What should I be looking for when purchasing a good all-rounder vocal mic?

We've dealt in Shure SM58's for years. Are there other alternatives? What qualities should I be looking for when shopping around?

It's for a medium-budget setup. I would say $200 per microphone would be acceptable. Being used for live vocals in soft rock/pop.

  • 2
    Is this for studio or live work? What type of music?
    – HatAndBeard
    Dec 7, 2010 at 20:37
  • Before I read the second sentence, I was going to recommend Shure SM58... it's what I have and I love it, so can't really help. :\
    – Andrew Arnold
    Dec 7, 2010 at 20:37
  • Also, what's your budget look like? There's a pretty large range of prices - are you looking to spend in the hundreds, or thousands?
    – Rich Bruchal
    Dec 7, 2010 at 20:41
  • 1
    Updated question. Ultimately just a general list of qualities to look for and how important each quality is, and I guess as the budget scales we can start adding more "features" in per mic.
    – Mark Henderson
    Dec 7, 2010 at 20:45

5 Answers 5


A part from the classic SM-58, I've had joys with SM-57 and Beta 58. These are all similar, the Beta being the clearest of the lot. These are fine both live and in studio.

Another option is using cheap condenser microphones (I've used the AKG C1000 for instruments and AKG C3000 for voice) which are within your budget and decent for the price. These would be for studio.


For live vocals, I don't think the SM58 can be beat. One of the best (and under-rated) features of it is its durability - it's not going to get damaged easily, even if it's being thrown around the stage by a maniac lead singer.

  • And eventually, it will get thrown...or dropped...or swung around by the cord...or on a stand that'll get kicked over...you get the picture.
    – chris
    Dec 7, 2010 at 21:23
  • Agreed, they are very durable. If they get dropped they do dent, but it's not hard to beat the dents out. Good as new.
    – Benji York
    Dec 18, 2010 at 2:38

As always, mic selection is somewhat subjective, but I've had good experiences with the Sennheiser e Series. You might want to take a look at the e935 & e945 (dynamic) & e865 (condenser) - they would seem to fit your budget. I found them a step up from the 57 & 58 in sound quality. Probably not quite as durable (what is, really?) but they're not fragile either.

  • Used these for years and years in rehearsal (The dynamics). Good durable mics.
    – Powertieke
    Dec 8, 2010 at 8:34
  • btw, in average condenser mics are a bit less durable in comparison to dynamic ones
    – NR4TR
    Apr 28, 2011 at 15:53

My 2 cents:
I use Audix OM5 mics for the backing vocals: good rejection of the drum cymbals on a small stage.
(if it's a really noisy stage, OM7 is even better at it, but more expensive).
Don't expect the clarity, presence & fidelity of a KMS105: the Audix is a ROCK mic.

If you don't know what's coming: SM58Beta can't be beat as an allrounder.


I am with you on the 58s ....You can get better mics if you spend twice as much but for price and the bulletproof quality of a 58 there is a reason they are the first mic on most peoples list of PA gear

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