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7 Handheld Vocal Microphones

It’s summertime, and there are thousands of microphones out there on thousands of stages across the country. But as nearly every FOH engineer emphasizes, it all starts with the singer. Here are a few that have caught the ears of the Mix editors over the past couple of years.

It’s summertime, and there are thousands of microphones out there on thousands of stages across the country. But as nearly every FOH engineer emphasizes, it all starts with the singer. Here are a few that have caught the ears of the Mix editors over the past couple of years.


The D7 reference dynamic vocal microphone is said to create the subtle and open sound of a condenser capsule with the powerful resonance of a dynamic microphone. The patented dual-layer Varimotion diaphragm can vibrate unhindered, promising crisp and clean sound. The laminated material damps high resonance peaks in the frequency response, which in combination with the tight, supercardioid polar pattern enables the D7’s outstanding high gain before feedback. Its mechano-pneumatic capsule suspension and an integrated high-pass filter effectively eliminate handling noise. A precision metal dust filter provides consistent protection for the diaphragm, ensuring an extra-long life.

Audio-Technica AE5400

The Artist Elite AE5400 cardioid condenser handheld microphone offers a robust design for enduring dependability on the road, and includes anti-shock engineering for low handling noise and quiet performance. Featuring the same element as the company’s AT4050 studio mic, its large-diaphragm capsule promises an accurate, natural response. It has an integral 80Hz HPF switch and 10dB pad. The AE5400’s double-sided printed circuit board uses surface-mount components, while an extensive grounding plane and Audio-Technica’s attention to best-practice grounding methods aim to minimize electrical noise. The AE5400’s multi-stage grille design promises excellent protection against plosives and sibilance without compromising high-frequency performance and clarity. A custom transformer helps isolate the mic from unwanted noise and RF interference, and provides excellent saturation characteristics that contribute to smooth linear sound quality.

Audix VX5

Now coming into its own, the VX5 is a multipurpose, professional vocal condenser microphone designed for live, studio and broadcast applications. The VX5 is said to have a smooth and accurate frequency response, resistance to feedback, and can handle very high SPLs without distortion. Designed with a tight and uniformly controlled supercardioid polar pattern, the VX5 helps isolate vocals from the rest of the stage. Other features are a 14mm gold vapor diaphragm, an acoustically ported steel mesh grille with a multistage pop filter, and a -10 dB pad and bass roll-off filter. The VX5 will handle SPLs in excess of 140 dB (with pad and roll-off engaged) and promises more than 20 dB of ambient noise rejection on live stages. The VX5 requires 18 to 52 volts of phantom power.

Earthworks SR40V

According to the company, the SR40V, which debuted in 2011, is the first and only High Definition Vocal Microphone. Engineered to deliver a crisp, clear and natural vocal sound, with subtle detail, the mic boasts an all-new circuitry that combines flat, extended frequency response with lightning fast impulse response. Frequency range spans 30 Hz to 40kHz, with low handling noise, a self-noise rating of just 22dB SPL (A weighted), sensitivity rating of 10 mV/Pa (-40 dBV/Pa), and peak acoustic output rating of 145 dB SPL.

Line 6 Relay V75-SC

The new Relay V75-SC 14-channel digital wireless handheld transmitter with super-cardioid dynamic capsule, introduced at InfoComm 2013, is designed for use with the Line 6 XD-V75 digital wireless system. Relay V75-SC isolates vocals while rejecting stage noise to achieve supreme vocal clarity and articulation. It features 24-bit audio quality, a stated frequency response of 10 to 20k Hz and a dynamic range of up to 118dB (A weighted), and uses compander-free Line 6 technology. Relay V75-SC also offers four microphone models.

Peavey PVM 44 and PVM 50

New this year for Peavey, which has a broad range of mic options for instrument recording, is the PVM 44 cardioid and PVM 50 supercardioid, the only measurable difference between the two being their polar pattern. Each is said to offer a wide frequency response and high clarity, with Neodymium magnet capsule and transformer output. Frequency response is measured at 50 Hz to 16 kHz, with a sensitivity rating of -54±2 dBV/pa, 250-ohm impedance and a max SPL of 150 dB.

Shure KSM9HS

Shure Incorporated has introduced a new variant of its premium KSM9 vocal condenser microphone, with switchable hypercardioid and subcardioid polar patterns. The new KSM9HS model joins the KSM9, which offers switchable cardioid and supercardioid patterns. Subcardioid? It’s a pattern engineered for a wide pickup angle, making it well-suited to quieter stages. Overall, the KSM9 has a reputation for consistency across all frequencies, and providing more gain before feedback while decreasing proximity effect. Featuring a dual gold layered, low-mass Mylar diaphragm design, Class A transformerless preamp circuitry, with gold-plated connectors inside and out, the KSM9HS has a frequency response of 50 Hz to 20 kHz. It is available in wired and wireless versions, and it can be paired with Shure’s Axient and UHF-R wireless handheld transmitter SKUs.