Beat-boxing requires a range of unique microphone techniques that differ from what most singers would typically use on stage.
To reflect this, choosing a microphone that helps you get the best beat-boxing sound, means you might want to look for something a bit different than you use for your singing voice. For this you will generally need a mic that is tough, very feed-back resistant (to cope with loud stage levels), has low levels of handling noise and offers good resistance to plosives.
In this article, we look at some of the more popular mic choices that beat-boxers currently use and the reasons behind why they work well for this particular vocal style.
1. Audix Fireball
Audix’s Fireball is a uniquely shaped microphone that has been specifically designed for beat-boxing (and for harmonica players). Its small-body design allows it to be cupped easier in the user’s hands than a traditional microphone and it capable of handling SPLs in excess of 140 dB without distortion. It is specifically designed to remain clear and articulate when used very close to your mouth – something a lot beat-boxers tend to do.
2. AKG BBB DFIVE
This microphone was also designed specifically for beat-boxing and, as such, was the mic of choice for the World Beat-Boxing championships for the last few years. As well as having a frequency response tailored for beat-boxing, it has a very effective windscreen prevents wind noise when used close to the grille and its dual shock mount pretty-much eliminates all handling noise.
3. Shure SM58
The SM58 is a classic for a reason. It does a good job on pretty much anything you put in front of it and is built to withstand all the abuse you might throw at it. It also responds well to various mic techniques that beat-boxers like to use. Although it does not have quite as crisp a sound as the Fireball or BBB DFive, it still remains a popular choice.
4. TC-Helicon MP-76
If you’re after a microphone that can help you incorporate effects into your performance, TC-Helicon’s MP-76 could be a great option. It features buttons that allow you to control one of their compatible effects units directly from the microphone, which could be used to add a new level of creativity to your beat-boxing performance. You can also use it for live looping – making it a great option for solo artists wanting to add extra layers to their shows.
5. Beatboxmics, The Thumper TH100
The Thumper TH100 is a pretty unique microphone – it mics up your throat instead of your mouth! Specifically designed for beat-boxers who like to use a two-mic technique; the throat mic helps to pick up a more “bassy” sound while another microphone can then be used to add in the treble. The TH100 straps around your neck and its active circuity gives options for bass enhancement and low-pass filtering.
6. Behringer XM8500
Behringer’s XM8500 is a microphone has gained popularity for beatboxers on a budget. It can be bought for under $40 and is capable of much better sound quality than the price might suggest. It features an internal shock-mount to reduce handling noise, and its built-in pop filter works well with close microphone use.
7. Shure Beta 58
The Beta 58 is Shure’s updated version of the SM58. It features a wider frequency response and improved feedback rejection – it is also exceptionally tough. If you are used to performing with an SM58 and just want something that has a more modern, “hi-fi” sound, then you can’t go too far wrong with a Beta 58.
8. Crown / AKG CM-311
Although a lot of beat-boxers like to hold their microphone so that they can adjust the distance to their mouth to alter the sound, others like to have their hands free for doing other things. One example of this is Beardyman, who often performs with a headset microphone in order to simultaneously perform on a keyboard or synthesizer such as Kaoss Pad. You’ll often see him using a wind protector with his mic in order to reduce the effect of plosive sounds on the mics diaphragm.
Chris Kennedy is the principal product reviewer for voicecouncil.com. Chris is a musician in the United Kingdom – you can see more about his work at www.chriskennedymusic.co.uk You can also see more articles by Chris here.