As this is a beginner’s guide, we will talk about the best microphones for a home studio. It means we’re discussing two mic categories:
- Instrument recording & playing mic;
- Voice recording & singing;
Of course, some of the mics are multipurpose.
Additionally, if you need to look at some prior information about home studios, take a look at our home studio setup guide. The article covers “DAW” (your recording software), the interface, studio monitors, acoustic treatment (soundproofing the room), headphones, microphones, signal processors, mixers, and third-party plugins (additional software).
However, I’m quickly covering how to set up a basic home studio in your room, so I’m leaving out most of the heavier stuff. I’m featuring my recommendations on that section so you can check them and even get them yourself.
Next, there’s a section to understand what you need to know about mics so you can make an informed decision. It also features some of my recommendations.
The microphones I’m picking are good for rehearsal and recording instruments and voice. However, this guide is not only for musicians but also for people looking for a good mic to do their voice work. If you’re a video creator, a streamer, a radio host, or create podcasts, this voice mic guide is for you as well.
Following this guide, you will learn:
- How budget are we talking about?
- Home studio quick setup;
- What yo look for in a microphone?;
- Top 7 voice recording microphones;
- Top 7 instrument recording microphones;
- Final considerations.
How budget are we talking about?
Although we’re talking about a home studio, the options I’ll be listing below all have professional sound and ship for a budget. Better yet, you could see everything you see on this guide on Amazon.
So we are here to search for the perfect mic, as not every mic will do for recording vocals. You should take your time to figure out what your budget is, especially if you’re looking forward to building your studio from scratch.
Our list features price-points with overall great sound, durability, and quality. And, most of all, we’ve narrowed your decision by pinpointing your mic types and what to look for in your microphones.
Listen, the best mic for recording vocals wouldn’t sell for less than a triple-zero cipher. And that’s too much for a home studio. The good news is there’s plenty of amazing gear selling way cheaper.
Thus, we have entry-level and mid-range prices. If a mic is everything you need, it will be easy for you to afford. If you need some of the additional stuff in the section below, manage your budget to get everything you need.
And again, if the mic is everything you need and you’re looking to invest some good money on it, we also have a couple of high-end professional choices for you.
So, we’re giving you both budget and high-end alternatives. It’s up to you.
A single recording mic can sell for entry-level prices.
Lastly, we’re featuring the best brands on our selection, which include Rode, Shure, and Sennheiser.
Home studio quick setup
You don’t need a big budget to start recording from your room. In many cases, you can sample most of the instruments from your recording software, so it means you only truly need a solution to record the voices.
So, if you’re looking to start your audio recording journey, you need these things:
A music production laptop or PC
People hardly ever talk about the computer as a requisite to record music, but the truth is DAW (music recording software) is heavy and demanding.
The computer is the first step. You may already have it, though, but if you’re looking to buy a new one specifically for this task.
First of all, you need to decide the OS you’d like to use to record music. Will it be Mac or PC? The OS depends mostly on the DAW you want to use. For example, Pro Tools and Logic Pro are Apple exclusives.
Then, choosing a good laptop or desktop for music production boils down to the following factors:
- Your main DAW: is it for Mac, for Windows, or both?
- Processing power: go for the fastest processor you can afford. 7th-gen and above Intel Core’s i5, i7, and i9 or their AMD counterparts. You want at least 4 cores on your processor.
- RAM power: you need a minimum of 8GB RAM, and I recommend 16 GB RAM.
- Graphic card? It’s not necessary to have a powerful GPU, albeit some extra VRAM can help. Generally, a 2GB GPU is more than enough for music production.
- Storage: music production requires plenty of storage, so you should aim for at least a 1TB hard drive. Storage drives may be HDD or SSD, whereas the SDD alternative is much faster. Aim for a laptop with two hard drives: one SSD drive for boot (the Windows operating system plus all of the applications); and a secondary 1 TB HDD drive for your storage.
Aim for Windows computers as they are way cheaper than Apple’s ultrabooks.
If you already have a computer, feel free to try out any of the free DAWs (music production software) I list below and feel how it runs. If not, I have various specific music production laptops recommendations for you:
- PRO-CHOICE: The MC Mobile M7 from PCAudio Lab.
PCAudio Lab produces laptops specifically for music production. They have specialized Windows operating systems with drivers designed for music production.
The MC Mobile M7 has an Intel® Core™ i7-9750HQ, up to 64 GB RAM, and space for two hard drives (SSD or HDD).
You can customize this music production laptop, albeit it comes with a cost. If you’re just a beginner, look for consumer laptops. More so, the M7 is the current entry-level, as you can go for the stronger M7s or the M10.
Another professional option you can go for is the Dell XPS 15 line.
- INTERMEDIATE-CHOICE: HP Pavilion Power 15
The HP Pavilion Power 15 is a good laptop with enough screen for your music edits. It has an Intel Core i7-7700HQ, 4GB RAM up to 16GB, a decent GPU, and the possibility of packing both SSD and HDD drives. In particular, the HDD can go as high as 2TB. Additionally, it works with a modest Nvidia GeForce 1050.
It’s a great choice for beginner and intermediate music production. Plus, the Pavilion Power 15 will do great in other tasks right out of the factory, including gaming, photography, and video.
- BEGINNER-CHOICE: Dell Inspiron 15
This Dell Inspiron 15 is about as low as you can go on budget whilst still getting at least 1 TB of storage.
It’s a well-made consumer laptop by one of the current leaders of the computing industry. This Inspiron 15 portable has an i5-7200U, FHD screen, up to 16GB RAM, 1 TB HDD, and a discrete Intel HD Graphics card.
Building your DAW: choose your music production software
DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is an entire recording studio accessible from your laptop, which is why your initial investment can take you a long way in music production.
A DAW is a combination of a music production software, a computer running the software, and an interface or sound card, which converts audio inputs into digital data.
The DAW software is what you can use to translate your ideas into music. The software allows you to record music from many sources, like drums, keyboards, mics, and more. Then, it can export the entire project into a single audio track (MP3 or WAV preferably).
My advice for you is to pick a DAW and stick with it. It’s not about learning how to use all of them, it is about learning a single one and become a God.
Apple’s Logic Pro and Pro Tools are some of the industry’s preferred choices, although they are a bit expensive.
I personally recommend going for Windows computers as they sell for less money while having more power than Apple computers. The truth is there’s no longer a big gap between Apple and Microsoft. On the contrary, Microsoft computer builders – Acer, Dell, Asus – are slowly gaining more notoriety than Apple because they are building incredibly powerful and lasting computers.
However, I believe you should go for DAWs that open up on both Mac and PC because you’ll want to be open for collaboration.
In that regard, take a look at the 3 best 2019 DAWs for Mac and Windows:
And here are the top free 2019 DAWs compatible with both Mac and Windows:
Plus, you can go for :
Your choice should be about how much are you willing to invest; what kind of music are you recording (for example, FL Studio is the top choice for electronic music); and which one seems easier for you to learn (some DAW software are overly complicated and feature plenty of resources you’ll actually never use).
You can build your home studio with a laptop, a DAW software, an interface, and a mic.
Getting an interface
Although computers have a built-in sound card, you need an audio interface to record professional great sound without needing extra plugs, headphones, or monitors.
An interface turns audio signals into digital signals for your computer. These devices connect to the computer and feature outputs to plug microphones or instruments.
The range of interface options is huge, so you have to consider your needs, budget, and music genre. More so, you have to know what kinds of inputs (in and out) you need.
A home studio generally needs a simple interface with two inputs, as you’ll be recording one instrument at a time. These interfaces have a couple of mono signals plus a stereo signal.
For songwriters and bands looking to record bass guitar, electric guitar, acoustic and voice with studio microphones, you’re looking for a pair of balanced mic inputs:
- Unbalanced cables: these have two connectors and two conductors each. TS cables for guitars, as well as RCA cables, are unbalanced. Unbalanced cables suppress noise from outside interference, which is why they are great to connect instruments to their respective amps.
- Balanced cables: a balanced cable has three conductors in the connector and three wires in the cable. The gear uses this extra cable to prevent and cancel noise. Mics use balanced cables, as well as signal processors and amps.
If you’re using a condenser mic, then you would need phantom power to energize the mic. However, you must also consider the possibility of having a stereo input to record an acoustic guitar while singing at the same time: for this case, you would need four balanced inputs.
As for recording instruments like a guitar, bass, or keyboards, you can connect it directly to the interface with an instrument-level input, either a “DI” or a “high-Z” input.
Lastly, external gear like drums, samplers and multi-effect units need line-level inputs and outputs.
If you’re recording instruments and voices, remember it’s important to have some studio headphones to hear yourself as you play and sing, while additionally hear the metronome or the track you’re recording.
- 2 Balanced inputs for mics to record one instrument at a time;
- For balanced stereo inputs to record voice and one instrument at a time;
- High-Z or DI input to record an instrument directly. These are generally called “high-headroom” instrument input as they give you a lot of headroom: you’d be able to record with high gains and volumes without unwanted clipping.
The interface commonly plugs into your PC with a USB connection. Some interfaces also carry a headphone output.
Lastly, you need to consider the audio quality you want, which depends both on the interface and the mic:
- Bit-range: Today’s pro-audio standard is recording at 24-bit, which eliminates almost all noise. A 16-bit recording will leave noise during the quieter parts of your songs.
- Sample rate: sample rates is the quantity of audio information the gear captures every second. For example, a 44,1Hz captures 44,100 audio pictures each second.
Pro-studios work with 48kHz, 96kHz and 192kHz. If you’re going for EP-level releases, a 16-bit/44kHz will do okay; professional projects need at least 24-bit/96kHz quality.
My top recommendation ships with a bundle that already includes a mic (for voice recording), the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen.
Here’s a tutorial video:
Third-party plugins (VST plugins)
Third-party plugins are extra software that will handle everything you would do in a professional studio. These plugins range from guitar amplifiers to effects to professional-graded digital drums and deep-powerful low-end bass beats.
These programs are known as VST (Virtual Studio Technology) and they give many tools to improve your sounds. Some of these are free and take your setup all the way to the professional level.
You can install these plugins into your DAW software to have expanded capabilities. I personally recommend the following plugins:
- Amplitube4 for guitar amps and effects;
- EZDrummer for digital batteries;
- VK-1 Viking Synthesizer for emulating synthesizers;
- Guitar Rig for amp simulation and guitar FX;
- TAL Reverb 4 for reverb effects;
- Piano 1 (a free acoustic digital piano).
Home studio headset, monitors and other essentials
Lastly, you also need to consider monitor speakers to hear the mix. Take a look at our studio budget monitors guide.
Other essentials include the plugs you need, which are regular mic and instrument plugs; plus a stand for your microphone and, possibly, filters and protectors for the mic.
A mic always needs a stand and benefits from a filter.
What to look for in a recording studio microphone?
There’s a lot going on regarding microphones, and we need to learn what each mic type does and how to look for a good mic.
Microphone designs are wide, however, there’s always some keywords in its name that can help you determine which one suits your needs better.
In essence, determining the mic for you is about knowing which instruments you will record, how is space your record in, and what kind of music it is.
First of all, you should look at the mic’s frequency range. The frequency range tells you how deep and how high the mic’ signal can go.
The human earing goes approx. from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, while most mics cover the same spectrum.
If it goes below or above that, it means it can have that much more detail than other alternatives. If it’s less, it’s probably not a good choice.
Microphone pickup patterns
Mics have different pickup patterns, which means how they capture sound around them. This is the most important factor to consider.
- Omnidirectional: these mics have the same sensitivity at all angles.
- Bidirectional: they pick up equal levels of sound at the front and at the rear while doing their best to ignore sound from the sides. They are also known as “figure 8” polar pattern mics.
- Bidirectional: as the name implies, its a pickup pattern capturing sound from the front and the rear.
- Cardioid: it’s the most common mic type. They have plenty of sensitivity at the front, lower sensitivity on the sides, and null sensitivity on the rear. In other words, cardioid pickups capture sound in a directional cone.
- Supercardioid: they have greater sensitivity at the front and are less likely to pick up unwanted sounds in loud environments. Although they don’t pick up sound from the sides, they do have some sensibility at the rear. They are also known as “shotgun microphones.
As a second thing to consider, there’re microphones with handles because they are on-the-go devices, while there are others that don’t allow you to grab it with your hands and require a stand.
Thus, mics might be “condenser” or “dynamic.” The difference between these two is the transducer technology.
Mics interpret sound waves into electrical signals for computers, mixers, speakers, and amplifiers. It’s a transducer technology as it picks sound vibrations with magnets and turns it into an electric sound signal. It’s very similar to how our ears work.
- Dynamic microphones:
Dynamic mics have a plastic membrane that receives sound waves. Underneath the membrane, there’s a wire coil, the “voice coil”, which float over a magnetic field created by a magnet. The vibrating membrane carries the energy of its motion over to the coil, and as the coil moves to the magnetic field, it creates an electrical signal.
Dynamic mics have sturdy construction. They are durable and have plenty of range. They have can have a handle on the construction and do a good job capturing almost any kind of sound. More so, it’s adequate technology to capture loud sounds.
- Condenser microphones:
Condenser mics also have a thin membrane made out of thin metal or metal-coated plastic. There’s a small vacuum between this membrane and an electrically charged backplate, which is known as the condenser or capacitor. Either a battery or “phantom power” charges the back panel.
This design is able to pick up extremely soft and delicate sounds with more precision. However, they can be overloaded with sound, don’t carry handles, and have a commonly delicate construction.
So, for example, condenser mics can’t record extremely loud guitar amps.
Cardioid or super-cardioid condenser mics are a great choice for studio voice recording.
Dynamic vs. condenser mics
Dynamic and condenser mics may have many applications in both studio and live sound. Almost every sound engineer has a complete manifesto on how to use them.
A dynamic mic can move freely and generates stronger electrical signals. While they can record louder sound than condenser mics, the signal tends to lose quality at high volumes and high frequencies and, more so, they also tend to capture more noise.
On the other hand, condenser mics have a lot more precision and sensibility, so they are better capturing higher frequencies and capture attack sounds with more quality than condenser mics.
- Dynamic microphones: loud frequencies, low-end frequencies, mics you can carry around and grab with your hand. It will capture loud music without losing quality, although the sound will clip on higher frequencies. Dynamic mics are usual in live sound scenarios because they can handle the strength of live presentations.
- Condenser mics: precision, voices, acoustic guitar and piano, singing, high-frequency sounds, soft sounds,… If you place a condenser mics at a distance from an amplifier or a heavy rock singer, it can capture the sound with more details. And if you place it near a guitar, it can even capture the sound of the fingers all over the fret, or the sound of the pick strumming the strings. Condenser mics are also common in studios as they deliver precision, and the studio is a controlled environment.
I want you to understand that these differences are almost theoretical at this point. Mic technology has advanced so much that you can interchange condenser and dynamic mics without losing that much sound quality.
Now that we understood the difference between condenser and dynamic mics, let’s see the subcategories.
Large-diaphragm condenser microphones
It’s exactly as it sounds: a large condenser mic. They are the industry standard for vocal recordings, so they should be your first purchase for your home studio. Additionally, they are also great to record an acoustic piano.
Typically, these mics have cardioid pickups and feature the brand logo on the sides. Other times, they are bidirectional and have a switch to toggle front and rear pickups.
An excellent choice of large-diaphragm condenser mic for a home studio is the Rode NT1A.
Small diaphragm condenser microphones
These mics are known as “pencil mics” because of their narrow and cylindrical design. Its small construction makes them a great choice to capture brighter and higher tones.
Again, this one is pretty self-explanatory. These microphones are commonly referred to as “pencil mics” thanks to their long narrow cylindrical shape. The small construction of this microphone makes it perfect for capturing higher and brighter tones. They are typically used to capture cymbals and hi-hats.
My personal recommendation is the Rode M5 MatchedP Pair, which already ships in pairs perfect to create a stereo channel and record the drum’s hi-hat.
These mics pick low-end frequencies made by bass drums and bass amplifiers. These are larger and accommodate lower vibrations better.
I must add: if you want to record a bass by plugging it directly into the interface, I recommend you get yourself a DI Box. A DI box transforms an unbalanced signal (like an instrument or an amplifier’s signal) into a balanced signal. With a DI box, your bass guitar wouldn’t lose any power, quality or detail.
Bass mics are dynamic. My recommendation is the AKG D112, one of the industry standards for recording drums’ kicks.
Ribbon mics are neither dynamic or condenser. They have a different transducer technology: there’s a small ribbon-shaped metal suspended between two magnets. As sound waves reach the ribbon, the magnets on the sides pick the vibrations.
These are the most modern mics and the most efficient capturing high-end frequencies with very low volumes and low residual noise. More so, they are durable and sturdy.
It means they are the best of both worlds and by far the most expensive mic type there is. It allows you to achieve professional audio without worrying too much on different types of mics and delivers top-notch quality in almost every situation you put them: electric guitars, bass, voice, live sound, etc.
And, of course, all of this comes for a price.
Right now, the industry standard for guitar amp recording is the Royer 21. I’m leaving this article below but I’m not going to mention ribbon mics on the list because they are not budget.
Top 6 voice recording microphones
The following mics, although part of our voice recording list, can also serve you other purposes in your home studio, and that includes streaming, radio, podcast, and videos. If your budget is tight, consider going for one that both records voice and instruments, and some of the items below can do that.
Here are the top 5 mics for voice recording you can buy right now.
Overall best: Shure SM7B
The popular Shure SM7B is a dynamic cardioid microphone. Even when condenser mics are usually the best choice for vocals, this particular dynamic mic is worth your time, especially for what it costs.
The SM7B is so popular Michael Jackson used it to record the song “Billie Jean.”, amongst other songs from his recording days.
This mic has been going around since the ’70s, and it continues to be a heavy-hitter and an industry prodigy. The Shure SM7B is one of the best mics for vocals that has ever existed.
Sound and features
It records a wide range of frequencies with a smooth sound. Its input is flat, which means it keeps the sound natural and free of noise. It’s both great for music and voice (speech and singing), and it’s also very common amongst broadcasters, streamers, and video creators.
It has mid-range emphasis controls with a graphic display to control the settings.
More so, it has an improved rejection of electromagnetic hum and shield interference from computer monitors, which is why it’s a great option for your home studio.
The mic has built-in shock isolation and a pop filter to protect it from noise and other distractions. Additionally, it features an air suspension technology that eliminates mechanical noises.
The pop filter protects the mic against heavy breath sounds and enhances the speech during close-up vocals. Furthermore, it ships with the A7WS detachable windscreen that reduces plosive sounds. It gets your close-talk vocals a warmer tone.
It also ships with a captive stand to provide precise movement control.
Alternatively, you can go for the cheaper Shure SM58. Every home studio should have a Shure mic on their collection.
Best value: Rode NT1-A Anniversary Model
The Rode NT1-A is a low budget alternative that still sells with one of the all-time best mic bundles. It’s even an Amazon Choice, and it’s been for years.
The bundle ships with a shock mount, a dust cover, a mic cable, an instructional video, and a pop filter. It would need phantom power to work right out of the box.
This is a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser mic great for recording vocals, but also piano, bass, and guitar. For the investment, you can get an all-around mic selling for a low price.
The Anniversary Model features a new design of the NT classic studio condenser cardioid mic. It has a nickel-plated body, a modern surface mount electronic circuitry, and an overall great value for the money.
The NT1 is the Winner of the Electronic Musician 2004 Editor’s Choice Award as the world’s quietest studio condenser mics. This re-design is even quieter.
Sound and features
It gives a warm sound with little noise and interference and a great dynamic range. Its wide-range frequency is very clean, so it reproduces natural sounds of music and speech.
The noise it picks is only at 5dB, which is barely hearable. Its ultra-low noise it’s because of the circuitry of its surface mount. Even so, it’s able to pick soft noises with a lot of precision.
Lastly, it ships with a 10 year extended warranty. You only need to register on their site.
Alternatively, you can go for the pricier Rode NTK. It’s a tube mic (here’s some guidance about tubular amplification), so it gives your vocal recordings that vintage warmth only tubes can give. It’s a high-end tube mic and probably the best one you can get below the thousand dollar range.
Best tubular mic: Mojave Audio MA-200
The Mojave MA-200 is a large-diaphragm vacuum tube condenser mic with a cardioid pickup pattern. This mic was created at Mojave’s “Royer Labs,” which is responsible for many of the legendary Mojave microphones, preamps, and compressors.
The MA-200 gives a very distinct sound with its high-quality building materials, like military-grade vacuum tubes and Jensen audio transformers.
Mojave offers great value for the investment, and if your budget is on a higher range, you can go for this pro tube mic. As the Rode NTK, it offers the vintage warmth you may be looking for.
Sound and features
This model is highly reviewed as a “secret weapon” because of its rich low end and crisp highs. The Jensen audio transformer upgrades its sound with a super-clean signal path, free of noises, hums, and interferences.
It gives a warm sound enhanced mid and low frequencies of vocals similar to classic condenser microphones.
The mic ships with a professional shock mount, cables, and a switchable power supply.
Best mic for professional applications: Neumann TLM-103
The TLM 103 is one of many great Neumann mics. This particular mic is a large-diaphragm condenser cardioid mic.
Neumann is a special brand. It’s a Germanic mic creator with a great focus on detail. Their products are high-end, luxurious mics with no corners cut. If your budget allows it, the Neumann TLM-103 is, in my opinion, the best pro mic for recording voice there is.
The company continues to improve its mics every year, and they continue re-releasing the products as the years go by.
Currently, the Neumann TLM 103 is a standard for both home recording and the music industry. It’s ideal for professionals and semi-professionals requiring high sound quality on limited budgets.
Sound and features
The sound is smooth and delicate and covers almost all of the frequency range. It captures a very small amount of noise (7dB), much smaller than other large-diaphragm mics out there.
Overall, the TLM mic specializes in low frequencies and great detail. Which is why it is a great choice for strong voices and low-deep signers.
It gives a warm sound enhanced mid and low frequencies of vocals similar to classic condenser microphones.
The mic ships with a professional shock mount, cables, and a switchable power supply. Mostly, rock singers and deep-talkers would want to afford this mic.
Additionally, it’s the best choice for professional applications like studio recording, home recording, broadcast studios, and commercial recording studios.
Best budget options: MXL 770
Don’t get fooled for its low price, though. This mic can fulfill your professional standards with its top-notch price/performance ratio.
The MXL Mics 700 Cardioid Condenser Microphone is a multipurpose mic that’s a great choice for signing, voice work (like streaming, radio, podcast, and videos); as well as acoustic pianos and guitars.
Sound and features
Its secret is a high-quality FTT preamp with a balanced output. It offers a wide dynamic range that preserves low, mid and high-end tones. Overall, it has a balanced low-end response with clarity on the higher end of the frequency range. The frequency response is the common 20 Hz to 20 kHz.
It’s a perfect choice for beginner musicians, streamers, or video creators as the sound coming right out of the box and without breaking your bank.
It’s also a great choice for streamers, podcaster and video creators looking to save some time on their editing process.
It’s a plug and play kind of mic.
Best USB Mic: Blue 1967 Yeti Pro
The Blue Yeti is the all-time favorite USB mic, and an all-time Amazon’s Choice and bestseller. It’s a condenser cardioid mic you can plug to your computer and start recording right away, without needing an interface.
The audio quality comes close to the Shure SM7B, although if you go for the pro version, you’ll get even better quality. Even better, the pro version has both a USB and an XLR connection, which gives you some flexibility.
The Blue Yeti allows 26 bit and 48kHz recordings, although the pro version allows 24 bit/96kHz recordings. In fact, the Blue Yeti Pro is the world’s first USB mic that allows you to record 24-bit/192 kHz sound quality, which is why we can say it’s the best USB mic in the market right now.
Sound and features
The Blue 1967 Yeti Pro is a multipattern condenser USB mic. What’s great about the Yeti Pro is that the condenser has four different pickup patterns you can choose: cardioid, stereo, bidirectional, and omnidirectional. It has a pattern selector on the mic to switch between them quickly.
In particular, the stereo mode uses the left and right channels, so it’s ideal to capture realistic sound images.
It has a cutting-edge converter ship that allows you to plug it into professional studio mixers and preamps.
It also comes with a built-in headphone amplifier for monitoring your sound. It features direct controls for the headphone such as volume, mute, gain, mic gain, and pattern selection.
The frequency response goes from 15 Hz to 22 kHz, which makes it the bigger on the list.
Lastly, because it’s a USB mic, it’s the easiest choice for voice work recordings. And although it’s not as budget as some of the other options, the USB connectivity allows you to bypass the interface.
If you’re unsure as to how to set up a USB mic, here’s a tutorial video showcasing one of the DAW software I listed above.
Top 4 instrument recording microphones
Keep in mind different instruments might need different mics. While acoustic guitar and pianos and even electric guitar amps can go with the same mic, a drum kit needs various mics at the same time, and a bass amp needs a mic that can pick the lower end of the frequency range (just like the drum’s kick).
However, there’re some mics on the list below that are multipurpose. Be sure to read it to know what each mic is best at.
Here are the top 6 mics for instrument recording you can buy right now.
Most versatile: Shure SM57-LC
I know adding another Shure mic feels like cheating. But Shure mics offer a great value for the money, and the SM line has become an all-time classic for every studio.
The Shure SM57 is a dynamic cardioid multipurpose mic. It’s a good choice for recording acoustic guitar, electric guitar amps, vocals, and drums (even the kick).
The Shure SM57 is present in every musical scene. It’s a highly versatile microphone that offers clear recordings while cutting everything you don’t need out of the track.
Personally, what I love about Shure mics is how much quality they offer for the cost. The price-point of the SM57, as all of the other Shures I mentioned in the article, is pretty affordable.
Sound and features
These mics record louder sounds sources such as electric guitar amplifiers and snare drums. More so, the SM57 isolates interfering sound sources and reduces background noise, so it’s also a great option for acoustic guitars because it cuts the sounds you don’t need (like the sound of the fingers over the fretboard or the player’s breath).
It’s one of the best acoustic guitar mics because it picks the sound with great detail. It makes it an ideal choice for people wanting to capture subtle fingerpicking, arpeggios, and other soft sections; but also able to record powerful metal riffs without worrying about the distortion.
Its frequency response is from 40Hz to 20kHz, which is why it’s not a good option for bass guitars, drum kicks, and similar.
Best dynamic mic: Sennheiser MD421 II
The Sennheiser MD421 II is a top choice for dynamic cardioid mics. It’s also a multipurpose alternative as it can have many applications: vocals, toms, percussions, guitar cabinets, acoustic bass guitars, and bass guitar amplifiers.
Sound and features
Mainly, this is a simple instrument mic with virtually no extra special features. It even has a short frequency range: 30Hz to 17kHz. And despite its shortcomings, the sound quality of this Seinheiser mic is hard to beat.
Best for electric and acoustic guitar: AKG C414
The AKG C414 is a widely popular condenser mic considered as one of the all-time best. However, this item is a little expensive, but it’s a great choice if you’re specifically looking for a mic to record your electric guitar (the guitar’s amp) or acoustic guitar.
It’s also a very versatile mic you can use for vocals, bass cabinets, drums, and pianos.
Sound and features
The tone of the AKG series delivers great quality for solo instruments and vocals.
In particular, the AKG C414 has 9 pickup patterns you can choose from. Those include cardioid, omnidirectional, bi-directional, and super-cardioid.
It also has different noise attenuation levels (-6 /-12/-12dB). It allows you to record close-up voices.
Furthermore, it features switchable bass-cut filters that reduce wind noise, stage vibration, and proximity effect.
If you feel like using it on a live-sound scenario, it has an option to disable all controls so you have a trouble-free use.
Best ribbon mic: Royer 121
The Royer 121 is almost universally loved in every musical circle. You could spend hours searching online for a negative review of the 121 and find nothing.
Unfortunately, it’s not cheap, but as we’ve already covered some budget choices, we might as well close our list with a high-end mic that translates its quality on numbers.
The Royer 121 was released in 1998 and has been a flagship mic ever since.
Sound and features
This mic ships with no internal circuity, so it can’t overload or produce distortions. More so, it has an extremely low residual noise, which gives you the ability to record close-up vocals and soft musical sections without getting any nose.
This is a bi-directional ribbon mic that gives warm, realistic tones with flat frequency response.
It has advanced materials that blend modern technology with vintage knowledge. The result is a high-end mic available for the most demanding tasks.
The list of what it can record in the studio includes guitar cabinets, acoustic guitars, drums, close up brass, bass cabinets, and voices.
Lastly, it has a patented ribbon transducer technology which enhances the response of the mic so it can catch tones with more detail and precision.
Thank you for reading this article. I hoped I helped you make an informed decision.
If you have any doubt, feel free to leave your comments down below and I’ll get back to you.
As usual, your choice is all about your preferences and needs. Good luck!