Recommendations for a studio mic for vocals?

Hey everyone—

I’ve done some research as I build my home studio, and it looks like the best way to go for recording high-quality vocals is a nice unidirectional supercartoid microphone. I looked around and the consensus seems to be that Shure’s SM58 is the go-to for professional quality audio. Looking around at local classifieds and even eBay, it seems like I could expect to get a used SM58 in great condition for around $60-$70.

Before I pull the trigger I wanted to get some opinions from people around this forum as you seem to know what you’re talking about when it comes to audio equipment :wink:

Does anyone have a recommendation other than the Shure SM58? I don’t want to spend more than $100.

And as a side question, the SM58 would also be good for recording something like acoustic guitar as well, right? My guitar isn’t electric-acoustic so I wouldn’t be able to use a line-in. Would I get better results using an SM58, or something more directional like my Rode NTG-2? Or maybe even clipping a lav mic to the inside of the sound box?

You can also go with a GLS Audio ES-58 which is an asian knock-off for less money. The characteristics are so close it doesn’t matter.

That’s the “Rock Band” vocal microphone. It’s a straight analog microphone. How were you planning on getting it into your digital computer?

There are worse ways to do this, but they do work. This is an SM58 in a voice capture session for a cartoon.

The laptop in the picture is for the script and coordination. It has nothing to do with the microphone.

I used my tiny sound mixer plugged into my Mac to record the work.

The mixer boosts the microphone volume so the Analog to Digital Converter inside the Mac can chew on it.


This is an SM58 in a home-constructed shock/vibration mount. Those are US Postal Service rubber bands.

The step up to a higher quality microphone and mixer system is shocking, so as long as you stick with this sort of setup, you should be good to go.

People have also used USB microphones and swept away all that mixer and analog converter business, but those can have problems, too.

I borrowed a G-Track for a test and I liked it for not only what I was testing, but general audio as well. The owner uses it all the time for his band “Earth at Night” and he only let me borrow it if I left a pint of blood behind. It was symbolic. It didn’t have to be mine.
The G-Track will also set you up for Sound-On-Sound in case you want to sing a duet with yourself. It’s one of the ways we certified for Perfect Overdubbing.


I wandered off there. The SM58 is the bullet-proof, rock band microphone that sounds OK, and the G-Track is the studio microphone which sounds better but is less physically robust.


Awesome, thanks for all the info! The GLS looks like a good option for me if it’s as similar to the SM58 as you say. $30 is a bargain for a mic that nice.

In answer to your digital/analog question, I use a Tascam DP-008EX. It handles the recording (and wants to handle the mixing/eq-ing/mastering as well, and might just let it…). Spits out WAVs onto an SD card when all is said and done.

I like that shock mount a lot as well. May just build me one. PVC is cheap.

It was pointed out to me multiple times that for the effort and time, I could have bought a $25 shock mount.

Also know that the SM58 is a directional microphone. It listens from the front, less from the sides and very little from the back.

It also has a haystack hump and low droop. The haystack hump in the frequency response gives a boost to vocal frequencies at the expense of others, so technically, this is not an instrument microphone, but you can tune out the effect later. It has reduced volume at low tones so to suppress hand-holding noises, thumping mouth noises and rumble. You can get rid of that in post as well.

If you want to.

You may have such a terrible sound system that you can’t hear any of these effects.

Screen shot 2014-04-14 at 1.23.20 PM.png

Not a fan of the DP-008EX?

Not a fan of the DP-008EX?

I am and we need to talk about that, but if you’re planning on mixing to Apple Earbuds, nothing we say is going to help you.


How long have you had it? Can you give us a “I like this” and “I don’t like that” list?
Does it support overdubbing and sound-on-sound?

Anything you use for field recording is going to have problems, particularly with that many options. For one example, I do recordings using a Zoom H4 (not “n”). It’s a terrific recorder, but it doesn’t have a recording volume control. It has a Low/Medium/High switch. That’s unsatisfactory and I assume they fixed that in the “n” model, but that’s the idea.

“I wish the DP-008EX had…”


I’m probably not enough of a sound guru to answer that satisfactorily…

But it has 8 channels, and can record two simultaneously. I’ve never needed to record more than one at a time. Each input channel has independent volume trim from the source, and it’s a dial. So no “low/med/high” (although it does have modes that seem to affect the base input level; so far I’ve recorded everything from both of my mics on “high” with the trim cranked up to nearly maximum volume, and it still doesn’t seem as loud as the built-in mics…).

Honestly it has everything I like. The only thing I can think of that I would change at this point is that I wish I could set it to some kind of mode that would output a separate file for each time I pressed the record button, since I am primarily using it for video production. As it is, everything is recorded into whatever channel(s) I decide on… but it’s all inside of one track upon export, that I have to manually break apart in Audacity before I can use the different takes in my video editing software (Premiere Pro).

I also know that I have not even begun to tap into the potential of this box. It has mastering and mixdown modes, as well as input EQ and all sorts of other bells and whistles that I’m sure are great for recording music. I don’t record a whole lot of music (yet).

As for headphones… I’m using Sennheiser PX-100 IIs. Not the best headphones ever made of course, but I’m a big fan of them. I threw on a different set of pads that are a lot larger and after I broke the headphones in, they sound wonderful for the amount I paid for them.

The only thing I can think of that I would change at this point is that I wish I could set it to some kind of mode that would output a separate file for each time I pressed the record button, since I am primarily using it for video production.

That’s the kind of personal user experience I was after. Does it allow you to set a marker every time you do that so it’s easier to find the cut points later?

If you use a clapboard for your recordings, that will produce an easily recognizable spike in the sound.

“Camera Mark!” [bang]

You can get them a lot cheaper. If you routinely use separate sound, your editor will thank you.