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

5. Austrian Audio OC818 – Best Vocal Mic for Studio Recording (US$ 1,249.00)

Why would you want this microphone?

You want a high-quality vintage-looking professional studio microphone with innovative and versatile features.

Austrian Audio OC818 - front
Austrian Audio OC818 - with shock mount
Austrian Audio OC818 - accessories


Born from the ashes of AKG’s closure in Vienna, the Austrian Audio OC818 carries the legacy of its engineers, who went on to create audio companies like Lewitt and Austrian Audio. The name OC818 and its capsule called CKR12 seem to be a direct challenge to AKG’s flagship C414 and its capsule CK-12. The tone quality is very similar, but the OC818 has improved build quality and innovative features.

The OC818 is handcrafted in Vienna and offers excellent off-axis rejection, making it adept at rejecting background noise, especially for a condenser microphone. The off-axis response is equally impressive, with little change in tone as you speak at different angles.

With a low self-noise of 9dB, tight and warm bass quality, balanced mids, and smooth upper frequencies, it stands out as one of the best vocal mics for clarity and detail. It is also great for recording electric guitar amps, giving the right amount of aggressiveness to the trebles without sounding harsh. Additionally, it sounds very balanced when recording an acoustic guitar, with natural mids, deep low ends, and crisp highs.

Holding the OC818 is like clutching a solid silver bar; it’s robust and has little resonance when you tap on its body. Its single metal mesh grill encloses the microphone, acting as an effective Faraday cage to reject RF noises. With a classic microphone design like the Neumann U87 and AKG C414, it’s a vintage lover’s dream with modern innovations.

It comes with three physical selector switches for polar pattern, high pass filter, and attenuation pad. The attenuation pad even has a quirky gradual drop to -10dB when activated, rather than an immediate drop.

Perhaps one of its most groundbreaking features is the dual output mode. The signals from both capsule diaphragms can be routed independently and recorded separately for stereo sound using an XLR cable for the front diaphragm and the provided mini-XLR cable for the rear diaphragm. You can then play around with the StereoCreator plugin to adjust spatiality, change stereo width, and more.

The OC818 also offers the PolarDesigner plugin to sculpt the microphone sound in real-time or post-production. You can change polar patterns across five frequency bands similar to an EQ curve, adjust the level of proximity effect, eliminate or salvage certain frequencies, etc.

There is also a novel PolarPilot app that allows you to configure your own polar pattern on the mic. However, this requires the purchase of the OCR8 Bluetooth Remote, which will cost an additional $179, but it is honestly not necessary to have.

Furthermore, there are complaints from users about problems pairing the OCR8 with their mobile device, and the PolarPilot app is not very well-designed, but I’m sure that can be fixed in future updates.

The OC818 comes in a hard carrying case with buckles and foam inserts, a shock mount, a firm mount with a mic clip, a 5/8” to 3/8” thread adapter, a foam windshield, and a mini-XLR to XLR cable.

If you’re keen to learn more, check out our full review of the Austrian Audio OC818!

Product Info

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid, Figure-8, supercardioid, omnidirectional, and custom programmable
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -37.7 dBV/Pa (13 mV/Pa) @1kHz
  • Max SPL: 148 dB
  • Self Noise: 9 dB (A-weighted)
  • Output Connection: XLR (mic), Mini-XLR (dual out cable)
  • Weight: 360g (0.79 lbs)
  • Accessories: microphone clip


  • Five polar patterns selector switch
  • -10dB and -20dB attenuation pad
  • High pass filter at 40, 80, and 160 Hz
  • Dual outputs for recording each diaphragm separately
  • PolarPilot app for remote control with the OCR8 Bluetooth Dongle (sold separately)
  • PolarDesigner plugin for shaping different polar patterns
  • StereoCreator plugin for setting different stereo recording techniques
  • AmbiCreator plugin for creating an ambisonic B-format signal with two OC818


  • Highly robust and well-built
  • One of the best vocal mics for professional studio recording
  • Highly detailed and crisp sound across all frequencies
  • Tight bass, clear mids, and smooth high end
  • Very versatile microphone with a host of innovative hardware and software features
  • Handmade in Vienna
  • Similar tonal quality to classic microphones like the AKG C414
  • Good quality accessories like hard carrying protection case


  • OCR8 Bluetooth dongle must be bought separately and is expensive
  • OCR8 Bluetooth dongle has problems pairing at times

Austrian Audio OC818 - front

Austrian Audio OC818

6. Lewitt Pure Tube set – Best Warm-Sounding Vocal Microphone (US$ 1,299.00)

Why would you want this microphone?

You want a vocal microphone that can add a warm and deep tone to your voice, like the classic sound of a ribbon microphone.

Lewitt Pure Tube - front
Lewitt Pure Tube - front - shock mount
Lewitt Pure Tube - front - shock mount, pop filter
Lewitt Pure Tube - side - shock mount
Lewitt Pure Tube - side - shock mount, pop filter
Lewitt Pure Tube - accessories
Lewitt Pure Tube - transport case


When it comes to microphones, sometimes less is more. The Lewitt Pure Tube is a testament to this philosophy, a microphone that’s all about the voice, not the noise. Lewitt’s COO Moritz Lochner aptly puts it, “The Pure Tube is more like a specialized Japanese kitchen knife, rather than a Swiss Army knife.”

The Pure Tube is an elegant sight to behold. With its all-black metallic design, iconic green diaphragm ring, sharp beveled edges, and a see-through glass panel housing a glowing warm orange tube, it is truly one of the most beautiful microphones I’ve seen. It feels hefty at 1.52 lbs, has a robust all-metal build, and has a sturdy metal grill. Even the power supply is sleek and compact, unlike its bigger brother, the LCT 1040.

Stripped down from the bells and whistles of the LCT 1040, the Pure Tube has no controls, buttons, dials, or switches. It’s a plug-and-play setup that delivers natural harmonic tube saturation with minimal tweaking.

The Pure Tube is a large diaphragm condenser microphone that is being marketed as a microphone optimized for vocals, which is quite uncommon. Most high-end microphones will boast that they are suitable for every application, including drum overheads, vocals, acoustic instruments and electric guitar amps, and more. But with the Pure Tube’s innovative design, it’s clear why Lewitt was able to make such a claim.

With no capacitors and semiconductors in the signal path, it offers an incredibly pure tone with a very low self-noise of 7dB. That’s impressive for a tube microphone, often associated with being noisy. The transformer-based filter balances proximity effect, reducing muddiness, much like the Shure KSM8.

The gold-sputtered 1” condenser diaphragm adds crispiness and clarity, while the hand-selected 12AU7 tube creates harmonic saturation that results in a warm and deep tone, much like a vintage ribbon mic.

The Pure Tube has a very flat frequency response curve with very good bass and treble extension. The low ends are full-bodied and well-defined and only start to roll off gently from 50Hz. The mid-range sound is natural, warm, and detailed, while the higher frequencies are articulate, smooth, and not overly boosted like other contemporary condenser microphones like the Neumann TLM 103.

The Pure Tube set comes with several high-quality accessories, including a hard plastic transport case with foam inserts that allow you to store the Pure Tube safely for years.

There is also a sleek shock mount, a magnetic pop filter, a 16-ft 7-pin XLR cable, a power supply, and a microphone pouch. The shock mount is robust and one of the best I’ve seen, greatly reducing bumps and handling noise, and can be adjusted quickly with a quick-release lever.

Product Info

  • Microphone Type: Tube condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: 1″ (25.4mm)
  • Power Requirements: External power supply
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -31 dBV/Pa (28.2 mV/Pa) @1kHz
  • Max SPL: 132 dB
  • Self Noise: 7 dB (A-weighted)
  • Output Connection: 7-pin XLR
  • Weight: 692g (1.52 lbs)
  • Accessories: Power supply, shock mount, pop filter, 7-pin XLR cable, transport bag, hard-shell transport case


  • Hand-selected 12AU7 tube adds warmth to the sound
  • No capacitors and semiconductors in the signal path for clean audio
  • Transformer-based filter for controlling proximity effect


  • One of the best vocal mics for recording studios without any complicated settings
  • Hefty, robust, and well-built
  • One of the most aesthetically pleasing microphones
  • Incredibly low self-noise with a very clean tone
  • Very flat response, detailed and accurate sound
  • Warm and controlled bass with smooth and clear top end
  • High-quality accessories like a very effective shock mount
  • Compact power supply


  • Susceptible to picking up room noise

Lewitt Pure Tube - front

Lewitt Pure Tube

7. AKG P120 – Best Budget Vocal Mic (US$ 99.00)

Why would you want this microphone?

You just started out in your recording journey or have a tight budget and need an affordable vocal microphone that sounds great.

AKG P120 - front


I know what you’re thinking…The title for the Best Budget Vocal Mic should go to the Audio Technica AT2020!! And who could blame you, considering the multitude of raving reviews it had since the revelation that Billie Eilish recorded “Ocean Eyes” with that very condenser mic? But hold your horses. For the same price tag, you’ll soon discover that the AKG P120 is a formidable contender for the battle of the budget vocal mics.

The first thing we noticed is the microphone’s robust construction. The P120 boasts an all-metal body and a metal mesh grill, ensuring durability that could potentially last a decade. It feels as heavy as the highly esteemed Neumann U87 Ai, which says something about its build quality. Also, its design looks pretty similar to the Audio Technica AT2020, which makes you wonder if AKG was trying to ride on the success of its competitor.

The microphone is accompanied by an all-metal mount adapter, which kind of looks like the stand adapter of the Audio Technica AT2020. However, it lacks a storage pouch, so you’ll have to keep it in the original box or one of your own storage boxes. But at this price point, I shouldn’t be complaining.

It is equipped with several useful features, including a switch for bass cut-off at 300 Hz and a 20dB pad switch, ideal for miking loud electric guitar amps or drum overheads. These features enhance the microphone’s versatility, making it a valuable addition to any recording setup.

The microphone exhibits a high SPL of 130dB, which increases further when the 20dB pad is activated. This ensures the microphone’s ability to handle loud sounds without distortion, a crucial attribute for recording a wide range of vocals and music from rock to metal.

In terms of sound quality, the P120 delivers a crisp, flat-frequency response with a rich and warm tone, making it ideal for vocal recording. It’s almost like a ribbon or tube mic, but without the hefty price tag. It offers a smoother high-end compared to the Audio Technica AT2020, which can sound somewhat harsh around 7kHz. Additionally, the P120 exhibits superior handling of plosives compared to the AT2020.

However, the P120 has some self-noise at 19 dB, so you’ll need a good preamp to get a clean signal. It also has a bit of resonance when you tap on the microphone’s body, but unless you plan on using it as a percussion instrument, that shouldn’t be a problem.

If you’re keen to learn more, check out our full review of the AKG P120!

Product Info

  • Microphone Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid
  • Diaphragm Size: 0.66″ (16.93mm)
  • Power Requirements: 48V phantom power
  • Frequency Response: 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz
  • Sensitivity: -32.4 dBV/Pa (24 mV/Pa) @1kHz
  • Max SPL: 130 dB, 150 dB with Pad
  • Self Noise: 19dB (A-weighted)
  • Output Connection: XLR
  • Weight: 455g (1 lbs)
  • Accessories: Mount adapter


  • Switch for bass roll-off at 300 Hz
  • Switch for -20dB pad


  • One of the best vocal microphones if you’re on a tight budget
  • Robust and durable build
  • Warm, full sound with crisp audio and smooth highs
  • Has a good number of features for its price


  • No storage pouch or box
  • Has some resonance when you tap on the body
  • Has audible self-noise when you turn up the gain

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

The choice between a condenser or a dynamic microphone for recording vocals depends on various factors, including the specific sound you’re aiming for, the environment you’re recording in, and your budget. Here’s a breakdown of the general characteristics of both types to help you decide:

Condenser Microphones

  • Sensitivity: Condenser mics are generally more sensitive and can capture a broader frequency range. This makes them excellent for capturing subtle nuances in vocals.
  • Detail: They tend to provide a more detailed and accurate representation of the human voice and instruments.
  • Power Requirement: Most condenser mics require phantom power, so you’ll need an interface or preamp that provides it.
  • Environment: They are best suited for controlled studio environments where background noise can be minimized.
  • Price: Generally, condenser microphones are more expensive than dynamic microphones.

Dynamic Microphones

  • Durability: Dynamic mics are known for their ruggedness and can handle higher sound pressure levels.
  • Versatility: They are often used for both live performances and studio recordings, especially when a more robust and less detailed sound is desired.
  • Background Noise: Dynamic mics are less sensitive to ambient noise, making them a good choice if you’re recording in a less-than-ideal environment.
  • Price: Typically, dynamic microphones are more budget-friendly.


  • Choose a Condenser Microphone If: You want to capture every nuance of vocal performance in a recording studio setting.
  • Choose a Dynamic Microphone If: You need a versatile and rugged microphone for various recording situations, including live performances, or if you’re on a tighter budget.

Remember, the “best” microphone for vocals will vary based on your individual needs. Trying out a few different microphones to find the one that best suits your voice and recording style is always a good approach.

The choice between an XLR microphone and a USB microphone for vocal recording depends on your specific needs, budget, and recording setup. Here’s a comparison to help you decide:

XLR Microphones

  • Best For: Professional studio recordings, live performances, and situations where high-quality audio is required.
  • Compatibility: Requires an audio interface or mixer with XLR inputs.
  • Quality: Generally offers higher audio quality and the ability to use high-end preamps and processors.
  • Price: Can range from budget-friendly to very expensive, depending on the model.
  • Other Considerations: More versatile but may require additional equipment.

USB Microphones

  • Best For: Home studio recording, podcasting, streaming, and situations where simplicity and convenience are prioritized.
  • Compatibility: Plugs directly into a computer’s USB port, no additional interface needed.
  • Quality: Quality can vary, but is generally suitable for non-professional applications.
  • Price: Often more budget-friendly.
  • Other Considerations: Easier to set up but may offer less control over sound characteristics.


When it comes to choosing the best vocal microphones, the type of microphone can have a significant impact on the sound quality. We are familiar with dynamic and condenser mics, but here are other types of microphones that can be great for vocals as well:

Tube Microphones

For those looking for a warm and vintage sound, tube microphones can be an excellent choice. They add a characteristic coloration to the vocals, often described as “rich” or “full-bodied.”

However, tube microphones are often linked to noise due to inherent factors like the random motion of electrons creating a slight hiss, aging, and deterioration of the tube, instability in the power supply, thermal noise from heating elements, and susceptibility to electromagnetic interference.

Additionally, the design of the microphone’s internal circuitry can influence noise levels. While these factors can contribute to noise, it’s worth noting that some audio professionals find this characteristic desirable, adding warmth and texture to the sound.

Ribbon Microphones

Known for their smooth and natural sound, ribbon mics can be great for capturing vocals with a classic vibe. They are often used in professional studios for their unique tonal qualities.

While the warm, vintage sound of ribbon mics is desirable, they often come at a high cost. Their ribbon element is also very fragile and can be damaged if accidentally exposed to phantom power or loud sound pressure levels.

If you’re keen, we have recommendations for the best ribbon mics.

While having the best microphones for vocals will definitely have a significant impact on vocal clarity and tonal quality, it is only one factor in producing a high-quality mix.

If you’re doing home recording, you’ll need a proper home recording setup with acoustic treatment that reduces room reverberation, which can otherwise make your vocal recording sound muddy.

And it is not just a good recording that will produce an outstanding mix. You will also need a set of flat-sounding studio monitors that will give you the most accurate representation of the mix so that you can make the best discernment for your mix.

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