Best Vocal Mics - Featured Image

7 Best Vocal Mics that Will Make You Sound like a Pro in 2023

Whether you’re an aspiring vocalist, a seasoned recording artist, or a studio engineer, the best microphone for vocals can elevate your sound to professional heights. From the studio to the stage, from the robust to the refined, each microphone in this collection offers unique features and innovations that cater to a wide spectrum of vocal needs.

In this post, we’ll explore these masterpieces of audio technology, unraveling their features, dissecting their specifications, and understanding what makes them the best microphones for vocals.

Whether you’re looking to invest in your first professional microphone or seeking to add a new gem to your collection, this guide is your compass to finding the best microphone for vocals.

What are the 7 Best Vocal Mics in 2023?

Here are the 7 best microphones for vocals:

1. Rode NT1 5th Generation – Most Value for Money Vocal Mic (US$ 249.00)

Why would you want this microphone?

You want a vocal microphone that sounds great, is versatile, and give you the best bang for your buck.

Rode NT1 5th Gen - front
Rode NT1 5th Gen - pop filter and shock mount
Rode NT1 5th Gen - accessories


Rode is renowned for producing some of the music industry’s best microphones and audio equipment. The Rode NT1 condenser microphone, in particular, has become an iconic fixture in many music studios and YouTube videos. If you believe that the NT1 has reached the pinnacle of its potential, prepare to be astounded by the advancements offered in the 5th generation of the NT1.

The first thing you’ll notice about the Rode NT1 is its robust construction with an all-metal body and metal mesh grill. The design maintains a similar aesthetic to its predecessors but with some differences. The all-black body is complemented by a silver mesh grill, a departure from the previous all-black or all-silver designs.

Like its predecessors, the Rode NT1 features an XLR port at the bottom. However, one of its latest upgrades is that the XLR port discreetly houses a new USB-C port, allowing for convenient plug-and-play.

The new USB-C port makes the Rode NT1 5th gen a great portable mic that can be used on the go. While there are other portable USB mics like the Elgato Wave:3 or the HyperX Quadcast S, they might not be approved by your clients for professional use. However, the Rode NT1 is a mic that people would trust to use professionally.

The Rode NT1 has an extremely low self-noise of 4dB and a high SPL of 142 dB, so it’s nearly impossible to overdrive the microphone’s circuitry. The Rode NT1 sounds identical when connected using XLR or USB, and I could hardly tell the difference between the audio quality. This proves its incredible audio quality in USB mode, as other USB/XLR hybrid mics often suffer from inferior audio quality when using the USB connection.

The Rode NT1 is a smooth-sounding large diaphragm condenser microphone with a neutral frequency response and cardioid pickup pattern. It does have a slightly mid-forward sound, with good details in the treble and a strong presence in the bass.

It is not just one of the best microphones for vocals for the price, but it can also be used as a broadcast microphone for voiceover and even recording acoustic instruments, electric guitars, bass, and drums.

One of its new features is a true game-changer – 32-bit floating point selection in USB mode. This feature allows you to salvage clipping audio above 0 dBFS by normalizing the levels in post-production to make them clean and audible.

Having 32-bit floating point is incredibly useful for singers singing rock or metal ballads with extreme dynamic ranges. However, it’s important to note that the 32-bit floating point can’t salvage clipping audio from a live performance; it can only be done in post-production with a DAW that supports 32-bit floating point.

Another amazing upgrade of the Rode NT1 5th Gen is a powerful in-built DSP that gives you access to Rode’s flagship APHEX processors like Big Bottom and Aural Exciter and other standard processors like compressor and noise gate, which can significantly improve your audio quality in real-time. You can access the processors using the Rode Central or Rode Connect apps.

The microphone comes with a generous list of accessories, including a microphone dust cover, a stable shock mount with a 5/8” and 3/8” thread adapter, a pop filter, a USB-C to USB-C cable, and an XLR to XLR mic cable.

If you’re keen to learn more, check out our full review of the Rode NT1 5th Generation!

Product Info

  • Microphone Type: Hybrid Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: 1″ (25mm)
  • Power Requirements: USB bus powered, 48V phantom power
  • A/D Resolution: 32-bit floating point/192kHz
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -32 dBV/Pa (25.12 mV/Pa) @1kHz
  • Max SPL: 142 dB
  • Self Noise: 4 dB (A-weighted)
  • Output Connection: XLR, USB-C
  • Weight: 308g (0.68 lbs)
  • Accessories: SM6 Shockmount, XLR Cable, USB-C to USB-C cable, Dust Cover


  • XLR/USB hybrid connectivity
  • 32-bit float digital output
  • Onboard DSP with advanced APHEX controls for real-time audio processing
  • Includes SM6 shock mount and pop filter


  • High-quality portable, and versatile studio microphone for vocals
  • One of the best microphones for its price
  • Robust and durable mic
  • Smooth and flat sound quality
  • APHEX audio processing is easy to use and can further enhance audio quality
  • Has very low self-noise and very high SPL
  • 32-bit floating-point option allows you to salvage clipping audio in post-production
  • Includes many high-quality accessories


  • Susceptible to picking up room noise
  • No headphone output jack

Rode NT1 5th Gen - front

Rode NT1 5th Gen

2. Earthworks ICON – Best USB Mic for Vocals (US$ 349.00)

Why would you want this microphone?

You don’t want the hassle of having an audio interface and just want a great-sounding plug-and-play USB microphone.

Earthworks ICON - front
Earthworks ICON - back


Earthworks may not be as widely recognized as Rode, Neumann, Lewitt, AKG, or Audio Technica, but it undeniably ranks among the top manufacturers of high-quality studio microphones. The Earthworks ICON, a USB variant of the Earthworks ICON Pro, holds its own impressively, even amidst other high-quality XLR condenser microphones.

The Earthworks ICON is built like a tank with a fully stainless steel body and mesh grill, weighing a hefty 1.5 lbs, which helps reduce handling noise and accidental bumps. Its silverish machine-cut steel body gives it a sleek, modern look that would not be out of place in Tony Stark’s lab.

The ICON is one of the few microphones on the market that is proudly made in the USA. It is equipped with a proprietary Triad-Orbit M2-R short-stem orbital mic adapter, which uses a ball-swivel mechanism for easy and precise angle adjustments.

This feature is a significant improvement over conventional microphone stand adapters, which typically offer only one or two axes of adjustment. Although the provided mic stand is rather short, the microphone can be mounted to any boom arm for added flexibility.

The microphone’s mesh grill doubles as a pop filter for rejecting plosives and eliminating the need for a separate pop filter that might obstruct the view during video recordings.

The Earthworks ICON utilizes a small diaphragm condenser capsule with a cardioid pickup pattern, effectively isolating the speaker’s voice from background noise. Furthermore, there isn’t any significant off-axis coloration to the microphone sound, so room reflections will not change the quality of the audio too much.

The Earthworks ICON delivers a very realistic and smooth sound that is not just for great vocals, but also excels as a broadcast mic for podcasting or for capturing instruments like violin, electric, and acoustic guitar.

It offers detailed and open mids, crisp high-ends, and avoids the overly boosted or bright recorded sound common with other condenser mics like the Audio Technica AT2020.

Unlike many USB microphones that use cheap analog-to-digital converters, resulting in a crunchy and digitalized sound, the Earthworks ICON maintains a high-quality audio output that is as good as many top-notch XLR mics, including its more expensive XLR counterpart, the Earthworks ICON Pro.

The microphone’s strong proximity effect requires careful distance management to avoid overly boosted and muddy bass.

Its USB connection simplifies setup by eliminating the need for an audio interface or audio mixer, but I only wished it was a USB-C port instead of a USB micro.

The Earthworks ICON also has a 3.5mm headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring that can be enabled in Windows operating systems. However, it’s worth noting that the live input monitoring cannot be natively enabled in a MacOS and requires a DAW like Logic Pro.

The mic’s USB connectivity and headphone jack makes this a portable mic that can be easily set up with a laptop when you are on the go.

The ICON comes in a hard box with foam inserts that snugly fit the microphone and mic stand. This box can also be used as a storage box with its all-around interior foam protection.

Product Info

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Power Requirements: USB Bus Power
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -34 dBV/Pa (20 mV/Pa) @1kHz
  • Max SPL: 132 dB
  • Output Connection: USB-micro, 3.5mm headphone monitoring jack
  • Weight: 680g (1.5 lbs)
  • Accessories: Built-in Pop Filter, orbital mic adapter, mic stand


  • Triad-Orbit M2-R mic adapter
  • Built-in pop filter
  • Analog gain of -20dB to +20dB controlled by mic gain knob
  • Digital gain of -12dB to +30dB controlled by connected device or software
  • Mic gain knob doubles as a mute button


  • Extremely robust mic and well-built
  • Futuristic and modern look with machine-cut stainless steel body
  • Smooth, balanced, and realistic sound quality
  • Better audio quality than most USB microphones
  • Tight cardioid pickup pattern that rejects background noise well
  • Very easy to adjust the mic angle with the orbital mic adapter


  • Short microphone stand
  • USB-micro port instead of USB-C port

Earthworks ICON - front

Earthworks ICON

3. Shure KSM8 Dualdyne – Best Vocal Mic for Live Performance (US$ 399.00)

Why would you want this microphone?

You perform at live gigs regularly and need the best microphone for the job.

Shure KSM8 - front
Shure KSM8 - capsule
Shure KSM8 - dual diaphragm capsule
Shure KSM8 - accessories


Shure has long been a household name in the world of microphones, with the SM57 and SM58 models being the go-to for many. However, the Shure KSM8 Dualdyne dynamic mic has entered the scene, ready to challenge the status quo. This dynamic microphone is a game-changer, boasting unique proprietary features that set it apart from the competition and make it one of the best vocal mics for live performances.

The KSM8’s defining feature is its Dualdyne capsule, which houses two diaphragms. This innovative design reverses airflow, minimizing the proximity effect to an unprecedented degree.

This means that even when you’re up close and personal with the mic, there’s no buildup of muddy bass sounds. Instead, you’re treated to clear, crisp vocals that remain consistent whether you’re on or off-axis from the microphone.

The KSM8’s controlled proximity effect and consistent off-axis response result in a wide sweet spot, giving performers more freedom to move and groove on stage. This dynamic mic also maintains a tight cardioid polar pattern across all frequencies, making it excellent at rejecting background noise.

The KSM8 also delivers amazing microphone sound quality. Compared to the SM58, the KSM8 offers a flatter, more natural sound, requires less gain, and produces less handling noise. It’s also smoother all around, with more detail in the bass and clarity in the mids and highs. Despite being a dynamic mic, it almost rivals the detail of a condenser mic, and it does all this without needing phantom power.

The KSM8 isn’t just a great vocal mic, though. Thanks to its fast transient response, it’s also great for recording electric guitar amps and drums. It can easily capture the attack of a snare drum or the nuances of finger-picking. And unlike the SM57 and SM58, the KSM8 retains details in the bass while sounding crisp in the high-ends.

Shure has also taken into account the practicalities of live performance. The KSM8 features a pumping pneumatic internal shock mount and diaphragm stabilization system that significantly reduces handling noise and plosives. You could be tossing the mic from hand to hand, and you won’t hear much ruffling.

However, just because the KSM8 has a durable all-metal build and an excellent shock-absorbing system, it doesn’t mean you should attempt a mic drop with this rather expensive dynamic microphone!

The KSM8 comes with a zippered hard carrying case with a cushioned interior, a microphone mount, and a 5/8” to 3/8” thread adapter.

If you’re keen to learn more, check out our full review of the Shure KSM8!

Product Info

  • Microphone Type: Dual-diaphragm dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Frequency Response: 40 Hz to 16,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -51.5 dBV/Pa (2.66 mV/Pa) @1kHz
  • Output Connection: XLR
  • Weight: 330g (0.72 lbs)
  • Accessories: Zippered hard carrying case, microphone mount, 5/8” to 3/8” thread adapter


  • Patented dual-diaphragm cartridge for minimizing proximity effect
  • Internal pumping pneumatic shock mount for reducing handling noise
  • Diaphragm stabilization system for protecting the diaphragm against plosives and impact


  • One of the best vocal mics for live performances
  • Highly controlled and reduced proximity effect
  • Consistent off-axis response
  • Clear and smooth sound in the low and high frequencies
  • Highly durable and robust
  • Very little handling noise


  • None

4. DPA 2028 – Best Vocal Mic for Live Performance & Studio Recording (US$ 600.00)

Why would you want this microphone?

You perform at live gigs but also do studio recordings regularly and don’t want to have too many vocal microphones for each situation.

DPA 2028 - with mic clip
DPA 2028
DPA 2028 4 stage capsule protection


If you’ve ever dreamed of bringing a classic mic like the Neumann U87 Ai or an AKG C 414 XL II to a live gig but thought it was impossible, you’re in luck. The DPA 2028 is probably one of the best vocal mics you’ve never heard of, and it’s like bringing a high-quality studio mic onto the stage.

The DPA 2028 is a hand-held condenser mic made in Denmark, constructed using technology very similar to its flagship DPA d:facto mic, but at half the price. By adopting a non-modular approach, DPA has managed to reduce manufacturing costs without sacrificing quality, resulting in a mic that’s sonically very similar to the DPA d:facto.

The microphone comes with a hard zippered case with foam inserts for the mic and mic clip. It also comes with a soft case, just in case you want to close the case on the hard case. (See what I did there?)

The DPA 2028 is equipped with a foam windshield inside the metal mesh grill. Unscrewing the grill reveals an internally screwed-on pop filter, made as thin as possible to prevent distortion. The foam windshield and internal pop filter act as a double-layered defense against plosives and wind. The condenser capsule is also held by an internal robust shock mount, greatly reducing handling noise.

First-time users of the DPA 2028 are often shocked at how good this mic sounds. Expecting the usual rough, grainy sound of a dynamic microphone, they are greeted with the amazing accuracy and detail of the DPA 2028.

It’s crisp, clear, smooth, and natural, much like the Neumann KMS 105. The full and deep bass response doesn’t distort like most handheld dynamic mics, and it’s great at picking up transients like kick drums, snares, and high hats.

The DPA 2028 is sensitive and robust, picking up loud and soft transients equally and efficiently. Performers can focus on authenticity rather than volume, as the microphone captures the nuances of the human voice with remarkable clarity.

With an incredibly high SPL of 160dB, this mic gives you a lot of headroom. If you love belting or extreme vocals like singing metal, you won’t feel like you’re hitting a brick wall with the DPA 2028. It also handles the proximity effect well, so you can get up close and personal without getting muddy.

Unlike most hand-held vocal microphones like the Shure SM58 and Sennheiser e835, which are only good for live performances, the DPA 2028 excels both on stage and in the studio. It’s a high-quality, super-cardioid mic that doesn’t discriminate between live performances and recording sessions.

Product Info

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Supercardioid
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -46 dBV/Pa (5 mV/Pa) @1kHz
  • Max SPL: 160 dB
  • Self Noise: 22 dB (A-weighted)
  • Output Connection: XLR
  • Weight: 286g (0.63 lbs)
  • Accessories: microphone clip


  • Four-stage capsule protection – Internal shock mount, pop filter, foam windshield, and external metal mesh


  • One of the best vocal mics for dual-purpose stage and studio use
  • Robust and well-built
  • Can handle very high sound pressure levels
  • Clean, crisp highs with full, deep bass and sharp transients produced with less vocal power
  • Smooth, balanced, and realistic sound quality


  • Very costly for a hand-held stage microphone