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The 5 Best Dynamic Microphones For Home Recording Studios (Under $500)

by | Microphones | 1 comment

If you want to hear the sound of the best dynamic microphones that are available today, all you need to do is turn on the radio.

From 1960s and 1970s classic pop and rock hits to today’s country ballads and alt-rock songs – you’re going to hear a dynamic mic that was used to record vocals, guitars, bass, or drums.

Dynamic mics have been studio staple for decades and bring a sound to recordings that no other mic can bring.

I’ve chosen 5 of the best dynamic microphones for home recording studios or live music use that are available today for under $500.  And the good news is that two of them are available for under $100!

Review Criteria

All mics included in my reviews were chosen based on their widespread use and reputation in the professional music community.

I’ve also added my insights gained from 25+ years of experience running a very successful music production company, creating Audio Addiction Music Library, a production music library with global distribution, and recording in major studios.

Beginner’s Guide To Buying Microphones

First off, if you are new to buying microphones, please check out my Beginner’s Guide to Buying Microphones For Your Home Recording Studio.  You’ll learn exactly what a dynamic mic is, how mics work, mic polar patterns, when to use them, and much more.

Dynamic Microphone Overview

Just about every studio regardless of size needs at least one good dynamic mic in their mic locker.

Due of their ability to withstand high volume levels, dynamic mics are popular choices for:

  • vocal mics for onstage and studio work
  • miking electric guitar amps
  • miking bass amps
  • snare drums, kick drums, toms and other drums
  • loud instruments

They’re known for the colored sound they impart to a recording, especially in the 5 kHz to 10 kHz range.  This frequency range adds clarity and presence to vocals and instruments.

Unlike condenser or ribbon mics, dynamic mics do not require batteries or an external power supply.

In short, they are inexpensive, simple and reliable – everything you want in a mic!

The 5 Best Dynamic Microphones Under $500

The five mics I’ve chosen are all classics and best of all, affordable.

They are all solid investments that you won’t outgrow, and will provide many years of recording magic!

Shure SM57

Best Dynami Microphones - SM57 used on hit songsThe Shure SM57 is probably the most widely used mic in history, and certainly one of the best-selling mics in the world.  Shure released the first SM57 in 1965, and it quickly became a go-to mic for guitars, vocals, drums, horns and more.

There are four main reasons it gained in popularity so fast.  First, as a dynamic mic it is capable of withstanding high sound levels that can damage more delicate condenser mics.

Second, it is also built very ruggedly, making it last in the studio for many years despite constant use (and abuse).

Third, the mic just plain sounds good on many different sound sources, but especially on vocals and guitar amps.

And finally, studio owners love them because they are very inexpensive compared to condenser or ribbon mics.  The SM57 retails for only about $99.00.

Hear the SM57 in action at the Shure Mic Listening Lab.

Fun Fact: The SM57 has been the podium lectern mic of choice for U.S. presidents from Lyndon Johnson to Barack Obama.

Shure SM57

Check price:
Amazon | zZoundsGuitar Center

Shure SM57 Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 40 Hz – 15 kHz frequency response
  • Includes stand adapter and zippered carrying case

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Shure SM58

Best Dynami Microphones - SM58 used on hit songsThe SM58 is the sibling to the legendary SM57.

Like the SM57, this award-winning mic has been another must-have mic since it was introduced in 1966.

The SM58 is primarily designed for vocal use, both onstage and in the studio.

The main difference between the SM57 and SM58 is that the SM58 has its frequency response tuned especially for vocals.  It is designed to cut out low rumble and add a boost in the upper-mid frequencies.  The result is a warm detailed sound that makes vocals stand out.

Besides the frequency response, the SM58 has a ball grille which incorporates a built-in wind and pop filter to reduce plosives (pops on P sounds).  The SM57 has a smaller grill designed for instrumental recording.

Hear the SM58 in action at the Shure Mic Listening Lab.

Shure SM58

Check price:
Amazon | zZoundsGuitar Center

Shure SM58 Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 50 Hz – 15 kHz frequency response
  • Built-in wind and pop filter
  • Includes stand adapter and zippered carrying case

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Shure SM7B

Best Dynami Microphones - SM7B used on hit songsThe SM7B is another versatile dynamic mic that has been a studio favorite for decades.

It was originally designed as a mic for spoken word use, and has been a standard mic used in radio, post production and voiceovers for decades.

However, engineers and producers soon found that the SM7B excelled for vocal use.  Its design helps thin sounding voices sound fuller, and it’s become a mic of choice for hip hop and rap vocals.

It has also recently become a favorite for podcasts.

Bass rolloff and midrange emphasis (presence boost) controls help tailor the sound to capture the best vocal performances.

The SM7B is capable of handling loud vocalists, and is widely used in the rock/hard rock/metal genres.

Hear the SM7B in action at the Shure Mic Listening Lab.

Shure SM7B

Check price:
Amazon | zZoundsGuitar Center

Shure SM7B Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 50 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Bass rolloff and midrange emphasis (presence boost) controls
  • Built-in pop filter
  • Includes a standard windscreen plus a A7WS detachable windscreen for spoken word broadcast use

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Electro-Voice RE20

Best Dynami Microphones - RE20 used on hit songsThe Electro-Voice RE20 large diaphragm dynamic mic is another industry standard used by broadcasters and sound engineers around the world.

In fact, the RE20 was the 2015 TEC Technology Hall of Fame winner for its place in recording and broadcasting history.

This is a workhorse microphone equally at home recording vocals, electric bass, kick drum, guitar amps, snare and toms.

Its smooth sound and flat frequency response make it a great choice even for overhead drum miking or acoustic guitar, applications not the norm for a dynamic microphone.

The RE20 gets rave reviews for its ability to sound good on just about any voice. Vocals recorded with the RE20 cut through mixes with a clear upfront sound.

It also is remarkable that, due to its Variable-D design feature, the proximity effect is virtually non-existent on this mic, which is unheard of in a dynamic mic.

The RE20 is also known for its sound rejection at the rear of the mic, which helps minimize room ambiance in close-miking situations.

In addition to its great sound, its cool vintage look makes it an attractive addition to any studio.

For podcasters, the RE20 won first place in The Ultimate Podcasting Mic Shootout. This article includes audio samples of different mics, so check it out to hear the RE20 and other mics.

Electro-Voice RE20

Check price:
Amazon | zZoundsGuitar Center

Electro-Voice RE20 Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 45 Hz – 18 kHz frequency response
  • Bass rolloff switch
  • Built-in pop filter
  • Includes a standard windscreen plus a A7WS detachable windscreen for spoken word broadcast use

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Sennheiser MD 421-II

Best Dynami Microphones - MD421-II used on hit songsThe MD 421-II is another classic mic that is known for its versatility.  It simply sounds good on everything – guitars, drums, group vocals and more.

However, one of its main strengths is its ability to capture low frequencies well.  This has made it a go-to mic for recording toms and for bass or baritone voices.

The MD 421-II is especially useful for recording very loud sound sources, as it can handle extreme sound pressure levels.  As a bonus, it has excellent feedback rejection.

Its glass composite housing and hardened stainless steel basket construction will give you years of use in the most demanding studio recording situations.

Sennheiser MD 421-II

Check price:
Amazon | zZoundsGuitar Center

Sennheiser MD 421-II Specs:

  • Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 30 Hz – 17 kHz frequency response
  • Five position bass rolloff switch
  • Built-in pop filter
  • Mic clip included

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Bonus Mic: Sennheiser MD 441-U

Best Dynami Microphones - MD-441-U used on hit songsI’d like to add one more great mic that falls outside our under $500 criteria.  It is quite a bit more expensive, but it is worth it!

The Sennheiser MD 441-U is a cool retro looking mic that known as the most accurate and versatile dynamic mic available.

It was introduced in 1966, and quickly found success as a favored mic for vocals by many top engineers and producers.  Take a look at the Hit Records Box!

It has a super-cardioid polar pattern, which allows it to reject most sounds not directly in front of the mic.

The MD 441-U is able to handle loud sound sources well.

Its only drawback is its price – at $900 it is expensive for a dynamic mic, but if you have the budget for it, you won’t be disappointed!

Sennheiser MD 441-U

Check price:
Amazon | Guitar Center

Sennheiser MD 441-U Specs:

  • Super-Cardioid pickup pattern
  • 30 Hz – 20 kHz frequency response
  • Five position bass rolloff switch
  • Treble boost switch
  • Built-in pop filter
  • Mic clamp included

Frequency response chart:
Click image for larger popup

Conclusion

The five mics I’ve covered here are all professional mics used on countless hit records and recording sessions.

For those of you who are tech minded, you can delve into each mic’s specs to figure out which one works the best for your specific recording needs.

And for those who are studio novices, just know that you can’t go wrong buying any of these mics.

And with the Shure SM57 and SM58 selling for under $100, they are within the reach of just about every studio owner!

 

 

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