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Gig Tools: Finding a Vocal Mic

June 19, 2012
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As with auditioning microphones in the recording studio, you need to find the live-performance mic that best reproduces all the wonderful elements of your voice. Beyond that, you want something tough-as-nails that won’t fail under brutal touring conditions, a narrow polar pattern that doesn’t invite feedback, and a presence peak (which is a boost in the mic’s overall frequency response) that ensures your voice will bust out of the band mix.

You’ll want a tighter polar pattern if you jump around on the stage monitors, so try a hypercardioid or supercardioid, otherwise a cardioid is likely fine. As mic technology evolves, there are typically few absolutes as far as sonic characteristics, but consider that a dynamic microphone may offer punchier mids, a condenser may sound fuller with shimmering highs, and a ribbon may deliver a warm, organic tone. Never buy a mic solely on specs, however, as how it sounds reproducing your voice is the ultimate test. Here are some options for starting the search for your perfect vocal mic.

AKG C 5

Type Condenser
Polar Pattern Cardioid
Frequency Response 65Hz-20kHz
Presence Peaks 2kHz-5kHz, 10kHz
Street Price $149
Web akg.com

Audio-Technica AT 2010

Type Condenser
Polar Pattern Cardioid
Frequency Response 40Hz-20kHz
Presence Peaks 3kHz-6kHz, 10kHz
Street Price $99
Web audio-technica.com

Audix OM5

Type Dynamic
Polar Pattern Hypercardioid
Frequency Response 48Hz-19kHz
Presence Peaks 1.5kHz-5kHz, 8kHz
Street Price $159
Web audixusa.com

Beyer TG V90R

Type Ribbon
Polar Pattern Cardioid
Frequency Response 50Hz-14kHz
Presence Peaks 2kHz-4.5kHz, 7kHz-10kHz
Street Price $499
Web beyerdynamic.com

Blue en•CORE 100

Type Dynamic
Polar Pattern Cardioid
Frequency Response 50Hz-15kHz
Presence Peaks 100Hz-200Hz, 2kHz-5kHz, 10kHz
Street Price $99
Web bluemic.com

DPA d:facto Vocal

Type Condenser
Polar Pattern Supercardioid
Frequency Response 80Hz-20kHz
Presence Peak 6.5kHz and up
Street Price $TBA, due May 2012
Web dpamicrophones.com

RØDE M1

Type Dynamic
Polar Pattern Cardioid
Frequency Response 75Hz-18kHz
Presence Peak 3kHz-10kHz
Street Price $99
Web rodemic.com

sE Electronics H1

Type Condenser
Polar Pattern Cardioid
Frequency Response 20Hz-20kHz
Presence Peak N/A
Street Price $249
Web seelectronics.com

Sennheiser e 945

Type Dynamic
Polar Pattern Supercardioid
Frequency Response 40Hz-18kHz
Presence Peak N/A
Street Price $219
Web sennheiserusa.com

Shure SM58

Type Dynamic
Polar Pattern Cardioid
Frequency Response 50Hz-15kHz
Presence Peaks 2kHz-7kHz, 8kHz-10kHz
Street Price $99
Web shure.com

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