The best microphones to buy in 2021: 12 best microphones for rappers and MCs

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Best microphones for rappers and MCs

Most microphones will do a decent job at recording spoken word vocals. But, depending on whether your delivery is laid-back or all-out, the type of microphone you’ll want to use could be very different.

Let’s break it down like this: vocal microphones tend to fall into these two major categories. Dynamics are hard-wearing and generally more adept at handling high sound pressure levels (SPL), making them ideal for loud vocalists and for live applications.

Condensers, on the other hand, tend to be more sensitive and offer excellent detail, particularly in the high-frequency range. In the case of most vocal recording sessions, most professional engineers will reach for a large-diaphragm condenser, because it’s a safe bet.

Here we’ve picked out a list of the best microphones for rappers and MCs – which also include some artist favourites for good measure.

The 12 best microphones for rappers and MCs

  • Warm Audio WA-87 R2
  • Røde PodMic
  • Røde NT1-A
  • Audio-Technica AT4033a
  • Aston Element
  • Shure SM7B
  • Lewitt LCT 440 Pure
  • Audio-Technica AT2020
  • Sony C-800G
  • Golden Age GA-800G
  • Shure SM58
  • Neumann U87 Ai

Warm Audio WA-87 R2

Warm Audio WA87 R2
Image: Warm Audio

Warm Audio’s recreation of the legendary Neumann U87 stays close to the source material from feature set to capsule design. The WA-87 is an affordable way to get your hands on something resembling the most recognizable large-diaphragm condenser in recording history but at a tenth of the cost.

It has three polar patterns – cardioid, omni and figure-eight – as well as a switchable 80Hz high-pass filter and -10dB pad. The capsule, meanwhile, was designed after the original dual-backplate K87 capsule for an authentic tone and response.

In our review, we said: “Warm Audio’s R2 version of the acclaimed WA-87 is sure to be a popular choice for home producers and professional studios alike. It’s a wonderful all-round workhorse that captures source sounds accurately and cleanly, while its low-noise performance is another strong selling point.”

Price: £570 / $599
Type: Large-diaphragm condenser
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Phantom Power: Yes
Other features: -10dB pad, 80Hz high-pass filter

Read our review here.

Røde PodMic

Rode PodMic

As suggested by its name, the Røde PodMic was originally designed with podcasters in mind – but being optimised for speech makes it just as suitable for rap.

This microphone features a voice-friendly tonality that makes capturing great vocal tracks simple, even without much processing. Its outstanding off-axis rejection and in-built pop filter also help your recording stay focused on its source, and with fewer plosives to deal with in post.

Plus, its $99 price tag makes it budget-friendly to most. Just pair it with a reliable audio interface and you’re ready to go.

In our review, we said: “The PodMic is an enormously capable microphone for voice applications and has a very similar tone to the Shure SM7B with high boost engaged, at under a third of the price.”

Price: £99 / $99
Type: Dynamic microphone
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Pickup Patterns: Cardioid
Phantom Power: No
Other features: Built-in pop filter

Read our review here.

Røde NT1-A

Rode NT1-A
Image: Rode

The Røde NT1-A is a large-diaphragm condenser that’s especially popular with home producers, thanks to its excellent sound quality and low price. This easy-to-use mic comes with most of the extra accessories you need to get started recording, including a pop shield, shock mount and a 20-foot XLR.

Besides that, the NT1-A is also more than capable at recording a variety of sources, from acoustic guitars, violins and cello to electric guitar amplifiers.

Price: £199 / $229
Type: Large-diaphragm condenser microphone
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Polar Patterns: Cardioid
Phantom Power: Yes
Included accessories: Pop shield, shock mount, 20’ XLR cable

Audio-Technica AT4033a

Audio Technica AT4033a
Image: Audio Technica

The Audio-Technica AT4033a is a versatile side-address condenser that can be used on a variety of sources, from voice to acoustic guitar and even drum overheads. In the realms of rap, this is also the most current version of the microphone which MF DOOM used to record 2004’s Madvillain.

The switchable high-pass filter at 80Hz is especially handy if you intend to close-mic your talent. This helps curb the unwanted low-mid boost that comes from being too close to the microphone, known as the proximity effect.

Price: £285 / $399
Type: Large-diaphragm condenser microphone
Frequency response: 30Hz – 20kHz
Polar Patterns: Cardioid
Phantom Power: Yes
Included accessories: Shock Mount, Dust Cover, Carry Case

Aston Element

Aston Element Bundle

The Aston Element was birthed out of an arduous 18-month development cycle that involved drawing from the suggestions of over 4,000 customers. The result is a stellar all-rounder that excels in particular with vocal recording.

At the centre of the Element is a technologically ambitious capsule design the brand calls Ridyon, which promises to offer the transient response of a ribbon, the detail of a condenser and the punch of a dynamic. This allows it to be used on a wide variety of sounds. Would you also believe it if we told you the Element comes in a bundle – with a magnetic pop filter and shock mount – for a mere £160?

In our review, we said: “The Element excels as a vocal mic and easily outperforms most similarly priced condensers. But this mic is a true all-rounder too. It has the delicacy and detail of a condenser along with the high sound-pressure level handling capabilities of a rugged dynamic design, all of which means you can use it close to loud electric guitar amplifiers and drum kits, as well as softer instruments.”

Price: £160 / $199
Type: Active Dynamic
Frequency Response: “Beyond 20kHz and below 20Hz”
Polar Patterns: Cardioid
Phantom Power: Yes
Included Accessories: Magnetic pop filter, shock mount

Read our review here.

Shure SM7B

Shure SM7B
Image: Shure

One of the most popular options in the market for all forms of vocal recording, the Shure SM7B is a low-sensitivity dynamic microphone that’s well-suited for spoken word performances, podcasting and singing alike.

The SM7B also features an in-built windscreen to cut down on plosives, as well as both a bass roll-off and presence boost. Because of its low sensitivity, it does require a large amount of gain to get a workable recording level from it. A common solution for this is to pair it with a Cloudlifter, an in-line mic pre, which helps add 25dB of clean gain.

Price: £349 / $399
Type: Dynamic
Frequency response: 50Hz to 20kHz
Polar pattern: Cardioid
Phantom Power: No
Additional features: Bass roll-off, presence boost
Included Accessories: Detachable windscreen

Lewitt LCT 440 Pure

Lewitt LCT440

Austrian mic-maker Lewitt is behind some great-sounding condenser microphones. The LCT 440 Pure, one of their more inexpensive offerings, is no exception.

This is a large-diaphragm condenser that offers a full-bodied sound that is well-suited to an array of vocal timbres and ranges. Its straightforward operation involves a fixed cardioid pickup pattern and no additional switches. Plus, it ships with some useful accessories such as a shockmount, magnetic pop filter and leather carrying bag.

In our review, we said: “If you’re looking for one mic to make the centrepiece of a modest collection, or even to be the only mic you own, the LCT 440 Pure is a great option, providing an open, balanced signal which could easily be used to record all manner of instruments and voices without any trouble.”

Price: $269/£205
Type: Large-diaphragm condenser
Frequency Response: 20Hz to 20kHz
Polar Patterns: Cardioid
Phantom Power: Yes
Included Accessories: Shock mount, magnetic pop filter, windscreen, transport bag

Read our review here.

Audio-Technica AT2020

Audio Technica AT2020
Image: Audio Technica

The AT2020 is a no-nonsense microphone that could be ideal for rappers seeking out an inexpensive option that doesn’t skimp on sound quality. This side-address condenser offers a warm mid-range that should be complementary to most vocalists.

The AT2020 can be applied to some fairly loud sources – such as a loud guitar amplifier or drum overheads – thanks to its high SPL handling of 144dB. It ships with a stand mount and a microphone pouch.

Price: $99
Type: Medium-diaphragm condenser
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Polar Patterns: Cardioid
Phantom Power: Yes
Included Accessories: Stand mount, microphone pouch

Sony C-800G

Sony C800G

Well-known as being the microphone of choice amongst artists the likes of Eminem, Dr. Dre and the late Mac Miller, the Sony C-800G is a tube condenser microphone with an exceptionally clean tone.

However, the C-800G is an expensive microphone – ballparking around $10,000 on the used market. As such, it’s probably more suited for professional environments rather than project studios.

Part of the big price tag comes from an in-built cooling system designed to keep the microphone at “optimum tube operating temperature,” Sony says. Atop that, there are both omnidirectional or cardioid pickup patterns, a dual-diaphragm design and a 6AU6A vacuum tube. It’s also a microphone which many engineers have noted to be incredibly honest, which could work to the effect or detriment of a recording, depending on the performance of your talent.

Price: $10,700 / £9,499
Type: Tube condenser
Frequency Response: 20Hz – 18kHz
Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Omni
Included Accessories:
Power supply, windscreen, shockmount, mic cable, carrying case

Golden Age GA-800G

Golden Age Premier GA800G

If you’re firm on picking up a C800G but are willing to explore your options for a better deal, consider a reproduction such as the Golden Age GA800G.

In a similar fashion to the above, this tube condenser fits an in-built cooling system that allows it to offer low self-noise and less distortion than its other valve-powered counterparts.

In our review, we said: “Spoken word – the purest yet arguably most rigorous test of any microphone’s accuracy and transparency – is captured without artifice, sounding natural and convincing.”

“In operation, the mic is pin-drop silent with a noise floor that’s vanishingly low – a remarkable result for a valve mic. This is where the cooling system is essential, enabling the tube to work efficiently without turning the microphone into an oven.”

Price: £3,600
Type: Tube condenser
Frequency response: 20HZ – 20kHz
Polar Patterns: Cardioid, omni, variable-pattern
Included Accessories: Power supply, Shockmount

Read our review here.

Shure SM58

Shure SM58
Image: Shure

The SM58 (and its twin, the SM57) earns its status as the most ubiquitous microphone in the world because of its sheer reliability. Whether you’re at a world-class theatre, a mid-sized club or even the dingiest of dives, you’re likely going to find at least a couple of these around.

It’s hard to argue against the SM58, its powerful low-end and mid-range emphasis offer both volume and punch, while its internal shock absorber works to minimise handling noise (especially when held in your hand), plus it’s also near-indestructible.

Price: $99 / £75
Type: Dynamic
Frequency response: 50Hz – 15kHz
Polar Patterns: Cardioid
Phantom Power: No
Included accessories: Stand adaptor, storage bag

Neumann U87 Ai

Neumann U87ai
Image: Neumann

Lauded for its versatility in the studio, the Neumann U87 could be said to represent an industry gold standard for recording rap vocals. This large-diaphragm condenser offers three polar patterns (cardioid, omni and figure-eight); a -10dB pad, which you can engage for mic’ing up loud sources and a low-cut for curbing unwanted proximity induced low-mid boost while in either of the directional modes.

Price: $3,600/£2,265
Type: Capacitor (Condenser)
Frequency response: 20Hz – 20kHz
Polar patterns: Cardioid, Omni, Figure-eight
Phantom power: Yes
Included accessories:
Wooden box

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