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How did it all shake out? Who's number one?! You're about to find out! Continue on below to see what microphones made our top ten and discover why each piece of kit is a worthy addition to your studio's mic locker.
Number one needs no introduction! The Shure SM57 is still a true studio workhorse and can be used on a variety of different sources, including everything from snare to guitar cabs to vocals. Incredibly durable and consistent, these mics can be found in sessions for high-end productions, as well as those working in a home studio space. For the price, it’s hard to imagine a mic that will get you further.
The Slate Digital ML-1 is a large diaphragm mic that delivers detailed models of some studio classics at an outstanding price. As a part of the VMS (Virtual Microphone System), the ML-1 offers up a neutral sound, which allows the perfect platform for applying emulations of studio essentials like the U67, ELA-M 251, and countless others. Those wanting a bigger locker of mics will find the ML-1 to be a perfect fit, as it offers lots of versatility for any recording environment.
The Sennheiser MD-421 has been in constant production for 60 years now and for good reason. Confidently capturing sources with high SPL levels, the MD-421 is a great pick for guitar cabs and wind instruments alike. Featuring a switch for selectable bass roll off and internal bass tubes for accurate low end response, this mic will find itself at home right in front of a bass amp or kick drum. With its excellent SPL tolerance, clear sound reproduction, and time tested durability, the Sennheiser is a great addition to any mic collection.
If you're looking for a fantastic value in the large diaphragm condenser market, the Lewitt LCT-440 punches way above its weight class. A simple, cardioid pattern large diaphragm condenser, the LCT-440 delivers incredibly accurate results when placed on most sources, and is known for its clarity in tone. Those wanting results without coloration will find the Lewitt to be a great option at an even more appealing price. Coming with its own pop filter, shock mount, and carrying bag, the LCT-440 is a true studio workhorse and is ready to track whenever you are.
The Vanguard V13 has become an incredibly popular option for those wanting a great tube condenser mic without breaking the bank. With a staggering nine polar patterns, a warm tone, and a hand-selected European tube, the V13 competes well with mics that carry way higher price tags. Featuring a 10 dB pad and a High Pass Switch, the Vanguard can get right to work on a variety of sources from vocals to drum overheads. The smooth, vintage sound of this mic delivers larger than life performances with ease, and the price tag makes it a no brainer!
Without a doubt one of the most iconic ribbon mics of all time, the Coles 4038 continues to bring its detailed, smooth sound to recording studios everywhere. With its exceptionally flat frequency response, the 4038 delivers a clear tone to everything it's used on, and also has a fantastic transient response. Developed by the BBC, the Coles performs brilliantly with its low distortion and self-noise ratings. The Coles 4038 has become a classic choice for drum overheads, thanks to its punchy sound and pleasant warmth. Give it a listen, and you’ll hear why it was the first choice for legends like Glyn Johns.
The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 is a groundbreaking, high end studio condenser mic that delivers staggering emulations of classic microphones. Featuring Precision Modeling DSP, the L22 offers excellent sounding recreations of iconic mics like the C12, the M49, and even the modern Soyuz 017. With a dual-capsule design, the Townsend Labs mic captures incredible detail and response in the entire soundfield. With Re-Mic technology, users can change the mic type after tracking, to ensure that each track is mated to the best sounding mic emulation. The way this mic captures legendary mic sounds, coupled with its flexibility, make it an excellent centerpiece to any modern mic locker.
An absolute industry standard, the Electro Voice RE20 is a dynamic mic that has found great success in the studio for voice work, as well as on sources needing detailed low end. The RE20 is designed to reduce the proximity effect, so you’ll find its results quite pleasing and neutral on vocals, and is no stranger to applications like kick drum where a high SPL tolerance is key. Its rugged steel construction ensures that the RE20 will have no problem standing up to even the most rigorous of situations, and its internal shock mount makes for easy, direct sounding recordings without unwanted rumble.
For those seeking an alternative to the classic R-121, Royer Labs created the R-10. The R-10 uses the same ribbon element as its big brother, the R-121, and it can handle a staggering SPL level of 160 dB, which allows it to stand strong in front of even the loudest amps. The R-10 is great in applications that would typically be risky for traditional ribbon mics, as its windscreen design and custom transformer make it so that the R-10 can sit right next to a loud drum kit or bass amp and deliver rich, controlled results. At a fantastic price point, the R-10 is budget-friendly while delivering iconic, top-shelf sounds.
Designed originally as a broadcast microphone, the Shure SM7B has become enormously popular in the studio environment for one reason... It sounds great on almost anything! A very popular vocal mic, the SM7B has an impressively flat frequency response and picks up very little room sound, making it a great choice in hectic tracking environments. Its robust construction makes the SM7B a great choice for recording on-the-go, and the included yoke allows for easy setup. These mics are found in virtually every studio, and it's no shock that they’re absolute workhorses. Users can get great results with this mic on a variety of sources, from snare drum to vocals to guitar cabs, and almost everything in between.