Best STUDIO Vocal Microphone Under $250

Discussion in 'Vocalists' started by Unregistered, Apr 6, 2013.

  1. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Looking for the best bang for the buck vocal microphone under $250 street price for used ones tops. Prefer closer to $200.
    This is all I can afford so please just give recommendations to what I am asking. I won't save up more, I already did so, my original budget was for $100 mic, but I saved up for a $200-250 one.

    I have done some research, but I am still stumped.
    This will be a in-studio microphone only. Will not be taking on gigs.
    Does matter to me if it's a condenser or dynamic. Polar pattern doesn't matter too much either.
    My room is treated, so most mics should be fine.

    I know I should go to my local store and audition them myself, but just seeking recommendations first from experienced users.

    Music genre involves R&B singing and rap. Male vocalist (deeper voice, but not that deep), but would like to be good for female vocals aswell.
    Would also be nice if an acoustic guitar would also sound pretty good through the mic.
  2. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    most gear (mics included) that's at the "affordable" end of the scale will perform in much the same manner, real ok or just fine (take your pick).

    the differences will be nuanced at best. major shifts to high quality come with a hefty price tag. look for something that has a robust build quality and if possible not built in China.

    if i were going to buy just one mic for vocals, i would choose a Shure SM7a or SM7b the a version being more desirable.
  3. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Yeah, I like the SM7, but can't find any under $300, even used, so it's a little out of my price range.
    Right now I am doing research on different mics, but the ones I am currently considering are
    Audio-Technica AT40 series, the at4040 or 4033 for right around $200 in like new condition.
    Shure Beta 87a, can get for $150 right now, otherwise new for around $200.
    Right now I can get a Blue Bluebird for $200, but I think the AT4040 is a bit better.
    Maybe the Rode NT1A, but I hear too many people saying the highs are too harsh so I probably won't get it.

    Otherwise looking at
    Audix OM7 or the likes
    Sennheiser 900 series, 935, 945
    Possibly Shure Beta 58a, but I hear the Beta 87a is worth the extra.

    There are others, but I think they are the most recommended. But I have heard of other ones, just let me know what you recommend.

    If anyone has any links or websites that list the best deals going on online for microphones and studio monitors, let me know.

    Remeber this is for a studio only mic, so please make recommendations based on this purpose.
  4. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Home Page:
    What was the problem with spending your original $100 on an SM58?
  5. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Quebec, Canada
    Home Page:
    Knowing what's the preamp you'll use could help for better suggestions. But at that low budget, the Rode NT1 would seem like a good pick. Rode Microphones NT1-A Condenser Mic Bundle | Musician's Friend

    Shure makes some nice large condenser as well.
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    If you can find a used one, my preference would be an EV RE20.

    EV RE20 Microphone 701001000098 | eBay
  7. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    2x SM58's
  8. McMurphy

    McMurphy Guest

    That 58 will give you as well as the 7 at less than one third the cost. The capsules are virtually identical. The form factor and a couple of features make the difference. When you record vocals you need to engage high pass filtering a.k.a. low-cut off. The 7 has that on a switch. The 58 doesn't, requiring you to do it in software. No big whoop there. And that presence rise always works out great.

    A better sounding version of the SM58 is their Beta-58. It's got an extra octave in the high-end and a higher output level. It sounds a lot more like a condenser microphone but doesn't suffer from the same problems that condenser microphones suffer from.

    For the 58, I would also recommend a nice large SHURE, foam pop filter. This is the other difference between the 7 and the 58. The capsule in the 7 is halfway down that barrel. So you can never get closer than 2 inches to that diaphragm. You can get within 1/4 inch of the diaphragm on a 58. And that's why people think they sound so different. Not lining up the capsules to be the same distance does not make that a valid comparison. The 58 is also a more convenient microphone to use. The 7 as you can see this quite a bit larger which can make it more difficult to place on certain instruments. On the other hand it might make it easier? But for $100 to be able to get a sound as good as the $300 plus SM-7 is a no-brainer.

    You had mentioned the SHURE Beta 87. That's a condenser microphone. It's also quite good. It's also quite different sounding. Not what I would call as universal as the 58 of either variety. Condenser microphones are also not necessarily, on your budget, an improvement over the 58. In fact it can be just the opposite. The 58 rejects a lot of bad acoustic surroundings. Condenser microphones only help to make it all the more worse. It depends upon the environment mostly. Real sound proof treated acoustically designed studios sound nice with condenser microphones to pick up more of the room that sounds nice. When the room sounds like a bedroom, a basement, a garage, you don't necessarily want to accentuate that. Which is where the dynamic microphone comes in and saves the day.

    In fact the 58 and its sibling 57, are the two most used recording microphones in the world. Nothing you can't do with either one of those. You see our President of the United States on 57's with their matching foam pop filters. They could just as easily use 58's but that silver ball is a bit distracting to look at. So they use the 57 with the foam. And even SHURE actually has a dedicated extra foam pop filter made specifically for the 58. You don't have to get that one. Anyone would do.

    As a hip-hop rap guy, you see all the dudes on TV cupping the ball of that microphone in their hand. It couldn't sound worse that way. Don't do that. Put it on a stand and stay a few inches off the microphone. You should always be at least a couple of inches away from the capsule. Without that extra piece of foam on the 58, you have the potential to get too close. And then it sounds like muddy crap. But maybe that's the sound you want to go for like the rest of your colleagues and cohorts? That's what they all do. It's the way they all sound. And they all want to sound as bad as each other so they all hold the microphone the same way which is the wrong way to hold a microphone that is directional like the 58. So if you use it like an actual studio microphone you'll have much success using it. If you hold it and do what the other rappers and hip hop guys do, expect lots of mud all over your subcultures. It won't be nice. You get a better sounding low frequency response when you roll off the low frequency response so that you can hear the low frequency response without the mud.

  9. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    that should tell you something. don't stumble over dollars trying to save pennies.

    if you find a used SM7a for 300 bucks you can use it for years and then sell it for 300 bucks. a 57 /58 will cost 99 bucks and you can sell it on CL for 50 the next day. the Audix OM7 or Sennheiser 900 series, 935, 945 mics are ok /good but they are oddballs. in a year or two they will be stuffed away somewhere and you will on to something new.
    i own plenty of 57's and 58's ..and a SM7a ... world of difference how they sound and the amount of pre amplification they require. if it's the same why do the SM7's need more pre amp?

    SM7B Type Dynamic Frequency Response 50 to 20,000 Hz Polar Pattern Cardioid (unidirectional)
    Output Level Open Circuit Voltage*: -59.0 dB (1.12 mV) *0 dB = 1 volt per Pascal

    SM7B Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

    Type Dynamic

    Frequency Response 50 to 20,000 Hz

    Polar Pattern Cardioid

    Electromagnetic Hum Sensitivity (Typical, Equivalent SPL/milliOersted)
    60 Hz: 11 dB
    500 Hz: 24 dB
    1 kHz: 33 dB

    Impedance 150 ohms for connection to microphone inputs rated at 19 to 300 ohms.

    Output Level (at 1,000 Hz)
    Open Circuit Voltage: – 59.0 dB (1.12 mV)
    0 dB = 1 volt per Pascal

    Switches Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis: Slotted response selector switches.

    Cartridge Shock Mount Internal air-suspension shock and vibration isolator.

    Microphone Connector Three-pin professional audio (XLR) Swivel Assembly
    Integrated, captive nut for ease of attachment to stand, fits 5/8 in.–27 thread.

    Polarity Positive pressure on diaphragm produces positive voltage on pin 2 relative to pin 3.

    SM58 Type Dynamic (moving coil) Frequency Response 50 to 15.000 Hz Polar Pattern Unidirectional (cardioid), rotationally symmetrical about microphone axis, uniform with frequency

    SM58® Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

    Type Dynamic

    Frequency Response 50 to 15,000 Hz

    Polar Pattern Cardioid

    Sensitivity (at 1,000 Hz Open Circuit Voltage) –54.5 dBV/Pa (1.85 mV) 1 Pa = 94 dB SPL


    Rated impedance is 150Ω (300Ω actual) for connection to microphone inputs rated low impedance

    Polarity Positive pressure on diaphragm produces positive voltage on pin 2 with respect to pin 3.

    i've also heard / read people saying that 57's and 58's are the same too .. again i don't think so.

    SM57 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

    Type Dynamic

    Frequency Response 40 to 15,000 Hz

    Polar Pattern Cardioid

    Sensitivity (at 1,000 Hz Open Circuit Voltage) Open Circuit Voltage: -56.0 dBV/Pa* (1.6 mV) *(1 Pa = 94 dB SPL)
    Impedance Rated impedance is 150Ω (310Ω actual) for connection to microphone inputs rated low impedance.

    Polarity Positive pressure on diaphragm produces positive voltage on pin 2 with respect to pin 3.

    as you can see all 3 mics are rated (and perform) differently.
  10. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Don't mean to step on any toes, but this forum is the ONLY forum that keeps on saying the SM57 and SM58 are the best under $100 or $200. Yet when I do any search on any OTHER forum, most competing microphones in it's class are almost always said to be better. Yes, yes, I know the SM57 and SM58 are in pro studios and are really great, durable and versatile, but when comparing in clarity and best sound, other microphones ARE said to be better the these. Not downing the SM57 and 58, but it's funny how most forum members here are stuck on them, yet every other forum with professionals, confidently believe most of the other mics are better.
    I mean come on, I am asking for the best mic I can get and I get recommended here to the SM57 and 58 most of the time, yet every other forum says otherwise. With some research it appears the Beta 57 and 58 are essentialy upgraded from the SM, yet those don't get recommended over the SM57 and 58 here.
    Again, nothing against the SM57 and 58, but it seems (at least to other forums) it is not the best choice for what I am looking for in a mic at the moment.
    Thanks for all the help everyone. I appreciate it, but was hoping for more un-biased answers. Haha.
    Feel free to rant.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    What are all the "OTHER forums" telling you to buy and why? Please share what you have learned so far on other forums, in as much detail as you can?

    Thanks, looking forward to your reply,
  12. McMurphy

    McMurphy Guest

    So what's the big difference between the 7 A/B versus the 57/58? Well they both have output transformers. I would imagine the one in the 7 is a more capable output transformer. Why does the 7 require more gain? Probably because you can't get the diaphragm of the capsule as close to sound sources as you can a 57 or 58? Some folks have even removed the output transformers in their 57/58's and claim they sound better that way albeit a different output level. Otherwise I believe the capsules are really not much different. And does that difference between a passband of 17,000 Hz is not as good as a passband of 20,000 Hz? I think not? And even if you can? Does it really make any difference? If it made a difference, folks would not be using 57's & 58's as much as they do in the premium Studios and you would only find 7's. But you don't find that. You find mostly 57 & 58's and a few 7's. And I've never heard a 58 or 57 I didn't like in comparison to a 7. If I want to impress someone a little bit more? I might use my seven's? However I find that mostly unnecessary. 99% of the people out there are listening to music that doesn't even extend out to 15,000 Hz. Are we talking rock 'n roll or the New York Philharmonic?

    Otherwise just take a SM-7, apart and a 57 and compare the capsules. I mean a Neumann TLM-103 basically has the same front capsule that an 87 has but they sure don't quite sound the same because they're not. One has a transformer and one doesn't. Otherwise there's not much difference in the 103 and the 87 capsule accepted the 87 has 2 back to back. So it's still basically the same element. Isn't one just as good as the other? They both go out to 20,000 Hz. So what's the advantage of one over the other?

    $200 budget already indicates you're not getting an SM-7. Not in your budget. Neither is a Sennheiser 421, Electro-Voice RE-20 in your budget, not even used. So your choice is the SM58 or the slightly slicker sounding Beta-58 for $50 more. Strangely enough, I wouldn't recommend purchasing used Beta-58's but I would SM58's. Primarily because we have recently discovered that neodymium magnets lose their magnetic bite in a much shorter period of time than alnico, ceramic and ferrite magnets. So they're great when they're new. Even stranger, I've had 2 Beta-58's fail on me in the middle of recordings. While I like the sound... I'll never purchase one again. This is the only SHURE microphone/microphones that have ever failed me. Yes there was phantom power on across the board, still though, I've never had a SM-57/58/7/5, ever fail on me including my 1940s, 55 which is still working today LOL. Sounds like crap with that original aluminum diaphragm. Quite different from the 55's day that use the 58 capsule which is what the 55 has today. And then the super 55 which I think is the Beta 58 capsule? But they still call it a 55 even though it's nothing like the 55 that was originally made. And that was the one you saw Elvis use most of the time. The awful original 55 with the aluminum diaphragm. And it sounds aluminum LOL. It doesn't sound like a thin piece of mylar which... LOL... is quite transparent, quite literally and figuratively. Only in Star Trek did they create transparent aluminum to hold whales that it wasn't used for microphones LOL.

    You know everybody does what they see on TV. And if you watch TV you are bound to see plenty of people singing into 58's with their limited 17,000 Hz response sounding absolutely wonderful. And that's not good enough? And so why have people like Bono and Steve Tyler used 58's for their studio vocal microphones for their platinum albums if they were that substandard? If you're over the age of 30 you really don't have to worry about what you're missing beyond 15,000 Hz. That will not make or break your recording. But purchasing that other brand of dynamic microphone that indicates he goes out to 20,000 Hz will not necessarily be any kind of improvement whatsoever. Do I want to record cymbals with 57 or 58's? Not necessarily but sometimes I have when it suited the production. I know I've seen plenty of other guys use 57's on high hats. Sometimes I will put a 57 on really thin high hats? I'll use the AKG C-451 or, SM-81 or, KM-84/86/184 on thick trash can sounding high hats. Sometimes you want the presence. Sometimes you want the high-end.

    So I'm really quite confused as to why this seems to be so amusing or such an issue? It's just a tool. That's all it is. Bandwidth limiting done the right way can be very important and beneficial. It's still high fidelity unless you make it UN-Fidelity because you were too HI? This is all about making recordings isn't it? It's not about reading specifications. I don't make recordings that are monochromatic. Otherwise we would only be using Neumann microphones, exclusively and we're not unless you are recording a Symphony Orchestra. And where I wouldn't want a condenser microphone sound, I would put out a ribbon before I would put out a 58 for instance. In that respect, I've never recorded a Symphony Orchestra or an Opera using any dynamic microphones at all. I prefer ribbons when you want that tone and condensers when you want that air.

    So who in their right minds would ever want to use a passive ribbon microphone, when you know the high-end starts to roll off starting in the upper mid bands? Does go out to 20 kHz but look at how far down they are at 20 kHz. Then you'll find 20 kHz coming out of 57 & 58's where 20 kHz is of course more than 2 DB or more down at 20 kHz, just like a passive ribbon. Yet people still use ribbons don't they? They are certainly not flat out to 20 kHz. Not even close. And we use those when we want that sound where we don't care where 20 kHz is. You can't make a recording by simply reading specifications and accepting that as gospel. It's only a specification for the passband which is based upon ± 2 DB, NAB specification. So they go out to 20 kHz, they're just down more than 2 DB. But it's still there. And great recordings can still be had. I promise I won't tell anyone you're recording only goes out to 17,000 Hz. Especially when I know it goes beyond that.

    So are you guys real engineers or are you magazine engineers? I find specifications both important and unimportant. I know it can deliver a professional product. It's nice to know what its limitations are however. And there really aren't any limitations. Not when you realize that the 57 & 58's are probably the most important microphones ever made. So the ownership and use of those microphones is a complete no-brainer. You can't go wrong. You can go wrong with a lot of other microphones that are better because they're not. If it's the sound you want? Great, no problem. I like the sound of 57, 58, 5, 7, 55's. Altogether sounding, they are all quite consistent in spite of their minor differences. For the small home studio the difference between some of those microphones are not worth the cost you realize what their similar consistency actually is to each other. So please tell me... who has not liked the sound of vocals on 57/58's? I really haven't heard anybody that hasn't sounded good on one of those.

  13. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

    BC, Canada
    Home Page:

    My apologizes as you couldn't have understood my last post. I have to approve each Guest post ( to avoid spammer) which I'm sorry I forgot to approve before you posted your last one, yet I commented on it. I saw it but you didn't until just now. Hope that makes more sense to what my question was pertaining to other forums. ?
  14. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    I came here for some advice/help ;P
    I really do appreciate helpful answers, but it seems most of the people here (nothing against them, but i) are biased or what not and are sooooooo professional, that budget gear is so laughable they ONLY recommend the industry standards like SM57 and SM58, when EVERY single other forum with pros, CAN recommend so many others OVER the SM57 and SM58. Nothing personal, just what truly seems to be going on this forum. No problem, I can sign up for other forums for help, just used this one because of no required sign up (rather not have to create accounts on every forum). Just mentioning so maybe those providing help, can improve their help? No hard feelings.
    Thanks for the help everyone.
  15. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Well-Known Member

    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
  16. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    well i didn't recommend a SM57 or 58 and i put up links to several places you could find mics on the cheap. i just didn't try to sell you a bag of goods by telling you you could get Ferrarri performance out of a mic that is priced like a Chevy Vega and i didn't do that because i know that's not possible. there are a myriad of reasons for this and if you want we will go into that but it's not really germane to the matter in question.

    we disagree to the differences between a SM7 and a SM58 but Mac is correct when he says a 58 will be as good or better than that MXL piece of crap or any other cheeso mic. most of us around here like to recommend stuff that we know will stand the test of time and take the abuse of use and a 58 will pound nails and still function. i have seen 58's that were 30 years old that still worked up to spec.. i don't think you will be able to say that about some MXL or Behringer, Superlux, Studio Projects, Marshall 30 years from now.

    the thing that is really silly about the question is all those mics are made by the same manufacturer. so really the question is moot or as i said initially, they all perform equally as well ( or poorly depending on how you look at it).

    for the most part, you will not get a decent LD capacitor mic for under 200 bucks .. you might try a KEL HM1 which i quite like but is a medium diaphragm mic or another one i am very fond of is the ATM 4033 (same thing though medium diaphragm) although you will have to find them used as they are "out of print".

    if you insist on a cheap Indochinese piece, your best bet is to get one used off of the CraigsList. i see tons of them there all the time ... lots of folks who have bought them only to find that a simple 57 or 58 actually sounds better because someone "at another forum" recommended them.

    a lot of what Re ... i mean Mac said in the last post regarding band with limiting and mic selection is correct ... i just don't agree that a 58 sounds as good as a SM7 ...
  17. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    Asking for the best $200 vocal mic for a professional studio use application is about like asking for the best $200 chainsaw that will be used in a commercial logging operation.

    You can probably find a $200 chainsaw that will do some work... and possibly a lot of it... but it's just not much of a budget to get you a tool that's going to do everything you want. But fortunately, in terms of microphones... there are a couple of choices that WILL do the job well enough to meet your budget and criteria.

    Anyone who says that the 57's and 58's aren't good enough for professional work, are neither very experienced, nor very professional.

    Isn't it odd that 58's are still used, and have been for decades, for live work on every major sound stage, venue and touring act? And have been used on countless albums as well.

    Are there better mic's?? Sure... but if you're anonymously asking about a cheap mic solution, my guess is that you probably don't want to commit to being here, aren't experienced enough to be familiar with professional gear, or you have some reason to avoid revealing who you are... and from your portrayed reasoning... you obviously don't realize that a lot of the folks here are involved in most of the other professional forums.

    If you're willing to dig a bit for information, which is doesn't appear that you're at that stage of your knowledge, you'll find a boatload of mic's out there that are fine... but most won't be in that sub $400 range unless you're looking at used... which is why you'll find that here at RO, you got the majority of us mentioned the venerable industry workhorse... as you can buy a good NEW mic in your price range.

    Few people have the time to go digging through the myriad of mediocre mic's on the used market for you... and in all honesty... there just aren't that many new mic's that I'd recommend you piss yor money away on buying in the price range you mention. Mainly because in this day and age, the majority of the el' cheapo-mic du-jur's just don't have consistent quality in their manufacturing to ensure that you can pick up any of them without a risk of buying a piece of junk as much as your getting something decent.

    It's your money... do what you want... and no hard feelings.
  18. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    Your price range isn't a pro price range. Unless you can stumble upon a used RE20 or something, ( and I did give you a link to one I found on ebay) then you're gonna have to accept that the models we gave you were the best in that price class you mentioned.

    You also mentioned that you didn't want us to "talk you up" into a higher price range, "that it took you forever" to save up the $200 you have now.

    Accordingly, your choices will be very limited. Not only do the 57's and 58's mentioned and suggested fit the category of best bang for the money, they are great mics, universal in application, widely used in studios worldwide. Frankly, you're better off buying one of these tried and true dynamics than you are buying a cheap Chinese condenser knock off. Yeah, okay, so those cheap knock off's may look like more expensive condenser mics, but trust me, they don't sound like them... not by a long shot.

    I for one really don't know what you are expecting to get for $200/$250. There is simply no quality LD condenser I can think of that is in that price range. You've been given advice by professionals here that know what they are doing and what they are talking about. But, it's your money... do with it what you feel is best.

  19. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    This is NOT the only site that raves about the 57/58. If you go to "Transom", a radio documentary production site, they've got a great mic shoot-out that found the SM57 worked better on more voices than a Neumann U87ai. Among MANY mic models, including Sennheisers, E-V's , AKG's, etc. And many other sites. Sure, there are "sleepers", and many obscure models that have their niches. But as a general vocal-performance mic...few others are as dependable and consistent in their performance.
    BTW, the Audix OM-7 is a great mic - if you are a screamer in a metal band - but not for much other than that. But that's what is was designed for in the first place. Picture you standing with that mic in front of a wall of Marshall JCM900s...that's the OM-7.
  20. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

    77 Sunset Lane.
    ok i will. thanks!

    i don't think anyone here is biased for or against the shure mics .. but ....

    i do think you may be on a fishing trip with an agenda to get people to recommend a particular mic .. waiting for a nibble that never happened. now you're frustrated and lashing out because you didn't get the response you were hoping for.

    so tell us ... which mic were you thinking about for under $200? we all would really like to know what you're thinking of. please, enlighten us.
    Josh Conley likes this.

Share This Page