Microphones for recording the voice in studios is one thing. Finding the Best Microphones for Recording Rap Vocals is something totally different.
Not really. When you record a solo singer or a band, there is exactly that, a band, or other musicians. Recording a rap artist, there might not be much at all. Much of it will come from the sound the singer makes. It, therefore, requires a different type of recording — a different type of microphone.
Some say that rap originated with DJ’s making announcements that just became more complex. James Brown was also a big influence with his repetitive funk sounds. It can’t be denied though that rap probably originated way before then in Africa.
By the end of the 70s, rap had become a genre on its own. It spilled over and became a defining influence in ‘street culture.’ And especially among young African Americans in New York City. Even the word ‘rap’ was a cultural thing. The word rapping means talking in street slang. It stayed in that specialized and closed environment for some years but exploded onto the music scene with ‘Rappers Delight’ by the Sugar Hill Gang.
There were many influences on this emerging style. And those involved took their inspiration and made their heroes from a wide social circle. It is portrayed as being a lot about deprivation, poverty, and personal and social struggles. A lot of it is, of course, but some of the influences on the whole cultural aspect of rap were very wealthy people: Muhammed Ali and Richard Pryor, to name only two.
Today it cannot escape its influences and is perceived as a bad example by some. This is something that some involved in the industry glory in. In many ways, it has been taken over by people with other agendas and is now associated with some dubious activity.
Some, on the other side of the fence with their own agendas, like to focus on the negative. Whatever you think, there are some very talented people involved. Using rhythms, beats, and modern vernacular to put across a message is a skill. Using it to put across a social message can be a positive.
Maybe a Paul Simon, Neil Young, or a Bob Dylan with a beatbox in days past. Recording this evolving music can be challenging. You need the right equipment, an essential, no, a vital part of which is the mic.
So let’s take a look at some of the Best Microphones for Recording Rap Vocals currently available and find the perfect one for you…
Top 12 Best Microphones For Recording Rap Vocals In 2021 Reviews
1 Audio-Technica AT4040 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
Audio Technica is a known big player in the budget microphone market. They have a reputation for delivering a good product at a reasonable price. This mic proves that they can also deliver in the higher price ranges.
This is a simple design with a metal build that gives it a tough exterior. Finished all in black, as is common with Audio-Technica microphones, it looks ready for work. It is a side-address mic with a mesh on the grille, which is unusually wider than is normal.
This is an interesting design and lets you see the large diaphragm inside. This doesn’t seem to make the diaphragm vulnerable by being exposed as the mic is built like a tank.
It has a fixed cardioid pattern. The frequency range is an impressive 20Hz to 20kHz with an SPL of 145 dB. When you engage the -10dB pad switch, the SPL reaches 155dB. That is an impressive level to work with on vocals. It also has a low pass filter allowing lower frequencies to pass through the cutoff level.
This is a very versatile mic. Vocals are clear and accurate with a comfortable level of brightness that is not too sharp. Whilst it is a good mic for vocals, it also doubles up rather well when working instruments.
Due to its high SPL, it is very good for working with sudden rushes of volume. Both drums and guitars through an amp are both recorded faithfully with a good tonal response. It is one of those microphones that is consistently good at what it does. But then that is a trademark of this Japanese company.
As a microphone, it has a rugged build, great for live or studio work, and with all the attributes needed to record at a high level. The price point is set to make this worthy of consideration. It comes with a shock mount and a carrying case.
- Tough build that makes it suitable for studio or stage.
- A good design that creates a powerful, articulate sound at an affordable cost.
- Not the easiest mic for handheld operation.
2 Neumann TLM 102 MT Condenser Microphone
This mic from Neumann is one of the most expensive on our list. It is the mic that a lot of other manufacturers try to copy. But the TLM 102 is the real thing. This doesn’t try to be anything else than a superb vocal mic. For rap vocals, in particular, it delivers a clear and crisp sound so important so that the words can be heard.
It is a well-built mic and no small fry at 9.8 inches by 4.6 by 2.6 inches and weighing one and a half pounds. It is finished in an impressive black with silver. However, it has a pop filter built-in, but it is usually best to combine the internal versions with an external filter. This ensures getting rid of any plosives. Also, it comes with a stand for mounting the mic.
It is a large-diaphragm cardioid design with an SPL of 144dB, making it ideal for loud vocals. It also gives you options should you wish to record drums or live guitars. The condenser capsule is one inch and is suspended to reduce any vibrations. It has a 20Hz to 20kHz frequency range. The voice production is given a boost above 6kHz.
This is a microphone made by a company with an impressive track record. This microphone is representative of their quality. It can adapt easily to fit onto a standard mic stand if required. It hasn’t got a shock mount though, which is quite surprising. As a mic, it ticks all the boxes, and as a microphone, for rap vocals, it is designed to perform,
Expensive when compared with some other models, but the quality stands out.
- Great design and features from an established manufacturer.
- Perfect for vocals with a high SPL.
- The price might put some people off.
3 Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package
Rode is an Australian company that has built a big reputation for themselves since they were founded in1967 as Freedman Electronics. Still based in Sydney, they have created an impressive portfolio of microphones. Most of them instantly recognizable by their nickel-plated body design and satin-like silver finish.
The Rode NT1-A has a cardioid pattern with a polarized one-inch condenser. It is a side-address design. The condenser has a gold plated membrane. Other gold plated connectors mean that there will be excellent connections and a bare minimum of unwanted noise.
he circuitry is designed to deliver a low-noise performance. It has a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz and an SPL of 132dB. It has some good built-in features. A pop filter and shock mounting system are further help to ensure quality sound reproduction, and the self-noise level of 5dBA is very low.
Build-wise it is well-made with a strong shell and fittings. It is not particularly lightweight at 4.5 pounds. It comes as part of a package that includes the shock mount pop filter but also a 20-foot cable and a dust cover.
Given the quality of Rode microphones, this is not an expensive buy. It is versatile, has quality components and not only works well with vocals but also with instruments. The price point might give the impression that this is a start-up microphone, but it is much more than that.
There is a clarity and accuracy of sound reproduction. This ensures that for recording rap music, it will deliver a polished result. Good value for money and one of the best microphones for rap vocals. However, as with all other condenser microphones, you will need 48v Phantom power.
- Good strong build at an affordable price.
- Excellent sound reproduction and especially good for vocals.
- It is extremely sensitive, so ambient noise could be a problem.
4 Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone Bundle
Another product from Audio-Technica, one of the most popular microphone manufacturers at the budget end of the market. They do occasionally move into higher levels of microphone production, and this is one example.
The 2035 is a Cardioid condenser microphone with a side-address design. The cardioid pattern makes it a good choice as a vocal mic. It will reduce the impact of any unwanted sounds and has a low feedback level. By excluding any ambient noise, it allows the mic to concentrate on the principal sound source.
It has a -10dB switch letting some signals peak and not distort and an 80Hz high-pass filter removing any low-frequency hum or other sounds.
This is a large-diaphragm design with a high SPL of 148dB. It has a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz. Large-diaphragm condenser microphones or LDCs have a powerful top end and very clear low frequencies. But it is the warmth of the mid-range that makes them great for vocals. That and, of course, the transient response, which is vital for rap music.
It is a tough metal build that is going to take a few knocks, but it also looks impressive. It is supplied as part of a package. Mounting adapter, shock mount, external pop filter, and an XLR cable are included with a protective pouch
For the price point, it is an excellent option. Audio-Technica makes good quality microphones. It will not compete with the very highest levels of microphones, but at this level and price, it is one of the best recording microphones for rap vocals. It is a very sensitive microphone though so care needs to be taken with its recording environment.
- Well made and rugged mic from a quality manufacturer.
- Very good sound reproduction at an affordable price.
- Very sensitive, so needs the right studio environment.
5 AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII Vocal Condenser Microphone
What can you say about AKG that hasn’t already been said? What can you say about the C414 and its predecessor, the C12 that hasn’t been said? AKG and the C12 and 414 are legends in the recording world. We would be surprised if you could go into any respected studio anywhere and not find an AKG mic, and it is often a C12 or a 414.
We know that Glyn Johns, famed UK engineer (Led Zepplin, The Who), used to complement his beloved Shure SM57’s with an AKG on the kick and on live bass guitar.
If you are serious about your sound, welcome to AKG. Founded in Austria just after the Second World War, they have built a reputation few can live with for quality. The C414 is one of THE legendary mics. First manufactured in 1971, it has stood the test of time. The release of the newer C414 XL11 has raised the quality a little further.
It is a multi-pattern condenser mic. It is built from the highest quality components using top range technology. It’s nine polar patterns produce results that are setting new standards. Those patterns allow you to select a setting that will suit whatever it is you are going to record. The five original patterns are still there, and four new settings sit in between the existing sounds.
It is a large-diaphragm with nine polar patterns to choose from. Peak warning indicators and three bass cut filters are included. Three attenuation pads at -6,-12 and -18dB, and a massive 158dB SPL make this a special microphone.
If you are looking for the Best Microphone for Recording Rap Vocals, you may have found it. The sound for vocals has depth and clarity at the top end, but the mids are just exceptional. Of course, this much quality comes at a price. You would expect that. But you will be hard pushed to find better quality than the AKG Pro Audio C414 XLII Vocal Condenser Microphone
- A quality mic from a quality manufacturer.
- Perfect for vocals with its high-quality design and features.
- Only that the price might scare a few people.
6 Rode NTK Premium Tube Cardioid Condenser Microphone
The Aussies are well known through the Rode brand for being able to manufacture great microphones. This is another example. The NTK is a great mic for recording vocals.
This is a Cardioid condenser microphone with a twin-triode tube and an externally polarized capsule. It has a rich valve sound that works well with both male and female voices — giving a sound that has both modern and vintage sounds. The reproduction is clear and very defined, and its warm mid-tones make it perfect for recording great vocals. The attributes required for recording vocals at a high-quality level also apply to other disciplines.
It is also great for acoustic instruments and even drums. But its ability to record vocals we are concerned with here and that ability is evident. The frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz is wide, and the huge SPL of 158dB gives a quality performance.
It is a rugged build as Rode microphones are, and as this is a tube mic, it has its own power supply. The microphone is plugged into the supply, and then the XLR cable connects to the preamp. No Phantom power is therefore required. It should be noted though that tube microphones will need some warm-up time before they can be used. Also, be advised that the capsule is very sensitive, so the recording environment needs to be suitable.
This mic is designed to produce quality vocals and does so. The price point is set realistically for a quality mic.
- A quality mic designed for recording vocals.
- Typical Rode quality.
- The power unit necessary might be considered a problem for some.
7 AKG Pro Audio C214 Professional Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone
We have already taken a look at one AKG legend, the C414. Here is the C214, its younger cousin. Very similar in many ways, but at a more affordable price, this makes the C214 one of the best quality microphones for recording rap vocals.
The capsule is the same as the 414, but it comes in a cardioid only one-inch, large single-diaphragm mic. The options are less than the 414, but the same great AKG sound is there. Both voices and instruments benefitting from clear and defined reproduction.
If you are looking for an affordable mic with real quality, then you might have found it. It has a solid compact build that is typical of AKG — in other words, built to last. The scratch-resistant surface is going to maintain its great looks, and it has a toughened metal grille. It has a frequency range of 20Hz to 20kHz and a maximum SPL of 156dB.
There is a low cut filter and a 20dB attenuation pad that is switchable. The capsule is suspended inside the casing to eliminate any mechanical and other unwanted noises.
At 6.3 inches by 2.2 inches and just over 3 pounds, it is a compact mic. It comes with a shock mount and windscreen inside its metal carry case. It will require +12v to +52v Phantom power.
Another mic specially designed for vocals all the clarity of the highs and defined bottom end are present. But it is the super warm mids that make this mic what it is.
A great opportunity for everyone to get a piece of the AKG action. And at this price point, why not?
- AKG design means a tough mic of great quality.
- Affordable price with a great vocal sound.
- At this price for an AKG, nothing at all.
8 MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
If you are looking for a budget entry-level microphone to record vocals, the might be worth a look. It is set at a very affordable price point, but don’t let that dissuade you. This is a very capable microphone that punches above its weight.
The design of this microphone is such that the diaphragm is exposed to sound from both sides. A pressure gradient condenser mic. It has a cardioid polar pattern. The performance levels are not quite as impressive as some microphones that cost much more. But the MXL 770 still has a more than acceptable frequency range of 30hZ to 20kHz and SPL of 137dB.
It has certain qualities, though, and is easy to set up, and the construction is rugged. It is finished in black with a heavy-duty black grille and looks like it will take a few knocks. The low frequencies are nicely balanced and not overpowering, allowing the mids to come through. The top end is bright and clear. To eliminate any unwanted noise, there is a low-frequency roll-off. It comes with a shock mount and a very well-built, padded case. It will require +48v Phantom power.
This is certainly a microphone to consider if you are on a budget. The sound is sharp and clear and performs well in the vocal arena. It isn’t as good a mic as those more expensive, of course. But this is a quality microphone at a very competitive price. It is a sensitive mic, though, and so the recording room needs to be right and free of unnecessary noise.
- Tough build at an affordable price.
- Good for vocals and comes with a very nice case.
- Some may want a higher level of performance.
9 Shure SM57-LC Cardioid Dynamic Microphone
I suppose all I need to say is, here is the Shure SM57. That will probably suffice. The microphone of choice of so many people. Singers, musicians, recording engineers, producers. It has a history. A more than 50-year history. An impressive one. We can list all the qualities of this legend of microphones, but we would rather approach it in a different way.
We do, of course, need to lay down the basics. It is a cardioid pattern mic and has a frequency response of 40 to 15,000 Hz. And it has a tough build, records anything and is possibly the most popular and widest used microphone ever. It is known for its incredible isolation.
Producer and engineer Glyn Johns always used one on snare drums, as do 99.8% of all other professional engineers. He could position it so it wouldn’t pick up the hi-hat, such is the sound isolation. We all know the qualities; they don’t need repeating. Let’s return to a different approach to considering this mic.
Someone once said, “Don’t go off and spend a fortune buying an expensive mic. If you can’t get them to sound good with an SM57, just give up.” Maybe a little harsh, but we understand what he means.
It was designed to record anything you put in front of it. It just happens to excel at all of them, especially vocals. Its broad frequency range ensures its versatility. We have known singers who have recorded with an SM57 and then gone out and bought one for live work. Its handheld design makes that possible.
And tough? Check out Roger Daltrey launching one into space with his rodeo loop and throw on ‘Won’t Get Fooled Again.’ Yes, they are road-ready and ‘Who-proof.’
You still have this either in reserve as a vocal microphone or to record anything else. And we do mean anything else? Basically, everyone needs at least one SM57, but in fact, you’ll end up with lots, everyone does!
A wonderful microphone by any standards and the price? More affordable than you could possibly imagine. Is it the Best Microphone for Recording Rap Vocals? It is going to take some beating.
- Well-respected microphone from one of the world’s best manufacturers.
- Great sounds at a great price.
- Absolutely nothing.
10 Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser
Back to Audio-Technica for their AT2020 with USB. This particular microphone connects as you have guessed from the title by USB to your computer. This allows you to record directly to music applications and get great results.
It is a cardioid condenser mic, which means it will cut out any unwanted noise and just receive the sound from its intended source.
The build quality is high, and it has a metal grille and a threaded tripod stand that is very stable. This makes it easy to use on a table. It allows you to easily position the microphone exactly where you want it.
It has a frequency range of 20 Hz to 16 kHz and a high SPL. Therefore recording high volume sound without distortion is not a problem. There are also some features you don’t usually get with some microphones. The AT2020 has a headphone jack to let you hear what is being recorded, latency-free, using the built-in headphone amp.
But if you are familiar with their products, then you will know that still means quality. This mic is particularly good with vocals and produces a clear and defined sound. It hasn’t got the warmth in depth of some of the more expensive microphones, but that is to be expected. The performance is good, but a higher spec will cost a lot more. This is an entry-level mic and, as such, is good quality at a good price.
There is one issue that you might need to be aware of. This mic is compatible with Mac OS and Windows operating systems, but there is a problem with Windows 10. We understand this is a Microsoft problem that has not been fixed. A bug in the system. Nothing to do with Audio-Technica. If you use Windows 10, it might be a good idea to check it out prior to purchase.
If you are looking for a mic to use in a home studio or just straight to a computer, this is worth a look. Good build and great sound with an affordable price point.
- Well made with a tough build and tripod table stand.
- Good sound reproduction and connection straight to your computer.
- Some will want higher quality.
11 Blue Yeti USB Mic For Recording
This is Blue’s offering for a quality mic that will plug straight into your computer. They have come up with a design that is well-built and sturdy. It has a tough, metal-based build with a rugged mesh grille. It looks like it will take a few knocks. Recognizing that not all recording environments are the same, they have provided options.
They have made a tri-capsule design that offers four options for recording. It will depend on which you think best suits your environment; you can choose from Cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, or stereo.
It has some interesting features. Some of which will be useful but at the same time might cause their own problems. For instance, there is a headphone amp and a 3.5 socket. Connecting headphones to a mic setup can be useful to hear latency-free monitoring. But a cable moving around and making contact with the mic or even stand could generate unwelcome mechanical noise. Not good, so care should be taken.
It is fitted with a mute control. There is a gain control for the headphone amp and a separate volume for the headphones on the body of the mic. The stand is good. Well-made, with a solid base, it allows the angle of the mic to be adjusted to exactly the right position.
The Yeti is compatible with Mac and Windows operating systems and requires no drivers or downloads. However, a word of caution for Windows 10 users. There is a bug in the ’10’ system that prevents the mic from functioning properly. This is a Microsoft problem, not a Blue problem. Checking to see if it is resolved might be a good idea. A USB cable is supplied. For setup, 64MB of RAM is required.
This is a very good mic for vocals if you don’t ask too much of it. The performance is good but obviously won’t compare with microphones much more expensive. It has a frequency range of 20Hz – 20kHz and a decent SPL.
It is very good for all vocal work, including voice-overs and narration, and actually works quite well for rap vocals. At this price point, if you are looking for a straight to computer mic, this is worth considering.
- Well made with some good features.
- Very good for vocals at an affordable price.
- Some may just require higher quality.
12 AKG P220 Vocal Condenser Microphone
For our final review, let’s return to the ‘Masters of the Universe,’ otherwise known as AKG. This is another of their microphones that can be described as versatile. Unless you are a wealthy owner of a big studio, then you need microphones that can work in different situations. The P220 is exactly that. A large-diaphragm condenser mic, it will never fail to give you a great sound.
With its cardioid polar pattern, it receives the signal from its sound source and excludes any external periphery noise. It has a frequency response of 20Hz to 20kHz and a maximum SPL of 155dB. Also included is a bass roll-off at 300 Hz and a switchable 20dB attenuation pad.
It has a tough build with a metal grille protecting the head. And comes with a spider shock mount with mic stand attachment and an impressive metal carry case. It does require +48v phantom power. No cables are included.
This is not the top of the range AKG by any stretch of the imagination, but it is certainly a quality mic. For vocals, it produces a clear and rounded sound that is precise and clear. It must be said this is a better mic for studio use rather than stage work.
A great mic, and at the price, you can’t go far wrong.
- Typical tough AKG build at an affordable price.
- Good sound with a lot of versatility of use.
- Some may want a more dedicated vocal mic.
Best Microphones For Recording Rap Vocals Buyer’s Guide
Getting The Microphone You Need
Rap music is a specialized genre that has certain attributes that other musical styles don’t have. You will need a good frequency range. A good reference is 20Hz to 20kHz, which is a standard range. However, normally you might expect to find a range of 80 Hz to 15 kHz to be acceptable. The former is a bit wider.
All of the microphones we looked at had frequency ranges that were more than acceptable. In fact, most had 20Hz to 20kHz, which means they will be suitable for other instruments. The lower of 20Hz making it great for drums and bass.
Quick As A Flash…
You will also need a fast response. Sometimes the words in rap are uttered at a ferocious speed and are virtually joined together. The mic has to cope with that and pick up any separation that does exist. Without that ability, the recording can be unintelligible. The critical areas then are frequency range and response time.
The actual sound of the mic is also important. You want the voice to sound warm and rounded. Not too sharp and crunchy and certainly not so deep that you lose clarity. Fortunately, all of the microphones we looked at are made by quality manufacturers. They all sound excellent with, of course, differing degrees.
XLR or USB?
The final decision is the connection. Do you want an XLR fitting, or do you want a USB straight into a computer? This will depend on what environment you are going to use it in. We have looked at choices in both areas. Have fun. There is some real quality out there.
More Microphone Options
Looking for microphones for other duties than recording rap vocals? If so, check out our reviews of the Best Microphones Recording Electric Guitar, the Best Vocal Mics, the Best Dynamic Microphones, the Best IOS Microphones, the Best USB Microphones, and the Best Microphones Youtube currently available.
You may also be interested in our reviews of the Best Microphone Preamps on the market.
So, Which Is The Very Best Of The Best Microphones For Recording Rap Vocals?
This has to be one of the most difficult decisions. So many great microphones. So many highly respected manufacturers. Among them the Shure SM57, a legend, and the AKG C414, the benchmark that others aspire to. Plus, we’ve covered some great budget lines from Audio-Technica and Blue as well as sheer class from Neumann and Rode.
Not easy this one, but, in the end, we decided to go with the…
Still a legend and just pure quality. Our choice as the Best Microphone for Recording Rap Vocals.