(BPT) - Whether you’re a talented amateur or a seasoned pro, any vocalist knows it’s crucial to have a microphone that’s right for you, your singing style and your preferred genre. With so many brands and styles to choose from, selecting the best possible microphone can feel overwhelming. But using the right mic can make a huge difference to your performances, and be the key to producing a great vocal recording. With countless options available — dynamic or condenser, single application or multi-purpose, end or side-address — it’s easy to be confused about the best mic for you and your voice.
Who needs a microphone?
It’s not just singers who can benefit from using a good quality microphone. Whether you're speaking to a large group, honing your skills as a voiceover artist, creating a podcast, vlogging or livestreaming, the microphone you use can enhance or detract from your audio experience — and the experience of your listeners.
Finding — and sharing — your voice
Many of the vocal artists you know and love today, including Jacob Collier, Amber Liu, Claudia Emmanuela and Ric Wilson, have already found their right mic match — and with a little know-how, so can you.
Here are important questions to ask and tips to help you choose the best microphone.
1. Where will you be recording?
It makes a big difference if you’re recording or performing at home, in a studio or a music venue.
- Home studios: It's important to understand the acoustics of the room where you'll record, and then make adjustments as needed — like adding acoustic panels or furnishings like rugs to cut down on too much reverb. You may need to experiment to find the right solutions for the room, and you may not hear all the issues until you actually record. Visit Shure.com for tips like how to sound out the acoustics of your home studio before choosing a good quality microphone. You'll want a microphone that can enhance vocal clarity while screening out background noise for use at home.
- Studio recording: To capture the subtler sounds and higher frequencies during a studio performance, a more sensitive condenser microphone is usually preferred. When you’re recording in a professional studio, every detail counts. When you put your all into every take, you’ll want to use microphones known for their critical fidelity, every time. You will want to invest in the best quality mic to capture pristine sound.
- Live performance: When you’re performing live, look for a stage microphone specifically designed for performance. For this purpose, a dynamic microphone is better for capturing loud, bold audio — and can also cut down on some of the other sounds happening on stage.
2. What’s your vocal style?
Are you known for your soft and nuanced vocal stylings, or are you all about the energy and volume? The genre and style of your vocals, as well as your vocal range and power, matter when it comes to your microphone choice. Are you singing a cappella, accompanying yourself on an instrument, singing with a jazz trio, a 4-piece or an 8-piece band? That all makes a difference, too.
3. What’s your budget and your long-term goals?
Whether money is no object or you’re on a tight budget, consider how you’ll use the mic in future. Are you just starting on a fun new hobby, embarking on a side gig or fulfilling a lifelong professional dream?
“Choosing the right microphone is an important first step for all musicians,” said Paul Crognale, senior manager of Musician and Consumer Audio Marketing at Shure. “We value the investment and hope to ease the worry when selecting professional audio gear. From the beginning, Shure has supported artists at every stage of their journey, providing education and guidance along the way.”
Want to get started? Take the Shure Mic Match Quiz to find the right mic for you.