If you want to record clear, powerful rap vocals, you need a mic that has certain capabilities. The best mics for rapping hone in on the small details, and capture the full frequency spectrum of the human voice.
Condenser microphones are best suited for recording crisp, accurate rap vocals. They highlight the slight nuances that give each rapper their style. In this detailed guide, I'll introduce you to some excellent vocal mics for recording rap music.
Best Mics for Rappers - Perfect Rapping Microphones
Table of Contents
1. AKG C214
A younger sibling of the legendary AKG C414, the C214 builds upon its predecessor’s qualities and presents them in a more affordable format. The components used are very similar to the revered C414, with some slight adjustments which make it ideal for rap vocalists.
One of the standout qualities offered by the C214 is its exceptional dynamic range. This condenser mic delivers the classic large-diaphragm sound that AKG is famous for, with an impressive 143dB range which highlights transients and doesn't overly compress the recordings.
Versatile and reliable, the C214 lends itself to a variety of purposes in addition to recording rap vocals. It can also be used to record several instruments, thanks largely to the switchable 20dB attenuation pad and low-cut filter.
These two mechanisms allow the C214 to be used in sound environments that reach as high as 156dB SPL. If your style of rapping is aggressive and punchy, this large-diaphragm condenser will have no problems handling it.
Arguably, the quality that AKG is best known for its durability. The C214, like the majority of their microphones, is constructed using highly robust materials and components. The integrated capsule suspension is one example of this.
The C214 also has a scratch-resistant finish, a metal grille that can absorb impact and protect the inner components, and a gold-plated XLR output for secure connectivity. Its frequency range spans 20 Hz-20 kHz.
For recording on the go, AKG has included several useful accessories with the C214. These include a high-quality shockmount, a windscreen, and a metal carrying case.
In my experience, it took a bit of EQ'ing to get rap vocals to sound perfect. It's suitable for both male and female rap vocals. It works great for capturing crisp, yet harsh rap vocals, but isn't the best for recording smoother, deeper RnB vocals.
Neumann is the go-to choice for recording engineers and vocalists who want to capture pristine audio quality. Their TLM 102 sounds impeccable across a variety of recording purposes.
This microphone is perfectly suited for rapping. It features a unique transformer-less design and provides you with all of the detail associated with high-end large-diaphragm condensers.
The frequency response of the TLM 102 is ideal for recording rap vocals. It picks up any frequencies from 20Hz – 20 kHz with pinpoint precision, focusing on the expression of the performer’s vocal style.
A multi-faceted condenser mic, the Neumann TLM can handle SPLs of up to 144dB. This means, that in addition to using it for recording rap vocals, it is well suited to several other uses also.
You could position it in front of a kick drum; use it to record a guitar amp, or even more nuanced instruments like strings or horns. It performs best as a vocal mic but can handle any obligation you ask it to.
One of the most important aspects of recording crisp rapping is avoiding or minimizing plosives. These sounds are caused by air pressure and can mar a recording. Thankfully, Neumann has included a high-end pop filter with the TLM 102 to combat this common issue.
3. Rode NT1-A
Rode's NT1-A is a high-quality cardioid condenser microphone. It operates quiet impressively, allowing every little ounce of expression and detail of rap vocals to be recorded. This mic also comes with several useful accessories.
The impeccable low self-noise of the NT1-A is perhaps its best quality. Even the quietest of vocal tracks are captured accurately. The natural tone of the voice is preserved and not colored by the microphone.
With an SPL handling ability of up to 137dB, the NT1-A is well suited to a range of recording purposes. You can use it for recording loud transients like drums and percussion, or for capturing the subtle details of an acoustic guitar.
Despite its multi-faceted performance, the NT1-A is a vocal mic first and foremost. It has a frequency range of 20 Hz – 20 kHz, so no matter the timbre and pitch of your rapping, this mic will capture all of it.
The active electronics installed within the NT1-A are also of the highest quality. It contains a JFET impedance converter, which is accompanied by bipolar output buffering for maximum clarity.
Rode has included all of the necessary add-ons required for recording rap vocals. The microphone comes with a shockmount, pop shield, XLR cable, microphone dust cover, and even an instructional DVD for getting it all setup!
Their output connectors are gold plated, and the internal shockmount system ensures that slight movements won't diminish the quality of your rap recordings. The microphone is finished in heavy-duty satin nickel for added durability.
The AT2035 by Audio-Technica is a great value, large-diaphragm condenser microphone which is fitted with several performance-boosting features. Its compact, lightweight design makes it an ideal choice for on-the-go rap recordings.
Firstly, the cardioid AT2035 condenser microphone features a switchable high-pass filter that cuts out all frequencies below 80 Hz. For applications such as recording falsetto backing vocals, this tool is indispensable.
The AT035 is designed to be used for several recording purposes. Thanks to its ability to handle high SPL with a wide dynamic range, you can use it for instrument recordings in addition to rapping. It has the qualities to be a budget swiss army knife in your arsenal.
Audio-Technica has included a shock mount with this microphone, to absorb the inevitable impacts when recording vocals. There's also a threaded adapter for mic stand compatibility and a soft protective pouch for safe transportation.
With a wide frequency response that stretches from the low end of 20 Hz all the way up to the treble end of 20 kHz, the AT2035 will have no problems recording all styles of rapping.
Like most condenser microphones, it requires standard +48v phantom power to successfully operate. It also has a fixed-charge backplate which results in permanent polarization.
Don't be fooled by the small size of this condenser microphone. With its cardioid polar pattern and purpose-built inner components, it is capable of capturing rap vocals with power and clarity.
Rap vocals captured through this mic retain the intricate details and cut through the mix without any problem. I found the captured audio to be crystal clear and had enough warmth, which rivalled the audio quality of mics that were triple the price.
In my experience, it effectively reduces background noise by quite a bit, so you don't need to eliminate it in post production.
5. Shure SM7B
Shure is one of the leading providers of microphones globally, famous for its SM57 and SM58 dynamic microphones. The SM7B is a unique offering, which rivals to two aforementioned mics in terms of popularity.
Exceptionally clear and accurate, the SM7B dynamic microphone is the leading choice for podcasting and other spoken word recordings. However, its capabilities are also great for recording rapping.
With dual tone controls, the SM7B can be tailored to suit any vocal style. It features a switchable passive EQ for instantly cutting out low frequencies, boosting the overall presence.
Regardless of the pitch and timbre of your rap vocals, the SM7B will suffice. When the low cut is activated, it highlights the mid-range and treble frequencies of rap vocals. When the presence booster is engaged, it works seamlessly with high-end sound sources.
The SM7B is amongst the most versatile microphones on the market. With an SPL handling ability of up to 180dB, it excels when recording loud sounds, whether they be vocals, drums, amplified instruments, or textural tones.
The inner components of the SM7B are complex and innovative. With an internal suspension shockmount system, it keeps the recordings as clean as possible by limiting light vibrations.
Then there's the advanced electromagnetic shielding, which combats hum. An integrated swivel mount and close-talk windscreen further the SM7Bs ability to record high-quality rap vocals with no blemishes.
Although the majority of microphones that are well suited to recording rapping are of the condenser variety, the SM7B is dynamic. Its unique cardioid polar pattern allows it to perform like a condenser, with the ruggedness of a dynamic vocal mic.
Audio Technica’s AT4040 large-diaphragm condenser microphone offers rappers all of the tools they require to capture crisp vocal recordings. This versatile model is great for broadcasting, podcasting, or musical endeavors.
Designed to keep unwanted distortion to a minimum, the AT4040 controls low-end frequencies very impressively indeed. This is a direct result of Audio Technica’s revered transformerless circuitry.
This method of circuitry also boosts the microphone's ability to reproduce high-speed transients. It can record the attack of even the sharpest sound sources, like snare drums or hi-hats.
At the heart of the AT4040s capabilities, is the natural-sounding sonic character. Some condenser mics tend to add coloration to recordings, which is great if that's what you're looking for, but inconvenient if you want a clean sound.
With its extra-thick diaphragm, the AT4040 reproduces rap vocals accurately without changing the inherent tonal qualities. It is also capable of handling up to 145db SPL, which is impressive when you consider the sensitivity of this condenser mic.
7. Samson C01
Every now and then, a microphone comes along that leaves musicians and recording engineers scratching their heads. The Samson C01 performs like a mic that you’d expect to have a much heftier price tag.
Samson has coined a reputation as one of the leading producers of affordable recording equipment over the past couple of decades. The C01 is a reminder of why their stock continues to grow exponentially.
Sturdy, robust, and versatile, this large-diaphragm condenser mic is ideally suited to capturing vocals. Rappers will love the way that it hones in on the finer details of their lyrics.
The C01 does add a little color to recordings, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It has a fairly smooth, flat frequency response, so there’s plenty of room for processing your vocals retrospectively in your chosen DAW.
The diaphragm of the Samson C01 is 19mm in size, making it one of the larger varieties available. This means it can comfortably handle loud vocal styles, and also can be used to record a range of instruments.
Included with the C01 is a swivel stand mount, a high-end, gold plated XLR connector, a heavy gauge metal grille for protection and preservation, and finally, a useful carry case.
With a hyper cardioid polar pattern, this condenser microphone can highlight the unique qualities of a rapper's style. Also, the Samson C01 is capable of handling SPL levels of up to 136dB.
With its striking, unique aesthetics and reliable performance, the Origin by Aston Microphones is a commendable choice for rappers. Featuring a 1 inch, gold-evaporated capsule, it stands out amongst the crowded field of condensers.
The Origin has a cardioid polar pattern, which is complemented by a 10db pad and a high-pass filter that minimizes frequencies under 80Hz. This combination of features makes it ideal for capturing rap vocals accurately.
The sound delivered by the Origin is open, warm, and rich with harmonics. No matter what style of rap vocals you want to record, this pristine condenser mic will do the job capably.
In addition to being well-suited for recording vocals, the Aston Microphones Origin can also be used to record acoustic instruments, drums, or louder sound sources like an amplified electric guitar.
The inner capsule of the Origin was specifically selected by Aston Microphones, and coupled with the transformerless circuitry, it results in a clean, sharp recording ability. Despite the treble-heavy nature of this mic, it doesn’t sound harsh at all.
The instantly recognizable design of the Origin is largely a result of the unique mesh head with a built-in pop filter. This produces a classy, distinguished appearance, but also performs a practical function.
Plosives are a common predicament faced by rappers when recording, so the onboard pop filter comes in very handy indeed. The grille is shock resistant, allowing the capsule to absorb the vibrations cleanly and without distortion.
The Origin’s solid chassis has been subjected to a unique process to ensure its durability. Tumbled for four hours, it guarantees ultimate protection of the microphone’s inner components, and thus, improves longevity.
9. AKG P420
The highly sensitive P420 is one of the best affordable vocal mics available. Its impressive attention to detail makes this microphone a great choice for capturing crisp lyrics.
Rapping involves syncopation, rhythm, and placing emphasis on certain vocal sounds. To record in this style, you need a microphone that authentically reproduces the tone and pronunciations of your vocals.
The P420 also offers a bass roll-off of 300Hz. This is a useful feature if your vocal style is low in pitch, or if you are trying to draw attention to the higher frequencies of the recorded rap vocals.
Perhaps the best feature of the AKG P420 large-diaphragm condenser mic is its switchable polar patterns. Unlike most condensers that only offer one polar pattern, with the P420 you can change it based on the sound source you are recording.
In addition to the standard cardioid polar pattern, you can also gain access to omnidirectional and figure-of-eight. The latter two polar patterns are great for recording two sound sources simultaneously.
Vocal Mics for Rapping: Required Features
When choosing the best microphone for rapping, it’s important to consider the specific capabilities that each model offers. Although vocal mics are fairly consistent in some aspects, there are many variables that will affect their ability to record raps.
The most important quality to look for is clarity. Rapping is a complex vocal technique that relies on certain syllables and sounds being emphasized. A good microphone should hone in on these finer details, to produce the best quality outcome possible.
The clarity that a vocal mic offers is dependent on several factors. These are:
- Polar pattern
- Frequency response
- SPL handling
The majority of condenser vocal microphones have a cardioid polar pattern. This is a reliable choice because cardioid capsules are great for focusing on the sound source that is positioned directly in front of them.
You can get variations of cardioid polar patterns, such as super cardioid or hyper cardioid. These are simply more intense versions, which focus with more intent on the desired sound source and block out any external noises.
In addition to cardioid polar patterns, some vocal microphones also have omnidirectional and figure-of-eight capsules. As the name suggests, omnidirectional capsules can be used to record sound from both the front, sides, and the back of the microphone.
This is useful when recording two rap vocalists at once, perhaps with one performing ad libs as the other recite their lyrics. The downside to omnidirectional polar patterns is that they are prone to pick up unwanted sound positioned at the back and sides.
Figure-of-eight capsules capture sound from directly in front and behind the microphone. Again, these are useful for recording multiple sound sources, but perhaps not the most reliable for recording solo rap vocals.
It's quite common that condenser microphones are fitted with switchable polar patterns. This allows you to change between cardioid, Omni, and figure-of-eight to suit the type of recording you are aiming for.
A microphone's frequency response displays the range of sounds that it is capable of capturing, in terms of pitch. For recording rap vocals, it's highly important that the mic you choose covers the complete frequency range of the human voice.
Different rappers have varying vocal ranges. Some may predominantly rap in the lower registers, while others may prefer to rap at a higher pitch. Generally speaking, the human voice doesn’t go beyond the parameters of 20Hz – 20 kHz.
Therefore, provided you choose a microphone that is capable of picking up frequencies within this range, you’ll have no problems recording rapping with it. If the mic doesn’t have a wide frequency range, it’s probably better suited to another purpose.
Some microphones are specifically designed for a certain instrument family, for example. A kick drum microphone is likely to have a much lower frequency response range than a condenser designed for rap vocals.
Another thing to look out for when choosing the best mic for rapping is high-pass filters and pads. It’s common for condenser vocal mics to offer you the option of removing low-end frequencies when they are not required.
This is usually presented with a simple switch, which when activated, prevents the low-end frequencies from making their way into your recordings. Another common inclusion is presence boosting pads.
These switches allow you to boost a certain frequency band, usually located in the mid-high registers, and thus, improve the overall clarity when recording vocals.
After reading through this comprehensive guide to the best mics for rapping, you should hopefully have a good idea of what you require. Once you’ve identified the ideal microphone, it’s important to experiment to find the best methods of using it to record rap vocals.