Famous Studio Mics
Check out these top studio microphones used on classic tracks.
Frank Sinatra: Telefunken U47 (Come Fly with Me)
The U47 is one of the most famous studio vocal microphones of all time having been used extensively by many of the top artists of the 20th Century. Sinatra liked the Telefunken model, however it was also released under the Neumann brand and other manufactures have also made microphones based on the design such as Flea, Peluso, Wunder and Lawson.
Michael Jackson: Shure SM7 (Billie Jean)
Shure’s SM7 microphone was designed as a broadcast mic for radio stations, however it soon found is way into recording studios. Its large diaphragm dynamic design offers great rejection of room noise and it is very resistant to plosives making it great for singers who like to get close to the mic.
Bruce Springsteen: Telefunken ELA M251 (Born in the USA)
The Telefunken ELA M251 is a 3-pattern tube mic designed and manufactured by AKG on behalf of Telefunken. It was built around AKG’s famed CK12 capsule and was intended to replace the U47 in their line-up as their premium vocal microphone. It was and still is an expensive mic, with Telefunken’s modern version costing around $10k and original versions costing even more.
Whitney Houston: Neumann U87 (I Want to Dance with Somebody)
Following the success of the U47 and U67, Neumann’s U87 has become one of the best known and most widely used studio condenser microphones. Its solid-state design and variable polar patterns made it a versatile studio mic; it performs well on a wide range of different vocalists and instruments.
Mariah Carey: Sony C800G (One Sweet Day)
Sony’s C-800G Studio Tube Condenser Microphone was designed for the highest possible sound quality. The C-800G features a high-quality dual large diaphragm for excellent reproduction of vocal qualities with a vacuum tube to bring warmth to the overall sound.
Norah Jones: Neumann M49 (Don’t Know Why)
The M49 is a multi-pattern tube condenser microphone. It was first introduced in 1951 and has since been discontinued, however second hand ones are generally available if you have the budget.
James Hetfield (Metallica): Shure SM7B (St Anger)
Shure have produced several versions of the SM7 microphone; the latest being the SM7B. It has become a particular favourite for male rock singers who find the microphone flatters a more aggressive singing style and has been used be acts such as The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Pearl Jam and Ryan Adams.
Jack Johnson: Telefunken U47 (Sleep Through the Static)
Originally designed for Telefunken by Neumann in 1946, the U47 is still sold by Telefunken in its modern form which features an updated capsule and is made in their factory in the USA.
Caleb Followill (Kings of Leon): Shure SM57 (Sex on Fire)
This track goes to show that you do not always need the most expensive microphone to get a great sounding vocal. Shure’s SM57 is widely used as a guitar cabinet and snare mic; however it can also perform well as a vocal mic, especially in a rock setting.
Adele: Rode Classic II (Rolling in the Deep)
The Classic II is Rode’s top-of-the-line studio condenser microphone and offers classic warmth and richness on vocals. It aims to create a similar sound to classic microphones such as the U47 and AKG C12 with a much smaller price tag and without compromising quality.
You can about about what live microphones other singers use in our next article Famous Studio Mics: Muse, Madonna & More.
Chris Kennedy is the principle product reviewer for VoiceCouncil Magazine. He is also a singer-songwriter and composer, performing and writing in a range of styles from rock to jazz. Chris has released several albums as a solo artist and with his group The New Inventions. You can find more about him on his website.