Best Microphone for Rap in 2022

by The Greatest Song

and The Greatest Song Team

Looking for a rap vocals mic

Looking for the best microphone for rap, we tested ten popular choices. Other than the Neumann TLM 102, all of the microphones listed here are under $500. 

Comparison Chart: Best Microphone for Rap

Sennheiser E965

(more on this mic..)

Our Rating for rap vocals: 5.0

Sennheiser e965 Microphone

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Pros

  • excellent modern sound with balanced lower end
  • ideal for stage and studio
  • good unwanted noise rejection
  • Switchable polar patterns
  • hand held design

Cons

  • No protective carry case included

Audio-Technica AT4033a

(more on this mic…)

Our Rating for rap vocals: 4.8

Audio-technica AT4033a Microphone

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Pros

  • High-end, silky-warm sound at an affordable price
  • beautiful to look at
  • perfectly suited to rap vocals

Cons

  • not suited for the stage

Neumann TLM 102

(more on this mic…)

Our Rating for rap vocals: 4.8

Neumann TLM 102 Microphone

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Pros

  • Crystal clear sonic signature
  • sturdy no-frills build
  • Versatile – clarion reproduction on just about anything you try it with

Cons

  • shockmount not included
  • not suited for the stage
  • pricey

Shure SM7B

(more on this mic…)

Our Rating for rap vocals: 4.5

Shure SM7B Microphone

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Pros

  • Iconic sonic signature
  • Suitable to a wide range of voices
  • An industry-standard, high-quality microphone

Cons

  • Its reproduction is not accurate, but unique
  • only for the studio
  • pronounced proximity effect (bass increases the closer you are)

Rode NT1A

(more on this mic…)

Our Rating: 4.5

Rode NT1A MIcrophone

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Pros

  • well-focussed, detailed reproduction
  • comes with shock mount and pop filter
  • super low self-noise level

Cons

  • not that cool looking
  • the sonic signature could be too bright for some

Aston Origin

(more on this mic…)

Our Rating for rap vocals: 4.4

Aston Origin Microphone

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Pros

  • Modern, clarion reproduction
  • The best looking mic on this list
  • Built-in pop filter

Cons

  • no shockmount or case included
  • not suited for the stage

AKG P420

(more on this mic…)

Our Rating for rap vocals: 4.3

AKG P420 Microphone

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Pros

  • accurate, solid sound
  • versatile, switchable polar pattern
  • comes with high quality hard case and shock mount

Cons

  • not as crystal clear as other condenser mics on this list

Audio Technica AT2020

(more on this mic…)

Our Our Rating for rap vocals: 3.4

Audio Technica AT2020 Microphone

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Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Solid Build
  • Accurate Sound – better than most budget condensers

Cons

  • Higher self-noise than usual
  • No balance on the lower end
  • Not for the stage

Shure SM57

(more on this mic…)

Our Rating for rap vocals: 2.5

Shure SM57 Microphone

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Pros

  • the best utility mic ever
  • inexpensive
  • built like a tank

Cons

  • needs a pop filter
  • lacks detail and brilliance for studio vocals

Shure SM58

(more on this mic…)

Our Rating for rap vocals: 2.0

Shure SM58 Microphone

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Pros

  • The go-to live vocal mic
  • built like a tank
  • inexpensive

Cons

  • lacks detail and brilliance for studio vocals
  • Can be a bit ‘boxy’ sounding

How We Tested the Mics

We tested them all out-of-the-box without adding any compression or EQ using a Universal Audio Apollo Solo Interface recorded with Logic Pro X.   

Unfortunately, we didn’t have a real rapper on hand, but we had fun with the rap tests below.  We use lossless audio to give you a good idea of each mic (headphones recommended). 

Rapping has specific technical requirements. Most rappers like to move while they rap, some rappers really shout and need a mic that can respond accordingly, and preferences vary on the level of detail rappers like to capture from the voice.

The ratings are based on how well the mics perform for rap vocals primarily in the studio.  But if the mic is also suited for the stage, it is ranked higher for versatility.  For more information on Microphone Types see here.

For all home recording studio gear reviews see here.

Table of Contents

    The Winner!

    Sennheiser e965

    Rating for rap vocals

    5.0

    Pros

    • bright modern sound with balanced lower end
    • ideal for stage and studio
    • fantastic rejection of neighbouring noise
    • Switchable polar patterns (cardioid to super cardioid)
    • hand held design allows movement in the studio without sacrificing sound quality

    Cons

    • No protective carry case included
    Sennheiser e965 Microphone

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    Bottom Line:

    A well-designed, high-quality condenser mic for studio or stage at a great price.

    The Sennheiser e965 has the feel and low-handling noise of a dynamic mic with all the benefits of a large-diaphragm condenser.  For rap, this is a perfect marriage.  This allows the MC to hold the mic and move with the mic without sacrificing sound quality and detail.  

    The e965 is the big brother to the popular e935. But rather than using a dynamic coil, this one uses the large-diaphragm condenser. Most hand-held condensers use smaller to medium diaphragms, sacrificing low-end richness. But not this beauty – a full 1-inch diameter gives all the love you need.

    It also picks up very little room or on-stage noise.  If you’re concerned about noise, it includes a switch under the capsule from a Cardioid to a Supercardioid pick-up pattern.  In other words, the Supercardioid option offers a narrower field with better side and rear rejection.  

    It has a maximum SPL of 152 dB, (anything over 150 is outstanding).  For rap vocals, this means it can handle shouting without distortion.  

    It has been around since 2008, and since then the price has dropped significantly, making it hands-down, the best value mic on this list.  

    Tech specs aside, this thing just does what you want it to do (pick up all the detail of your voice and make you sound cool without the other stuff). Right out of the box, without any EQ or compression, it sounds great. And maybe best of all, it is ideal for the stage or studio.  

    Also Great

    Audio-Technica AT4033a

    Rating for rap vocals

    4.8

    Pros

    • High-end, silky-warm sound at an affordable price
    • beautiful to look at
    • perfectly suited to rap vocals

    Cons

    • not suited for the stage
    Audio Technica AT4033a thumb

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    Bottom Line:

    Lives up to its name. A great value condenser mic perfectly suited to rap vocals.

    This is a legend of a mic, famous for offering high-end performance at an affordable price.  MF Doom uses this mic.  It is loved for its lustrous, precise sound.  

    We loved the way it adjusted to spoken vocals so naturally and its warm yet precise reproduction.  

    Audio-Technica has gone to great lengths to make this mic work so well, including a crazy five-step aging process on its gold diaphragm to achieve consistent performance with age.

    It has a great 148 dB of SPL allowing for a wide vocal dynamic range.  It also has low self-noise helped by the custom shock mount it ships with.  

    Pictures don’t do it justice. It is a black jewel out of the box that speaks to the quality and detail that has gone into its making. 

    A Class Up

    Neumann TLM 102

    Rating for rap vocals

    4.8

    Pros

    • Crystal clear sonic signature
    • the most affordable Neumann condenser microphone
    • sturdy no-frills build
    • Versatile – will deliver clarion reproduction on just about anything you try it with

    Cons

    • shock mount not included
    • not suited for the stage
    • just over the $500 mark
    neumann tlm 102 thumb 1

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    Bottom Line:

    This is our favourite vocal and utility condenser mic. You can’t go wrong with this mic in any rap mix.

    This big condenser in a small body, (the mic used by hip-hop legend Travis Scott in all of his recordings) this is our preferred all-rounder condenser. We like it for rap because nothing is over-hyped in its sonic signature.  It feels graciously balanced.  You just get clarity in the vocals, making the basis of your mix sound first-rate. 

    The mic can handle 144dB of SPL and has a relatively low self-noise.  The build is what you would expect from Neumann, a fine machine.  

    It comes in Nickel and Black and sadly, has no shock mount or pop filter included.  If you order the Neumann shock mount specifically designed for this mic, it’s totally over-priced as well.  We recommend a universal shock mount to save a few clams.

    If this is the mic you choose for your rap vocals, you won’t be disappointed.

    Audio Technica AT2020

    Rating for rap vocals

    3.4

    Pros

    • Inexpensive
    • well-built
    • Accurate sound – better than most budget condensers

    Cons

    • Higher self-noise than usual
    • No balance on the lower end
    • Not for the stage
    AUDIO TECHNICA AT2020 thumb

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    Bottom Line:

    Better than most budget condenser mics.

    The AT2020 microphone is an honest, inexpensive condenser that performs better than most introductory condenser mics.  Audio-Technica accomplishes this by using a slightly smaller condenser and a sophisticated fixed-charge backplate.   

    The mic is a good fit for rap vocals because it can handle a lot of sound (144 dB SPL). 

    You could get away using this mic on a lot of tracks but it will take some careful compression and EQ. There isn’t much balance on the lower end, leaving it a bit thin sounding at times.

    We also didn’t like its higher-than-usual self-noise level (20dbA). But with close-miked vocals such as rap, it shouldn’t be a big issue.

    It is likely to be a good fit with a lot of different voices with its honest frequency response which adds only a little lift at the top end to give it some air. And the price is right for everyone. 

    Shure SM7B

    Rating for rap vocals

    4.5

    Pros

    • Iconic sonic signature
    • Suitable to a wide range of voices
    • An industry-standard, high-quality microphone

    Cons

    • Its reproduction is not accurate, but unique
    • only for the studio
    • pronounced proximity effect (bass increases the closer you are)
    Shure SM7B Microphone

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    Bottom Line:

    This is an amazing microphone, make no mistake. But for rap vocals, we would choose a condenser microphone with a more neutral sonic signature.

    The Shure SM7B is now an industry-standard go-to dynamic mic.  Michael Jackson used it to record Thriller.  It’s been around a long time and used many different names (SM-7, SM7, SM7A, SM-7A).  

    Dynamic microphones have almost 0 self noise and are ideally designed to take the loudest of sound sources and while rejecting unwanted noise.

    The SM7B has a max SPL 180dB. This mic is a great choice for an untreated recording room as it will reject side and rear noise better than any condenser microphone.  It also comes with several boost pads and a high-pass filter making it versatile for different voice types. 

    If you like the colour of this mic, it’s a great choice.  Note that we have listed its “a distinctive colour to its sonic signature” as both a pro and con above.  This is the deciding factor: do you like the colour? 

    Some people like the look of Polaroid camera photos, some people don’t.  Similarly, people who love the SM7B call its sonic signature “warm, and full”.  People who don’t like it call it “boxy”.

    Have a listen to our test and see what you think.

    Rode NT1a

    Rating for rap vocals

    4.5

    Pros

    • well-focussed, detailed reproduction
    • comes with shock mount and pop filter
    • super low self-noise level

    Cons

    • not that cool looking
    • the sonic signature could be too bright for some
    rode nt1a thumb

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    Bottom Line:

    Ticks all the boxes for a good condenser mic worth the price.

    The Rode NT1A is a well-focussed, well-balanced condenser microphone with extremely low self-noise.  It gives detail and lots of air at the top with fullness in the bottom. It can also handle a very loud rapper if you need it. (max SPL 137 dB).  

    One possible downside is that its sonic signature is on the bright side, sibilance could be a problem in post-production.  It’s also not the prettiest of microphones if that matters to you.  

    But it’s hard to complain about this mic.  It comes with a shock mount and pop filter.  The super low self-noise level isn’t just a statistic, you do notice it.  And when you add compression and gain, you notice it even more.  Also, if you wanted to double your vocal tracks, a low self-noise level on your mic really helps you out.  

    AKG P420

    Rating for rap vocals

    4.3

    Pros

    • accurate, solid sound
    • versatile, switchable polar pattern
    • comes with high quality hard case and shock mount

    Cons

    • not as crystal clear as other condenser mics on this list
    akg p220 thumb

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    Bottom Line:

    A good all-around condenser mic but not as great on our tests for rap vocals as some others on this list.

    The P420 is a large-diaphragm FET condenser microphone with great overall sound quality.  (See here for the full review of this mic and all our audio production equipment reviews ) This is another mic on our list that can take a lot of noise (max SPL 155 dB) with low self-noise (15 dBA).  

    The AKG P420 is the third incarnation of the old Perception series.  It’s essentially the same mic priced a few hundred dollars cheaper.  For its price, it’s really impressive that it comes with a steel, hard case and a great well-fitting shock mount.  

    For rap vocals, we wanted something with a silkier sonic character.   With some compression and EQ (as with all of these mics) you could easily find a sound you were happy with.  Its sonic signature didn’t blow our socks off, but for its price, it is a very good vocal microphone.  

    Aston Origin

    Rating for rap vocals

    4.4

    Pros

    • Clear as bell
    • The best looking mic on this list
    • Built-in pop filter

    Cons

    • no shockmount or case included
    • not suited for the stage
    Aston origin thumb

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    Bottom Line:

    A beautiful, competitively-priced condenser microphone with exceptional clarity. 

    With the Aston Origin, you are getting a unique, super-clear condenser hailing from the UK.   The low end is full and balances out the brilliance.

    The Aston Origin has a -10db pad and an 80Hz low-cut filter switch.  The low-cut filter is not recommended for male voices. (Our rap test here unfortunately was with the low-cut filter on, so the low end is lacking.)

    This is without a doubt, the most beautiful mic on this list.  In place of a traditional grille is a fine stainless-steel wavy mesh that also reduces plosives and popping.  

    For rap vocals, it holds up with high SPL (127 dB).

    Shure SM58

    Rating for rap vocals

    2.0

    Pros

    • The go-to live vocal mic
    • built like a tank
    • inexpensive

    Cons

    • not the best studio mic for rap vocals due to its ‘boxy’ sound.
    shure sm58 thumb

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    Bottom Line:

    Can’t go wrong with this mic for a live gig. There are better choices on this list for rap vocals in the studio.

    This is the most popular vocal microphone in the world.  If you go to an open mic or a live gig, most likely you will be rapping with one of these. The SM58 is built like a tank and won’t let you down in any live performance. 

    That being said, we wouldn’t recommend using an SM58 for rap vocals in the studio. The focus of our tests was how the mic performed in the studio. (hence, the low rating) 

    Unless you’re going for a particular boxy sound, it’s not going to help out your mix.  Have a listen to our test and let us know if you agree.

    Shure SM57

    Rating for rap vocals

    2.5

    Pros

    • the best utility mic ever
    • inexpensive
    • built like a tank

    Cons

    • very strong sonic signature in recording, you might want something more neutral
    SM57 thumb2

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    Bottom Line:

    Not great for recording rap vocals in the studio unless you’re looking for this particular colour.

    We give the Shure SM57 a similarly low rating to the SM58 because it is simply not an ideal choice for the studio.  Have a listen to our test here.

    We didn’t use a pop filter on the test.  You should really if you’re recording vocals with this.  Shure makes a custom pop filter for the SM57. 

    There are times you might want the color of an SM57 on your recording.  Drake uses an SM57 often to get a live effect (his preferred mics are the Neumann TLM 103 and this). Prince recorded Purple Rain with an SM57 with the intent of giving it a live performance feel.

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