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Voice Over Microphones
I have no idea how many different types of microphones there are out there available for purchase, but if you told me that there were like 100,000 I wouldn't doubt you.
So when it comes time to get your first mic or upgrade to a better mic, the choices can be overwhelming to say the least.
I always tell people that buying a microphone is kinda like buying a pair of shoes - in that it's really best if you "try before you buy." Just like we all have differently shaped feet, we all have different voices and there is no one mic that is perfect for every voice type out there.
So, if you can, go to a place that sells microphones and ask if you can try some out. The helpful sales person might try to just tell you what you need and have you buy it on the spot, but unless that person has made a couple hundred thousand dollars in the voice over industry, you really shouldn't take their advice. I'm sure that they mean well, but odds are that they are more familiar with using microphones in a live music context and that is a completely different ball of beeswax. Even if they are familiar with studio applications, a singing voice and an acting voice have different considerations on a technical and aesthetic level.
If you find that you just can't make up your mind and need to know more, don't hesitate to send me an email and I will be glad to help answer any of your questions.
Neumann U87 Ai
I want to warn you right off the bat that this is the most expensive microphone on the list and unless you have already booked a few hundred thousand dollars worth of voice work, or just happen to have a very rich uncle who owes you a couple of years worth of birthday presents, you might want to just scroll on past this mic.
Seriously, the next mic down is totally amazing and you can get three of them for the price of just one of these.
But if you have the means, you should absolutely purchase this microphone and never look back.
Simply put, the Neumann U87 Ai is to recording vocals like Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks are to acting.
Sennheiser MKH 416
There is so much to love about the Sennheiser MKH 416, it's hard to know where to start singing its praises. It is my preferred mic for almost all of my voice work.
Some of my favorite things about this mic are;
It's unmatched ability to exclude unwanted sounds
solid durable construction and amazing portability (perfect for travel)
high sensitivity (giving you a lower noise floor)
fantastic sound quality and response (sounds better with less EQ work)
reputation (tell people that you use a 416 and they know you care about quality)
Just like the Sennheiser 416, the Neumann TLM 103 enjoys a stellar reputation. And while the TLM 103 doesn't travel as well and doesn't reject unwanted sounds like the 416, it does make up for it with sounding as smooth and warm as melted butter.
This mic is the second most expensive on my list, but it is worth every cent for the way it wraps our voices up like birthday gifts and delivers them with such accuracy and precision.
I like to say that it's the perfect mic for the words that work wonders.
The Sennheiser MK4 is to the 416 like a road car is to a track car.
You don't need 720 hp to go pick up your kid from school and you don't need all of the engineering in the 416 to do most of the work of a good quality microphone.
The Sennheiser MK4 is a fantastic mic for the price, and delivers a warm clean sound as well as many other microphones twice its price.
It doesn't travel as well as its 416 sibling, but it does handle the majority of voice over work bringing respectable detail without sibilance issues and enough warmth to bring out the sexy in any voice.
The best microphones are those that inspire confidence in their users. For me, the name Rode is synonymous with confidence.
The NT 1 Kit is hands down my favorite package on the market and I don't expect that to change anytime soon.
While I am NOT a fan of the NT1-A, I adore the simplicity and warm sound of the NT 1. The kit that comes with it gives you some amazing bang for your buck. (NOTE: you can get the kit with or without the interface)
If you're just getting started and lost as to where to begin with your gear, save yourself a ton of money and time by getting the Rode NT1 Kit.
(Again, DO NOT GET THE NT1-A. Remember: NT 1 = good. NT 1-A = Bad)
The Rode NTG 3 brings you that great warmth of quality Rode engineering in a shotgun mic that is close to the Sennheiser 416 in many respects.
Is the NTG 3 as good as the MKH 416 across the board? No.
But again, for a lower priced alternative, it is a great tool for voice work.
You get the advantage of the shotgun pickup pattern and greater portability / durability without having to give up much sound quality or frequency range. You may be tempted into getting the NTG2 or NTG4, but resist those temptations. Think of the NTG3 as the sweet spot right in the middle of two mics that I feel miss the mark.
The Shure SM7B is a wonderful mic for people with a challenging recording environment or for those looking for a darker tone instead of a more detailed high end.
If you need something that rejects background noise but can't spring for the pricey shotgun mics, this may be your salvation.
There is a richness and fullness to this mic that you don't get with the Rode mics, but you sacrifice some upper frequency clarity and definition.
The SM7B is also great for spaces that are hard to treat or larger than a typical recording booth size and won't put a big dent in your bank account.