Dynamic mic for vocal recording?

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I have a perfectly good studio condenser mic for vocals that I'm very happy with. But that's all wired in to my main production computer, and I'm lazy and don't feel like moving it around.

So I'm thinking of getting a second mic to mainly use to record vocals on my iOS device, now that Logic and Garageband for iOS sync pretty painlessly (so I can record vocals elsewhere in the house when my wife is in our shared "office," or when traveling). And I'm kind of tempted to go with a dynamic handheld, both for variety and so I can, you know, prance around and live out my child-like rock-star fantasies.

I know condensers are generally "better" for vocals where one doesn't need the flexibility of a handheld dynamic (generally a live setting), and the sales guy at Sweetwater thought I was nuts when I raised this with him (and he suggested a IK iRig Mic Studio iOS compatible condenser instead). Which is probably good advice.

But I guess my question is: has anyone here had success using a dynamic mic for recorded / studio vocals?

(Also, I'm aware there are handheld condensers, but the Sweetwater guy also felt strongly that they, like dynamic handhelds, are pre-EQd for stage use and not really suitable for studio recording. Of course, my voice could maybe use all the pre-EQ it can get. Dirol )

Are you looking for a regular mic or USB?

Use a dynamic, there are a lot of stories floating around about Bono using an SM 58 in the control room, Michael Jackson using an SM7, maybe the Blood Sweat and Tears guy (if I remember correctly) using an SM53. To sound their best they could all use a high-quality preamp, but the mics are not that expensive (except for the SM7, and those get used in studios for vocals all the time). I've seen photos of the BeeGees singing into Sennheiser 421's, Stevie Nicks used a 441.

You'll need some kind of mic to iOS device, like the Blue Icicle (or others like it) --> USB --> something to IOS... I'm not real clear on what's out there. Or a cheap interface that plugs into iOS and has an XLR jack and preamp.

@pipewrench67 Regular XLR; if I go down this path, I'll use an interface. I didn't even think there were any USB dynamic mics, although I may be wrong.

@standup Not sure how high quality my pre-amp would be -- basically just whatever is in whatever interface I use (again, cheap portability is the goal). On my main setup, I use an Apogee One, which I could actually use as it is compatible with my ipad, but I'm trying to avoid having to deconstruct and reconstruct my "permanent studio," so I may look for cheaper other options. Anyway the info about Bono & MJ is definitely good to know!

You can't go wrong with an SM58

Another vote for SM58 inexpensive, sound decent and bullet proof.

This Band Demo here we recorded with a Beyerdynamic M88 on the vocals, directly into a Focusrite Saffire, which was the Firewire-variety of the 2i4:

Dynamic mic, hardly a top notch quality pre and the recording quality is fine, imho.

The following (writing) Demo is recorded with a Beyer M69 on (my) vocals, through an Audient ID22:
I'm about to redo this song, the drums, guitar and the vocal performance need a major overhaul,
I'll cut the "final" vocals on the M69 again, I think, as I don't find anything to object, soundwise.

For my home studio I'd rather go for a medium tier or top tier dynamic than a cheapo condenser no matter what.
The bang for the buck ratio is soo much better, and condensers in so-so sounding rooms are problematic.
The M69 sounds darn good on male vocals, to my ears, works excellently on guitar cabs and other instruments as well and is a terrific sounding and unproblematic stage mic for me, too.

SM58 for me. It works really well with GarageBand. I did some vocals in a studio last month using their $3,000 mic and once everything was mastered there wasn't much difference in the vocal sound compared to my demo with the SM58. Smile

Another vote for SM58. When I want a more ambient tint.

I've been using a Røde NT1-A large-diaphragm condenser mic for my vocals for the last couple of years. It's a great mic, bright and clear, but being a condenser it picks up *everything* - including birdsong in the garden. It's meant I've had to really work on my voice because every little weakness gets picked up.

This year I also added a Super 55 to my mic box (yes, the "Elvis Microphone") and that has a much warmer sound which is much kinder to my voice. But I used an SM58 on vocals for years and loved it.

The tale of Bono using an SM58 is true; I heard it from William Orbit, who said it enabled Bono to track vocals while listening to playback on monitors rather than over headphones, which he hates using. Dynamics tend to work best at close range - the SM58 is used for live work so much because you have to be right on top of it for it to register. It won't pick up the line of Marshalls running full tilt fifteen feet away. If you're going to go full rock star, then the SM58 is the one to get.

@headfirstonly, I also use a Røde NT1 as my principal mic on my "main" setup and absolutely love it.

I'm going to look at several of the dynamic mic suggestions above -- thanks everyone! I very much appreciate your input.

The other issue, of course, is finding a good interface that is reasonably priced and is readily portable; the whole plan falls apart if I don't succeed in that! If I come up with anything that I end up getting, I'll post here in case any future person has a similar question.

I think I rig just came out with a new Pro interface, which I was eyeing today. I've never used them myself, but they seem pretty useful on paper; I was thinking of picking one up before a vacation later this year to travel lighter but still be able to record.


My understanding of, really all microphones, is if you understand what the strengths and weaknesses of your mic are, you can make it work in various different situations. One of the main advantages of a condenser over a dynamic mic for recording vocals, is that changes in distance from the mic have much lower impact on the recorded volume of the vocal with a condenser mic. With a dynamic mic, the changes in distance will be more apparent. If you take care not to prance too hard, you shouldn't have much trouble. You can also apply a bit more compression than you might normally use on the vocal to get the average levels back in line.

The SM57 and 58 mics are both great. I personally prefer the GLS equivalents of the SHURE 57 and 58s, as they are a little brighter, and cost 1/3 of the SHURE price, but with the SHURE's, you always know what you're getting.

The ZOOM handhelds are pretty solid as well for quality on the go, and I think a few models can clip right onto your ipad or iphone at this point. I've only owned the ZOOM H2, but I've never had any issues with it.

@siebass, I've also been looking at the iRig Pro i/o -- it comes very close to what I'm looking for -- but the main thing holding me back is the one feature it doesn't have: zero latency (hardware) headphone monitoring. Rather, the monitoring runs through the iPad (or DAW, if one is using a computer) software before being returned to the jack for monitoring purposes, introducing (potentially substantial) latency. One can minimize the delay, of course, by not applying many (or any) effects, but still, it's disappointing, especially when IK's own Duo interface does have zero-latency monitoring (but, from review I've read, may have other issues).

That being said, it may be the best feature set for me (including availability of 24 bit recording and 48V phantom power either through battery or wall adapter). I'm waiting to see some reviews about general quality, however.

I know this is highly personal and some people just can't deal with latency at all when it comes to vocals. I read about a study where professional vocalists aknowledged that 3ms of latency is still ok with vox, but that's quite low. Me? Latency doesn't really bother me, unless we're talking about over 100ms. I'm not that accurate with my timing anyway. The problem is that when I start to hear my voice on a real delay I start listening to it and get mixed up.

@Ianuarius If you listen to "Everything Right Is Wrong Again" by They Might Be Giants, in the bridge you'll hear John Linnell trying to sing whilst his vocals are being fed back into his headphones with a slowly increasing delay. The whole song slows down because he's trying to synchronise what he's singing with what he can hear.

So after all of my thought and research (but luckily before I purchased anything), I now learn that (at least as of this writing) GarageBand for iOS does not support 24-bit audio recording (even though Apple itself has 24-bit as the default on the desktop, and specifically says in its own help material that such recording is preferable).

And it's not like the iPad isn't capable of it: there are several third-party iOS DAWs that do support 24-bit recording, and have for years.

Extremely first-world problem, I know. But still, it's annoying.

honestly, condensers are great, but i usually use a $20 dynamic for vocals, and whatever pre-amp is inside the i/o device itself. it works pretty well, and not using phantom power is a plus,

with the computer i've got, using a condenser, and with the i/o device 'providing phantom power', it's more likely to 'break-up' during recording (the computer fails to provide a consistent phantom power to the i/o device, and it makes for 'artifacts' in the recorded track/file).

so the better reliability of dynamic mics, with a usb i/o device is also 'a thing' over here.

some people have better gear setups (higher-rated power supplies on their computer), so i/o-based phantom power is reliable, and doesn't interfere with their recording.

anyway, that's my theory, that some computers don't provide a consistent 'phantom voltage' to the usb i/o device, so the dynamic mics are more reliable in that case.

be that as it may, there are so many $15-$25 dynamic mics out there today. overall, they do seem to 'add to' the highs frequencies, but that can be eq'd. so basically, you can get a 'pretty good' sound, even with a $20 mic. if you want to spend the $100 and get an sm57, even better still...

check this out: at monoprice.com they have a dynamic mic, shaped like an old-school mic. it's around $50+ bucks, and looks like it has some good reviews. i was thinking of upgrading to that...