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Q. Which microphone should I buy for recording vocals?

By Paul White

Rode NT2A.Rode NT2A.

I do recording work with a number of acoustic performers but I'm having trouble finding a suitable mic for recording vocals. For recording acoustic guitars I use AKG C1000s and I get a great recorded sound with no problems. For vocals I was using an SE Electronics large-diaphragm condenser mic, which sounded OK, but I thought I'd upgrade and went for an AKG C3000. What a mistake! The recorded sound was very harsh, sibilant and unnatural — all the performers hated it!

I've now resorted to using AKG C1000s for vocals as well as guitar, and they do a good job. However, I do want to get a purpose-designed vocal condenser mic, but it must be one that has a warm and smooth sound. As always, I'd be grateful for your thoughts and comments. Having researched the available mics, I think the Rode NT2A seems to fit the bill, and it got a good review from Paul White in SOS, but would it be the correct choice? I have a budget of around £200.

Both the Rode NT2A and the SE Electronics Z3300A can help provide good quality vocal recordings on a budget.Both the Rode NT2A and the SE Electronics Z3300A can help provide good quality vocal recordings on a budget.

John Ablitt

Editor-In-Chief Paul White replies: If you need a smooth-sounding vocal mic, the Rode NT2A is a very good choice within its price range, but don't get rid of all your other mics, as different voices benefit from different mic characteristics.

I've found that the SE Electronics mics have a pretty 'in the middle' kind of sound, so they should suit a wide range of singers. Also take a close look at your recording environment itself, to see whether that is colouring the sound excessively. Hanging duvets behind the singer, to reduce the amount of reflected room sound reaching the vocal mic, is always a handy quick fix if you don't have a proper vocal room or booth set up. 

Published January 2006