Best Microphone For Recording Music 2023; Reviews

Here in this article “Best Microphone For Recording Music” we’ve rounded up 14 top mics for recording guitar amps, drum bass, vocals and other instruments of various types, specifications, and budget. Below, you’ll find in-depth reviews of each, as well as an elaborate buying guide to pick out your favorite.

A good microphone for recording music is always one of the top priorities in every studio. Investing in a good vocal or microphone for instruments gives you great raw tracks for mixing and makes your overall mixes better as a result. 

Artists also perform better when they sound good while monitoring. Whether you’re just starting out and want a great guitar or drum mic as a centerpiece of your project studio or want a great performing piece of equipment to augment your mic cabinet, we’ve got your covered with our selections for the best microphones for recording music.

With so many options to choose from, we thought we’d make your buying decision a little easier by sharing our list of best microphones for recording  music. From dynamic mics to budget condenser mics, there’s something here for everyone.

Prices pulled from the Amazon Product Advertising API on:

Best Microphone For Recording Music At Home

Rode NT2A 

The NT2-A Studio Solution Package from RODE includes the NT2-A multi-pattern condenser microphone, the SM6 shock mount and pop filter, a 10′ XLR cable, and a dust cover.

The rode NT2A is a professional, large diaphragm, 1″ inch capsule studio microphone, renowned for its reliability, affordability and high-quality sound. 

The NT2A is a studio-grade condenser microphone manufactured by Rode. It operates with a pressure gradient transducer, which means it has an inner membrane, responsive to the pressure differential (gradient) from both sides of the microphone (front and back).

The NT2A has three-position pick-up patterns which can be switched between via a toggle-switch, located at the top of the microphone’s interface. 

This switch allows the microphone to change between a cardioid, figure 8 and omnidirectional pickup pattern, making it incredibly versatile no matter where the sound source is located.

The microphone also has a 3-position HPF (High Pass Filter), which allows users to select between Flat (no filtering), 40Hz (removing unwanted frequencies below 40Hz) and 80Hz (removing unwanted frequencies below 80Hz).

The NT2A manages a spectacular 147dB maximum SPL without the pads switched in, and up to 157dB with the 10dB pad in.

The sound of NT2A is very neutral, with a smooth tonal balance right across the spectrum. In cardioid mode it sounds detailed at the top end without being harsh, and the lower end of the vocal range comes over as solid and well-focused with the required degree of depth and authority. 

Clearly the broad, subtle presence peak helps bring out the detail without allowing the sound to become aggressive, but the use of the sweet-sounding K2 capsule must also contribute a lot to the sound of this mic

There’s likely no audio source the NT2-A can’t handle. That’s a general truism for most flat mics since, if frequency reproduction is faithful and detailed across most of the audible spectrum, then you’re going to get a signal that represents your source accurately.

The extremely low noise floor of this mic means that quiet signals remain usable. With some boosting after recording, these passages aren’t likely to fade into electronic hiss, but you’ll also need a quiet recording space, since the NT2-A is sensitive.

Pros:
  • Multiple polar patterns
  • Very easy to use and setup
  • Extremely clear and detailed audio
  • Well built, rugged design
Cons:
  • Microphone might be a bit heavy

Best For Music Vocals

Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B is a legendary high-end dynamic microphone, often used on radio stations, for podcasting, voiceovers and studio recording as well. 

Many people believe that to get the best sound it is somewhat mandatory to use only the expensive condensers like Neumann and similar. 

This microphone can easily prove them wrong. Three times cheaper than TLM 103 and 8 times cheaper than U37, it is capable of producing just as good, and in some occasions, even better results! 

Having its own pros and cons, it resurrects the old topic of dynamics vs condensers, but in a nutshell, the sound quality of SM7B is exceptional.

This is the same microphone that the “King Of Pop” himself, Michael Jackson, used on his most successful album of all time to date, “Thriller”. This is one of the best microphones, if not the best to use for vocals in its price range.

It’s an incredibly versatile microphone, with its wide, flat frequency response, and cardioid polar pattern, it’s perfect to be used in recording setups for recording vocals, instruments and even micing up amplifiers, where off-axis sound rejection is required to gain clarity in a recording take.

Also, with the addition of it’s bass roll-off and mid-range emphasis (presence boost) controls, it’s also been widely used in streaming, broadcasting, podcasting and video commentary, as it really provides a lovely rich, clean tone.

This is undoubtedly one of the best microphone for recording music and vocals.

The microphone itself has a cardioid polar pattern, but with the assistance of the bass roll off and mid-range boost controls, the polar pattern changes accordingly, it has good frequency responsiveness.

The pre-installed pop filter effectively eliminates plosives and fricatives, meaning you can speak freely without monitoring how close you are to the recording capsule. 

Shure also provides its A7WS detachable windscreen to further reduce plosives and produce a bassier-tone. To install the windscreen properly, refer to the included user guide as it requires the use of an included attachment piece.

Whether you record from a blanket fort or professional studio, you’re going to need a mic stand. Podcasters or streamers working from a desktop should consider a mounted boom arm instead.

No matter where you take the Shure SM7B, you need an XLR cable to plug into an audio interface or mixer.

As far as the microphone’s sound, it really does provide a clean overall sound. It must be noted that the microphone has a pronounced proximity effect, meaning that the low frequencies are not picked up as readily as soon as you’ve positioned yourself either off-axis or more than 2-3 inches away, on-axis.

None-the-less, like any microphone, positioning is key. And when you’re singing, speaking or using the microphone to mic up an instrument, when you hit that sweet spot, it really provides a lovely rich tone.

Pros:
  • Crystal clear natural sound 
  • Rich lows and extremely smooth highs
  • High and low cut booster filters
  • Works without pop filters and external shock mount
  • Provides great sound isolation. 
Cons:
  • Requires a decent mixer or preamp

Best For Recording Music On Computer

Samson Condenser Microphone

Samson’s C01U USB condenser microphone is a back-electret, medium-diaphragm studio microphone. The ‘digital’ tag refers to the fact that it has a built-in analogue-to-digital converter and interface, enabling it to connect to a computer workstation via USB rather than the more usual analogue, balanced XLR cable. It outputs at 16-bit resolution and supports sample rates of 8, 11.025, 22.05, 44.1 and 48kHz. 

The Samson C01U makes an excellent podcasting microphone. Easy to use, and the voice recordings will sound professional compared to your computer’s built in microphone.

Connectivity is strictly via USB, with a port at the bottom of the mic, where an XLR connection normally would be. 

There is no other audio output, and the supplied USB cable provides not only the audio connection to the computer, but also power for the mic. 

To enable the mic to function as a one-stop solution for simple recording needs (like podcasts), this version is also a full USB interface. 

Samson shoe-horned a headphone amp into the compact C01U Pro microphone. You get real time zero-latency monitoring while recording. 

Best Microphone For Recording Music On Computer

No more external headphone amps or plugging into different, and lagged, sources. 

The C01U Pro’s integrated headphone amp makes this a complete recording outfit that’s perfect for space-restricted studios and musicians on the go.

Solid die-cast metal construction and shock-mounted mic element minimizes unwanted handling noise and vibrations and that is what makes it a great noise cancelling USB microphone.

Another good thing about this microphone is that you do not have to worry about compatibility. 

It will work fine without installing additional drivers or specific software. In fact, you can plug it into Mac and Windows computers as well as iOS and Android devices. Its versatility and functionality is what makes it one of the best microphones for recording music on iPhone, iPad and android devices.

Pros:
  • Inexpensive
  • Needs no audio interface or mic preamp
  • Connects via a conventional USB cable
  • Excellent sound & convenience
  • Included standmount
Cons:
  • Dodgy headphone jack

Best For Recording Music On iPhone

Shure MV51

Shure’s MV51 USB microphone looks retro but is loaded with modern capabilities. Its a cardioid condenser mic that can record via USB to your computer or directly to an iOS device via the included Lightning cable.

Shure MV51 uses a relatively large capsule, which measures 1-inch in diameter. By studio standards, it is not even considered an LDC; compared to other USB mics however, this capsule is huge, and the size difference gives it some unique sound qualities.

It plugs and plays on your computer. This best iOS microphone for recording music works great on your iOS devices once you install the Shure MOTIV App. 

You can then use that app to record, and to control the mic, but it will also work in Garageband, your video apps etc. 

You can even record music on Android devices and iPad with this versatile USB microphone. Success depends on your phone and app being able to use an external microphone.

Best Microphone For Recording Music On iPhone

Ergonomically, the mic has some strong points. On the back there is a short leg with a rubberised foot, which very sturdily props the mic body at an angle so that it can be used on a desktop by podcasters and the like. 

Alternatively, the foot component can be unscrewed and removed to reveal a threaded socket that’s compatible with mic-stand adaptors.

The large diaphragm is best suited to vocal applications but the five DSP settings offer alternate uses; Speech, Singing, Acoustic Music, Loud Music/Band and Flat. 

It’s a cardioid pattern and this doesn’t change with the five settings which are controlling the EQ, compression and limiting. 

These options are ideal for those new to the world of audio recording and are looking for a quick, easy solution to capture alternate sound sources.

The microphone offers a 3.5mm headphone output for real-time monitoring. Shure’s MV51 USB microphone looks retro but is loaded with modern capabilities.

On the front of the MV51, below the grille you have this touch-sensitive panel of controls, backlit with LEDs. It’s really nice and intuitive. You can adjust the level of the headphone (orange LEDs) and mic gain (green) right here on the mic.

You can switch between the two by activating the headphone selector button. On the left side, there is a very handy mute button.

As one would expect from a general-purpose mic, recordings made with the MV51 are well balanced and fairly neutral. When placed in front of a guitar cab, the mic does a good job, and on vocals and speech it performs well and could easily serve for song demo recording or podcasting, particularly as the self-noise level is impressively low. 

Pros:
  • Plenty of features
  • Switchable DSP modes for typical recording scenarios
  • Mute button
  • Headphone monitoring
  • Compatible with all iOS devices
Cons:
  • Built-in kickstand is too low for ideal desktop mic height.

Best Rated Microphone

Rode NT1-A

The NT1-A Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone from RODE is a 1″ cardioid condenser microphone. It has a self-noise level of 5 dB-A, making it a great choice for a vocal microphone, as well as for recording guitars and percussion instruments.

The Rode NT1-A is perfect for someone looking to make their first solid investment into a microphone. Whether you’re recording yourself for a podcast or you are looking for a top microphone for voice overs, this mic gets the job done.

The NT1-A is commonly regarded as one of the quietest studio microphones available that’s still realistically priced for the average person. Low ambient noise is important in voice recording, because if your mic is too noisy it can result in a messy recording.

The NT1 has a sleek, fuss-free and clean design – with no switches for bass roll off or a pad. It is finished in a very dark shade of grey. 

The machined aluminium body is nickel-plated to resist corrosion, while a military-grade ceramic coating makes the whole finish resistant to scratches or marks. 

The NT1 has a sleek, fuss-free and clean design – with no switches for bass roll off or a pad. It is finished in a very dark shade of grey. 

The machined aluminium body is nickel-plated to resist corrosion, while a military-grade ceramic coating makes the whole finish resistant to scratches or marks. 

When it comes to recording vocals for voice over actors, the NT1 is crisp and detailed, with plenty of warm low-end body in the mix and nothing absent or poking out in the midrange. 

There is an airy clarity in the top end and the double-meshed pop shield is both unobtrusive and effective.

The Rode NT1-A is a condenser microphone, and like many condenser microphones requires a little more power to get it working. 

That’s where phantom power comes into play. You’ll need a recorder like the Zoom H5 or an interface like the Scarlett 2i2 that can provide that extra +48V of power that we affectionately call phantom power. Though +24V will also power this mic adequately.

The Rode NT1-A is a cardioid mic, meaning that its polar pattern, or the directions in which it picks up sounds, is in a heart-shape. 

This is great again as a good pattern for vocals and recording voice overs as it won’t pick up any of the sound coming from behind the microphone reducing background noise in your final recording.

Pros:
  • Detailed sound
  • Very low self-noise
  • Well suited to voice overs & acoustic instruments
  • Good results for the price
Cons:
  • Highs can be harsh

Best For Acoustic Guitar

Sennheiser E906

The Sennheiser E906 is a supercardioid instrument microphone primarily designed for close capturing of guitar cabinets. The e 906 features a dynamic element with a supercardioid polar pattern that provides optimum rejection of off-axis signal and residual noise. 

The e906 boasts an ultra-tight supercardioid polar pattern that works great for eliminating bleed, although the drawback to this is that it makes the mic particularly sensitive to small movements. 

In order to negate this problem, make sure you listen to the mic after any change in placement because even minor movements can result in a noticeable difference to the sound capture. 

Other than that, the e906 is fairly easy to use. But by far, the most useful feature on the e906 is its three position switch. With this setting, you can affect the mics overall presence – either cut, boosted or left neutral. The e906 also handles transients and SPL without difficulty.

Best Microphone For Recording Acoustic Guitar

The E906 is not just the best microphone for recording acoustic guitar music, it’s also impressive when used on a drum kit, particularly with the snare and toms. 

Due to their narrow pattern, good off-axis rejection, crisp and snappy sound, the e906 excels in this capacity, especially with the presence boost switched on. 

Not to mention its small size and ability to get very close to the drums (and out of the way of errant drummer hits) makes this mic an ideal choice. 

The e906 is useful both on top and bottom of toms and provides a creative and cost-effective way to double mic them (which in a home studio is a total luxury). 

Another place this mic sounds great at is the bottom snare, where their rejection, brightness, size and tone are well-suited.

Pros:
  • Supercardioid polar pattern
  • Designed for miking guitar cabinets
  • Perfect for brass & percussion
  • Handles high SPL
  • Responds to quick transients
Cons:
  • Not as good for vocals

Best Condenser Microphone 

Neumann TLM 102

Styled in a nickel finish, the TLM-102 Large-Diaphragm Cardioid Studio Condenser Microphone from Neumann has the ability to withstand very high sound pressure levels.

The capsule, with its high SPL rating, permits the recording of percussion, drums, amplifiers, and other loud sound sources.

The microphone is equally capable when recording lower volume sounds due to its fast transient response. However, its most important applications are in the realm of vocals and speech.

It is a large-diaphragm, transformerless capacitor microphone with a fixed-cardioid polar pattern. 

Though this top mic for voice overs looks superficially similar to other Neumann side‑address mics, it is significantly smaller than the likes of the U87. It weighs around 260g, has a diameter of 52mm, and a length of just 116mm.

The capsule, with its edge‑terminated diaphragm, makes use of more cost‑effective manufacturing methods than Neumann’s high‑end mics. 

Another cost‑cutting measure is the lack of pad and filter switches, which makes it very much a ‘no‑frills’ design — but again, this doesn’t impinge on the sound quality.

The mic comes with a secure screw-in stand mount with a solid-feeling clamp on the tilt control. It’s nominally cardioid-only, and there are no pads or low-cut filters built in.

Due to its remarkably linear response across the entire midrange, the TLM 102 is able to capture the authentic character of any voice or instrument, enhanced by a slight lift around 10kHz for silky highs. The TLM has a gorgeous bottom end too, enriched by the well-controlled proximity effect of a large diaphragm cardioid capsule.

Best Condenser Microphone For Recording Music

The TLM’s technical performance is impressive too. Its self-noise of only 12 dB-A is much lower than the ambient noise in even a very quiet room. 

At the same time, the TLM 102 is capable of handling extreme sound pressure levels of up to 144 dN free from distortion. 

As a member of the TLM range TLM 102 is equipped with a transformerless output stage, which means: powerful bass, even at highest signal levels, and a very direct sound without transmission losses. 

Its self-noise of only 12 dB-A is much lower than the ambient noise in even a very quiet room. 

At the same time, the TLM 102 is capable of handling extreme sound pressure levels of up to 144 dB free from distortion.

TLM102 is available in both black and nickel finishes. The mic comes in simple foam‑lined cardboard box along with a swivel standmount. 

A silver band below the basket and the red Neumann logo add a nice visual relief to the black basket and the satin-black body. 

A thread around the XLR housing locates into the stand adapter to provide a secure support, and the Neumann logo denotes the ‘hot’ side of the capsule. However, the thread will fit other Neumann‑compatible shock mounts.

Pros:
  • An amazing versatile vocal mic 
  • Great at background noise cancelling
  • Affordable 
Cons:
  • Shockmount not included

Best For Instruments

CAD Audio Equitek E100S 

The CAD Equitek E100S as it’s officially called, is a side-address, large-diaphragm FET condenser with a nickel-plated 1 inch capsule, an 80 Hz hi-pass filter and a 10 dB pad. 

It has a fixed supercardioid polar pattern and the lowest self-noise ratings of pretty much any mic: 3.7 dB (measured with the capsule swapped for a fixed capacitor, known as the “capacitor substitution” method).

The microphone has a fixed supercardioid polar pattern and requires standard 48V phantom power. 

Front‑panel toggle switches select a 10dB pad and an 80Hz, first‑order, high‑pass filter. 

The new one‑inch, nickel‑plated capsule drives a bespoke differential Quadra‑FET impedance-conversion stage, which is the key to its stunning low‑noise performance.

The mic is supplied in a surprisingly deep but stylish cherry‑stained wooden storage box with a foam‑lined interior, and comes complete with a pair of replacement rubber bands for the integral shockmount. 

best microphone for music recording

The shockmount has been described as a ‘stealth mount’, because it fits so snugly and cleverly around the mic body, but its neat design ensures that the maximum compliance is perpendicular to the diaphragm — as it needs to be for effective isolation.

While one of the highlights is that low, low self-noise level, the E100S offers a very tight performance, providing you know how to get the best out of it. 

Recording vocals is what this mic does best, adding a layer of richness and warmth that many users want with a studio condenser mic. 

It’s well-balanced, but still offers a satisfying vintage tint.

It’s pretty flat, to the point where you shouldn’t run into compatibility issues with different vocalists. 

Similar rules apply when recording instruments, while the large SPL allows this mic to handle whatever you can throw at it – from acoustic guitars to powerful electric amps.

Pros:
  • Gentle HF roll‑off provides smooth but detailed sound.
  • Integrated and very effective shockmount.
  • Supercardioid pattern useful for minimizing spill.
Cons:
  • Grille is not the most efficient plosive stopper

Best Budget Microphone 

Stellar X2

Most low-cost condenser microphones have a noticeable harsh and bright tone that makes them hard to sit in a mix and can sound fatiguing over time. 

The Stellar X2 is different in that its capsule and circuit are carefully tuned to produce a sound that is very smooth and easily sits in any mix without the tinny harshness of low-cost condenser microphones.

Outwardly the Stellar X2 looks much like any other large–diaphragm microphone, other than being slightly smaller, at just six inches long and 1.725 inches wide.

The mic is supplied in an aluminium case with a shockmount, a foam wind shield and a soft storage pouch.

Inside the black, powder-coated, shell is a custom–built, centre–terminated brass capsule skinned with Japanese Mylar. This is a K67‑style design, and measures 34mm in diameter. This high-frequency attenuation is employed to balance the harshness commonly associated with this style of capsule, the aim being to achieve very smooth highs. 

The hand-built, transformerless JFET circuit includes tight–tolerance German WIMA film capacitors and other highly specified components, while the PCB has gold-plated tracks to optimise conductivity.

best mics for recording drums

The microphone doesn’t have an over-the-top proximity effect, which can be a blessing or a curse, depending on the actor. 

Some voice actors working at home with some of the similarly priced competitors are struggling with extra mouth noise, no doubt related to that upper-mid boost.

This is undoubtedly one of the best budget microphone for voice overs as on vocals the mic delivers a clean representation of the person in front of it, with no obvious coloration and a good balance of low–end density and high-end detail, all the while sounding smooth rather than aggressive. 

The lack of significant presence peaks also means the mic should suit a wide variety of voice types. 

Female singers and males with high voices tend to show up any high-frequency coloration a little more so the smooth high end of this model could well be a benefit in such cases.

For its price, the Stellar X2 is a must have. It competes effortlessly with mics costing five times the price. 

We strongly recommend this best microphone for voice over acting, which is a worthwhile addition to any mic locker. Whether you’re a voice actor, podcaster or a musician, this mic is well worth a listen.

Pros:
  • Mic has a robust finish
  • It is flat and neutral
  • It can fit numerous sources
  • A good condenser microphone as reviewed by customers
  • Uses pure brass
Cons:
  • A bit difficult to use

Best For Studio

Neumann TLM 103

The Neumann TLM 103 is a cardioid microphone, operating with a pressure gradient transducer, meaning that its inner membrane is responsive to the pressure differential (gradient) from both sides of the microphone (front and back).

At first sight, the Neumann TLM 103 is a gorgeous microphone. Unlike cheaper microphones that may have very slight alterations in their production, this microphone is pristine and you can tell that Neumann’s meticulousness in their design isn’t just limited to the inner-workings of their microphones.

TLM-103 sound is exceptional: it offers a remarkable detail clarity along with excellent dynamics. The sounds recorded with this mic sound vivid and lively. Try comparing it with a hundred dollar range mic in a good studio environment and the cheaper device will suddenly sound dull and lifeless. 

This Neumann mic also captures even slightest inflections that are otherwise imperceptible with low-priced mics.

The microphone has a cardioid polar pattern, which means that it only picks up sounds from the front, and rejects sounds from the back (off-axis sound rejection).

However, this doesn’t mean that it won’t entirely pick up the sounds that are produced behind the microphone, as sound reflections and reverberations will cause the microphone to ultimately pick up reflected sounds, but it does a good job of minimizing these sounds bleeding into your voice over recordings.

Frequency response is another great asset of Neumann TLM-103. Although it does produce a slight accentuation when it comes to higher range pitches, this isn’t very crucial for most of the uses. 

For the rest of the range though, it gets a very stable curve with a perfect spectrum.

The self noise (ie. that of the internal circuitry) of the new mic is stunningly low compared with similar models; presumably this is another benefit of the 103’s TLM circuitry.

This is undoubtedly one of the top microphone for voice overs.

Another very impressive characteristic of the TLM103 is that it can accommodate peak signal levels of up to 135dB SPL at 0.5% distortion. The ability to handle such high volume means that the new mic does not need a pre‑attenuator.

No foam windshield is supplied, but the mic has a strong, dual‑layer wire mesh grille which is reasonably effective at reducing plosives and popping; optional foam windshields and pop shields are available separately.

The microphone comes into two colors, Nickel and Black. Both are priced the same, which means that you can pick the one that best suits your studio setup.

Pros:
  • Ideal microphone for voice overs & lead vocals
  • Great for acoustic instruments that are supposed to cut through the mix
  • Wide frequency range
  • Extremely low self-noise
Cons:
  • Only one pickup pattern
  • Lack of additional controls

Best For Drums

Sennheiser MD 421 II 

If you want to capture the dynamics of louder instruments, then you will probably need to seek a dynamically balanced microphone. 

Condensers are usually a go-to for vocal takes as they’re great for detailed work, but they can be on the delicate side. You need a good, old-fashioned cardioid dynamic mic to tolerate the higher sound pressure levels, something like the Sennheiser MD 421-II.

The Sennheiser MD 421-II Microphone is a cardioid, dynamic microphone popularized by the recording and broadcast industry. 

This one of the best microphones for recording music is favored for its ability to handle a variety of applications due to its flexible bass control.

With its high SPL handling and its five position bass roll-off switch, this mic can capture any sound source, from loud snare, to guitar and bass amps – used by pros like Kurt Cobain, Elton John, Owl City and many more. 

This microphone is a large cardioid dynamic microphones.

One major benefit of large diaphragm microphones for vocals is that they have a larger space catching your sound since the diaphragm is, well, larger. This is great for singers or speakers who are rather animated because it doesn’t leave you with a small area to work in.

This is what makes this MD 421-II one of the best microphones for recording rock or rap.

With a robust, refined steel basket and high-end, hardy enclosure, you can rest assured that it’ll cope with a little rough handling. 

The internal electronics are expertly designed and manufactured with tough quality control, ensuring the field generation and response are optimal for a professional capture.

Sennheiser has increased the durability, and the insides have been brought up to date with modern circuitry equivalents. The sound quality on offer is excellent; it has accurate reproduction and is very transparent.

It’s beautifully built and competitively priced, as it’s competitively designed. 

With a cardioid pickup pattern, you don’t have to worry about this microphone picking up ambient noises while you use it. 

In addition, it is designed to have effective feedback rejection so you don’t have as much of a hard time with feedback while you move around a stage.

The Sennheiser MD421-II is made to be relatively easy to use. It has a good sound without needing to be filtered and it is relatively easy to set up. 

All you have to do is to plug it in and aim it at the sound that you want to record. It doesn’t even require batteries or phantom power to use it.

Pros:
  • Perfect for the drums
  • Also great for loud vocals such as rap, rock & metal
  • Extremely versatile microphone
  • Rugged design and well built
  • Less sensitive to dust and humidity 
  • Doesn’t require batteries or phantom power
  • Effective feedback rejection
Cons:
  • The clip on this mic is fragile, hard to use, and isn’t standard

Best For Piano

Audio-Technica AT4040

The Audio-Technica AT4040 is a large diaphragm, condenser mic with a cardioid pick-up pattern and a smooth, uncolored sound. This mic will work for any situation, both for home and professional studios alike. 

Conversations or singing, instruments, percussions or drums – there’s nothing it cannot handle. With the pad on, it can record even the loudest sounds with minimum distortion.

Its one-inch capsule employs a carefully tensioned, gold-sputtered diaphragm to provide “a smooth, natural sonic characteristic” and the surface-mount preamplifier electronics have been designed to provide low noise and a wide dynamic range, with a high SPL capability.

The AT4040 microphone is a large mic, measuring 6.7 inches in length and 2.1 inches in diameter. It comes with its own shock mount and overall it is a solid build.

You’ll also notice just how quiet the AT4040 is. The signal to noise ratio is a very good 12dB SPL, shifting the noise floor to get rid of a lot of the white noise that muddies up gain-y recordings. 

This one of the best microphone for recording music also uses a cardioid pick-up pattern (a heart shape in front of the capsule) and offers exceptional off-axis rejection.

The AT4040 also uses a USB connection, which is not only more sturdy and reliable, but also future-proofs the mic for any studio upgrades you want to do in the future. 

When you’re working with USB, you can still record good audio but you’re drastically limited in what other components you can use.

When put to use, the AT4040 reveals just how versatile it is. Vocals are clear and bright, well defined and present just enough warmth in the right places.

The AT4040 is great at recording instruments. Guitars & the grand piano sound natural and convincing, while results are similar when recording amps as well. 

Due to its high SPL handling, the AT4040 can also be successfully employed as a solid drum microphone as well.

Overall the AT4040 SM is an excellent, well-specified and well-equipped microphone, offered at an attractive price.

More importantly, it’s versatile enough to grow with you, no matter what you’d like to do in this space. This is an investment microphone that you can count on delivering solid results for years to come.

Pros:
  • Great sound quality
  • Perfect for recording vocals and instruments
  • Perfectly suitable for piano recordings
  • Comes with a shock mount
Cons:
  • High-frequency response irregularities

Best For Recording Drum Bass

AKG D112 MkII 

AKG D112 MKII is a dynamic microphone. Which can handle extremely high sound levels. Perfect for recording vocals and instruments. Dynamic mics are almost unaffected by extreme changes of temperature and even humidity.

AKG D112 has a distinct egg shape and it’s hard to mistake for something else. The thing is quite heavy as it’s made of nothing but metal, although it may not be obvious from the pictures. 

This solid construction serves an excellent protection from vibrations, whereas a special capsule design also does a good bit of stabilization.

This microphone is also a Cardioid mic. Meaning they have the most sensitivity at the front and the least at the back. These types of microphones are really great for loud stages.

The MkII can handle more than 160dB SPL without distortion thanks to the open back design, and the rugged grille means that it can cope with rough use for a long time.

The D112 features a large diaphragm that has a very low resonance frequency that can deliver response below 100Hz.

The defining feature of the D112 microphone is the tailored response curve that means it is effectively pre-EQ’d when plugged into the desk. 

This one of the best microphones for recording music is as close to ‘plug and play’ as you’re likely to get – simply set up the microphone in the right spot and you have a usable kick drum sound straight away.

The XLR connector projects from the side and front of this shaft, and the stand mount locks solid in the vertical position and can allow the microphone to swivel backwards up to 90º to accommodate the positioning of the microphone stand at various angles. The joint is reassuringly stiff, suggesting that once positioned it is unlikely to wander.

The microphone has been designed with a low resonance frequency and can handle very high transient signals with low distortion. 

It has a large dynamic range with a high signal-to-noise ratio and the capacity to input high sound levels without distorting. 

High frequency response has been tailored to keep both bass drum and bass guitar clearly distinguishable in the mix. 

A built-in windscreen makes the D112 also suitable for high SPL instruments such as the trombone and tuba.

Overall, it’s hard to go wrong with this mic. It has a crisp and punchy, quality sound, it is versatile to accommodate for many kinds of drums and guitars, also it doesn’t cost a lot either.

Pros:
  • This mic is perfect for all kinds of bass.
  • Flexible integrated mic mount.
  • Retaining sonic strength from its predecessors.
  • High SPL capability, punchy EQ, and bulletproof construction.
Cons:
  • Mount clip may become loose over time

Best For Music & Vocals

LEWITT LCT 440

The LCT-440-Pure Single-Pattern, Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone from Lewitt is the company’s top-of-the-line microphone that combines technology packed into a sturdy, stylish, and compact housing. 

The 1″ transducer and 3-micron, gold-sputtered, Mylar-diaphragm capsule can be used for a variety of applications and delivers a level of detail and very low self-noise in capturing audio.

The LCT 440 PURE  is dressed in matte black with a dual-layered gloss black headbasket. Inside, there’s one of LEWITT’s dayglow-green-rimmed 1” cardioid capsules with a 3-micron gold-sputtered diaphragm.

The mic has no buttons or switches of any sort. It also features a slimmed-down accessory package; rather than coming in a briefcase like previous models, it ships in a cardboard box with a vinyl pouch. 

It does, however, still include a slightly smaller version of the excellent LEWITT open-front shockmount, as well as a windscreen and a magnetically-attached pop filter.

best large diaphragm condenser microphone for drums

LCT 440 PURE has a sensitivity of 23.1 mV/Pa (–32.7 dBV), a signal-to-noise ratio of 87 dBA, an equivalent noise level of 7 dBA, and a maximum SPL of 140 dB. Its frequency response is 20 Hz to 20 kHz, fairly flat and neutral in the lows and mids with a boosted mid and high section that rises gently at 1.250 Hz with a 3.5 dB peak at 4 kHz and another 5 dB peak at 13 kHz.

Although this response is boosted in the midrange and highs, it’s still significantly more gentle than many of today’s bright condenser mics, which can peak out at 9 to 12 dB around 12 kHz.

The shockmount is worthy of mention as it holds the mic very securely via a twist-lock yoke, which fits around the stem of the mic, and the design of which means the elastic elements won’t fall off. 

The shallow shape cradles the mic without obstructing it, while the pop shield clips onto the mount via integral magnets. Though it sits fairly close to the mic grille, it seems to avoid all but the most determined popping.

Pros:
  • Affordable.
  • Amazing accessories.
  • Awesome sound quality.
  • Sounds good on instruments & voice.
  • Great at background noise cancelling
Cons:
  • Not USB powered

Microphone For Recording Music - Buying Guide

It’s an understatement to say all microphones are created differently. Unique technology in different types of mics can lead to vastly different audio recording qualities, so knowing what each type of microphone offers is critical to deciding on the right one.

What To Look For In A Microphone For Recording Music & Instruments

Types Of Microphones

There are three main types of microphones used in recording: dynamic microphones, condenser microphones, and ribbon microphones.

Dynamic microphones will be the most familiar model to most music fans. They’re the vocal mics you see at the front of the stage at most rock concerts. Audio engineers value them for being rugged and able to handle extremely high volumes.

Condenser microphones are considered the most versatile studio microphones and can be used to record essentially any instrument. They are somewhat more fragile and sonically sensitive than dynamic mics, and they require a small electrical current to operate, so they are less popular in the live setting.

Ribbon microphones utilize a very old technology: they produce sound as audio waves encounter a moving ribbon inside the mic. Like condensers, they require external power.

Polar Pattern

Polar patterns describe how a mic captures sound, to be more specific, the location and direction of the sound relative to the mic’s position.

Cardioid, with its front capture and rear rejection is the most commonly used for vocal recording.

Other patterns like the Figure 8 and Omnidirectional allow more of the ambient sound to be captured, and can also be used for recording a singing group or multiple sound sources.

Impedance

Impedance: This term refers to a microphone’s receptiveness to AC current or audio signal. Measured in ohms, low impedance mics (600 ohms or lower) are better at retaining audio quality when using cables longer than about 16 feet (approximately 5 meters).

Sensitivity & SPL

Sensitivity is a measurement of the quietest sound that the microphone will still be able to pick up. The lower that number is, the more sensitive the microphone is, and the quieter the sound can be that will still end up in the final recording.

On the other end, SPL stands for Sound Pressure Level. This number is just a measurement of the loudest sound and it is measured in decibels.

Frequency Response

Frequency Response is essentially the range of frequencies a microphone is capable of detecting.

Always keep in mind what you will be recording before you pick a microphone: A mic that is good at picking up mid-range and high frequencies is a good choice for vocals and guitar, while you’ll want a mic that excels at low frequencies for recording bass.

Attenuation Pads

Many of the mics mentioned in this guide feature switchable attenuation pads, which allows them to handle louder sound sources without distorting the sound.

Diaphragm Size

You might not pay attention to the diaphragm, but it’s an essential factor when choosing your vocal microphone. The diaphragm is tiny plates found inside the mic where the sound waves hit before anything else. They come in different sizes.

Large diaphragms have the ability to handle large volumes of sound before they can be distorted. Large diaphragms are very responsive but do not work well when exposed to too much noise. These diaphragms are great for recording sound and mostly used in recording studios for musical production.

Conclusion

Determining what microphone to buy is all about considering what style of music you want to create or record and choosing the equipment that gives you the best chance of producing your desired sound.

A dynamic microphone such as the Sennheiser MD 421 II, is made for recording deep vocals and percussion instruments.

If you’re looking for rich-sounding acoustic recording, a condenser mic such as the Rode NT-1A could fit the bill. Recording a loud electric guitar requires a microphone that can take a sonic punch, such as the Neumann TLM 102, which retains sensitivity at high sound levels.

Written by:
AJ Mani
AJ Mani

AJ has been intimately involved with music for more than 25 years as a composer, electronic musician, guitarist, writer, music software developer, and keyboard technician.

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