These mics will help provide a warm natural sound to your vocals on stage -says Chris Kennedy
Just as all voices are different, not all microphones sound the same or are suitable for the same applications. Unlike rock singers, jazz singers are rarely having to compete with extremely loud stage volumes, and, as a result, are able to use microphones that are more similar to what you would use in a studio to capture the vocals with top sound quality. When looking for a good microphone for jazz (unless you want a deliberately vintage sound), most singers will tend to opt for a warm and detailed sounding microphone that allows for every nuance of their vocal imperfections to be heard clearly.
Here’s a list of VoiceCouncil’s top mic picks for jazz singers.
1. Neumann KMS 104 / 105
This high-end vocal microphone aims to offer studio-like sound quality in a live setting. It is very popular amongst current jazz singers and commonly used by singers such as Norah Jones, Dianna Krall, and Harry Connick Jr. It is available in both cardioid and supercardioid versions and often used in a wireless format combined with the Sennheiser SKM 5200/SKM 5000 Wireless System.
2. AKG C535 EB
The AKG C535 EB was often the microphone of choice for Frank Sinatra in the 80s and 90s. This cardioid handheld condenser vocal microphone has a full 20 to 20000 Hz frequency bandwidth, and features a switchable bass cut/roll off filter to remove unwanted low-frequency rumbles and pops when used for stage vocals. It is designed to offer a combination of excellent, highly detailed audio combined with road-ready ruggedness.
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3. Shure SH55 / Super 55
Because sometimes you just want a mic that looks cool! Although the SH55 is perhaps not the ultimate mic sound-wise for modern jazz vocals, it can certainly produce a decent enough sound for most singers who want to add a retro look to their live performances. Shure’s more recent variant, the Super 55, is based around their beta 58 capsule, which helps provide a more modern vocal tone and improved feedback rejection.
4. Shure Beta 87a / 87c
Shure’s Beta 87A is a premium quality, hand-held condenser vocal microphone that has a frequency response that is tailored to provide a presence rise that brightens the upper midrange and helps vocals cut through. The microphone has often been the favourite choice for Michael Buble (87c), and has been used on many of his tours and concerts.
5. DPA D:facto II
The Dfacto II aims to be the ultimate live mic for vocal clarity, however it is also the most expensive mic listed here. It is designed to have extremely linear frequency response and phase, both on- and off-axis, with a excellent definition to reproduces a singer’s voice effortlessly.
6. Audio-Technica AT 2010
If you want the clarity of a condenser microphone on stage but don’t have the budget for some of the other mics listed here, the Audio-Technica AT2010 could be a great choice. It features the same 16 mm low-mass diaphragm from popular AT2020 studio condenser microphone to help provide studio-like sound quality on stage.
7. Shure SM58
The SM58 has been a popular choice for all types of singers as a “workhorse” microphone for decades. Although it probably isn’t used as much as it once was, it can still be a great choice for jazz singers. The SM58 was released in 1966 and was used extensively by jazz singers such as Frank Sinatra, mostly due to it having a very usable proximity effect that can help with adding warmth and intimacy to male voices.