the old standard SM58 for many years, about 14 yrs ago I went to the music store for a new one. The sales guys there suggested one of these, and actually plugged them both in for a good side by side A/B demo. I was just floored at the sound of the EV mic. The difference in presence and clarity over the 58 was obvious and profound!! They may not have the “bullet proof” reputation of the Shures….but mine is going on strong for 14 plus years now. So, we’ll see.

    [Advertising link removed by the Editor – Here’s an internal link to the referenced Electro-Voice ND76]

  4. Thanks for this great guide.
    I play acoustic guitar while singing in small spaces.
    The kind of music is James Taylor (my voice tonality is about similar) or Eric Clapton unplugged. Unfortunately I have a thin voice.
    I am using Shure SM58 for live and Rode NT1A in studio but would like to upgrade. I have not a good mic technique, playing guitar I tend to move my had around mic.

    Of course I can’t afford Earthworks.
    What is your suggestion?
    Senn e935
    Shure Beta 58
    Shure Beta 87A
    Heil PR 35

    Thanks

    1. Avatar
      Raphael Pulgar

      Hi Raf,

      Among your picks, the Heil PR has a flatter response down to the low midrange which can help add some body to your voice. It has a very natural tone that would help address your concerns with the SM58, which has a bass roll off earlier than the Heil PR 35. I would recommend the M 88 TG but if you’re sticking to lighter singing, it might sound too dull especially for smaller venues. Give the Heil PR 35 a try. I know a few artists that use them for folk and the richness in tone is evident vs a 58.

      -Raphael

  5. We are playing in a rock band. The singing style of my vocalist is a bit like 80s hard rock/ hair metal vocalist, mostly singing in the range of tenor and baritone. Which microphone would you recommend, e965, ksm9 and kms105?

    1. Avatar
      Raphael Pulgar

      Hello Hugo,

      I would actually recommend the M 88 TG. It has a nice low frequency richness that accentuates tenors really well especially during high notes where more treble-oriented mics usually make the voice sound harsh.

      -Raphael

  6. Is it possible to get a good affordable micro mic (maybe attached to headphones) for singing, with guitar accompaniment through an acoustic guitar amp, in small venues – say 30 people or less.

    1. Avatar
      Raphael Pulgar

      Hi Maurice, Unfortunately there will always be compromises when using small lavalier type microphones and headset mics. The first thing is that lav mics are very prone to movement noise when clipped onto clothing so it might be a bit distracting to your audience. For headset mics, the good ones are usually very expensive with the cheaper ones sounding like bad gaming headset mics. Your best bet is to go with a good vocal condenser mic. Dynamic mics need to be up close to your mouth and might hinder your ability to “vibe” with the song so to speak. We currently updated this guide. Do check it out and see which one fits your needs and budget. -Raphael

  7. Hi there, what a great article. Thank you so much.
    At the moment, earhtworks prices dropped to $749.
    I was looking towards the d:facto 4018V and was almost ready to purchase a B stock for $725 and one year of warranty.

    I’m a countertenor artist, using my voice in a very intense performative way, from operatic vocals, to shamanic voice drone and animal voices, looping vocals Live. I play with the Apollo Twin X Duo, Altiverb7 and Ableton. I need exactly what these two mics are supposed to be offering: studio sound on stage.

    What would you do if you were me?
    Thank you

    1. Avatar
      Raphael Pulgar

      Hi Lalito,

      I checked the frequency response of the D:facto 4018V and found that it has an excited high frequency range might cause a countertenor voice to sound shrill. The Earthworks’ flatter high frequency response would work more to your advantage and give your sound engineer more control. A flatter frequency response is also better for tone shaping with processors as you have mentioned.

      -Raphael

      1. Thank you Raphael! Great call. Are you talking about the D:facto 4018V soft boost maybe? They bring it in two versions. The soft boost version and the Linear version that is supposed to be completely flat.

        It took me ages to get back, as I was recording an album with the D:facto 4018VL – Linear version. My sound engineer got me this one for the studio recs, but as we were recording live, he thought it would be better to record with a great live mic like this one.
        Before that, I had tried the soft boost version and indeed it was bringing some frequencies in that weren’t mine and this didn’t work. Then I talked with DPA and they confirmed that was I needed was the Linear version. I’m quite happy with the outcome and I’m now thinking to purchase the Linear D:facto 4018VL. Still, I don’t know how the Earthworks sounds at all and it’s not easy at the moment to just go to a store and try it.. I guess I’ll have to go by instinct. Thank you!

  8. Could you tell me what I would need to use for a simple choir, made up of people with disabilities, who regularly perform at functions. I need something to enhance the sound, without it costing too much. I am thinking a condenser microphone, speaker etc. Would be grateful for your help.

  9. Hello from Sydney, Australia. I am an ETA artist and use Sennheiser e935 also ew500-965 vocal-set, and they are both great and suits my bass /tenor voice.
    I was wondering whether or not either the “Neumann KMS 105” or “Earthworks SR40V Condenser Mic’s would be suitable as I would like to try something different. Maybe even Audio-Technica AE5400 might be suitable. I thought that I knew something about Microphones, but after reading all your info I was blown away. Thanks for sharing your expertise greatly appreciated guys.

  10. Thanks for the comprehensive guide! Yet, having read some reviews and discussions on live microphones, I’m confused. What is said about some microphones seems to contradict what the frequency response curves seems to say.

    I’m singing a big variety of styles and my experience with recording vocals at home tells me a few things to look for: The microphone should have a flat frequency response down to 100 Hz. Parts of my low vocals (which contain frequencies down to 30 Hz) are quite low volume, so some proximity effect could be good to boost them. On the other hand, the volume varies along in my vocals, so I have to change the microphone distance a lot anyway and I don’t want to have too much of an artificial change in the timbre associated with that. Most of all, I don’t want the most powerful parts, where I have to back up, to sound thin.
    Beyond that, I’ve found that a boost around 5 kHz benefits the sound of my voice, while a boost around 2 kHz gives it an unpleasant nasal quality. The clarity, especially the quality of high distortion, screams and “breathy” passages suffers if the frequencies at > 12 kHz are not captured by the microphone well. A slight amplification of the region at 8-15 kHz would be desireable.

    I’ve read that Sennheiser 945 is superior to the 845, has a clearer sound etc. Looking at the frequency response, however, I’d say just the opposite. As I read it, the frequency response is better for 845 in all mentioned aspects. The curve of 945 makes a plunge even at 13 kHz, which would. Is my voice type just different or does the frequency response chart not tell the whole story?

    Besides Sennheiser 845 and 945, I’m also considering the following options:
    Sennheiser 935
    Audio-Technica AE6100: Seems to have a very nice frequency response, but maybe the boost of the highs is too extreme. Also not sure, if it’s really robust.
    Rode S1: Are the two curves near/far field or on/off axis?
    Heil Sound PR35: Not listed here – it is both said to have a very nice sound and the frequency response looks amazing, although some say the bass is too extreme (in the near field??) and it is very sensitive to handling noise and low frequency consonants.

    Could you recommend a microphone for my purpose?

    1. Avatar
      Raphael Pulgar

      Hi Fid,

      Based on your style, I’d recommend the Sennheiser e935. It has a nice lift at around 4-5khz with a steady taper onwards so it will sound more “hi fi” without being sibilant. I’ve had experience with the Heil PR35 but as a snare mic (which it does a surprisingly great job at).

      The S1’s curves are near/far not accounting for excessively close proximity due to poor mic technique.

      The AE6100’s 5khz spike might present a problem if your voice is overly sibilant. But that’s just the nature of the tradeoff between high frequency response and icepick “s” and “sh” sounds.

      -Raph

    1. Hi Anil,

      The ATM710 did not make it to our list because of its rating of 89 on our database. Though I have personally mixed a live session (rock) with ATM710 mics, I still much prefer dynamics like the SM58 as the bleed from stage noise was more manageable. Handheld condensers like the ATM710 work best with quiet stage volumes and/or in-ear monitoring.

      As of writing, we haven’t examined Lewitt microphones in detail yet. The LCT series consists of large diaphragm condenser mics better suited in a studio environment or overhead mics in a live setting. Should there be new information, there may be a chance that it will be included in a future update.

      -Raph

  11. I’m hesitating between Sennheiser e835 and e935, and I’m very seduced by all the reviews on e935. The price is not important for me. But I heard that e935 has not a good feedback rejection. Our band have a practice room is very small, with speakers all around the place. Can I trust the e935 ? Or e835 would be better ? Thanks !

    1. When I researched both the e835 and e935 I didn’t find consistent reports of the e935 having a feedback problem, however that research was done last year so I’ll pay close attention to this possibility when we revise this category. Can you provide a link to any reports about feedback problems with the e935?

      1. Use them for live shows for 4 years. Better feedback rejection than my Bunch of sm58 and beta.. and still rock solid.

      2. No. That’s my problem. All reviews I found on the net were positives. It’s 2 sellers from a music store said to me that the e935 can have feedback rejection problem compared to e835.

          1. FYI – Hi, I’ve bought sennheiser e935 yesterday, and after 2 hours testing with my rock band, no feedback issue, in a small room with 4 speakers around us. Case resolved. 🙂
            Thanks.
            Steeve

  12. Outstanding. I use both the Shure beta 58 and the 55 in live performance. I had a very frustrating experience last night where the sound guy at a large outdoor venu would not let me use then 55 due to feed back issues. He said I need to use an in ear monitor with it. What do think about that? I’ve never had this issue before…

    1. The popular AKG D5 is a good $100 mic with an innovative variable thickness diaphragm and I wouldn’t be concerned if we had recommended it.

      It was short-listed for the $100 price bracket above and we decided to base our selections on the ratings. Here are the top 8 mics on that short-list, sorted by their ratings, and you can see that the 2 we selected for recommendation stood out well above the rest.

  13. Avatar
    Mehlinda Heartt

    I am an Opera singer with a considerable large dramatic soprano voice and range, I sing many times outdoor, and only once did I have a good experience with a mic, I wished I would have asked what system and mic they used. I have tried Shure beta 58, but it does not represent my voice well, like a live acoustic, I am not sure which mic would be best for outdoors, any suggestions? So hard to find the right mic. I have a Bose Amp system, mixing board, and a preamp

    1. The Shure Beta 58 is a dynamic microphone, however condenser mics are generally better suited to operatic voices.

      I would recommend getting the best condenser mic you can afford – the Shure KSM9 would be a good choice.

    1. The d:facto II was on our recommended list but it has been discontinued so we removed it last year.

      Currently we don’t have a rating on the d:facto 4018V which is still available.

      1. What should be the difference besides a name change, between a DPA d:facto II” and a “DPA d:facto 4018V” (with product ID 4018V-B-B01 for the same capsule 4018V and a XLR handle in black).

        It seems like DPA changed product names to follow a more systematic system, that better reflects the combinations of modular components they offer.

        PS: The d:facto variant offered in a short period before “d:facto II” became available (introducing the interchangeable set of adaptors for wireless transmitter handles), was not called “d:facto 4018V”, and I have first seen this name after DPA stopped using the name “d:facto II”.

  14. Although this article is extremely helpful, I was wondering if you could advise me further on what mic to get.
    I sing at Restaurants and will soon be singing on cruise ships, and am needing a new mic to take along. My amp is relatively simple so I think that I should stick with a dynamic mic. I have a very strong voice and a loud belt but need a mic that will be able to pick up my softer falsetto. I really like the look of the Shure SH55 Series II but because I will need my mic for recording at home, I was unsure of this option.

    1. I can’t advise you on your voice, I’m alto,to light soprano and if you ever want to hear my voice you can email me. just put in the subject Bianca to let me know to accept the email. elladitsa@mac.com. I sing internationally as well. My engineer recommended me a condenser for it enhances our voice better and I do like how my recordings sound with it. I’m saving up for this audio Technica 5400 but I have the shure55 deluxe and its awesome. but I can’t walk around with it, I have to stand in one spot so I’m selling it on ebay to have enough money to go a little higher in value. The more you pay the better you get. I also need advice on what phantom power I need for this. what cable and so on. I have the 48 presonus I got from sweet water + mogami cable and a beheringer box I forgot in Europe. Lets see if those are good enough. The shure 55 is excellent but you have to stand there, where I like to have a hand held so I can walk around a little on the stage . Its like expressing yourself. In anycase I wish you the best of luck!!!! 😀 Hope you get the right advice very soon

  15. Great info thanks. Btw, I’ve used a Blue Encore 300 as a drum overhead before. It did a great job. Better than some Senn overheads I’ve used.

  16. I simply wanted to give a kudos to you guys for providing this info. I’m actually a bass player with a few groups of all different styles of music from blues, to rock, to R&B, Gospel & even a little country and have tasked myself with running sound with little to no knowledge of how to do so, what mics to use, speakers…etc. Few youtube links on speaker setup, and live sound have helped me a great deal, and then today I stumbled upon your reviews on the different mics & their specs and just want to say thank you for this info yet again. It has been a great help. Tip my hat to you guys, and keep doing what you do.

    1. Thank you very much MoBass! Nearly our whole team worked on this guide and words of encouragement like yours are really appreciated by all here at Gearank.

  17. I am a novice at all of this and know nothing about electronic equipment.

    I will be doing some live local singing performances (solo) for the first time and have no idea what kind microphone to buy that’s under $300. Since I will be singing outdoors, I assumed that I would need an amplifier (loud speaker?). I bought a 1000W Thump12 loudspeaker. What kind of microphone should I purchase. Does it plug into the back of the amplifier?

    Also, I don’t understand what phantom power is and what sort of “phantom power” equipment is needed for a mic that runs on phantom power. Sorry for my ignorance but I’m hoping you will help me out.
    Thanks.

    1. Before being able to provide you with a useful answer, we’ll need to know if you’ll be singing just on your own with no music, or will you be singing to music and how is that music supplied – will it come from pre-recorded music or will live musicians be playing with you?

  18. Thanks! Great and insightful article. Learnt a lot. So I want to know…I am a musician and I have a church choir with a large number. Say 50 plus. I would want a microphone(s) that I can mount above their heads and yet be able to pick up every detail in their voices…this is important for the harmonies. Any help please? Budget shouldn’t be problem. I want to know the options available and also are there any roof embeddable microphones for music concerts? Regards

    1. People typically use Overhead Condenser Mics in these situations – we haven’t published a guide specific to that topic yet.

      I can’t really advise you on mounting options because that’s highly dependent on the way specific venue is laid out and what kind of rigging or trusses are already in place. It might help if you can get someone with experience in sound reinforcement installations to have a look at the venue and advise you on your best options.

  19. You have presented information for excellent comparison and decision making.
    My voice is bluesy, old and well worn… but interesting. I use a Voice Live 2 for stage performance and come through 2 Bose L1-2s’ with Tonematch. I cover everything from Stephen Still’s Black Queen to post bop jazz while playing electric and acoustic guitar. Can you recommend a mic to replace my Sure 58. I have a good budget.

    1. Although the Bose L1 systems don’t provide phantom power, the Voicelive 2 does so you can use a condenser mic – the Neumann KMS 105 sounds like it would be a good fit based upon the styles you cover.

  20. Great page, a lot better than the similar ones I’ve seen.
    I’m torn between the e935 and e945 to replace the SM58 I use live presently. I sing lead but also playing guitar, I tend to be all around the microphone at times. I get away with that for the most part with a SM58, but being more of a tenor I’m looking at the 900 series. Would you say the the e945 is not the right choice for me or is more forgiving than I’ve read about?

    1. Thank you for your kind words Steve – we do try to work hard on our research.

      The e935 and e945 are relatively close together in terms of specifications but the e935 is about $50 cheaper.

      The main difference between the two for you to consider, based on what you said about being ‘all around the microphone at times’, are the different polar patterns of the two mics. The e935 has a Cardioid polar pattern while the e945 is a Supercardioid mic. This, combined with the fact that the e935 is the slightly more sensitive of the two, means the e935 is more forgiving when off-axis than the e945 is.

      And given that the e935 is closer than the e945 to the frequency response of the SM58 that you’re already used to, I’d say save the $50 and get the e935.

  21. Avatar
    Sir Dano the good

    In live sound the best mike to use depends on the speakers your using A Shure sounds great through d+b, JBL, Cerwin-Vega, etc., but a sennhieser sounds better through EV and QSC stuff. Is the SM-58 the best sounding mic? Maybe, maybe not, but, it’s the sound you hear most often in a professional concert system and therefore it’s the standard you measure against.

  22. Thank you for the in depth reviews! I recently purchased a Telefunken m80 and have been very impressed! It sounds as good, maybe even better, than my Sennheiser md431ii, which I love. And at a far less price point!

    I’m looking to pick up a high-end condenser as well. I have a KMS105, but it is way too feedback prone and not exactly the tone I’m looking for. I play through a Bose L1 Model 2, with a Bose Tonematch mixer. I use reverb, compression, and a little bit of delay on my vocals, and I sing generally pop-rock & country. In your opinion, would the Earthworks sr40v be a worthwhile investment being used through my Bose PA system? Thank you very much!

    1. I’m surprised you have a feedback problem with the KMS 105 going through the Bose system because that microphone’s response is fairly flat across the ranges that usually cause problems like 1kHz and 2kHz and the Bose system is meant to be designed to prevent feedback.

      I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t use the Earthworks SR40V with the L1 Model 2 – just bear in mind that this PA system maxes out at between 12 kHz to 14 kHz, which is 6kHz below most people’s hearing range, while the SR40V has a relatively flat response all the way past the top of the hearing range of most people.

      Although the high end of the Earthworks SR40V won’t be used by the Bose system, you will have those frequencies available when you use the mic for recording.

  23. Thank you for the excellent informative article. I am looking for a mic suitable for jazz vocals; preferably something that isn’t harsh sounding but will produce a clear sound. Thank you for any advice, and for your incredible research.

    1. There are many different vocal styles involved in Jazz so it’s hard to provide specific advice based on what you’ve said.

      Some Jazz singers make great use of the Proximity Effect and I’ve heard stunning performances using old SM58s.

      To avoid sounding ‘harsh’ get a mic that doesn’t emphasize the higher frequencies too much (look at the frequency charts for each mic above) – EG in your case I’d avoid mics like the SM86.

  24. Thank you for this amazing article. I have been singing for a long time. My voice is compared often to Joni Mitchell, Ricki Lee Jones. The most important part of my voice is really hearing the quality within it. It is not super powerful and I have excellent pitch so a mic that picks up the nuances and clarity of my voice is really important. Without thinking about the price range, what mic would you suggest? Thank you very much!

    1. With the proviso that it’s impossible to give perfect advice without hearing you sing first, it sounds to me that your are a candidate for the Earthworks SR40V.

      One important thing to note however, is that the quality of a mic like this is wasted when used with lower quality PA systems – but if the rest of the gear you use is good, then this mic with shine.

  25. This is by far the most research-based article I’ve found. Thank you for sharing your expertise! I’m a female vocalist looking for a mic that will allow me to sing live with my naturally soft-medium volume voice and will be able to pick up otherwise unheard nuanced inflections. My sound is much like Christy Nockels. Any suggestions would much appreciated! Thanks!

    1. It sounds like you want a good condenser mic like the Sennheiser e965, Shure KSM9, or Neumann KMS 105/104. Just be aware that although these mics will pick up “otherwise unheard nuanced inflections” they will also highlight imperfections too, but if you can sing as well as Christy Nockels that shouldn’t be a problem for you.

  26. Very glad you mentioned that there are counterfeit mics out there. I had the misfortune of buying a counterfeit Shure SM58 (it certainly was not Shure’s fault) off of an online auction site. Great advice you offer to buy from a retailer you trust. Great article all around.

  27. This is awesome! Thanks for posting! I am a little annoyed that Neumann KMS 105 and an SM58 are tied…that’s crazy. But still an excellent overview

    1. Thanks for the feedback Jeff.

      One thing that’s important to know about Gearank scores is that you can’t use them to compare different products or similar ones that are in very different price brackets. When people review and rate the SM58 they’re only rating it for what it is and not comparing it to more expensive options like the KMS 105 – we explain this in a bit more detail in How Gearank Works.

  28. Wondered why you did not include Telefunken M80? These are exceptional live mikes. Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent were using them last time I saw them. I immediately purchased one and have had numerous positive comments every time I use it. Folks liked it better than Neuman 105 through a Eureka Pre and QSC through Klipsch professional.

    1. At the time when this guide was published the Telefunken M80 didn’t have a high enough Gearank score to be included.

      It has received more online feedback and reviews since then so I processed its Gearank score today and made it available in our public Music Gear Database.

      Based on it’s Gearank score of 91 it would have a reasonable chance of being included if we reprocessed this category and updated this guide today.

    1. Hi Ricardo – our guides aren’t intended to be a list of every product available but rather they’re meant to be as useful as possible and give a very good overview of the category.

      I decided to include the Shure SM86, which is a condenser mic, instead of the Shure Beta 58A which is a dynamic mic.

      Both mics have similarly high ratings – here’s the Gearank score of the Shure Beta 58A.

    1. Thank you very much Napoleon – comments like yours inspire us to work hard at providing the best research and advice we can.

    1. Traditionally rock bands used dynamic mics however with the improvements in live condenser mics in recent years many are now using condensers.

      If you’re unsure which type of mic will work best for your vocalists then use the kind your favorite rock bands use.

  29. Hey Matthieu, thanks heaps! very useful article. I am playing in a sort of blues rock band and I sing with a low register the other singer is a mid register singer and we are looking for a nice vocal mic which is crisper and more lively than the sm58s we have been using. .What would your picks be? Our budget is around $200-$300, cheers!

    1. If you want to stick with a dynamic mic then a good step up from the SM58 is the Sennheiser e945.

      However, if you’d like to transition to condenser mics then the Shure Beta 87A is a popular one to move to from the SM58 for a more lively and crisper sound.

  30. I really appreciate the effort. Well,I am a professional singer. My styles are mainly R”n”B,Blues and Soul. Although, I do these styles in real gospel. My challenge however is, I find it hard recording with the usual large condenser mics just standing in front of me. I want a handheld studio condenser Mic. I want that lively feeling I do have while on stage when in the studio. I shall be going to the studio soon for recording and I want to go with my own mic. Please, I really need your help and recommendations. Thanks a lot.

    1. Usually you want to avoid holding a microphone in your hands when recording in order to avoid introducing handling noise.

      If you’re absolutely determined to hold a mic while recording then go for the best you can afford that performs like a studio condenser and has low handling noise.

      You didn’t say what your budget was, but if you can afford it then the two best options would likely be the Earthworks SR40V and the DPA d:facto II.

  31. Thank you for this very informative and helpful article. Nice layout and easy to read. I hope you don’t mind me linking your page from a karaoke forum that I frequent. This topic often comes up so I thought your article will resolve some questions.

    1. Thanks AZNguy. Please feel free to mention this on the karaoke forum if it will help the members there.

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