8 Best Headset Microphones for Singing & Live Performances

Author: Ross McLeod | Updated: | This post may contain affiliate links.

Headset microphones are essential for energetic performances that require hands-free singing. They're ideal for vocalists who also play an instrument, or performers who need complete freedom to move around the stage.

Additionally, a good headset microphone needs to isolate the vocals and reproduce them with maximum clarity. In this definitive guide, I'll present you with a selection of the best headset mics to enhance your performances.

The Best Headset Mics for Singing

The AKG C 520 is a head-worn condenser microphone that provides vocalists with a generous dynamic range. It is designed with the precision and consideration that musicians have come to expect from AKG through the years.

Arguably the two most important qualities of a headset mic are comfort and clarity. The C 520 offers both of these, and much more. Firstly, there’s an external shock mount included for stellar noise rejection.  

AKG has also specially designed a miniature gooseneck so that the microphone can be positioned exactly as you desire. The mic arm adds much-needed stability to ensure that the headset stays put amidst even the most energetic of live shows.

The microphone itself is a condenser with a cardioid polar pattern. Its frequency range spans from 60 Hz to 20 kHz, making it compatible with all styles of male and female vocals.

With a sensitivity rating of 5 mV/Pa, the C 520 headset microphone captures the slight nuances of the human voice, while rejecting any background noises. This quality makes it ideal for a singing drummer who requires good isolation to fend off their cymbals and other drum transients.

The C 520 also comes equipped with a 3-meter XLR cable, a moisture shield, and an adjustable headband for added security. The W44 windscreen shields the capsule from crowd noise or spill from amplifiers onstage.

PROS

  • High-quality cardioid condenser mic
  • Adjustable headband
  • 60 Hz – 20 kHz frequency range
  • Comes with a 3-meter XLR cable

CONS

  • None

German audio manufacturers Sennheiser have built a reputation as a leading producer of high-quality headphones, speakers, and microphones. Their products are renowned for being solidly built and highly reliable.

It should come as no surprise then, that the XSW 1-ME3 headset microphone is one of the best options available to singers. With hand-picked inner components, durable construction, and several useful accessories, it's a great tool for live performers.

The XSW 1-ME3 includes a Bodypack transmitter, a sophisticated receiver, and a ME3 microphone. This combination produces a crisp, clean sound and gives you complete control over your onstage vocals.

The streamlined receiver houses several convenient features, such as instant synchronization and one-button-scanning. A maximum of 10 wireless mic systems can be hooked up to the receiver simultaneously, and controlled using the onboard parameters.

The ME3 headset microphone is well suited to capturing vocals at proximity. It is designed to cope with loud volumes of external noise, and redirect the cardioid capsule back towards the singer's voice.

To hold the microphone in place, Sennheiser has included an immovable headband that is cushioned for added comfort. On the whole, this headset microphone is a great option for singers who want quality sound without an overly complex operation.

PROS

  • Connect up to 10 systems at one time
  • Noise-rejecting cardioid capsule
  • 1-button scanning and instant synchronization
  • Sleek and modern design

CONS

  • Requires 2 x AA batteries for operation with 10 hours battery life

Shure’s legacy as one of the top producers of microphones is cemented. Their SM57 and SM58 mics are staples of live audio setups around the globe, and with the SM35, they have channeled their expertise into an affordable headset microphone.

Designed to cater to hands-free vocal performance, the SM35 microphone boasts an extensive frequency response, impressive off-axis rejection, and the resilience to handle high sound pressure without compromising on quality.

The microphone is a crisp-sounding condenser with a cardioid polar pattern. It hones in on vocals while shielding from outside noise. It is also surprisingly lightweight, and therefore, comfortable to wear for long periods.

The inclusion of a high-quality windshield ensures that breath sounds, wind noises, and plosives are kept to a minimum. This is essential for performers who move around a lot onstage.

With a frequency response ranging from 40 Hz to 20 kHz, the SM35 caters to all styles of vocalists. It boasts a max SPL of 153dB and comes with a 3.75 ft XLR cable for instant set up.

PROS

  • High-quality condenser mic
  • Legendary Shure durability
  • Wide frequency response
  • Windshield included for protection against outside noise

CONS

  • Only compatible with a Shure wireless system

The PRO 8Hex by Audio-Tecnica is a wonderful headset microphone with a modest price tag. It was designed to provide ultimate comfort, mobility, and vocal quality to performers.

Ideal for musicians who need to use their hands to play their instrument rather than hold a mic stand, the PRO 8HEx includes a handful of useful features.

The low-visibility headband is cushioned with support pads to aid stability and keep the appearance as discreet as possible.

The microphone utilizes a hyper-cardioid polar pattern. This type of capsule is known for its ability to isolate the sound source while minimizing interference from external noises such as guitar amps, monitors, or drums.

Audio-Technica has also included a pair of windscreens with this headset microphone, one large and one small. The secure clothing clip makes for easy fastening and allows you to perform without worrying about the headset coming loose.

The 7.2 ft cable is permanently attached between the XLRM connector and the microphone. A pivot-mounted mic boom stand that is malleable is also included and can be positioned on the right or left side.

PROS

  • Ideal for guitarists, drummers, or keyboard players
  • Crisp hyper-cardioid mic capsule
  • Comes with two windshields
  • Includes a pivot-mounted mic boom stand

CONS

  • The frequency response of 200Hz- 18kHz isn’t as extensive as some other options

The Shure BLX14R/MX53 headset microphone system offers unshakable solidity, simple operation, and, as with all Shure mics, impeccable sound quality. Included in the set are a rackmount kit, BLX bodypack transmitter, and the brilliant MX153 mic.

Frequency selection can be a bit of a nuisance when using some wireless headset mics, but thanks to the innovative QuickScan technology, Shure has simplified the process.

With the push of a button, the system searches for the best-suited frequency and links the various components in an instant. The BLX series transmitters are operated by a pair of AA batteries and are capable of 14 hours of usage.

Arguably the standout quality of this headset microphone system is its versatility. You can set it up to run as a single-channel, half-rack, or with dual-channel receivers. Additionally, there are options specifically suited to vocals, guitars, and lavalier mics.

The BLX14R/MX53 also offers the ability to run up to 12 compatible systems per band. The omnidirectional MX153 condenser earset mic reproduces vocals with distinct clarity and accuracy.

PROS

  • Omnidirectional condenser earset mic
  • Includes bodypack transmitter
  • Intuitive BLX4R rackmount receiver
  • QuickScan technology

CONS

  • None

The Crown CM311 AESH is a high-performance hands-free microphone. Discreetly designed, it won't distract the audience's attention from your performance. It is suitable for a range of singers, including guitar players, keyboardists, and percussionists.

The included condenser microphone features a cardioid polar pattern. This type of polar pattern is a popular choice for headset mics, due to its unrivaled ability to focus on the vocalist while keeping outside noises at arm's length.

Boasting a frequency range of 50 Hz–17 kHz the mic caters to all vocal types. Whether you sing falsetto backing vocals or low-pitched melodies, the CM311 AESH will capture your voice with ease.

The included cable spans 3.5 ft and can be extended if required. At just .13lbs in weight, this headset mic is perfect for energetic live shows, and is so light that you will likely forget that you're wearing it!

In terms of connectivity, the Crown CM311 AESH is compatible with a Shure TA4F connector. It has a decent max SPL rating of 148dB, and produces very little self-noise, keeping the output clean and precise.

PROS

  • Clear condenser mic
  • Ultra-lightweight design
  • Discreet in appearance
  • 50Hz – 17kHz frequency range

CONS

  • Only compatible with Shure connectors

Countryman's E6 headset microphone is designed to be almost unnoticeable to an audience. Its wireless design and flexible nature make it a great choice for singers who require maximum mobility onstage.

The E6 is an omnidirectional mic, so it can be positioned anywhere near a vocalist's mouth and it will pick up their singing. The malleable boom stand can be maneuvered to find the ideal position.

To secure the E6, you simply use the snap-on connector which holds the cable in place. The rugged design means there is no danger of the mic coming loose during a performance, provided it is secured correctly.

Countryman has included a 1/8 inch connector for exclusive compatibility with Sennheiser wireless mic systems. The mic is also resistant to sweat and moisture, thanks to its protective shielding.

The great thing about using an omnidirectional capsule for a headset mic system is that it can reduce feedback by an average of 12dB. In comparison to an Omni lavalier mic, the E6 is far superior in this field.

PROS

  • A discreet and understated design
  • Flexible boom stand
  • Great feedback reduction
  • Omnidirectional mic capsule

CONS

  • Compatible only with Sennheiser receivers

The Acacia LIZ Pro provides clear sounding vocals and easy operation. The microphone has an omnidirectional capsule and therefore, can pick up a singer's voice clearly and effortlessly.

The LIZ Pro stays true to the natural tone of the vocalist. It doesn’t add any noticeable coloration, which can be a common issue with some affordable headset mics. Despite its lightweight design, this mic is robust enough to handle the rigors of live performance.

It also includes a detachable cable, so that you can pack the headset mic away safely after use and not cause any unnecessary wear and tear to the connection points. This cable is easy to replace if it does somehow get broken.

One of the most important qualities that singers require from a headset microphone, is protection from wind, plosives, and external noises. The LIZ Pro ticks all three boxes, keeping the output clear and uninterrupted.

It is compatible with any Shure Bodypack transmitters, or any other varieties that have the standard TA4F-style connectors.

Whether you're a singing guitarist, drummer, or vocalist who likes to move around the stage, the Acacia LIZ Pro is worth considering.

PROS

  • Solid, rugged design
  • Lightweight and mobile
  • Omnidirectional mic capsule combats wind & plosives
  • Detachable cable

CONS

  • None

Headset Microphones & Polar Patterns

When searching for the perfect headset microphone for your vocals, the main variable that you're likely to come across is the polar pattern. There are three main types used for headset mics: cardioid, hyper cardioid, and omnidirectional. 

Cardioid polar patterns are popular choices for headset mics, due to their ability to focus on a singular sound source and minimize any noise coming from the sides.

For drummers who sing or guitarists who are stood close to a loud amplifier, cardioid mic capsules are a great choice.

Hypercardioid mic capsules are less common, but some manufactures prefer them for headset systems.

A variation on the classic cardioid shape, these capsules offer a tighter response at the front of the mic and reduce the outside noise even further. This can sometimes lead to some of the expressions of a singer's voice being compromised slightly.

Finally, omnidirectional capsules are known for their ability to pick up sounds from all angles.

They are used for headset mics because they allow the vocals to be picked up even if the capsule isn’t directly pointed towards the singer’s mouth,  making them ideal for singers who also dance or move around a lot onstage.

Closing Thoughts

Headset microphones are the kind of device that leaves you wondering how you coped without it once you acquire one. Hopefully, you've identified the perfect choice for your onstage requirements, now it's time to enjoy the extra convenience they provide!

About Ross McLeod

Ross is a music producer, multi-instrumentalist and songwriter. He is the frontman of The Blue Dawns, where he handles vocal and bass duties. He has extensive experience with bass, drums and guitar. His most recent project is named Gold Jacket.

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