Professional Microphone Guide – 10 Best Professional Microphones

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Updated 2019-06-24

Trying to find a professional microphone for live vocals or recording vocals? Look no further as we round up 10 of the best professional mics for stage and studio

professional microphone

We all have to start somewhere, so when we’re looking for a professional microphone to either record with or sing live, we need to know what options we have. With that in mind, we’ve taken all the confusion out of selecting a microphone and put together a range of different professional microphones that will help you get the best recording at home, in the studio or help you enjoy high quality vocals on stage.

We’ve included a range of industry standard options here and have highlighted how best to use these professional microphones, whether it be for recording vocals, singing live or recording instruments such as guitars, drums, brass etc.

When you’re on the lookout for the best professional microphone – these are your best options.

1. Shure Beta 58A Dynamic Microphone

Shure Beta 58A Dynamic Microphone

The Shure Beta 58A Dynamic Microphone is the industry standard professional microphone for live vocals, building on the immense success of its cheaper (but still just as widely used) brother the Shure SM-58.

Why is it regarded as a professional microphone?

Due to the dynamic super cardioid pattern of the Shure Beta 58A Dynamic Microphone, the mic can handle a lot of high gain before feeding back making it ideal for louder vocals especially in a live scenario. In addition, the increased sensitivity and high frequency response makes it a great option to record acoustic guitars and vocals in the studio as it accurately captures all the subtle nuances you need in a mix.

This is also a hard-wearing professional microphone that has been designed to withstand the rigours of gigs and the life of a travelling musician as the internal shock mount system reduces vibration and mechanical noise whilst the hardened steel mesh grille keeps the capsule safe. If you’re a live vocalist this is a great option and an industry standard.

Best for

  • Live vocals

2. Aston Origin Cardioid Condenser Microphone

Aston Origin Cardioid Condenser Microphone

The Aston Origin Cardioid Condenser Microphone is a highly professional microphone which is quickly becoming another industry standard thanks to its extraordinary levels of sound quality, almost indestructible build design and the fact it’s won numerous awards.

Why is it regarded a professional microphone?

The Aston Origin Cardioid Condenser Microphone was developed in conjunction with top audio professionals and producers to create something that far surpasses anything in its class – and it succeeds with flying colours.

The 1” gold evaporated capsule provides superior off-axis rejection to ensure cleaner signals whether you’re recording vocals, electric guitars or acoustic instruments. However, it’s not just the capsule that makes this one of the best professional microphones, but the innovative construction. The mesh knit pop filter has been custom designed to protect the capsule and remove the need for an additional pop filter. This mesh head can actually be hit or knocked extremely hard (even dropped) and the capsule will be perfectly safe!

The custom moulded end cap with integrated XLR and stand adaptor ensures you can attach it to a regular mic stand and the internal shock absorption is so well designed that you don’t actually need a shock mount!

An indestructible professional microphone for professional level recordings – what’s not to love?!

Best for

  • Studio vocal recording
  • Podcasts
  • Voiceovers

3. Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone

shure sm57

We challenge you to find a studio or live music venue that doesn’t have a Shure SM57 Dynamic Microphone as part of its live recording set up. The Shure SM57 is a professional microphone found all over the world and an industry standard in its own right. If you like music, you’ve heard one of these being used.

Why is it regarded a professional microphone?

The Shure SM57 features a cardioid pickup pattern which means it records whatever you point the microphone at and rejects anything around it, which makes it ideal for recording cranked amplifiers and loud vocals.

This professional microphone is used in studios and on the stages of the world to pickup and record guitar amps, bass amps, brass instruments and drums – especially snares as it can easily handle higher frequency instruments.

Considering Kurt Cobain recorded the vocals on Nevermind with this microphone, you’re in great company if you pick one of these up. Ideal for those who want to record at home or sound engineers who need to be able to rely on decent microphones for live use. An essential addition to any set up.

Best for

  • Studio
  • Live
  • Spoken word

4. Rode NT1-A Condenser Microphone

Rode NT1-A Condenser Microphone Package

Not only is the Rode NT1-A Condenser Microphone a highly professional microphone, it’s also an extremely budget friendly microphone which comes in a complete package with a host of useful accessories. Oh, and it’s actually the best selling of all Rode mics, so you know it’s going to be good.

Why is it regarded a professional microphone?

The Rode NT1-A has an extremely low self-noise level of 5Db, which makes it one of the world’s quietest studio microphones - so no self-noise (hum from the mix etc) makes it into your mix. The large 1” capsule utilises a cardioid polar pattern so it rejects any noise behind the mic for a purer signal when recording. The internal capsule also features shock mounting technology so you’re not getting any vibrations affecting the signal – ideal for those who record at home and in a non-acoustically treated environment.

The cool thing about this professional microphone package is that you get a 20ft XLR microphone cable, studio grade pop shield and protective pouch included – you’re good to go straight out of the box and there’s also a 10-year warranty on top!

Best for

  • Studio

5. Sennheiser E835 Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone

Sennheiser E835 Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone

The Sennheiser E835 Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone is another professional microphone designed for live vocals including singing and spoken word. This makes our list easily as it is another industry standard vocal microphone relied upon by professionals everywhere.

Why is it regarded a professional microphone?

The all metal construction ensures its hardwearing and there’s a superior connection and sound transfer ensuring tight low mids and treble that cuts through the mix nicely. This mic is ideal for singers and speech as it cuts through the mix even if there’s high on-stage levels.

There’s excellent feedback rejection so it’s ideal for on stage use and the hum compensating coil makes it ideal for recording live vocals. The uncomplicated handling is ideal for rehearsal rooms, home recording and functions.

Best for

  • Live vocals
  • Spoken word

6. Sennheiser Mk4 Condenser Microphone

Sennheiser Mk4 Condenser Microphone

The Sennheiser Mk4 Condenser Microphone is a professional level microphone for recording vocals and instruments at a budget friendly price point. At around £250 you get outstanding sound quality, easy handling and pro level recordings every time.

Why is it regarded a professional microphone?

This is a great microphone for recording at home, recording sessions in the rehearsal room and in a professional level studio thanks to the fact it’s built with a 1” true condenser capsule to produce a warm and accurate sound.

A 24 carat gold plated diaphragm ensures superior sound transfer and the low inherent self-noise makes sure you’re not getting any horrible hum when you’re recording.

The Sennheiser Mk4 has also been designed for portable studio applications. The full metal housing protects the inner workings and the capsule has been shock-mounted internally to minimise structure-borne noise and protect the capsule should you accidentally drop the mic.

This particular model has been designed with an XLR connection, but should you want to create podcasts or record straight to your computer or tablet via USB, the Sennheiser Mk4 Digital USB Condenser Studio Microphone is a great option that features a USB connection for ease of use.

Best for

  • Podcasts
  • Studio
  • Broadcasting

 

7. Shure SM7B Dynamic Studio Microphone

Shure SM7B Dynamic Studio Microphone

Next up we have the Shure SM7B Dynamic Studio Microphone which is another industry standard studio microphone designed for a wide range of vocal applications. This professional microphone is ideal for everything from radio broadcasting, TV talkovers, to general studio lead vocal recording. In fact, you’re probably going to find this on most podcast channels and studios all over the world due to its smooth frequency response. It’s a little more expensive, but worth it if you care about high quality audio.

Why is it regarded a professional microphone?

There are many reasons why this mic is so sought after, but one of the main reasons comes down to its ability to deliver a completely noise free signal. It’s also been built with an internal “air suspension” system which provides superb shock isolation and eliminates any mechanical noise – if you knock the mic by accident it wont pick it up.

The included pop filter effectively eliminates any plosive sounds, making it ideal for voiceover work and vocals where breath might be problem.

The classic cardioid polar pattern also provides maximum rejection of off-axis sounds so you’re only picking up the sound source you want.

If you demand the highest quality vocals for voiceover work, narration, broadcasting and singing in the studio – this is a must-have microphone.

Best for

  • Studio
  • Broadcasting
  • Podcasting
  • Voiceover

8. Shure 55SH-II Dynamic Microphone

Shure 55SH-II Dynamic Microphone

The Shure 55SH-II Dynamic Microphone is obviously one of the best-looking microphones ever created, so we had to include it in our best professional microphones blog - but it’s not all about the looks as this iconic microphone is capable of producing pro-level sounds on stage and in the studio.

Why is it regarded a professional microphone?

This dynamic cardioid microphone is designed for those who demand a little more character to their onstage look, of course, but its beautiful frequency response has been specifically tailored for speech, vocals and instrumental music, so you’re all set for studio recording too.

The self-tensioning swivel mount tilts through 45 degrees forward and 80 degrees backward, so you can grab it when you’re on stage and move it around easily, confident in the knowledge it’ll spring back to where you last left it. The shock mounted cartridge minimises any noise that may come through the stand so you get a quiet, professional level recording at all times.

Probably the coolest looking microphone ever made!

If you want something a little different the Shure 55SH-II Dynamic Microphone is also available in black in the form of the Shure 55 BLX DLX, or if you want upgraded performance and a supercardioid polar pattern the Shure Super 55 Deluxe Microphone is also available.

Best for

  • Live vocals
  • Studio vocals

9. TOURTECH VM50 Dynamic Microphone

TOURTECH VM50 Dynamic Microphone

This is one of the best professional microphones for live use especially if you’re on a budget as it clocks in at just £29.99 and makes pro-level sound available to all. In fact, the TOURTECH VM50 Dynamic Microphone completely blows every other live microphone out the water when it comes to price. But don’t let the small price tag fool you – this is a great, hard wearing piece of kit for performers.

Why is it regarded a professional microphone?

The supercardioid pickup pattern rejects noise either side of the microphone and focuses on the sound source, so you’re covered for singing vocals or even spoken word should you need it for public speaking.

The VM50 has also been constructed with a steel mesh grille to keep the capsule safe when you’re on the road or throwing the mic around at those gigs that get a bit rowdy. An internal pop shield reduces the plosive sounds that can sometimes creep into a mix and the metal alloy chassis has been designed to withstand years of use. In addition, the high SPL capabilities with a max 135 dB means you can also use it for recording drums and guitar cabinets - ideal for studio owners.

A very versatile microphone for live use and studio applications that won’t break the bank.

Best for

  • Live vocals
  • Recording guitar cabinets
  • Spoken word

 

10. Shure Beta 87A Condenser Microphone

Shure Beta 87A Condenser Microphone

Last but by no means least we have the Shure Beta 87A Condenser Microphone. This live vocal microphone is one of the more expensive vocal mics around, but the extra investment is entirely worth it should you want high quality live vocals on stage.

Why is it regarded a professional microphone?

The Shure Beta 87A features a super cardioid design for added sensitivity, providing a very smooth frequency response and high-pressure sound level (SPL) so you’re totally fine if you’re the type of singer who likes to really belt it out.

The controlled low-frequency roll off is extremely useful when it comes to spoken word applications as it compensates for the proximity effect and reduces all that horrible boomy sound that come sometimes creep in when you’re close-mic’ing.

The tighter super cardioid pattern is ideal in a live situation as it has a null point at 125 degrees for maximum isolation from other singers and instruments – there’s not going to be any colouration from external sources on this mic!

This is one of the best professional microphones for onstage vocals for the likes of professional musicians, church singers and spoken word applications.

Best for

  • Live vocals
  • Church vocals
  • Spoken word
  • Big band vocals

Shop a full range of professional microphones over at PMT online including a complete selection of studio recording microphones, live vocals microphones and more. Speak to our in-store studio and production experts at your local PMT store about your bespoke microphone needs – we can help you get the sound you need.

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Recording vocals? Read our Best Microphones For Recording Vocals blog by clicking on the image below

Best Microphones for recording vocals

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