Great Live Vocal Microphones Under $150
"No two voices are the same and the same goes for microphones" *
For today's Tech Tuesday here are my five favorite vocal mics under $150. When it comes to microphones, I don't have one particular company I prefer - each microphone is a tool, generally for a specific job. Here's what I love about these mics.
Sennheiser e845 - $140 retail - Dynamic
I've been a fan of Sennheiser microphones since I can remember. They've done a great job making a high-output, low-feedback mic that sounds great on voices. I generally prefer using this microphone in a setting where there's not as much happening in the mix (ie: an acoustic or piano ballad) or on a female voice. There's generally a bit of low end I need to roll off on the EQ to get a the vocal to sit right in a live mix otherwise, but still a great mic - you just need to know how to use it.
Shure Beta 57a - $139 retail - Dynamic
You may be thinking, "Why is a 57 in this list of vocal mics - they're made for instruments?" However, the natural EQ curve on the Beta 57a really made a huge difference in my own vocals playing live at bars with my band. Most clubs have Shure SM58's just because they're reliable and durable, but they never made my voice punch through the mix. Once I swapped out for a Beta 57a, there were no more problems. This mic naturally bumps frequencies in the range of my vocals, so there wasn't a lot of need for EQ correction. I love this mic on both male and female vocals when there's a lot of stage volume or punch needed in the vocal.
Audix OM3 - $129 retail - Dynamic
This mic is a favorite of Bruce Springsteen, and it makes sense why. This mic has great clarity as well as very high output before feedback making it perfect for The Boss' 4-5 hour sets with the E Street Band. There's a bit of low end that will need to be rolled off for the vocal to fit right, but it's almost ideal right out of the box. This mic is great for both male and female vocals.
AKG D5 - $100 retail - Dynamic
If you're a bit tight on cash for a microphone, the D5 is a great solution. Again, incredible clarity and ouput before feedback at a $100 pricetag. That sort of clarity makes it stellar on female vocals and will help male vocals cut in high stage-noise settings or rooms that aren't treated properly.
Audio Technica AT2010 - $99 retail - Condenser
This is the microphone out of this bunch that surprised me the most. I have a close friend who is an educator with Audio Technica and he gave me one of these. The next show I had, I swapped my Beta 57a out for it and was amazed. After playing the same clubs in Kansas City for around three years, I hadn't until this moment had a sound engineer ask me what mic I was using. He said he'd never heard a better vocal mic running sound in the clubs there before. I'm almost positive he purchased one shortly after.
Because it's a condenser mic, the AT2010 has incredible ouput but also avoids the Proximity Effect** common with dymanic mics providing greater clarity before EQ. No matter how close or far away the source is, the frequency response does not change. For under $150, or even $100, I'd say this is my favorite microphone on my voice. I have one with me at all times and it hasn't let me down yet.
Let's have a conversation - what are your favorite lower-budget microphones?
* Quote Reference - http://www.voicecouncil.com/famous-live-microphones
** Proximity Effect happens with dynamic microphones. When the source gets closer to the microphone, the mic will naturally have a bit more of a bass buildup.