Picking a vocal microphone can be a hard choice, especially with so many options out there to choose from. If you’re a jazz vocalist looking for the best microphone for live shows keep reading. In this article, we’ll explain what you need to look out for in your hunt for the best live vocal mics.

For a start, you are going to need something rugged, reliable, and built to last if you’re using your vocal microphone for live performance. And of course, you will want to ensure you’re getting great sound quality with your vocal mic.

To narrow down our options, we first need to understand what we need from a live vocal mic. This includes its build quality, frequency response, polar pattern, and the type of microphone itself.

Ultimately, you want something that sounds great and is powerfully built. Before diving into all the picks, let’s have a look at our top 3 table:

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#1 Recommended
Shure SM58 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Shure SM58 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

  • Frequency response tailored for vocals
  • Brightened midrange and bass rolloff
Check Price on Amazon
Premium Option
Telefunken M80 Dynamic Microphone

Telefunken M80 Dynamic Microphone

  • Features a wider frequency response
  • Condenser-like performance
  • Stage & studio ready
Check Price on Amazon
Budget Option
Sennheiser E835 Dynamic Handheld Vocal Mic

Sennheiser E835 Dynamic Handheld Vocal Mic

  • Ideal for live performance
  • Good value for price
Check Price on Amazon

Keep reading for a detailed beginner’s guide to buying a microphone and a selection of the best live vocal mics out there for jazz vocalists.

Are Dynamic Mics or Condenser Mics Better?

First off, let’s go over dynamic microphones and condenser microphones – the two main types of microphones that you can buy.

Dynamic mics are known for being rugged, with a balanced frequency response that makes them versatile for recording and live use. This includes vocals, as well as guitars, bass guitars, and drums.

Condenser mics are more fragile – both in design and frequency response. This leads to greater handling noise. Handling noise, in short, is produced when a microphone and its cable are moved.

Typically, condenser microphones are used for their ability to capture higher frequencies and quieter sounds. As a result, these are best for acoustic guitars, cymbals, and high-fidelity vocal recordings.

Both dynamic microphones and condenser mics are used for live applications where vocals are concerned.

But what separates the two is that a dynamic mic, thanks to having less handling noise, is often used as a handheld microphone, while a condenser mic is secured in a mic stand to prevent any unpleasant handling noise when moved.

If you’re a jazz vocalist, you might want to consider using a condenser microphone to ensure your full vocal range is captured. But if you like to pick up your mic and stroll around the stage while you perform you will need a more rugged dynamic mic to avoid handling noise.

The Best Polar Pattern of a Microphone

What about polar patterns – what are they?

The polar pattern of any microphone is the sensitivity of the microphone, as well as the overall direction, or area, that it detects and picks up sound from.

For example, a cardioid polar pattern – the most common microphone polar pattern – can be described as an upside-down heart, through which sound is registered where the microphone is pointed, as well as the sides of the microphone.

An omnidirectional microphone, as another example, has a polar pattern that picks up sound from all directions, i.e. with a full 360-degree range.

This would typically be used when recording multiple sounds within a room.

There are various other types of microphone polar patterns, including hypercardioid, supercardioid, subcardioid, and bi-directional, all used for different purposes.

Best Live Vocal Mics 

So, which type of microphone is best for live jazz vocals?

As touched upon, dynamic mics are best for handheld use due to the fact that they are rugged, often with a cardioid polar pattern, that allows the vocalist to hold the microphone and sing directly into it.

A condenser mic, however, is more suited to microphone stands due to its fragile nature and frequency-sensitive design. 

In general, dynamic microphones are the better choice for their durability, versatility, and affordability.

Below, we have listed some of the best – and most trusted – live vocal mics that you can buy today. Learn about each microphone and what makes it so good, before weighing the pros and cons of each option!

Shure SM58

 

If you know a thing or two about recording or live mixing, you will know about the Shure SM58.

This veteran mic is a legend in the music industry and is considered the most well-known microphone of all time. Widely regarded as one of the best live vocal mics, it should not be left out of any jazz vocalist’s arsenal!

You can’t go wrong with the SM58 as a live mic – an affordable, tried and tested dynamic, cardioid pattern mic that is guaranteed to serve you for many years.

The SM58 is not to be confused with the Shure SM57 which is essentially the same microphone with a different grille. The SM57 features an in-built grille that allows the mic to be positioned closer to the sound source making it a great fit for instruments but not for live vocals.

Pros

  • Staple – the Shure SM58 is an iconic industry-standard mic used by anyone and everyone 
  • Rugged – the SM58 is well-known for being able to take a beating!
  • Affordable – despite its reputation, the SM58 is easily affordable 
  • Versatile – the SM58 is ideal for bedroom recording instruments as well as live vocal use

Cons

  • None – the SM58 is one of the best mics you can put your money to
ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Shure SM58 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

Shure SM58 Cardioid Dynamic Microphone

  • Frequency response tailored for vocals
  • Brightened midrange and bass rolloff
Check Price on Amazon

Telefunken M80

 

The Telefunken M80 is another rugged, dynamic cardioid mic like the SM58 that is widely considered to be a copycat version, except with a greater low-end response.

So, why would you choose this over the SM58? The M80’s low frequency response makes it slightly more preferable for recording deep voices, bass drums, bass guitars, and so on.

Pros

  • A trusted dynamic cardioid mic – perfect for studio bedroom as well as live performances
  • Sound – the M80 has superb low-end response for a classic cardioid mic
  • Rugged – this mic can be dropped multiple times and still work as brand new

Cons

  • Price – despite its similarity to the Shure SM58, the M80 sits at a higher price range, which might make some reconsider
ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Telefunken M80 Dynamic Microphone

Telefunken M80 Dynamic Microphone

  • Features a wider frequency response
  • Condenser-like performance
  • Stage & studio ready
Check Price on Amazon

Sennheiser E835

 

Sennheiser is no small name in the music industry. In fact, their range of mics – particularly their condenser microphone range – is one of the most trusted around.

You would be hard-pressed to find a studio without a Sennheiser in its recording repertoire.

The Sennheiser E835, in particular, is one of these well-known mics for recording vocals.

A dynamic cardioid microphone, this Sennheiser is ideal for live performance, sitting at a similar price range to the famous SM58. If you prefer Sennheiser as a brand, this might be for you.

Pros

  • Sennheiser – one of the best microphone manufacturers around
  • Affordable – the E835 is an affordable dynamic cardioid mic for 
  • Rugged – well-built and of high quality, this 1998-released Sennheiser mic is known for its durability 
  • Sound – with a frequency response of 40-16,0000 Hz, there isn’t much that this dynamic mic can’t pick up

Cons

  • None – similar to the SM58, the E835 is loved for its versatility and affordability
ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Sennheiser E835 Dynamic Handheld Vocal Mic

Sennheiser E835 Dynamic Handheld Vocal Mic

  • Ideal for live performance
  • Good value for price
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Audix OM2

 

The Audix OM range has grown over the years (there are now six of them), but the Audix OM2 – the original entry – is the one that most producers and live sound engineers return to time and time again.

Why? Because the Audix OM2 represents everything that’s great about the OM range: the hypercardioid polar pattern, robust look and feel, and wide frequency response (50 Hz to 16 kHz).

The hypercardioid pattern sets this mic apart from the ones listed above, with the ability to reduce handling noise and unwanted background noise being picked up from the sides of the mic.

Pros

  • Staple – the OM2 is the original, and most loved, model in Audix’s OM range
  • Hypercardioid – more preferable to cardioid for greater sound isolation
  • Price – despite being a hypercardioid mic, the OM2 is priced similarly to the classic SM58
  • Versatility – ideal for instrument recording as well as vocals
  • Durable – as a well-built dynamic mic, expect long-lasting performance

Cons

  • Hypercardioid – what sets this mic also works as a disadvantage, as hypercardioid mics tend to prefer a consistent, direct sound source (can be a problem if used as a handheld mic)
ImageProductFeaturesPrice
Audix OM2 Dynamic Vocal Microphone

Audix OM2 Dynamic Vocal Microphone

  • Clear and accurate sound reproduction
  • Provides exceptional Gain before feedback
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Final Words

The best live vocal mic is the one best suited for the purpose! In general, however, a dynamic cardioid microphone – such as the iconic Shure SM58 – is ideal for most vocal ranges, as well as for on-stage durability. 

If you want to check out other brands of microphones, Warm Audio, SE Electronics and Audio Technica are all respected brands known for producing high-quality vocal mics. The AKG D5 is a slightly cheaper alternative to the Shure SM58. And the Rode M1 is another popular choice.

Dynamic cardioid microphones, including all the live mics we listed above, are incredibly versatile, perfect for recording instruments (as well as vocals), including drums, electric guitars, bass guitars, and so on.

Complete your set-up with a great pair of headphones for the next time you’re in the recording studio. If you’re a guitarist as well as a singer, be sure to check out our rundown of the best guitars brands.

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