An XLR microphone (mic) is an essential piece of gear for you as a contemporary vocalist. In today’s music world, you need to know your mic, how you sound with it, and how to set it up, both with the audio interface required by Berklee and with sound systems for live performance in class and on stage.
Therefore, the Voice Department requires all voice principals, including entering students, to provide their own, hand-held XLR mics and cables. Be sure to bring your mic to class; repeated failure to do so could affect your grade.
Please see our recommendations below on choosing the right mic for you.
Note that USB mics do not satisfy this requirement (see below for more information on USB mics).
Inevitably your mic will be exposed to your saliva, germs, and perhaps lip balm and lipstick. So it’s important that you keep your mic clean, not just for good hygiene, but also to keep it sounding its best. Here are a couple of tips to keep you mic in the good shape:
- Never share your mic with others.
- Clean your mic and cable regularly. Your mic’s manufacturer can provide recommendations on how to clean it. For example, here is a how-to video from the manufacturer, Shure, on how to clean the SM58, one of their popular mics.
These mics are listed alphabetically. They are not ranked by quality, which is subjective and based on personal preference.
Please keep in mind that mic companies change and update their models, and follow these basic guidelines when buying a mic:
- Make sure that the mic you purchase is a low-impendence mic.
- It is highly encouraged that you audition a mic before you buy it. Most stores will allow you to do this.
- You will have to purchase a mic cord separately. It is recommended that you purchase a heavy-duty mic cable 25 feet or longer.
- We strongly recommend that all personal equipment be clearly labeled with your name.
- We do not recommend purchasing a wireless mic system for school use.
Low Cost (Around $100)
These mics will easily meet the requirements for beginning vocal students:
- Audio-Technica AT2010 (condenser)
- Beyerdynamic TG V50d (dynamic)
- Blue enCORE 100 (dynamic)
- Heil PR20 UT (dynamic)
- Sennheiser e835 (dynamic)
- Shure SM58 (dynamic)
Medium Cost (Under $200)
- Blue enCORE 200 (dynamic)
- Electro-Voice RE410 (condenser)
- Sennheiser e935 (dynamic)
- Shure Beta 57A (dynamic)
- Shure Beta 58A (dynamic)
- Shure SM86 (condenser)
High End ($200+)
- Audio-Technica AE5400 (condenser)
- Neumann KMS105 (dynamic)
- Rode S1 Pro (condenser)
- Shure Beta 87A (condenser)
- Shure KSM8 Dualdyne (dynamic)
- Telefunken M80 (dynamic)
Budget Mics (Around $50 or Less, but not a Great Investment)
- AKG D8000M (dynamic)
- Audio-Technica M4000S (dynamic)
- Behringer XM8500 (dynamic)
- Peavey PVi 2 (dynamic)
- Shure PGA48 (dynamic)
- Shure SM48 (dynamic)
XLR Versus USB Mics
USB mics do not satisfy the Voice Department mic requirement, and these won’t work with the interface you are required to use across the Berklee curriculum (for example, in MTEC-111, a course taken by almost all entering students). For remote private voice lessons and other remote classes, you can improve your sound by using your required XLR mic and interface. Even though this hand-held mic is designed for live performance, it will deliver better sound than the built-in mic in your computer. This alternative works well if you'll be singing or talking from a set location. Examples of these mics are listed above. You might want to invest in a small desktop mic stand or a full-size floor stand so that you don't have to hold the mic all the time.
If you do not have a set location, a USB microphone is a good option—especially for your private voice lessons—because you can plug it directly into your computer and get to work.
Here is a short list of USB mics in varying price ranges:
- Audio Technica AT2020USB, $149
- Blue Yeti, $149
- Blue Yeti Nano, $99
- Shure MV5, $99
- Neat Widget, $39
- Samson Go, $39
Feel free to investigate other options on your own.