Best Vocal Microphone Under $120

Discussion in 'Vocals' started by New Guy, Feb 20, 2013.

  1. New Guy

    New Guy Guest

    I will be singing (R&B, Reggae, even doing acoustics) and rapping (Hip Hop and Rap). Not exactly sure what you would consider my voice to be like, but I assume, deep/low when rapping and higher when singing. I'm just starting out so hopefully you guys can give me some advice on what mic I should get for my vocal work. I do also plan to record some of my ukulele and acoustic guitar playing, so would be nice if the mic was good at recording those aswell.
    And thanks to the guys answering on my last thread. I got the Focusrite Scarlette 2i2 audio interface.

    I know there are other factors to a good sounding recording, but based on the info. I have given, what would be your recommendations for Dynamic and/or Condenser mics that would suit me best.

    People suggest the Shure SM57 and SM58. They are great, but upon research and comparisons I have heard on youtube, I think there are others out there in the same price range that can do better for vocals.
    For example, I prefered the sound from a AKG D5 over them. Again, I am new, so it might not be as good for my particualr voice/style. I do not know.
    So I know the Shure SM57 and SM58 are the AK's of microphones, and I would most likely own one in the future, but for now, best sound quality is what I am after.

    The microphone would almost exclusively only be used in my small home recording. I won't be moving it around much and won't be taking to gigs or anything.

    I am hoping to get the best, clearest good sound recording I can get from a under $120 (each) microphone, new or used.
    I have looked up some, but the mics talked about are years old and there may be newer and better mics out (not saying the old ones are not good).

    I sort of prefer a more natural/flat sound so most people's listening experience would sound the same. (Is that correct? Or is a flat sound just not having bumps/character?)

    Well, anyways, I would appreciate it, if you could make a list of your top 3 or 4 (for my needs) under $120.

    Appreciate the help guys.
  2. New Guy

    New Guy Guest

    I have seen a used Shure SM27 for only $120.
    Can get new AKG D5 for $80.
    Can get Shure SM57 and SM58 new for $80 or used for $50.

    So far, out of these the AKG seems great for me, although if the SM27 (cost $300 new) is a lot better than the rest, it might be a deal I shouldn't pass up.

    Still list your recommendations. Keep in mind the mic is just for studio recording vocals (small recording area with proper acoustic treatment), not live gigs.

    Also seen, AT2035 condenser mic for $110 new
    and Sennheiser e835 for $80 new, $65 used.

    Just listing some I have come across. I know there are tons of great ones I haven't heard of.

    If you didn't know. Only using XLR microphones. Preamps are built in on my Focusrite 2i2. Has phantom power.

    Also there is a Studio Projects B1 cardioid condenser mic for $75. Sounded good on a youtube vid, but was already mixed with effects and beat.
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    If it were me? For the money you want to spend? I'd go with an SM58. Tried and true. Proven.

    I have no experience with the lower dollar condenser mics you mentioned. My own condensers are more of the Neumann and AKG variety... but you can be sure that I still have several 57's and 58's in my mic locker.

    which ones? And fwiw, I'm not sure I'd base sound quality on anything I heard on youtube. Too many variables.

    A large factor in choosing a mic for your own use is the sound of your voice. There is no real "one mic fits all" microphone. Sure, you can spend a lot more and in doing so, hedge your bets and get a mic that will pretty much sound good on virtually anything, but in my opinion, especially for the limited money you have available, the leader of that particular category would be the Shure 57/58.

    You can walk into any lower-level studio and find them, walk into any mid-level studio and find them, but you can also walk into any million dollar studio and find them there as well.

    57's and 58's are an industry standard microphone - and have been for years - for a reason.... rugged, good sound, able to use them in almost any miking application you can think of...vocals, guitar amps, drums,(kick, snare, toms) horns... And you don't need a second mortgage to get one. I can't think of another mic for a hundred bucks that performs as well. And in my opinion, I think that in many cases they sound better and out-perform other mics that cost twice and even 3 and 4 times as much.

    Your best bet is to try these mics on your own voice. Do you have the ability to go to a local music retailer and A/B these different models? That would be your best tell-all situation. If you do, make sure you hear all the different models through the same PA system, no effects, no processing. Listen to each unprocessed, as dry as dust. In doing so, You may find that, for whatever reason, that the SM27 sounds better, or the AT2035.

    But, if I had to make a blind (deaf) choice, and didn't have the ability to try the variety you mentioned before choosing, I'd go with a 57 or 58.

    Make sure you buy from a reputable dealer. There are a lot of counterfeit 58's floating around out there right now.

    Accordingly, here's some info that might be useful: : How to Spot a Fake Shure Microphone - How to tell if your SM57 or SM58 is fake

  4. Blue Bear Sound

    Blue Bear Sound Active Member

    Feb 15, 2001
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    Home Page:
    Totally agree with Donny.... at that price point, get a 57 or 58...
  5. New Guy

    New Guy Guest

    I know the SM57 and SM58 are very durable and sound good. The youtube videos I have heard of test between various mics, to me others do sound better. The 57 and 58 sounded much mroe bass heavy and muddier than the other compared mics. I know even professional studios have the 57 and 58's, but I think it's more to do with durability and cheapness, plus versatility, not so much for the sound quality compared to others. Even doing research tons of others think there are many better sounding mics in the same price range as the 57 and 58. I most likely will get a 57 or 58, but right now on a tight budget, a clearer nicer sound from another mic is more of what I would like to have at the moment starting out. I can always sell the mic when I upgrade later. But if you still insist on the 57 and 58, I do understand why. Can't really go wrong on them. After all Michael Jackson did use a SM57 for his song Billie Jean. Still a toss up for me. Probably will get a 58 or 57 and put the extra saved money on other gear.
  6. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Well-Known Member

    Mar 20, 2008
    currently Billings
    You would be dead wrong. And the better the preamp, the better an SM58 sounds.

    Cheap condenser microphones are utter garbage. A mod'd chinese condenser will run you $350 plus which is still outside your stated budget. You couldn't give me a condenser microphone for vocals that cost less than $100 because they are garbage. Here is the deal, for vocals you are not even going to use the entire spectrum of a condenser microphone. You are most likely going to high pass and low pass the track which puts you right in the sweet spot of a 58.

    You do what you want but you've been given professional advice by folks that have either owned their own studios or worked in high end studios.
  7. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2005
    Compared to the overly bright D5 and the cheap condensers, the 58 can sound dull. Not to mention that you have no idea as to how the audio was truly processed for that Youtube video or who was really behind it. Many so-called "reviews" on internet retail sites are no more than a sales rep's posting...who can you really believe these days?
    I can tell you from personal experience that the Shure SM27 is a decent mic for live sound reinforcement for pianos and brass, but for rapping - it is a horrible mic. There is a reason there are so many counterfeit Shure SM57's/58's on the market. That mic is really hard to beat, even at twice its' insanely low price.
    BTW, I believe that "Billy Jean" was sung into a Shure SM7b (an upscale off-shoot of the 57)...
  8. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Well-Known Member

    Nov 25, 2012
    Akron/Cleveland, OH
    Home Page:
    uhm... no.

    Studios use them because they sound great... not just great for the price, but great period.

    Plug a 58 into a nice pre amp and I guarantee you it'll blow a cheap condenser off the map.

    There's this prevailing myth, especially with new, entry level engineers, that any condenser is better than a dynamic, and, well, it just ain't so. And anyone telling you that is probably trying to sell you one of those cheap condensers.

    Yes, of course, high end studios will have condensers in their cabinets; U87's, 414's, etc. etc...but those models are very nice... and high dollar - and not your average mail order $250 model from Musician's Friend.
    Those mics listed above are way out of your price range anyway, so comparing them with a dynamic like a 57 or 58 in your situation is pointless.

    You can do what you feel is best, but you'd be better off not buying anything and saving up for something like a 414 - as opposed to buying one of the cheap condensers, which, IMO, is pretty much just throwing $250 out the window.

    Models please? I'd like to know which mics you found that sound better in the same price class. And if this is so, then why are you saying you'll most likely get a 57 or a 58?

  9. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Hello LOL. Here's the cool thing about the 57 & 58. Everybody has a secret how they get their fabulous sound. And the biggest joke amongst engineers, in the know is that blasted stupid cheap microphone. We get to laugh our butts off because they truly deliver. Now it was just said to you by another engineer, who I hold in high esteem. He's only trying to lead you down the right road. Same thing I would recommend.

    Now these " better sounding " microphones are deceptive. In that you are hearing some kind of highly exaggerated and tailored response curve to make it brighter and crispier. They'll try to compete with the 57 & 58. Now there are those that are quite nice. But those better sounding microphones MMM MMM? No. That ain't good. And that's why you don't see them on television every night. Every night. There's a reason why it's every night. There is a reason for that and we use them because most of the time they are just so right. If you want a more condenser like sound opt for another 50 bucks and get the Beta 57 or 58. Now you're wondering which one to get a 57 or a 58? Which is the better microphone? It's like asking Yogi Berra the directions to his place. When you see a fork in the road? Take it. It's the same microphone. And like boys and girls one has a ball and one doesn't. And generally with their clothes off there is no visible difference. Which is different for girls and boys. But not regarding those microphones. You get a 57 and when you use it on vocals, you put an extra foam pop filter on it. Ball too big on the 58 to put on that snare drum? Unscrew the ball and you will have a 57. Of course the microphone is more prone to damage from a drumstick that way than the actual 57 would be. It has a little extra plastic bumper guards on it to try and withstand a strike from a wayward drumstick. And you can use these things for 40 years and they'll keep working. Nothing today is made to last except those. They haven't changed the recipe since the early 1970s much at all. And back when all of those fabulous rock 'n roll hits were cut, nobody had the choices we have today. That's the microphone the guy used most often. And here it is more than 40 years later and it's still the microphone were used most often and it's such a deal! And it's not only one of the microphones that has held its value, over its 40 years it's gone up in price about 50%. Over 40 years. Not quite like the gas stations. Yet we know the cost of manufacturing should have brought forth a skyrocketing in the price of that microphone. But they know what they have to offer and so do we. They make a number of other microphones and one that is quite popular that costs like over $325 today and that's the SM 7. But the actual element that picks up the sound really isn't any different from the 57 & 58 and the previous 56 also the 5. All basically from the same capsule. It's the physical design of the microphone used for different applications and which puts you at different distances from the actual diaphragm that really makes up the biggest differences in this sounds between the different models they make. That's why this microphone is so amazing.

    The entire formula doesn't quite work the same way the other way around. For instance if you plug that $200 Chinese condenser microphone into the 3 1/2 dollar IC chip microphone preamp, it will likely sound like you are crunching up a bag of potato chips without opening up the bag first. Plug that same $200 Chinese condenser microphone into one of those 600-$1200 microphone preamps and it might sound like a $200 Chinese condenser microphone plugged into a very nice preamp. It won't sound nearly as good as a 58 plugged into that same preamp.

    Now one of the things you were told is that the better the preamp you plugged this $100 microphone into, the even better it gets. This is where there is something of an inverse law in audio. I still have recordings I can play for you that sound great. Lousy equipment. Late 1980s and the microphone preamps were a single chip costing three and half dollars. Those 57 & 58's sounded great on those. Like the $3000 German microphones do. But when you plug that $100 microphone into a 600-$1200 or more preamp, sounds as good as any $3000 microphone. Do the math LOL it's that special secret that we have and now you know. Or ya can be like any other dumb kid? You might just have to find out for yourself? I mean how else are you supposed to find out?

    You get to play with the adults now
    Mx. Remy Ann David

    I'm a 57-year-old 25-year-old.
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