Metal vocals are very loud, very gritty, and very tricky to record. Your microphone is the first point of contact when it comes to capturing such a performance, and needless to say the microphone you choose is extremely important.
You need to find a microphone that can handle the extreme dynamics of a metal performance, on top of having a great source tone for your mix engineer to go off of. These are the five best microphones for metal vocals that can seriously level up your recordings ten-fold. Best of all, these mics are all under $500, and can fit the budget of any broke upcoming band or producer.
1. Audio-Technica AT2020 (https://amzn.to/3JOoYNU)
Yes, believe it or not, the AT2020 has given me some of the best results for my metal mixes. This mic comes in at less than $100, which is an absolutely insane value. The high-end clarity is an absolute god-send on this particular mic.
Screams tend to have a LOT of overtones, and a good screamer can create a natural saturation when performing. The high-end on this mic captures a screaming performance perfectly. In my experience, even clean performances captured with this mic sat very well in a mix with little to no EQ.
AT2020's are also available in a variety of different bundles including mic stands, interfaces, pop-filters, and just about everything you need to start recording. Theres also a USB version for those who do not yet own an audio interface. This makes it the most accessible microphone on this list for those who are new to recording.
Because I've use this mic on countless recording projects (recorded paired with the "Air" function on a Clarett 2pre), I'd like you to hear the results for yourself on my mixes:
2. Sennheiser 421 (https://amzn.to/3ndt2xH)
The 421 is one of the most popular mics to use on heavy, distorted guitars. However, because of that, the 421 is absolutely ideal for capturing loud and intense vocal performances.
The mic comes with five different bass roll-off switches, which is a super handy feature for capturing clarity on heavy performances. This also allows the vocalist to get super close to the mic without having excessive low-end caused by proximity.
A super handy feature is the mic's ability to cancel out feedback and unnecessary background noise. This one feature will clean up your performances extensively, and make your mix engineer's life so much easier.
This mic comes in at around $400, which is a tad more on the expensive side. However, the features packed into this mic makes it a serious contender at it's price-point.
3. Lewitt LCT 240 Pro (https://amzn.to/3HNjCRh)
The LCT 240 is a no-bs, simple condenser microphone. It doesn't come with any fancy features, and that can be extremely easy to work with in the mixing stage. There are no surprises, and whatever your vocalist does is exactly what you can expect.
This microphone also comes in at only $159, and there are bundles that include all the gear you need to start recording (just like the previous AT2020 bundles). This makes it one of the best microphones for beginners and professionals, and an insane value for that price point.
What really convinced me was this video from Tiaday (vocalist for The World Over). She did a cover of an Attila track with this microphone, and needless to say her screams are captured extremely well. Damn do they sound brutal.
3. Electro-Voice RE20 (https://amzn.to/3r1ZxA3)
The RE20 is one of the most popular microphones for Podcasters. The clarity it produces and quality it captures from the human voice makes it a serious contender on this list.
On top of that, the RE20 is packed with three very distinct features that makes it very handy for metal vocals (or vocals in general). One of them being the built-in high-pass filter. Very similar to the 421, this gets rid of a lot of unnecessary low-end and has the capability of capturing insane clarity from a heavy performance.
The other two features are it's built-in background noise cancellation and shock-mount. This microphone is practically built for producing clean and clear vocal recordings. At $449, this is an insane value.
On-top of that, there are a ton of bundles that include the gear you need to start recording with this mic.
1. Shure SM7B (https://amzn.to/3JVOH7d)
Last but certainly not least, we have the SM7B. This is another extremely popular microphone used by lots of Broadcasters and Podcasters. Definitely no surprises there.
This dynamic microphone is used by countless metal artists and engineers for its ability to handle heavy vocals extremely well. It's an extremely dry mic, making it known to capture the rawest and purest form of a metal vocalist's performance.
One major downside is that this mic has a very low output, and this mic is commonly paired with a Cloudlifter CL-1 (and is commonly sold in bundles with the CL-1) because of this. The CL-1 boosts the output of the SM7B by about 20 db, making it a must-have for getting more clarity from your performance.
I've mixed quite a few artists that have recorded vocals on an SM7B. Their performances are always captured well, and they fit like a glove in any mix. Here's an example of my personal favorite mix that utilized this mic:
I hope you enjoyed reading, and I hope you now have an awesome selection of microphones to choose from. Stay brootal!