What are the classic vocal Microphones?

Microphone dissapointments“I’ve certainly spent many hours with finicky artists trying different vocal mics, all of which sound
remarkably similar, and all I have to say is that I felt it was a waste of time.”

– Alan Parsons

I want to point out that I don’t record Celine Dion or Barbara Streisand types much. Most of the bands I record want their vocals to be torn up, distorted, processed, etc on a regular basis in ways that are more like Deftones or Daft Punk. Even those that say they want “clean” vocals generally don’t want to sound like James Taylor or Conway Twitty. They want the top end of Yelawolf or something.

I guess disappointment is a function of expectations and that’s in the ear of the beholder. As much as $5k-15k mics like 251s, 47s, M49s, etc are touted in recording land, it’s flat out amazing how much a singer sounds like themselves in just about every mic I’ve ever tried.

My Peluso 251 is a nice microphone (maybe not world-changingly great…whatever that means). It has this air thing up top that can be really awesome. I was recording an airy chick singer with the SM7b (not normally considered an “airy” microphone). I got a complaint from the band boss that the vocal was “too airy”. It turns out that the SM7b, an airy singer, and a super secret knob on my console (high shelf boost) is all it took to get “too airy”. I don’t think this makes the 251 any less effective. It just means if I’m willing to work a bit (turn a secret knob), I can get what I need (or too much of it) from a much cheaper microphone.

I own a Soundelux U99, Peluso 2247, Peluso 2251, (2) Gefell M930s, AKG C414, bla bla bla I had a Neumann TML 127. For over 6 months I had been using the ADK Thor on just about everyone for vocals (It went out as a prize in the ADK Reindeer Ruckus 2012 contest. I plan on getting another very soon.) I sometimes get surprised by unexpected vocal sessions so the solid state mics come in handy as they have no warm up time. After we start that way and like what we get it doesn’t make sense to switch to the tube mics later on.

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Shure Incorporated Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone, Cardioid
Musical Instruments (Shure Incorporated)
  • Flat, wide-range frequency response for exceptionally clean and natural reproduction of both music and speech. Bass rolloff and mid-range emphasis (presence boost)...
  • Improved rejection of electromagnetic hum, optimized for shielding against broadband interference emitted by computer monitors. Highly effective pop filter eliminates...
  • Now shipping with the A7WS detachable windscreen, designed to reduce plosive sounds and gives a warmer tone for close-talk vocals. Yoke mounting with captive stand...
  • Classic cardioid polar pattern, uniform with frequency and symmetrical about axis, to provide maximum rejection and minimum coloration of off-axis sound. Rugged...
  • Includes foam winscreen, close-talk windscreen, and locking yoke mount.
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