Karaoke microphones transform singing along to your favorite tunes into a polished performance that might just awaken your inner rock star. While many microphones can capture your voice and turn it into an electric signal that can be recorded or amplified, certain types of mics stand out when you’re belting out a power ballad or pretending with a couple of friends that you’re 3/7ths of BTS. Here’s what you need to know in order to choose the best karaoke microphones for your machine to have a fun night in, or as part of a journey toward professional live performances.
— Best Overall: Shure BLX288/B58
— Best for Adults: Shure SM58
— Best Wireless: Tonor TW-820
— Best Budget: Bonaok Q78
— Best for the Car: Singing Machine Carpool Karaoke 2.0
How We Picked the Best Karaoke Microphones
Since microphones range so widely in terms of price, I put together a selection that includes top-quality mics for singers whose love of karaoke is a cover for a secret ambition to be on “American Idol” or “The Voice,” as well as more affordable mics perfect for shout-laughing lyrics with your friends at a party. Here are some of the key specs I looked for.
Microphone Type: To capture loud vocals in a potentially noisy room as opposed to a studio environment, dynamic mics are a great choice. You can also belt out a tune close to a dynamic mic and still get a good sound. Handheld top-addressed mics (where you point the top of the mic toward your mouth) are ideal for karaoke, allowing the performer to hold the mic more naturally. For our top picks, I focused on handheld dynamic mics and paid special attention to wireless microphone systems, so performers can go cordless and easily pass the mic around a room.
Polar Pattern: Vocalists in a live setting generally will want a microphone with a unidirectional polar pattern. That means the mic picks up mostly what’s in front of it (that would be you) and thus ambient noise in a room or the sound of traffic behind you doesn’t mar your performance through the speakers. I selected microphones with cardioid and super cardioid polar patterns, two types of unidirectional patterns that are excellent at capturing vocals.
Hands-On Testing: In the process of researching my picks, I did a hands-on test with a Shure BLX288 dual wireless receiver and a Beta 58A wireless microphone with a built-in BLX2 transmitter. I connected the wireless system to an Onyx Producer 2.2 audio interface using an XLR cable, and connected the audio interface to a MacBook Pro with a USB-C to USB adapter. Using Cubase Artist 11, I recorded four tracks while experimenting with distance from the mic, distance from the wireless speaker, and adjusting gain. I also recorded myself singing along to a karaoke video on YouTube and threw some reverb on it to get a sense of a more polished take. I took some notes on my first impression of the microphone, and then listened back to the recordings in headphones the next day with fresh ears. In addition to the sound characteristics of the microphone itself, I evaluated the process of setting up the receiver and microphone/transmitter as well as other features of the equipment.
For more information on our product testing, check out our guide to how we test audio gear.
The Best Karaoke Microphones: Reviews and Recommendations
Best Overall: Shure BLX288/B58
Why It Made the Cut: The Shure BLX288/B58 wireless system delivers exceptional audio across a wide range perfect for showing off your two-part harmony skills in an impromptu duet.
— Microphone Type: Dynamic
— Polar Pattern: Super cardioid
— Frequency Response: 50 Hz to 16,000 kHz (mic); 50 Hz to 15 kHz (wireless system)
— Connector: XLR; also has two, quarter-inch inch outputs for instrument cables
— Pro-level sound
— Excellent freedom of movement in large spaces
— Superior focus on your voice
— Bass roll-off to combat proximity effect
— Price point
— Requires extra gear like a mixer, audio interface, or amplifier
Shure vocal microphones are legendary, from the classic SM58 (more on that later) to the SM7B. We recommend the Shure BLX288/B58 wireless system for people running a regular karaoke event, or anyone who wants a professional vocal sound and the opportunity to add effects and mix vocal tracks either live or in a home studio.
The BLX288/B58 system consists of a receiver (which is quite light and easily fits in a backpack) and two Beta 58A wireless microphones with built-in BLX2 transmitters, so you can harmonize or sing the back up vocals to your friend’s lead. You’ll need to connect a mixer, audio interface, or amplifier of your choice to this receiver. I used my Onyx Producer 2.2 audio interface in conjunction with the Digital Audio Workstation Cubase Artist 11 on a MacBook Pro, so I could record and listen back to tracks as I tested.
My first impression of the Beta 58A’s sound was that it was bright and crisp. As an instrumentalist and not a trained vocalist, it took me some time to adjust the gain and figure out my preferred distance from the mic to capture my voice in a way that I liked. While I didn’t test the maximum potential reach of the wireless signal (up to 300 feet, line of sight, without obstacles in its path), I didn’t hear an audible difference between recording indoors and stepping out to my porch with a closed screen door and interior walls between the mic and the receiver.
After recording myself singing along to a YouTube karaoke backing track and adding reverb for a concert hall polish, I took a break from listening. While I stand by my first bright and crisp impressions of the vocals, my second listening session also highlighted a warmth of tone and an overall naturalness in the sound. I also can report that the super cardioid pickup polar pattern of this omnidirectional mic does a great job of capturing the sound from top-addressing the mic (i.e. pointing the top directly at your mouth) without picking up much noise from the back or sides of the mic. When I pointed the mic directly at an open window, it picked up insect sounds quite clearly, but when I turned my back to the window and spoke into the mic, my voice became suddenly present, as if someone switched the insects off. This makes it ideal for karaoke in a noisy environment.
Best for Adults: Shure SM58
Why It Made the Cut: The Shure SM58 is a revered dynamic vocal mic that offers a pro sound, taking you from karaoke with friends to recording in your home studio, or gigging live with a band.
— Microphone Type: Dynamic
— Polar Pattern: Cardioid
— Frequency Response: 50 Hz to 15,000 kHz
— Connector: XLR
— Built-in pop filter and wind filter
— Pneumatic shock mount
— Great for live vocals
— Affordable price point
— Wired (uses an XLR cable)
— Needs additional equipment to work, not plug and play
According to Shure, the SM58 is the preferred mic of musical icons as wide-ranging as Paul McCartney, Martina McBride, and Megadeth. While I don’t own an SM58, I do have an SM57 dynamic instrument mic on hand which is quite similar, though it has a smaller grille (the mesh that encloses the mic capsule) and lacks a built-in pop filter.
Known for its durability and reliability for live performances, this mic’s pneumatic shock mount is designed to minimize picking up distracting noise from singers who occasionally fumble with the mic. We don’t recommend you try this at home, but as a test of toughness, the folks at the Music Tech Help Guy Youtube Channel actually ran over an SM58 with a car and compared how it sounded before and after the damage (honestly, I can’t watch).
The SM58 stands out as a karaoke microphone for a number of reasons. First of all, it’s commonly found at many venues (also a reason owning a SM57 is smart for an instrumentalist). If you own one and want to shift from karaoke to turn your karaoke skills into performing covers at your local bar or coffee house, or find yourself performing karaoke at an event with professional level audio gear, you’ll already know how to work the mic and can ask if it's part of their backline. The SM58 can even survive a hard drop (not a metaphor). Although the SM58 isn’t known primarily for recording in a studio setting, the SM does actually stand for “studio microphone” and you’ll find it more than adequate for starting a home voice recording studio.
The main drawback for karaoke fans is that the SM58 requires an XLR cable and additional audio equipment to produce sound (such as an audio interface, pre-amp, or mixer). It’s best for more subtle dance moves, like tilting your mic stand or unclipping the mic and cable from the stand and walking to the edge of the stage to greet your audience. However, if you prefer this classic (and less bright) cardioid mic over its super cardioid peer, the Beta 58 A, and want to go wireless, you can purchase SM58s with a transmitter in a Shure BLX288/SM58 bundle — the same wireless receiver included in our best quality pick.
Best Wireless: Tonor TW-820
Why It Made the Cut: The Tonor TW-820 dual wireless system is a good choice for karaoke fans who want good sound quality and freedom of movement at a low price.
— Microphone Type: Dynamic
— Polar Pattern: Cardioid
— Frequency Response: 50 Hz to 15,000 kHz
— Connector: XLR and 6.35mm output
— Extremely affordable
— Great for duets
— Up to 15 sets can be used in a space without interference
— Not top-shelf audio quality
— Additional gear required to set up
You won’t find Tonor microphones at major retailers of pro audio gear like Sweetwater, Best Buy, or B&H. The company is focused on budget mics and accessories that are a better fit for corporate presentations, special events, streaming, and podcasting, rather than professional musical applications. However, the Tonor TW-820 wireless microphone system can still be an excellent choice for events and home use for many people. For the price of approximately one wired SM58 mic, you can get two wireless mics and a receiver.
Like the Shure BLX288/B58, you can connect the receiver via XLR cables to an audio mixer and then to an amplifier and speakers. You can also use the 6.35mm output with a compatible cable to connect the receiver to an amplifier to use with a TV or sound system. The receiver also has a volume control knob for each of the two mic channels to simplify mixing two voices singing together.
For karaoke, you’ll want to use the Tonor TW-820 with your TV and a karaoke app or a karaoke machine to access songs. If you’re considering a karaoke machine, we reviewed the best karaoke machines and chose the Tonor PA system as our top overall pick. If you’d like to go that route, keep in mind that the Tonor PA already comes with wireless microphones and a receiver and has a range of up to 200 feet, rendering a separate wireless system unnecessary.
Best Budget: Bonaok Q78
Why It Made the Cut: The popular all-in-one Bonaok Q78 karaoke microphone is colorful, fun, and connects with your smartphone, so you can sing your favorites anywhere.
— Microphone Type: Dynamic
— Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
— Frequency Response: 100 Hz to 10,000 Hz
— Connector: Bluetooth
— Built-in speaker
— LED lights create a party-like atmosphere
— Works with a TF/SD card as well as Bluetooth
— Extremely portable
— Short wireless range
— Small speaker
As you might gather from the rest of our picks, a microphone does not have to be designated as a karaoke microphone in order for it to be an ideal choice for vocal performances with backing tracks. However, the Bonaok Q78 is one of the best Bluetooth microphones on the market that is actually designed for karaoke on a budget. In conjunction with a smartphone, it provides all you need for a compact and cordless system with music, video, and a speaker. While it’s a great choice for use at home, because of its short wireless range, it can be used almost anywhere.
Just connect the Bonaok Q78 to your smartphone with Bluetooth and you’re ready to go. You’ll use your device to access music and lyrics through a karaoke app or streaming service (such as Spotify Karaoke, YouTube, or Party Tyme Karaoke Online). There’s an echo button on the mic to add reverb to your vocals, and you can also create a light show with the mic’s dozens of mini LED lights that sync to the beat of your music.
This mic is really more of a toy than a piece of audio gear, but that’s okay as long as you don’t expect pro level sound. The Bonaok Q78 also has an TF/SD card slot so you can use music you’ve stored instead of relying on Bluetooth. If you’ve been into karaoke for years, you might already have a collection of SD cards you’ll be able to continue to use. You might also enjoy searching for used SD cards loaded up with niche genres and novelty tracks.
Best for the Car: Carpool Karaoke 2.0
Why It Made the Cut: We love that the Carpool Karaoke 2.0 works with the FM tuner in your car so you can route your voice and backing track through your car’s audio system.
— Microphone Type: Dynamic
— Polar Pattern: Unidirectional
— Frequency Response: Not listed in product manual
— Connector: Bluetooth, 3.5mm stereo jack
— Amplifies the fun for passengers who love singing on road trips
— Use any music app on your phone for songs
— Light and portable
— Audio delay with some car audio systems
— No built-in speakers
The way the Carpool Karaoke 2.0 works offers a certain appeal to audio geeks. It doesn’t have a built-in speaker but it can connect to an available frequency on your car’s FM radio tuner to take over your car’s audio system. Once you pair your smartphone to the mic with Bluetooth, you can start your playlist from an app and sing away.
Like the Bonaok Q78, the Carpool Karaoke 2.0 is pretty much a toy, and it leans heavily into that vibe with special effects that transform your voice into a high-pitched “chipmunk” sound, robot, and more. There is a button on the mic for removing lead vocals from a track but your mileage will vary — the manual notes that this feature works better on some songs than others.
You’ll also want to be aware that you may have to troubleshoot this mic with your car’s particular audio system to avoid a lag between your singing and when it comes out of the speakers, and a delay may be unavoidable with some vehicle models. The mic can be connected to another audio device (like a home stereo system with an aux jack) if it doesn’t work in your car.
This should go without saying, but note that this mic is for carpool karaoke, not solo driver karaoke, and should never be used by the operator of the vehicle. It doesn’t have to be used in a car, but if you aren’t trying to pretend you’re a guest on James Corden’s hit show, the Bonaok Q78 is a more versatile choice because of its built-in speaker.
Things to Consider Before Buying a Karaoke Microphone
While we readily admit that daydreaming about taking center stage in front of adoring fans is an unavoidable part of choosing the a karaoke microphone, you’ll want to step into the shoes of your imaginary band’s sound tech and consider a number of important questions before you buy.
Performance Environment: Microphones can be damaged by temperature, liquid, and of course, dropping them. If you’re setting up a playlist for an all-night party at your house with twenty people crammed into your living room and drinks flowing freely, you might want to skip the higher-end mics and purchase something that you can easily replace if there’s a mishap.
Wireless Range: When purchasing a wireless microphone system, consider how large the room is and how far from the receiver a performer may stray to minimize the chance of your signal dropping out in the middle of a song.
Backing Track Source: Some karaoke fans may be familiar with accessing hit tunes without their lead vocals by purchasing SD cards for a karaoke machine or microphone. That’s still an option, but you can also use karaoke mics with apps on a Smart TV or subscribe to a karaoke streaming service on your phone or tablet. Before you buy, read the tech requirements for both your AV device and your choice of microphone to ensure a seamless connection.
Extra Gear: Pro audio gear is marketed to look so streamlined and simple, it’s easy to forget about crucial accessories you’ll need to get the show up and running. Depending on your setup, some of the other gear you might need could include XLR cables (to run between a wireless receiver and an audio interface/mixer/amplifier), mic stands and mic clips (if you want the option to go hands-free for a bit), speakers, and batteries (for a wireless capsule). Factoring extra gear into your budget and setup time for your event will help prevent chaos from striking right before your guests or audience members arrive.
Q: What’s the difference between a normal mic and a karaoke microphone?
There is no difference between a normal mic and a karaoke microphone. Any mic could potentially be a karaoke microphone, but wireless dynamic mics with cardioid or supercardioid polar patterns are best suited to impressing your friends with your stellar renditions of the latest hits. There are mics specifically designed for karaoke with built-in speakers, but these are more like toys than pro audio gear.
Q: How much do karaoke microphones cost?
The best karaoke microphones can range from around $20 on the low-end for a single microphone to hundreds of dollars or more for a dual wireless system. In the $20 range, you’re looking at models with a built-in speaker, LED lights and Bluetooth that work with a smartphone and should be considered a fun toy rather than a piece of quality audio gear. For around $1,000, you can get a dual wireless system with two professional-level microphones with built-in transmitters and a receiver.
Q: Where do I recycle my karaoke microphone?
To recycle your karaoke microphone, you’ll want to check out stores in your area, your town or city’s Department of Public Works, or other municipal offices that handle trash and recycling, and keep an eye out for community events. Always check a program’s newest list of allowed and excluded items first before carting retired items over. If your gear still works, donating it for reuse is a fantastic option. We also have an electronics recycling guide that can help you do the right thing for the environment.
Q: How do I use a karaoke microphone on my TV?
To use a karaoke microphone with a TV, you’ll need a Smart TV you can download karaoke apps onto (you can also find karaoke tracks on YouTube) and a way to connect to your microphone. It’s very important to look at the tech specifications of your smart TV and the specs on your mic of choice to make sure they are compatible. If you want to use Bluetooth, both your mic and TV must support it. If you want to use a wired mic, you’ll need to be sure your smart TV has the correct jack for you to plug it into, or a jack for a connecting piece of gear (like a mixer or amplifier).
Q: Are wireless karaoke microphones any good?
Wireless karaoke microphones can be great, even ideal, since they allow you to break out your dance moves or mingle with the crowd as you take your turn in the spotlight. However, as with all audio purchases, your wireless experience depends on the quality of the receiver and transmitter you’re using. For special events, you’ll want to invest in a high-quality wireless system that’s reliable and has a large range. Cheaper wireless microphones might be just fine for doing karaoke in your living room with your smart device (like a smart TV or smartphone).
Final Thoughts on Karaoke Microphones
For singers very serious about karaoke who also want to explore recording and performing live, the Shure BLX288/B58 system delivers professional-level audio free from cords, and with a generous wireless range. For people looking for a fun mic for parties or a karaoke mic that’s best for the car, the Bonaok Q78 and Singing Machine’s Carpool Karaoke 2.0 will deliver hours of entertainment for the cost of a cheap night out. Whatever equipment you end up choosing, you’ll be sure to enjoy that awesome feeling of having a mic in your hand as the music begins.
This post was created by a non-news editorial team at Recurrent Media, Futurism’s owner. Futurism may receive a portion of sales on products linked within this post.