7 Top Live Mics for Singing Pop Vocals

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These mics will help your vocals shine on stage -says Chris Kennedy

Just as all voices are different, not all microphones sound the same or are suitable for the same applications. In pop music it is important to be heard clearly above everything else with a bright, hi-fi like sound quality that makes the vocals shine. Although loud stage levels are commonplace in pop music, feedback is typically less of an issue as most pop singers use in-ear monitors; however a reasonably tight polar pattern is often a good idea in order for the other musicians (or the backing track) not to be picked up too much by the microphone.

Here’s a list of VoiceCouncil’s top mic picks for pop singers.

1. Sennheiser e965

Often used in wireless formats, this great sounding mic particular shines for female singers. It has been used by artists such as Katy Perry and Adele, and it’s -10dB pad makes it great for loud singers. This condenser mic has a switchable pick-up pattern (cardioid/super-cardioid) and a low-cut switch to remove rumbles. With its wide frequency response and top-notch sound quality, the e965 is highly recommended for pop singers wanting a top vocal sound.

Manufacturer’s Website: Sennheiser
Our Review: N/A

2. TC-Helicon MP-75 | MP-76

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TC-Helicon’s revolutionary microphones aims to put singers in control of their sound. They feature switches on the microphone to enable the singer to turn on/off TC-Helicon effects during their performance. This is particularly useful if you want to trigger effects such as harmonies or delays only during certain parts of the song. It also can be used with their looping effects to quickly enable singers to build up vocal loops on stage. For pop singers looking to add something extra to their live vocal performances, the MP-76 is definitely worth trying out.

Manufacturer’s Website: TC-Helicon
Our Review: TC-Helicon MP-75 | MP-76

3. Neumann KMS 104

This high-end vocal microphone aims to offer studio-like sound quality in a live setting. It is commonly seen used by lead singers at pop concerts across the globe and is favored by many big-name artists including Celine Dion. It is available in both cardioid and supercardioid versions and is widely used in its wireless format combined with the Sennheiser SKM 5200/SKM 5000 Wireless System.

Manufacturer’s Website: Neumann
Our Review: KMS 105

4. Shure Beta 58

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A particular favorite for male singers, Shure’s Beta 58 has a more present top-end than is older brother the SM58, which helps singers shine through a mix. It is extremely rugged and can withstand being thrown around on stage and its supercardiod pattern is very good at isolating the pick-up from the singer from the musicians around them.

Manufacturer’s Website: Shure
Our Review: Shure Beta 58

5. Heil PR-35

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Heil’s PR-35 is a top quality dynamic microphone that has a full-range sound that works well on bringing out the richness of the low frequencies in a singer’s voice. It has been used by a range of singers from Stevie Wonder to Rhianna and is available in a variety of colors to suit your stage look.

Manufacturer’s Website: Heil Sound
Our Review: Heil PR35

6. Shure KSM9

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The KSM9 is a premium vocal microphone with a switchable polar pattern (cardioid / super cardioid) and a smooth, detailed sound that can pick-up every nuance of a vocal performance. It has a “forward” sound due to its presence boost from 3kHz rising to 15hKz that really makes a singer keep on top of the mix with a sound reminiscent of a polished studio vocal. It is available in champagne or charcoal grey finish and can be purchased in wireless versions.

Manufacturer’s Website: Shure
Our Review: N/A

7. Crown CM311

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The Crown CM311 is a popular choice for pop singers who want to dance on stage while they perform due to its headword design. This condenser mic uses Crown’s proprietary Differoid technology that combines a cardioid pickup pattern to reject sounds from the rear, such as floor monitors, with noise-cancelling technology to reject sounds at a distance, such as instruments on stage and crowd noise. This results in the Crown CM-311 having outstanding gain-before-feedback and isolation; which is essential if you are going to be moving around a lot all over the stage (and maybe even into the audience).

Manufacturer’s Website: Crown Audio
Our Review: N/A

  • Sivispace

    You forgot the Audix OM 2 and OM 3. I have used both and they beat the others like red-headed step children!

  • Douglas Campbell

    The best microphone (although a few dollars more than most mikes listed here) that is perfect for live use is the AKG C535 EB. Very detailed and clear without harshness, needs little if any EQ for most voices and was one of Sinatra’s favorite microphones to use. I use 2 of these in our band and they are awesome!!

  • The C535 is a great microphone. I have on the list of a ‘top jazz mics’ article for VoiceCouncil that will be coming in a few weeks time. :)

  • Douglas Campbell

    But not just a “top jazz mike”. I have still got my original that I bought in 1982 for studio use originally that i still use for my main vocals. I have had to replace the windscreen twice and the capsule once after 30 years of use and it keeps on going just like the eveready bunny…

  • Wolfgang Oehry

    I have been a singer for 40 years and have used many microphones and still have some, but for the past years, the e865 has been my #1 stage microphone.