You are currently viewing Best Mic for Recording Acoustic Guitar and Vocals

Best Mic for Recording Acoustic Guitar and Vocals

  • Post published:August 26, 2022

If you are playing an acoustic guitar, choosing the ideal microphone is very important. This is usually the case when you are recording or playing live on stage.

You can find the right mic to match your acoustic instrument and your budget within the wide selection you will find in the market.

The most popular mic for an acoustic guitar is the cardioid condenser microphone. Unlike ordinary mics, cardioid condensers come with unique features that are excellent for acoustic players.

It isn’t entirely simple to choose the most appropriate model and budget. In that case, we did the research on your behalf and uncover the following top 5 models for your selection.

Top 5 Microphones for Acoustic Guitar

#1 Shure SM81-LC Cardioid Condenser Instrument Mic

This is a terrific mic for your acoustic guitar. It is one of the best choices for both live sound and studio recording for a natural sounding microphone.

It has a really smooth and flat frequency response. You will hardly experience hypes or dips in any frequency (20 to 20,000 Hz).

As far as the build is concerned, this is a very well-made and sturdy mic. On the side, you’ve got a low-frequency roll-off switch in three positions (flat, 6, or 18 dB/Octave).

At the collar just below the capsule, you’ve got a -10 dB pad, which you can change by grabbing firmly on the collar and turning it around slightly to the next position.

The microphone comes complete with the mic stand adaptor and a nice hard plastic carrying case. You can also order a couple of other accessories that are optional to go with this mic.

Things We Like:

  • Highly durable, engineered to survive regular studio and stage use
  • Low noise and low RF susceptibility makes it suitable for acoustic guitars
  • Flat response curve allows for accurate sound reproduction
  • Low distortion over a significantly wide range of impedance
  • Usable over a wide range of humidity and temperature conditions
  • An extremely smooth directional pattern

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Only suitable for instruments and not voices

#2 Neumann KM 184 MT Stereo Set Condenser Mic

If you have ever used these microphones before, you know they’ve got a really rich and full sound right out of the box without any processing.

They’ve got an amazing wide sweet spot. Therefore, it is remarkably easy to find a good sounding mic position when recording your acoustic guitar.

These uniquely designed mics come with amazing acoustic features. For starters, they have a very smooth frequency response for both zero-degree and lateral axis sound incidence.

This stereo set has a moderate rise in frequency response at approximately nine kilohertz. This allows you to get a livelier and fresher tonal balance.

The mics have well-built circuitry that ensures excellent technical specs. They have a superior dynamic range, self-noise reduction, and enhanced sound pressure handling.

Things We Like:

  • They’re clear and precise without being harsh or strident on acoustic guitars
  • The optimized mechanical construction is highly durable
  • Suitable for attenuating off-axis sound from other surrounding instruments
  • No coloration of sound over a significantly wide pickup angle
  • Smooth frequency response delivers a livelier and fresher tonal balance

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • They’re a little bit more transparent

#3 AKG P220 Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic

For a variety of acoustic guitar applications, the AKG P220 Large Diaphragm Condenser Mic has proven to be one of the best.

Out of the box, you get the mic, a spider shock mount, an aluminum carry case, one windscreen shield, and a 20’ XLR cable.

It has a superior build quality that feels great. It has an all-metal chassis, a nice metal grill, and a good amount of weight for stability.

On the front of the mic, you’ll find two pads. The pad on the left is a low-cut filter that filters out audio at around 300 Hz, decreasing at around 6 decibels per octave.

On the right, you have a -20 dB pad that will decrease the signal by 20 decibels in case you’re recording any loud sound sources.

The specs are just remarkable for acoustic guitars, including a cardioid polar pattern, a wide frequency response, a low temperature operating range, and a superior signal to noise ratio.

Things We Like:

  • The cardioid polar pattern allows you to record only the acoustic guitar
  • Excellent at preventing feedback as well as maintaining great isolation
  • Has a superior proximity effect that boosts bass frequency
  • A low cut filter allows you to eliminate unwanted low end
  • Comes complete with mounting hardware

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • The large-diaphragm design may not be appealing for some users

#4 MXL Mics 770 Cardioid Condenser Mic

This is a mid-range professional mic for acoustic guitars. It’s powered separately; so, there’re two frequencies, providing you better, higher sound quality.

The mic has a very solid construction with an all-metal chassis and a strong metal grill. There is a narrow gold trim that improves the aesthetics of the mic.

On the back, you’ll find two switches. One is a bass roll-off that allows you to decrease the bass frequencies picked up by the mic.

The other switch is a ten-decibel pad, which decreases the signal in case you are making any loud sound sources.

The MXL 770 utilizes a FET preamp that delivers a well-balanced output for a remarkably wide cardioid range. The upfront high end and the bass are also solid.

Overall, this is the ideal piece for newbies or seasoned acoustic guitar players who want a quality mic without breaking the bank.

Things We Like:

  • Wide and smooth frequency response range
  • The cardioid polar pattern isolates unwanted sound sources
  • Bass roll-off pad decreases bass frequencies picked by the mic
  • Ten-decibel pad decreases the signal when recording from loud sound sources
  • FET preamp delivers a well-balanced output

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • Shock mount may scratch the mic

#5 Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Mics

If this is your first time to record an acoustic guitar, you should look no further than the Rode M5-MP Matched Pair Cardioid Condenser Mics.

The cardioid polar pattern of the mics is most subtle to audio originating from the primary axis, as well as castoffs audio from the sides and rear of the microphones.

The mics have a full frequency response with low noise. This is perfect for live on stage, studio recordings, and a range of acoustic playing.

These high-performance microphones have been prudently engineered to ensure a variation of not more than one-decibel sensitivity between the mics.

Things We Like:

  • Full frequency response and low noise
  • Ideal for acoustic guitars, studio recording, and live on stage
  • Expertly designed to withstand continuous acoustic guitar recording
  • Comes complete with an RMS stand mounts and WS5 windshields
  • Cardioid polar pattern eliminates unwanted sound sources

Things We Didn’t Like:

  • May sound hyped at the end of the recording

#6 Shure SM7B Dynamic Microphone

This mic comes with a bass roll-off. Also, there are emphasis settings. The mic also includes an internal air suspension shock. Therefore, it can remove produced noise transmissions. It also doesn’t require any add-on protection.

The model ensures to give you excellent performance. It is used by many performers. Also, it promises to give you great durability and stability. It features great cartridge protection as well.

#7 Neumann TLM 102 MT Microphone

When it comes to the best mics for acoustic guitars, we highly recommend you to choose the Neumann TLM 102. It is designed to provide you with value performance at an affordable price.

It is lightweight. Also, it delivers an excellent sound even when it has a small size. It has a cardioid that gives you full sound pressure. This mic allows you to record vocals as well as other instruments, like drums.

It can decrease the noise of handling, thanks to an elastic suspension feature. Moreover, there is a pop screen. The model comes in two colors: nickel and matte black.

#8 Audio-Technica AT2021 Microphone

If you are looking for a model for both performance and value price, you should not ignore this microphone. It is an excellent option for acoustic recording. Also, it is ideal for home studio recording.

It is built with a lot of unmatched versatility in a comparison with other standard models. It is sure to give you a greater transient response, due to a low-mass diaphragm.

The model is perfect for players who are trying to get brighter sounds. It comes with a sturdy metallic chassis. Therefore, it is great for an affordable price tag.

#9 Sennheiser E609 Cardioid Microphone

This model can handle high volumes. It is an excellent choice for both acoustic guitars and electric ones, due to its hum-compensating coil.

If you are recording it onto your lap or other devices, it may be a problem for all types of recording. It comes with a flat face. Therefore, you can point in the desired direction with ease. The manufacturer also gives you a ten-year warranty.

#10 Rode NT4 Condenser Microphone

If you want to record your acoustic without any problems, you can use the Rode NT4 mic. It comes with two unique capsules. It ensures to provide you with a full sound from only a single model.

It is a portable model. Therefore, it is simple to use. However, it is not excellent for mixing desks or use in an audio interface. You may have to spend a little much more money on this mic compared to many different options.

How to Pick a Microphone for Acoustic Guitar

If you are buying a microphone for acoustic guitar for the first time and you want top quality and affordable price, we recommend you start with custom-built models.

If you play more than one instrument or you want something that is more flexible, we recommend multi-purpose microphones.

Multi-purpose mics are perfect for strings and are equally capable of being paired with almost anything, from drums to vocals.

Having said that, here are the main points to consider during your search.

Type of Diaphragm

Microphones for acoustic guitar are basically found in two types: the small and large diaphragm.

Small diaphragms are roughly 1/2-inch or smaller in diameter, while large diaphragms are roughly 1 inch or greater in diameter.

Small diaphragm condenser microphones have a more extended high-frequency response compared to the large diaphragms.

According to our tests, small diaphragms are generally more accurate and present less coloration compared to large diaphragm condenser mics.

Large diaphragm mics tend to hype the sound. Their bigger characters make things bigger, which is usually what most people desire.

However, they have a tendency of generating more coloration, making them less accurate, but more characterful than small diaphragms.

Large diaphragms make less hiss as well as background noise. Also, more acoustical energy is captured by large diaphragms and converted into electricity.

Sound Pickup Patterns (Polar Pattern)

Microphones differ in the way they respond to sounds coming from different directions. The polar pattern on a mic defines the physical area that is sensitive to approaching sound waves.

Sound waves may surround the entire mic, but by choosing different patterns, you can determine the areas of the mic that will be sensitive to the waves.

There are three types of polar patterns you will come across: unidirectional, omnidirectional, and bidirectional.

When shopping for a quality mic for acoustic guitar, we recommend you to choose a unidirectional mic, the cardioid polar pattern to be precise.

Cardioid Polar Pattern

The cardioid polar pattern is basically the most popular of all microphone pickup patterns you will come across in the market. The pattern is shaped like a heart, hence the name cardioid.

This pattern is most sensitive to sounds coming in on the primary axis. It usually rejects sounds from the sides and rear of the mic, making the pattern suitable for acoustic recording.

Tone Curve

This is one of the most popular characteristics that any guitarist should look for in a mic. Some mics come with a neutral tone, while others come with a very dark tone curve.

Most microphone brands make every effort to incorporate a flat response in their mics since it produces the most precise representation of the sound source.

On the other hand, there are some mic brands that have a unique response to specific frequency ranges. This is so since they are normally intended for certain purposes.

Now, when picking a good mic for acoustic guitar, make sure the top end is somehow tamed. This will provide a superior acoustic guitar feeling.

Proximity Effect

Proximity effect refers to a rise in low-frequency response when a mic is very close to your acoustic guitar and is an inherent attribute of directional mics.

Normally, the proximity effect increases affectedly when the mic is less than a few feet away from the sound source (acoustic guitar).

Higher frequencies are canceled more than lower ones by the microphone at close proximity. So, there is the equivalent of a bass boost.

Transient Response

Microphones don’t track the waveform of a sound source immediately. A specific amount of time is needed before the applied energy is converted into movement of the diaphragm.

Moreover, a specific amount of acoustic energy must be applied in order to initiate the movement. Some of the energy can be dissipated in the process.

The mass of the diaphragm inhibits the transient response. This is what makes condenser microphones more accurate and more suitable for acoustic guitars.

What you should know is that different microphones that you will come across have different response times before they will start to accurately track the waveform of your acoustic guitar.

Final Words

You should know by now that there are several things that you have to take into consideration when shopping for a high performing mic for acoustic guitar.

In our search for the top five models, we based our analysis mostly on diaphragm size, polar pattern, tone curve, proximity effect, and transient response.

You must have noticed that all our selections are based on condenser microphones and not dynamic microphones. This is so since condensers are more suitable for instruments.

Also, another impactful consideration is the price. The low-end mics cost more than a hundred dollars, while high-end models may cost more than a thousand dollars.