Finding a rap vocal microphone won’t be impossible, but it will be very important to take your time and choose wisely. When spitting bars, it is imperative that one utilizes a microphone that reflects their voice in the best way possible. Nowadays, we have some decent options if you’re on a budget, or if you have some cash saved up, can grab a beast that will last you years as an investment. Unlike performance microphones which are more of general purpose utilities, one needs to be very particular about the rap microphone they use when recording in a studio, regardless if it’s professional or in your home. With our research and experience (yes, we’ve been rapping since the early 2000’s), we were able to collect some of our favorite picks as the best microphone for recording rap vocals in the market today. But first, let’s get into some of the specifics to look for.
Selecting the best rap vocal microphone
Since we’re talking in particular about rapping in this guide, not just recording vocals. So here are the specifics we want to look out for when it comes to this “type” of vocal recording and to prioritize your emphasis on while you search through microphones:
- A decent Sound-Pressure Level (SPL): Rapping style is very diverse when it comes to the actual pressure of your voice (also to be simplified as ‘volume’). We know a lot of rappers who love getting that power and nearly screaming their verse into the mic, while others take a softer and more smooth approach and need the gain turned up pretty high. Regardless, keep in mind SPL and what your style may call for. Most mics should be fine in this regard.
- Solid dynamic range: We want a microphone that’s able to pick up a good amount of frequency range to ensure we have a full sound. Grabbing cheaper mics (even some USB under $50 won’t do at all).
- Emphasis on sensitivity: Recording = detail. We want as much detail as possible, to really paint that picture of our voice and our verses. Microphones that emphasize ‘microphone sensitivity’
- Condenser microphones: Speaking of sensitivity, these are the number one industry standard for recording vocals (and most instruments) in a studio setting due to their ability to pick up detail. This is why you’ll need a super quiet and snug environment to record in — we’ve had our rapping mic literally pickup bird noises from outside even though our window was closed (many studios don’t have windows due to this). So our recommendation is focusing on condenser microphones, period. You can either grab a traditional XLR-connected condenser mic or a new wave of USB microphones (we have a few in here) that have become great solutions for home studios.
- Cardioid polar patterns: While most condenser microphones entail this polar pattern, just a last minute reminder to avoid most ‘dynamic microphones’ that pick up from the tail-end of the mic (most you have to hold). You want a mountable, cardioid pickup that picks up in front of it while you stand and rap directly into it. If you’re unaware of ‘polar patterns’ and want to learn more, read our microphone specifications guide.
The best microphone for rapping
Up first as our number one pick as the best microphone for rap vocals, we have a model that covers all of the bases we’ve listed previously to keep in mind. Not only with a reputation and reviews to back up it’s reliability and clarity, but in regards to specifications and overall long-term use as well. Fully equipped with a 10 dB pad and an 80 Hz high-pass filter, the AT 2035 provides low noise and highly detailed rap vocals for home or professional studio use. It solely relies on a cardioid polar pattern and has a frequency response of 20 – 20,000 Hz to cover the full range of our human voices. Its performance specifications include roll-off as well as flat switches, a typical dynamic range of 136 dB, 120 ohms impedance, sensitivity of -33 dB, and finally, a maximum input sound level of 158 dB when the 10 dB pad is engaged, (otherwise, its sound level is 148 db).
With acute response to both low and high sounds, great sensitivity, and a shock-mount that is snug enough to allow for use in a variety of positions, the Audio-Technica AT2035 is arguably one of the best rapping microphone options available in the market today. It’s on the low-end of the price-tags when compared to others, too. If you want to invest some more cash however and perhaps need a higher-end mic, continue reading on.
Up next, we have one of our most beloved microphones we’ve recommended for years, regardless of ‘vocal type’. Rode is one of the most reputable manufacturers of microphones in the music industry today. Among it’s line of microphones is the NT1-A, which is known to deliver an extended, warm dynamic range and offer high SPL abilities, as well as reliable clarity. In terms of build, the NT1-A is made up of a large 1 inch capsule with a stylish diaphragm, plated with gold. It weighs a meager 326 grams with a diameter of 50 mm, width of 50 mm and height of 19 0mm, making it relatively easy to carry around. Performance-wise, the NT1-A is great with a frequency range of 20 -20 kHz, a maximal SPL of 137 db, sensitivity of -31.9 dB, and noise level equivalence of 5 dBA.
A lot of people say that the Rode NT1-A is worth its price since it is built to high manufacturer standards and has the ability to perform an extended range of recording tasks. Overall and all the specs and numbers aside, the sound is warm, clear, and the rapping microphone is just strictly reliable to last you a decade or more in the studio if you can take proper care of it.
Blue Yeti Pro
What makes a mic the best microphone for rap vocals? The answer is versatility and high-resolution; two of the most standout features of the Blue Yeti Pro. Coming in as the most popular USB mic in the game today, it has a wide range of technical capabilities which have been made possible by its amplified headphone and mic performance. To this regard, some of its technical features include a sample rate of 192 kHz / 24-bit, a signal to noise rate of 114 dB, 130 megawatts power output, an impedance of at least 16 ohms, sensitivity of 4.5mV/Pa, and frequency response rate of up to 20 kHz. Also, this rapping microphone allows both amateur and seasoned rappers to record quality audios since it has 4 different pattern modes.
These include cardioid which records sounds emanating from directly in front of the mic leading to a rich and complete sound, omni-directional which collects sound from all round the mic, bi-Directional which collects sound from the back as well as front of the mic, and stereo which combines sound with a wide array of instruments including a piano or acoustic guitar. Look into the Blue Yeti Pro if you want a high-end USB mic to record your rap vocals with — you can’t go wrong with this, especially seeing all of those 5 stars all around the net.
Neumann TLM 102
Let’s bring our guide on the best microphones for rapping up to a higher-end as we reach the middle of our list. With a treble boost, sound production that is free from distortions at the highest pressure levels, convenient plug and play functionality, and a sound many snobs don’t come near any other microphone (that Neumann name is like the BMW of mics), it comes as no surprise that the TLM 102 is viewed by many as the best microphone for rap vocals, or really any type of vocal recording in the game. Unlike most rapping mics, this model is able to directly jump in dynamic without necessarily experiencing any sound distortion. Moreover, it is fully capable of processing extremely high volume which is quite common in the hip-hop scene if you go to semi-pro or even professional studios. With its highly refined treble and detailed bass, this microphone reproduces up to 144 dB sound pressure.
Other notable features include an in-built pop shield, easy handling, 50 ohms impedance, cardioid directional pattern, sensitivity of 11 mV/Pa, and a maximum SPL of 144 db (higher than most). The Neumann TLM 102‘s build also allows for easy handling as it weighs 210 grams, is 116 mm long, and has a diameter of 52 mm. One of the best microphones for recording rap vocals, period. Or really recording anything you can think of.
Let’s talk about maybe one of the most highly-regarded recording microphones of all time, after all, Shure continues to show off that Michael Jackson used this for Thriller! If you are looking for the best rapping microphone to preserve all the natural elements of your sound, then look no further than the Shure SM7B. In terms of sound quality, majority of reviews give this mic a rating of 5/5. This is due to its sturdy performance which includes its ability to reduce distortion from noisy sources, bass roll-off and an emphasis on its mid-range. The microphone also comes fully equipped with a switch cover plate and close-talk windscreen which facilitates its rugged construction. Additionally, the microphone’s dynamic cartridge has an extended range and flat response that reproduces naturally clean rapping sound, as well as music.
Most sound engineers and rappers find this microphone to be exceptionally useful in cases where smooth and warm frequencies are mandatory, especially in studios utilizing instruments with close-miking abilities. According to online reviews, however, the microphone offers solid quality but needs extra articles in order to function. Herein lies the problem since this forces users to incur extra costs. Nonetheless, the Shure SM7B is legendary at this point among recording enthusiasts and definitely one of our picks as the best rap vocal microphones in the market.
Avantone Pro CV-12
Ever heard of a tube microphone? This will give you a different ‘sound’ (arguably by some) than others, so if you want a different feel (more of an old-school, vintage, retro sound) than others trying to make it in the rapping game, this is a great option if you have the cash. Rap is all about style and swagger; and the Avantone Pro CV-12 has both. This red tube-type condenser is considered to be among the best rapping microphones. With up to 9 polar patterns that can be selected at a power supply of PS-12, an equivalence noise level of not more than 17 dB, output impedance of lesser than or equal to 250 Ohms, an S/N ratio of 78 dB and sensitivity of -35 dB, it is easy to see why this microphone comes highly rated. One of its most unique features is its build which comprises of a polished nickel trim finish that is embodied in a red capsule to give it that fresh, hip look. It weighs 8 KG and is 237 mm long and 46 mm wide, which makes this rap microphone quite easy to handle when recording.
Other notable features that make it the best microphone for rap vocals include a -10 dB attenuation switch, a male XLR output connector pin, an 80 Hz high-pass switch that operates at 6 dB per octave and a maximum SPL of 146 dB whenever the pad is engaged. The Avantone Pro CV-12 brings a different spin to ‘sound’ with recording rapping — you’ll have to hear it for yourself and see if you can even notice. Some say they totally can, while others state it’s merely subjective.
This side-address microphone is a good choice not only for rappers, but also other spoken functions such as podcasts or voice-overs. Its specifications include a 3.5 mm headphone jack for monitoring at zero-latency, 16-bit resolution (not 24-bit like the Yeti Pro, but it’s a lot cheaper), frequency range of 20 Hz -20 kHz, and a plethora of USB and power options. Just as the name suggests, the NT-USB is arguably a great microphone for rap vocals when it comes to its USB connectivity and other flexible connection alternatives.
As such, not only is it compatible with the smart device if you make music that way, but also Mac OS and Windows based computers. In fact, its package includes a 6 mm USB cable which facilitates these connections. Other items included in the Rode NT-USB package include a black zip case for extra protection, a tripod stand, ring mount and pop filter for enhanced convenience.
Audio Technica AT2020
This highly reviewed rap microphone is ideal for home studios and another great option by Audio-Technica. It is a side-address compressor with a noise level of 20 dB. It specifically uses a cardioid polar pattern which helps minimize the amount of noise picked up either from the rear or the side, hence sticking to the desired source as we recommended earlier. The custom-engineered diaphragm is of a low-mass nature which in turn allows it to provide rappers with good transient response and a wide frequency response.
Several music lovers define the AT 2020 and being the best rapping microphone with specific regards to its versatility — this is because it can handle high sound pressure levels as well as an extensive dynamic range. The Audio-Technica AT2020 is also quite appealing to the eye due to the black speckled finish that gives it a professional yet hip outlook.
Warm Audio WA-251
Do you want to sound like a legend? Then the WA-251 by musical conglomerate, Warm Audio, is exactly what you are after. This is one of the best recording microphones for rapping in regards to that tube ‘retro’ sound we previously explained with that CV-12. Produced by the renowned company with a dynamic range of 125 dBA, 3 polar pattern ability (omni, figure-of-eight, cardioid), a grounded PSU for external IEC, a maximum sound pressure level of 132 dB, a rated load impedance of greater or equal to 2K ohms, and an s/n ratio of 80 dBA.
Combined, these technical features boost the microphone’s recording performance allowing it to capture your voice in its most raw form. That tube processing is what transforms the audio into that ‘analog’-type sound. The Warm Audio WA-251 also boast of a pretty good design which takes on the classic 1960’s look which includes some of the most vintage microphone components iv its 247 x 46 mm tubular golden mic. It’s definitely up there in price, of course.
Last on this list of the best rap vocal microphone is the AKG C214 condenser mic which has a notably sizable diaphragm. It is listed among the best recording microphones especially for rapping majorly due to its immense versatility. This AKG mic has a large diaphragm which allows it to the ability to achieve an extensively wide dynamic range. In result, this mic can reach a dynamic range of up to 143 dB, thus, creating natural and uncompressed transients.
Stile on its variety, the AKG C214 can be used on a wide variety of sound sources. It performs equally well on different instruments thanks to its low-cut filter and attenuation pad of 20 dB, both of which are switchable. Also noteworthy, its XLR output, scratch resistant finish an sturdy metal grille give this mic a quality construction for enhanced sonic accuracy. It will last you years, and is a great cap to our list here today.