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I'm just getting started with recording at home. I've done some recording in a band in a real studio in the past, but never really learned anything about the equipment and how to use it. I'm wanting to record some ideas at home to play around with. I'm looking for a good vocal mic but have no idea where to start. What should I be looking for in a quality mic?

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3 Answers

A microphone that works well for vocals and is in a god price-range yet is good quality is the Shure SM-57. It also has the benefit to be an excellent mic to record electric guitars. As such it is pretty much the first microphone to buy of any kind.

If you want something that has a more transparent top, you probably want a large-diaphragm condensor. There are an almost infinite number of those around, and I haven't used more than a couple, so I can't really recommend anything, and I bought my vocal mix ten years ago ( Oktava MK-319) and the market has changed with well known budget brands like Audio-Technica introducing the AT2020 for $99!

But I'd recommend you to get an SM57 first, and build from there.

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Make sure your preamps have plenty of gain (55+ maybe). The sm57 really shines with a good pre. –  Sam Greene Feb 16 '11 at 22:28
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There is a flood of decent microphones on the market (junky ones too... there's just a flood of ALL kinds of microphones on the market). Pick a price point and you can have more options than you can sensibly deal with. Ask yourself:

  • What am I going to be recording with this microphone? Any possibility of using it for anything other than vocals? (maybe miking an amp, or an acoustic instrument, or drums?)
  • What am I going to plug this microphone into? If it's a "sound card" you might need a preamp of some kind, which you need to budget for
  • What am I going to do with the recordings I make?

Answering those questions will help you pick a price point and give you some idea of the characteristics of a mic you might find useful.

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Check out All-round vocal mic for some ideas

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