So you know you can rap, your friends tell you that you can rap and heck sometimes even strangers suggest that perhaps you should look into rapping or what not.
Well then, it’s time to get a mic and see what you’re made of. Here you will find good rap mics that will reflect your current voice in the best way possible.
That’s the way I would approach it but hey who knows, you might release a track with vocals that sound completely robotic and it might become a hit.
Anything is possible and always lean towards your natural creativity first.
No matter how ‘bizzare’ the world thinks it is.
My job is simply to share what has or is working for me and hopefully it will help you pick the right mic for you as well.
So how do you pick the right type of microphone?
Best Microphone For Rapping Comparison
|Neumann||TLM - 102||Condenser||XLR|
Well let me show you exactly how I discovered my rap microphone:
I know what you’re thinking.
What’s wrong with a USB mic and how in Vanilla Ice’s name is he dissing the Rode NT1-A?
Well read on and all the answers will be revealed . . .
First though, let’s get some microphone basics in check (Like that play on words?).
Also just to be clear, I’m a big fan of Vanilla Ice. I don’t care what people say, he’s a freaking legend.
Anyways, when it comes to recording music or audio, these are the four main ones:
- Used for recording stringed instruments and sometimes drums.
- Most sensitive of them all.
- Pretty obvious to spot as the ‘grill’ on these mic has a ‘ribbon’ style pattern to it.
- You NEVER record vocals on these. Just audio from instruments.
- Designed for podcasting or for Youtube videos (That’s it).
This was the mic that I used to record a whole bunch of tracks. Now I understand what the desk stand it came with was for . . . Podcasting. D
A USB mic is not for recording professional music.
That is something 99% of the Youtubers today who are giving music production advice have no clue about.
Bottom line, you don’t record vocals on a USB because of background noise, distortion and just the overall lack of capturing your real voice.
USB microphones are great to practice on if you don’t have the guts to record yet but that’s where it stops. You’ll learn more about this later on.
- Specifically designed for live performances and used by all radio DJs / Hosts (That’s why they sound the way they do).
- Drowns out background noise quite effectively.
- Are usually priced lower than condensers.
- Can also be used in recording instruments like guitar, drums, etc.
- Another mic type to practice rapping on but do not record on these. They are not designed for recording.
- Used by all professional artists (Singers or rappers) to record vocals.
- Gives you a more natural sound when recording. Especially when compared to a dynamic microphone or anything else.
To record your rap vocals (Or any vocals), you want the condenser because that’s what 99% of artists use to record their music.
If budget is an issue, you can get started with a dynamic microphone like the legendary Shure 58 (Amazon Link). I also talk about it a little bit later here but I don’t recommend anything other than a condenser microphone.
Dynamic and Condenser Microphones Comparison
Let me put it to you this way . . .
If you are just recording mixtapes or want to get a feel for how you sound like on a microphone, get a dynamic mic. If you are recording proper full on tracks that you actually want to see passed around on blogs or post on Youtube (Audio files or music videos), than you need a condenser microphone.
As a rapper myself, I started recording on a dynamic microphone (Shure SM58 – Amazon Link) but this was when I had zero knowledge about making music. So you can definitely get started this way but I don’t recommend it. Why take a step backwards when you actually have the right information eh?
So as far as condenser mics go, the best microphone for rapping and the one that truly kills, is the Audio Technica AT2020 XLR.
This little mic is nothing short of a legend.
PLEASE NOTE: I’m about to share some SERIOUS passion I have for the Audio Technica AT2020. My goal is to help you get started the right way without the mumbo jumbo that’s out there. That’s it. The secret to success in the rap game is to find a xlr mic that works for you and then just stick with it.
Audio Technica AT2020 XLR Review – Best Microphone For Recording Rap
I love the fact that it really captures your natural voice. Thanks to it’s awesome “Flat response” or in other words, how you sound in real life is how you will sound on this microphone.
This wasn’t a challenge for me but when I got the Rode NT1 (Which I don’t even use anymore), it made my voice sound like a little girl. Yeah needless to say, I was very disappointed and almost gave up on rapping.
I’m not dissing myself or the Rode NT1 (Or little girls) but if you don’t have that typical strong / manly rap voice, the AT2020 is the best mic for recording rap vocals.
Just because it captures how you really sound like without making you sound worst.
If you do have a manly voice, than the Rode NT1 will give you an even better “presence” and clarity.
I’ve recorded rap vocals on the AT2020 microphone for 3 straight years (On and off), dropped it several times and it still worked like a boss.
When I started using the Audiotechnica AT2020, I wasn’t aware of how to setup a home studio so I just got a AT2020 USB condenser mic and started putting out tracks. Even with zero knowledge of music production and recording, and just using Audacity (On my pc laptop) to make my tracks, I ended up making several awesome sounding rap tracks. One of them even got featured on a rap blog and ended up on an online mixtape as well.
Of course since then, my producing / mixing skills have gone to another level so I can’t wait to start recording on the XLR version of this microphone (Will be getting it soon).
As I mentioned earlier, your voice will sound pretty much the same on AT2020 like it does in real life and that’s because it’s actually a super balanced microphone. I’m not sure if can read this chart also known as the “Frequency Response” chart (If you know how to EQ stuff, you’ll get it right away) but check it out:
As you can see, it’s pretty much a straight line and that’s why this microphone kicks butt. If you don’t know how to read this graph at this point, it basically means the bass and treble (Highs) are pretty much balanced at one level. In fact the bass is a tad bit lower (Look between 50hz and 100hz) to help bring even more clarity to your rap vocals.
What’s A Good Microphone For Rapping
First you have to ask yourself is what is the most important thing when it comes to rap vocals?
If you said ‘lyrics’ than as much as I want to agree with you, it’s actually not true. Rap is all about swag, vocal style and most of all, making yourself and the crowd bounce. Some examples are Migos, Chief Keef, Lil Wayne and the list goes on. Yes they have great lyrics too but their swag and especially their vocal style is on another level and super unique. As a former club promoter, I can assure you people listen to rap because it makes them want to dance and have a good time – That’s it!
I think that goes for all music but especially for rap or EDM music.
So the question should be which microphone can help you create the best ‘vocal style’?
The answer is any quality microphone that captures your unique sound as it is (Ofcourse you can effects to it later, autotune, etc), in a very clear way (Without background / hissing noise) so your lyrics can get a chance to shine too while recording professional sounding tracks and if it’s affordable, than you won.
In most cases, even the lyrics don’t have to make sense (Nobody can understand what Future is rapping about) but if your overall track ‘sounds’ dope, that’s all that matters.
When you take all these three points into consideration, the AT2020 is simply the best condenser microphone for rap vocals.
The AT2020 catches your presence and the ‘rawness’ of rap vocals in a very pure way so if you do happen to perform your track live somewhere, you will still sound pretty much the same.
Now just to kind of look at this from a different angle, if you were a singer, I will totally not recommend this mic, In fact there are several other choices. The Rode NT1 for example.
The AT2020 is great if you have a few parts were you sing (Think Drake with auto tune) but if you are a singer, this is not for you. Reason is singers require a lot more clarity in their vocals then rappers do. Just listen to Adele’s Skyfall record. The clarity of vocals on that track is incredible.
To achieve results like that on an AT2020, you would have to do some serious extra audio processing which would only make you feel more frustrated as a singer. So for rappers, it’s perfect but for singers, I don’t recommend it at all. Singers need the Rode NT1A because when you do hit those high notes, they will sound more clear, crisp and therefore more enjoyable for your listeners.
USB or XLR Microphone
Now there are two ways of connecting your condensar microphones. By simply getting a USB version and plugging it either on your interface or your computer.
The professional way is to do it through and XLR Cable. Which stands for nothing because XLR is the name here. It’s not an abbreviation.
The Audi Technica AT2020 cardioid condenser microphone I used was USB powered. As you’ve already read, all the praise that I’ve given here comes from a USB version so I’m extra excited to try out the XLR one.
When I got the USB version of this mic, I literally plugged it in the back of my mac mini and that was it. It was fun while it lasted but as I mentioned, if you want professional sound you need to get the XLR model. It came with a little desk stand but obviously that’s not the right way of recording music. Great for a podcast or something but not recording.
Reason is after taking proper music production classes, I was told that the worst thing you can do to your vocals is get a USB powered microphone. It’s just not the right way of doing things.
Bottom line, just like you won’t wear roller skates when playing inline hockey, USB mics are not for professional recording.
If you want studio quality vocals, record them through XLR cables. Period.
This is pretty solid tip right here guys.
An XLR version will give you much more cleaner vocals (Less or no background / hissing noise).
That’s why the professionals use XLR. You will need an audio interface but if you already have studio monitors, than you alrealy know how it all works.
If a mic can capture the “rawness” of your rapping style and give you audio files that sound super clean, than what else can you ask for?
Audio Technica AT2020 Setup
Additional things you would need to have a proper setup: Don’t worry, once you are done, you dont have to worry about this for a long time.
- Mic stand.
- AT2020 shock mount.
- Windscreen / popfilter.
- XLR cable and an audio interface.
The ideal AT2020 Mic Stand
I’ve recorded raps while sitting, while just leaning into my laptop (Bad for your back) and while standing. I prefer sitting or standing. If this is the case for you, then get the standard
There are several different types of mic stands but I don’t want to get into that and make things uselessly complicated. For the AT2020, I think the Light Boom microphone stand is perfect.
Is fairly adjustable and if you get a shock mount, then you got a perfect setup. You can use it without a shock mount too though.
AT2020 Shock Mount
I didn’t use a shock mount before but it came with the Rode NT1A that I purchased just a few months ago. I realized that having a shock mount is actually quite useful. Especially when you start to go ham on the mic. Keeps everything sturdy and in it’s place. If you have a tendency to use your hands when you’re rapping (Sometimes I really get into it), then a shock mount would really help.
Not only that, it keeps the microphone stable and it one place so if you decide to record your second verse later, you will have pretty much the same setup so your second verse will come out just as same as the first. When it comes to recording rap vocals, you must stay consistent.
One thing I would say is don’t get those mics that attach to a table. You’re not doing a freaking podcast here, you’re a rapper now bro! Or bro-ette (I invented that by the way).
Windscreen and Popfilter
Also get a pop filter and you’re good to go. I haven’t used a windscreen before so I can’t say but a pop filter is a must. I think this time around I’ll get a windscreen as well because it will only help in giving me a more clear voice and further reducing any background noise.
At least that’s what the purpose of a windscreen is and I recently saw a a rapper on Youtube use both. The final results was dude’s vocals were super professional.
So it’s something definitely something I’ll be adding to my microphone setup as well.
How To Connect XLR Mic To A Computer
Now since your AT2020 will be an XLR version, you need to get an audio interface as well. Might as well get one (If you are not already using one to connect your studio monitors with) because that’s the professional way of doing things. An audio interface serves as a ‘bridge’ to help you connect all your pro music production equipment to your computer.
Trust me, it’s not as complicated as it sounds.
You simply follow the following steps:
- Take the XLR cable and connect one end to your mic.
- Take the other end and connect it to your audio interface.
Here is a little diagram (No worries, electrical cables confuse me too):
Now you are ready to record on that professional level.
Audio Technica AT2035 Review
I found my “rap voice” with the AT2020 so I’m going to stick with it but this is also right up there.
The AT2035 happens to be the first xlr microphone for most so you can’t go wrong with this one either.
Most actually prefer it over the Rode NT1-A. Including singers.
Great for rap vocals and recording other live instruments (Guitar, drums, etc) as well.
Rode NT1A Anniversary Vocal Condenser Microphone Package
However, if you already have a manly voice, then this mic is praised by many.
It’s my top pick if you’re a singer as the clarity and background noise reduction is really amazing but not my pick for rapping.
At least not for myself.
What I was most impressed with was there was hardly any hissing or background noise.
If I adjusted the settings on my audio interface a little bit more, I’m sure I would have got professional noise free rap vocals.
Great product, just not right for my voice.
Shure SM58 Microphone
This is Shure SM58. This was the very first microphone I ever used in my life and I can tell you that it recorded my voice just as good on this as I do now with the at2020.
Reason for that is both of these microphones have an pretty ‘flat’ response so what you sound like in real life is what you’ll get out of these.
This is not a condenser microphone but if budget is an issue, this is the best rap microphone you can use to record. Not professional tracks but record just for the fun of it.
Apparently Wiz Khalifa and Juicy J they all use this microphone to record “mixtapes” on these.
If budget is an issue, and you are not sure how good you will sound as a rapper, try learning more about this microphone.
Everyone and their moms uses Shure for all kinds of live performances anyways. I believe it’s the top selling microphone of all time. So you will still be in good hands.
Blue Spark Condenser Microphone
First and foremost, don’t get it twisted . . . this is not the Blue Yeti like all these amateurs keep talking about on Youtube. That Blue Yeti is USB mic. You don’t record professional tracks on a USB mic.
That said, the Blue mics are actually quite good but like I said, get an XLR version
This Blue Spark is the XLR version.
I wanted to add this just so I can give you guys another option. It comes with it’s own pop filter but I recommend you use an additional one (A proper one).
From what I hear, this is a great mic for recording rap music as well and still better than the Rode NT1A for rapping.
Neumann TLM 102 Condenser Microphone
This is the one I would love to try once I hit the big leagues.
Like when one of my song goes big or what not, than I will definitely look into this.
That said, when my track goes big and I’m using AT2020, I’m not sure if I’ll ever change my mic but definitely worth trying out for sure.
One thing I always say is if the professionals are using it, you should at least try it once.
One of the most high end microphones around for sure.