We try and find the best mic for guitar amp recording looking at options from the likes of Aston mics, Shure, sE Electronics and more so you can get the best sound possible. These are our top 8 best guitar amp microphone options for all budgets
When you need a mic to record electric guitars or more specifically a guitar amp microphone or guitar cab mic (as they're sometimes referred to) that’ll give you an accurate representation of your guitar sound, you need to get hold of the best mic for guitar amp recording possible. There are hundreds upon hundreds of microphones out there that would qualify as a contender for the best guitar amp microphone, but there are a few stand out options that are relied upon by everyone from home recording enthusiasts to stage managers along with producers and live engineers alike. Here’s our 8 best options that could easily take the leading spot when looking for the best mic for guitar amp recording.
1. SHURE SM57
When you’re searching for the best guitar amp microphone, whether you read any other blogs or speak to a producer or sound engineer, the Shure SM57 will always be on the top of their list.
This is an industry standard mic and easily a contender for the best microphone for recording guitar of all time thanks, in part, to the fact it can handle loud cabinets due to the massive SPL maximum of 149dB. This capability of handling extremely loud volumes has seen the Shure Sm57 become a mainstay in world class studios all over the world and is also often relied upon as a vocal mic for those who really push the mic to the limit. In fact, Kurt Cobain’s vocals for ‘Nevermind’ along with his guitars were recorded using one of these, so you’re in good hands.
The Shure SM57 is a dynamic mic, so it rejects anything off axis, ensuring you get a pure and unaltered sound directly from your amplifier into microphone and nothing you don’t want. Best of all, the Shure SM57 makes a great guitar amp microphone for all budgets as it’s very affordable and way under £100.
An industry standard guitar amp microphone that’s under £100 – what’s not to like?
2. ASTON STARLIGHT CONDENSER MICROPHONE
The Aston Starlight is one of the newer microphones in our list but is quickly becoming one of the industry standard guitar amp microphones thanks to its 3 built-in voices and 20mm cardioid capsule. The Aston Starlight has been equipped with Vintage, Modern and Hybrid settings, making it one of the best guitar amp microphones for those who want to be able to capture the sound of their guitar with a variety of different flavours.
f you prefer a vintage sound to your microphones, simply hit the Vintage voicing for a classic response – you know where we’re going with this. Again, if you want the option of a more modern sound or you want the best of both worlds, flick between the Modern or Hybrid settings and enjoy 3 distinctly different voices. Two of the other major features that make this microphone stand out from the crowd of guitar amp mics come in the form of the class 2 laser and the sintered metalhead.
The class 2 laser which can be activated via switch on the side of the microphone shows you exactly where you’re pointing, so you can mark amplifiers with a piece of chalk and be able to point the mic back in the exact same position later on – ideal for live and studio engineers.
The sintered metal head (a first for microphones) tunes the acoustic space around the capsule and protects it, providing near-perfect acoustic response as well as an almost perfectly linear off-axis response. A new industry standard guitar amp microphone.
3. SENNHEISER MK4 DIGITAL USB CONDENSER STUDIO MICROPHONE
Next up we have one of the best USB microphones for recording guitar cabinets, and an essential guitar amp microphone if you’re serious about getting the best sound possible for vocals, acoustic guitars and of course, electric guitar amp cabinets without an audio interface.
You don't need an audio interface as the built-in Analogue-to-Digital conversion in the enclosure, provides 24-bit / 96kHz conversion which rivals any existing audio interface units out there. The 140 dB SPL makes it one of the best microphones for amplifiers as it can handle anything you throw at it.
However, the 20 Hz - 20 kHz frequency response ensure the nuances of your playing and quality of your amplifier are kept intact.
4. ASTON SPIRIT MULTI-PATTERN CONDENSER MICROPHONE
The Aston Spirit is an award-winning studio grade condenser microphone, with 3 switchable patterns; Omni, Cardioid and Figure-of-Eight and a 1" gold evaporated capsule for superior sound quality.
We’ve discussed the Aston mic range in detail over in our blog and they’re always in our best vocal mic rundowns too, but this versatile microphone is geared for loud amps and one of the best guitar amp microphones available today. The cardioid pattern can be selected so you get a direct and uninhibited signal whilst the -20dB/-10dB/0dB attenuation pad allows you to drop the volume so you can reduce the possibility of a distorted sound which is unlikely as you have a maximum SPL for THD 0.5%: 138dB. The beautifully open and natural sound ensures everything you capture has life to it, providing an accurate and extremely pleasant sound throughout your recording.
Best of all you can place the mic in a room, activate the Omni setting and enjoy the sound you hear when you’re standing playing guitar across the room in a recording. Just like every microphone in the Aston range, the Aston Spirit is almost indestructible featuring a tumbled chassis with integrated XLR input and mic stand adapter as well as an integrated mesh-knit pop filter which is built into the wave-form head so you can use it to record vocals too.
This is definitely one of the best mics for guitar amp recording and a studio essential if you want to be able to record a bunch of different instruments and utilise different polar patterns.
5. SE ELECTRONICS X1A CONDENSER MICROPHONE
The sE Electronics X1A Condenser Microphone is an extremely budget-friendly, yet highly professional microphone which makes an ideal guitar amp microphone. The SE Electronics X1A is one of the best mics for guitar amps as it has a max SPL of 130 / 150 dB.
The -20 pad allows you to drop the SPL should you have a particularly loud amp to mic up. However, the switchable 100 Hz, 6 dB/oct low cut filter and frequency range of 20 Hz - 20 kHz ensures all the subtle nuances of your playing is represented.
This can handle the massive Marshall cabs or the smaller practice amps, providing the same audio quality at all times making it ideal for home studio and live use. This makes our best guitar amp microphone blog with flying colours as it’s budget-friendly, built like a tank thanks to the all metal construction and offers superb control over your sound.
6. SE ELECTRONICS SE4 CONDENSER MICROPHONE
The SE Electronics sE4 replaces the industry standard sE3 microphone and has been redesigned to accept 2 additional interchangeable capsules; a Hyper-cardioid and an Omni allowing you to use the microphone in a variety of different environments.
The Hypercardioid and Omni capsules are available as a separate purchase, but you get the condenser capsule as standard. This is definitely a contender for best mic for guitar amp recording thanks to its maximum SPL of 135dB and the attenuator pad switch which allows you to drop the volume by 10dB.
This makes it extremely useful in situations where you’re recording very loud guitars and really trying to capture the heavy, distorted sounds of metal guitar riffs. The 20Hz-20KHz frequency response also makes it a great option for recording vocals and other acoustic instruments such as brass, acoustic guitars and wind instruments too, as it’ll capture all the subtle nuances of the instrument the mic is pointed at.
At under £170, it’s a perfect option for home studio owners and the fact it’s built in a strong steel chassis makes it a great option for travelling musicians and those with portable studios. Lots of sensitivity, high SPL and the ability to change out the capsule makes it a formidable studio addition.
7. RODE NT-USB CONDENSER MICROPHONE
The Rode NT-USB Condenser Microphone is ideal for those with portable studios and an extremely budget friendly way of recording your electric guitars in high quality.
If you don’t have an audio interface, there’s no problem as this is a USB microphone designed to plug directly into your USB port and provide all the control you need over your sound directly on the microphone. You have controls for headphone output with zero latency monitoring as well as a mix control built in to the microphone so you can tailor the sound to exactly how you need to hear it when recording.
Just plug in to your computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone and you’re good to go! It works with all major DAWs and with a simple USB connector you can hook it up to your Apple iPad. The maximum SPL of 110dB makes it a great option for those who won’t be driving their amp extremely hard, so we wouldn’t recommend it for bigger full-size heavy metal stacks as it’s more geared to clean and slightly distorted sounds from combo amps.
However, you can still push your amp and enjoy the top quality, professional sound that RODE is so renowned for. It’s plug-and-play recording at its best and a highly versatile guitar cab mic. If you need a new guitar amp microphone or want to see a large range of the best guitar cab mics available, shop a full selection over at PMT online or call in to your local PMT store to speak to our studio and production experts. We can help you find the best mic for guitar amp recording to suit your budget and your bespoke recording needs.