Microphone Requirement and Recommendations

The following are the microphone (mic) requirement and recommendations for fall 2021.


An XLR 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 performances 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). 

Mic Hygiene

Inevitably your mic will be exposed to your saliva, germs, and perhaps lip balm and lipstick. Therefore, 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 your mic in 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.


Here is a list of hand-held mics designed for live performance. They are listed alphabetically, not ranked by quality because quality is subjective and based on personal preference. There are many more brands/models available than are listed here. Feel free to explore your options.

Please keep in mind that mic companies change and update their models. Follow these basic guidelines when making a purchase:

  • Make sure that the mic you purchase is low-impendence (the cable should be XLR on both ends).
  • We highly encourage you to audition a mic before you buy it. Most stores will allow you to do this. (COVID-19 restrictions may prevent this; talk to your dealer.)
  • Note that you will have to purchase a mic cable separately. We recommend a heavy-duty mic cable at least 25 feet in length.
  • 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
  • Beyerdynamic TG V50d
  • Blue enCORE 100
  • Heil PR20 UT
  • Sennheiser e835
  • Shure SM58 

Medium Cost (Under $200)

  • Blue enCORE 200
  • Electro-Voice RE410
  • Sennheiser e935
  • Shure Beta 57A
  • Shure Beta 58A
  • Shure SM86 

High End ($200+)

  • Audio-Technica AE5400
  • Neumann KMS105
  • Rode S1 Pro
  • Shure Beta 87A
  • Shure KSM8 Dualdyne
  • Telefunken M80 

Budget Mics (Around $50 or Less; Not a Sound Investment)

  • AKG D8000M
  • Audio-Technica M4000S
  • Behringer XM8500
  • Peavey PVi 2
  • Shure PGA48
  • Shure SM48 

XLR Versus USB Mics

For remote music-making, 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:

Under $150
Under $100
Under $40

Feel free to investigate other options on your own.

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