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How to Choose the Perfect Microphone for Your Vocals

05/10/2022

Everyone has their own unique voice, and it’s important to find the best vocal microphone for you.

You need to make sure that the mic you choose fits your voice and elevates it to the next level before you start adding any fancy effects.  

We’ll take you through different vocal types and help you choose a microphone based on yours.

You might be asking what is a “vocal type?”. These depend on your comfortable vocal range and can be categorised into a number of different types. 

Vocal types

Female singer using the Shure SM86 microphone with her eyes closedHere are the most common vocal types:  

  • Bass – the lowest vocal type; mostly heard in male vocalists (Barry White or Johnny Cash)  
  • Baritone – lies between bass and tenor; probably the most common voice type amongst male vocalists (Elvis, Frank Sinatra)
  • Tenor – commonly heard in male vocalists; a full, rich voice that can easily reach the higher notes (Michael Jackson, Freddie Mercury)
  • Contraltos – mostly female vocalists with a dark, lower tone (Ella Fitzgerald, Tracy Chapman)  
  • Mezzo-soprano – most female pop artists fall into this category; a very rich, full tone but are still able to hit impressive high notes (Beyonce, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga)  
  • Soprano – the highest of the vocal types; largely female vocalists; can hit impressive high notes for long periods (Ariana Grande, Billie Eilish, Haley Williams)  

When you’re looking for your perfect vocal mic, think about how your voice sounds first, and which one of these categories you fit into. This will give you a much better idea as to what microphone you should buy. You also need to think about how you’ll be using the mic – will it be for live performances or recording?  

The microphones to pick from

Shure microphones have been around for almost 100 years. If there’s a microphone out there for you, it could well be a Shure.

We’ll go through a range of Shure mics to help you find the best one for you.  

As well as outlining a few different mics, we’ll help you understand why they’re good for different vocal types. This means you can make your own decision when it comes to buying a microphone for your voice.

Having said this, some of these mics are so versatile that they can be used for several different types of voices and genres. There’s no such thing as “the perfect microphone”. They’re tools to help you. And just like tools, certain ones are better for certain things.  


Shure SM86

A female singer using the Shure SM86 microphoneThe Shure SM86 is a handheld condenser microphone. It’s perfect for a lead vocalist who has a higher voice and needs those extra frequencies to be heard loud and clear.

As the SM86 is a condenser microphone, it produces studioquality vocals in a live setting. It also provides an extended frequency range that is perfectly tailored to vocals.  
 
The SM86 is perfect for a singer that opts for more “intimate” performances like those of Billie Eilish or Ariana Grande, for example. They need that extra bit of detail from the microphone to help their vocals stand out.
 
Perfect for: Tenor, soprano, and mezzo-soprano vocalists

Shop now | Shure SM86 Condenser Vocal Microphone


Shure KSM8  

A female vocalist in a red blouse singing into the Shure KSM8 Microphone with a grey background Shure’s KSM8 is the first ever dual-diaphragm microphone. Usually, microphones only have one diaphragm which is used to capture the sound. The KSM8, however, has two, therefore, reducing the proximity effect and improving off-axis rejection. 

The proximity effect happens when you sing too closely into the microphone. This causes the sound to be very bass-heavy and muddy. Sometimes this is purposeful but it can cause issues in live performance settings.  

The KSM8 is an exceptional quality microphone that works perfectly in demanding environments. It’s perfect for singers who need their vocals to sound the best they possibly can.

However, even though it’s perfect for all vocal types, it may not suit your needs if you’re in a punk or metal band and are looking for a microphone to throw about on stage.

Perfect for: All vocal types

Shop now | Shure KSM8 Dual Diaphragm Dynamic Microphone


Shure SM58

A male vocalist in a sparkly blazer using the Shure SM58 microphone You’ve probably used the Shure SM58 before. It’s iconic and sounds good for pretty much any vocalist. And like all Shure microphones, it’s built to last forever, even in the harshest of conditions.

It’s perfect for anyone in a band who tours smaller venues and needs a reliable, good-sounding microphone.

Built with vocals in mind, this mic is ideal for loud singers and those who use their mid-range a lot. It will elevate your voice to the next level. However, if you’re quieter and need extra detail to come through, this might not be the right mic for you.

Perfect for: Tenor, bass, baritone, contraltos, and mezzo-soprano vocalists

Shop now | Shure SM58 Dynamic Cardioid Vocal Microphone


Shure SM7B

A female singer using the Shure SM7B microphone in the studio, wearing headphones It’s an icon in the microphone world. You’ve probably seen the SM7B used in podcasts and streams, but, really, it’s the perfect microphone for recording any type of vocal.

This mic can make any vocal sound good owing to its warm, deep sound that is a joy to listen to. As it was designed specifically for broadcasting, it gives you that low, boomy sound which works really well when you’re recording a male vocal and a condenser mic is giving you too much sibilance.  

Better still, it has its own built-in switches that allow you to get the perfect tone for your recording. These allow you to change the frequency response of the mic, cut the bass frequencies, and boost the presence for a little extra “sparkle”.  

Perfect for: All vocal types

Shop now | Shure SM7B Dynamic Studio Microphone


Shure Super 55

The Shure Super 55 with a grey backgroundIt may look retro, but the Super 55 is a great-sounding mic that gives you a warm, vintage tone – perfect for jazz singers or someone who just wants a bit of style when performing.

The original 1950s model, the Model 55 (also known as the Elvis), inspired the Super 55. This modern version, however, provides a higher output – like those of Shure’s Beta microphones. It’s the contemporary version of a vintage microphone.  

The Super 55 provides crystal-clear vocals and a touch of “sparkle” in the higher register. It’s a great microphone to have due to its incredible durability and impressive reproduction of sound in the low and high frequencies, giving you a warm but detailed sound.

Perfect for: Tenor, tenor, soprano, and mezzo-soprano vocalists   

Shop now | Shure Super 55 Deluxe Vocal Microphone


Shure PGA48  

The Shure PGA48 Microphone You don’t always need to spend a lot to get a good quality professional microphone. The Shure PGA48 proves this.

It has the perfect frequency response for vocals which is prominent in the mid-range. This microphone has a dedicated on and off switch which can be useful between set-up and performance. Even though it has a plastic housing, it’s still robust, just like every other Shure product out there.  

The Shure PGA48 is great for beginners or instrumentalists who might do some backing vocals. It gives professional-sounding clear vocals at an incredibly low cost.  

Perfect for: All vocal types

Shop now | Shure PGA48 Cardioid Dynamic Vocal Microphone with XLR Cable

 

 


Shure Beta 58A

A female vocalist stood behind the Shure BETA58 microphoneThe Shure Beta 58A is like a “super-powered” version of the SM58, with a higher output, extended frequency response, and a hardened grill.

It’s perfect for giving your vocals a little bit more clarity and detail.

The extended frequency response on the Beta 58A brings out some of the higher frequencies in your vocals – ideal if you have a lower “boomy” voice. It won’t add any extra low end to your voice, rather, it will give tonnes of clarity for those lower frequencies. 

This doesn’t mean that the Beta 58A is “better” than the SM58, they’re both incredibly good microphones that produce slightly different results.  

Perfect for: Bass, baritone, contraltos  

Shop now | Shure Beta 58A Dynamic Microphone


Shure KSM32

The Shure KSM32 Microphone with a grey backgroundThe Shure KSM32 is an incredibly versatile microphone that you would use to record just about everything and anything. This makes it great for vocals, especially as it has a very flat frequency response for a natural reproduction of sound.

The KSM32 excels at capturing low frequencies which makes it ideal for bass and baritone voices. It also has a number of controls such as three levels of bass frequency cutting to help you really tailor your tone.  

As it’s a condenser microphone, it does an amazing job at capturing every sonic detail. Recording with the KSM32 will help add a little extra “something” to your track, particularly if you’re tracking a very intimate vocal line.

Perfect for: All vocal types

Shop now | Shure KSM32 Condenser Microphone

Final thoughts

We’ve only covered a small portion of microphones that Shure offer, and there’s a load of other incredible microphone brands out there. Hopefully, this has helped you better understand what kind of vocal you have and which microphone will work best for you.

The main thing to take away is that you should always try and test a microphone first, everyone’s voice is different so what works for one person might not work for you.    

 

Brand Manager

From selling out Local Leeds Venues and performing at Slam Dunk Festival, Jordan has performed with a number of bands as a session musician and as a songwriter. He has a huge passion for guitar and live sound, working as a live sound engineer for a number of venues throughout Yorkshire.

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