As any engineer will tell you…
A good assortment of dynamic mics is the foundation of any mic collection.
But among the hundreds of models to choose from…
There are a select few…
- that every pro studio HAS
- and every home studio SHOULD HAVE
Because they have proven their worth, time and again, for many decades now.
In today’s post I reveal which ones they are in my list of the 6 Greatest Dynamic Mics of All-Time.
And since almost NONE of them cost more than a few hundred bucks, there’s no reason the average guy can’t own one.
First up is…
1. Shure SM57
Long hailed as the “World’s Most Versatile Mic“…
The Shure SM57 has been the staple of both stage and studio for longer than most of us have been alive.
- That mic on your favorite drummer’s snare drum…it’s probably an SM57.
- That mic on your favorite guitar player’s amp…probably an SM57 as well.
I could keep going, but I think you get the idea.
Oh, and have I mentioned their durability? Drop it, whack it with a drumstick, abuse it however you like. These mics are built to withstand a beating.
In fact, you can still find 20+ year old versions of this mic fetching surprisingly high prices on eBay.
For all these reasons and more, every studio should have at least one, if not several SM57’s.
Next up, another Shure mic…
2. Shure SM58
For live vocals…
There’s no mic more popular than the Shure SM58.
And it works just as well in the studio. The question is…
“Why is THIS mic better suited for vocals than the SM57?”
There’s lots of conflicting theories out there about the differences (or lack thereof) between these mics. Most folks site their own personal experience, but that’s hardly definitive.
So instead, here’s a more authoritative answer…
According to a Q&A page on the Shure Website:
The SM58 and the SM57 share the same mic element, the Unidyne III. The only difference between the these two models is the grill design.
The SM57 grill design allows more proximity effect because the mic diaphragm can be placed closer to the sound source.
Any other differences you hear between the SM57 and SM58 are likely to be subjective (psycho-acoustic) or due to slight manufacturing differences due to part tolerance.
So there you go…question answered.
Now the SM58 may be great for studio vocals, but it’s certainly not Top Dog. That crown belongs to this next mic…
3. Shure SM7B
The Shure SM7B is designed for one thing…
Recording Vocals. Rock vocals in particular.
When you combine its 3 main features:
- a bass rolloff
- a mid-range presence boost
- and a built in pop filter
…what you have is a microphone perfectly tailored for capturing the human voice.
As many folks know, the SM7B is most famously known for recording Michael Jackson’s legendary Thriller album.
And if it’s good enough for MJ, it’s good enough for the rest of us.
Next up is a mic just as famous for vocals, though not necessarily for singing…
4. Electrovoice RE20
In the world of broadcasting…
The Electrovoice Re20 is the industry standard for recording voices.
Odds are, you’ve seen it a million times before in television and movies.
So why is this mic so special?
Well mostly, it’s 2 unique features:
- the windscreen built INTO the grill handles both popping and sibilance
- the exclusive “Variable-D” technology makes it immune to proximity effect, despite having a cardioid polar pattern
And somehow, the RE20 maintains a consistent frequency response at any angle…
Yet at the same time, also rejecting unwanted noises.
Put simply…it sounds great, even on people with little to no experience behind a microphone. In the recording studio, it just might be one of the most essential tools in your arsenal.
Now that we’re nearing the end, it’s time to introduce the mic most folks consider as…
The Greatest All-Around Dynamic Mic of All-TIme…
5. Sennheiser MD421 II
Ask any audio professional…
“If you could only have ONE dynamic mic, which would you choose?”
And chances are good, the Sennheiser MD421 II would rank as the #1 choice.
Why? Because of all the mics on this list, it’s the most versatile one by far.
It sounds good on virtually anything: vocals, guitar cabs, toms, percussion, and some even say bass instruments.
It’s definitely not the prettiest mic out there…in fact its kinda ugly. And as far as special features go…it has virtually none.
In fact, other than its 5 position bass rolloff, there are no real features of this mic worth mentioning.
Yet despite these superficial shortcomings…this Sennheiser mic is surely still the King of all dynamic mics! Because when it comes to SOUND, it’s damn near flawless.
And finally, the last pick…
6. Sennheiser MD 441U
Without a doubt…
The Sennheiser MD 441U is by far the LEAST famous mic on the list.
But since all the mics covered so far were classics…
I wanted to include at least one lesser-known mic for all the enthusiasts looking for something new and different.
And a good list wouldn’t be complete without at least one odd ball, would it?
The reason I picked the MD 441U was…
Despite the highest praises by industry professionals, this mic is is relatively unknown, and often overlooked by your average dude.
So if you’re looking for a new dynamic mic to add to your locker, I highly recommend you check this one out.