Music thrives off of our need for community, and folk music is a testament to that. Folk music is traditionally passed down from generation to generation. On the flip side, recording music seems too daunting for many musicians. That needs to change because the best recording microphone doesn't have to be expensive. You don't even have to have a full studio to record music.
As a musician myself, I am sometimes scared to record myself and to share those recordings. I have to remind myself that the world needs music, and recordings are a simple way to share my music with the world. You don't need a full studio with expensive equipment, but having the best recording microphone is a great start.
Best Recording Microphone FAQs
There are many great recording microphones out there, but what constitutes the best? While there's no one best recording microphone, there are a few things you should look for when choosing your next microphone. Cost, features, and design are a few of the main specs you should consider when shopping for the best recording microphone.
What is a recording microphone?
A recording microphone will pick up the full range of sounds that you produce when singing or playing an instrument. You can use a microphone for recording or live performance, but not all microphones work well for both situations. There are multiple types of recording microphones, but beginners can usually get away with just one.
What does it do?
A recording microphone hooks into a power source such as your computer or to a phantom power source. The microphone itself picks up your voice or instrument, and it transmits those frequencies through a power cord and into some recording device like a computer.
What makes it different from other microphones?
A recording mic is different from a stage mic because it has a different construction or build. Dynamic microphones are popular for the stage because they're durable and don't require external power. In a studio, you can use external power, so condenser microphones are the more suitable choice.
Where can you buy the best recording microphone?
You can buy a recording microphone online and from most major music retailers. Amazon, Guitar Center, and Sweetwater are just a few of the places where you can buy your next recording microphone.
How much does one cost?
Recording microphones vary in price from $50 to $450. The price point for each microphone depends on its specs such as frequency response and whether or not a cable comes with the microphone.
How We Reviewed
To find the best recording microphone for folk musicians, we looked at customer reviews and blog posts covering a variety of microphones. We found a couple of blog posts with lists covering good microphones, and we used the lists and reviews to determine some of the best recording microphones available.
The Best Recording Microphone for Folk Musicians: Top 6
The best recording microphone for folk musicians is one that can record a variety of instruments and a range of frequencies. Great recording microphones are sturdy and can connect with the rest of your recording setup. If you're on a strict budget, then you'll also want a microphone that can handle any instrument or vocal part that you need to record.
1. Shure SM58
The Shure SM58 is a great recording microphone, especially for vocals. This microphone has a brightened midrange and a bass roll off. It also comes with a built-in spherical wind and pop filter, and the frequency response is 50 to 15,000 Hz. The microphone's pneumatic shock-mount system cuts down handling noise, and the uniform cardioid pickup pattern isolates the sound from any background noise.
You can use this microphone for studio recording and outdoor performances, and its shock-mount system and steel mesh grille keep the microphone safe from damage. Shure is known for their high-quality products, so you know you're getting a microphone that will last.
You can buy the Shure SM58 for $90 to $110 depending on the cable you want, but an XLR to USB adapter will cost an extra $100. With an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, many customers love this microphone. One customer called the SM58 the "hammer of microphones." Another customer claimed the microphone made their voice sound dull. One of the blogs we read said the Shure SM58 is great at reducing feedback.
2. Rode NT1-A
Next on our list is the Rode NT1-A microphone. The microphone has a warm, extended dynamic range and high SPL capability that you usually find on more expensive microphones. SPL stands for sound pressure level, and a higher SPL means the microphone can withstand louder input.
The Rode microphone itself is quiet, and it's well suited for recording vocals, guitar, and percussion. This microphone comes with everything you need to start recording even if you're a beginner. The microphone also includes a pop shield and shock mount. Its frequency range is 20 to 20,000 Hz, and you can take advantage of a 10-year warranty if you register your microphone online.
The Rode NT1-A costs $200 to $400, and it has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Multiple customers said the microphone is a great value. One happy customer said that they don't have to do too much editing to take out background noise, but the microphone blocks most noise. Another customer said the microphone didn't work after it had sat in storage for a few weeks.
3. Sennheiser MD 421 II
With a frequency range of 30 to 17,000 Hz, the Sennheiser MD 421 II is a great choice for recording most instruments. It's a dynamic microphone with a five-position bass roll off. The microphone is effective at reducing feedback, and it reproduces sound clearly.
This Sennheiser microphone is resistant to dust and humidity, and it has a two-year warranty. This dynamic microphone helps to direct sound waves, and it's the most popular microphone from Sennheiser.
At $350 to $400, this microphone is more expensive than some of the others on our list. Don't let that deter you, because the microphone also has an average rating of 4.8 out of 5 stars. One customer said the microphone is great for recording everything from toms to vocals and guitar. Another customer said the microphone has some sharp highs, but you can correct them in editing. The biggest complaint about the microphone is that the microphone clip has a poor design.
4. AKG Pro Audio P420
The AKG Pro Audio P420 is a dual diaphragm microphone, and you can choose between three polar patterns. The microphone features low noise electronics, and it has less transformer output for the high dynamic range. You can take advantage of the switchable attenuation pad because it has a high SPL.
This microphone is a great choice for anyone starting out because it's affordable and flexible.
The AKG Pro Audio P420 costs $130 to $170, and it has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. One customer noted that the microphone is a condenser microphone, so you will need phantom power to operate it. The microphone also comes with a nice carrying case. Another customer said that their microphone arrived with a few scratches. A third customer mentioned that one side of their microphone didn't work.
5. Shure SM81
If you want an instrumental microphone to complement the Shure SM58 we mentioned, try the Shure SM81. It has a frequency response of 0 to 20,000 Hz, and it has a selectable low-frequency response. The microphone features a low noise and high output clipping level. This microphone has a cardioid polar pattern that is uniform with frequency and symmetric about the axis. It is a condenser microphone, so you will need phantom power to use it.
The microphone is steel, and you can use it in a variety of temperature and humidity conditions.
The Shure SM81 costs $300 to $400, and it has an average rating of 5.0 out of 5 stars. Customers have said the microphone is perfect for guitar, and it records high frequencies well. One of the blogs we read said the only downside to the microphone is that it isn't great for vocals. If you want a vocal microphone, you can pair it with the more affordable SM58.
6. AKG Perception 170
Another great instrument microphone, the AKG Perception 170 is a good choice for anyone on a budget. The microphone has a frequency response of 20 to 20,000 Hz, and its maximum SPL is 155 decibels. One way to use the microphone is in a pair as an overhead microphone.
Customers have mentioned that this condenser microphone isn't great for recording vocals, but it does fare well with instruments such as acoustic guitar.
The AKG Perception 170 costs $50 to $100, and it has an average rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. Most customers love the amazing value of the microphone. One customer said it's perfect for home recording for their guitar and mandolin. Another customer mentioned they considered the Shure SM81, but they believe they saved a lot of money by choosing the AKG. The only negative review stated that if you lose the stand adapter, it will cost you $30 to replace it.
Mic Up Right
The best recording microphone for folk musicians isn't one single microphone. Before you decide which recording microphone is for you, you have to consider your needs and budget. If you record mostly instrumentals with little to no vocals, you don't need a vocal microphone. If you're a beginner, your budget is probably smaller, and so you'll want something that's affordable and easy to use.
No two microphones are the same, and no two folk musicians are the same. All of the recording microphones on our list are great options, and most folk musicians will like one of them.
If we had to choose one best recording microphone, we would select the Rode NT1-A, because it works well with vocals and instrumentals. It's a quiet microphone, and it comes with everything you need to start recording. Some of the other microphones are cheaper, but they don't have all of the features of the Rode NT1-A.
Choosing a microphone can be daunting because some cost a lot of money, but you also don't want to sacrifice quality for cost. The microphones we reviewed all have great features, and they are all suitable for most of your recording needs.