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Voice Over Microphones
When it comes time to get your first mic or upgrade to a better mic, the choices can be overwhelming to say the least. That's why I've tried to keep this list simple instead of showing you everything that is available in the world of VO mics.
These are popular choices for most voiceover work and are best suited for the types of environments that we record in.
Buying a microphone is kinda like buying a pair of shoes - in that it's really best if you "try before you buy." We all have different voices and there is no one mic that is perfect for every voice type out there.
It's great if you can find a place that will let you test some microphones out, but be careful getting advice from the employees there.
Podcasting, live music performance, and even home music recording have different microphone needs from home studio voice over. Chances are that whomever you speak with in a store isn't going to have VO experience or an understanding of the particular challenges you will be facing with your clients and your recording environment. Therefore, whatever they recommend for you will not actually be what you need.
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.
Price Group : High
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 other mics in this section are 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 voices up like special 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.
Price Group : Mid-range
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.
Audio-Technica is far from my favorite brand, but this is definitely one of my favorite mics. For some voice actors, this is the Cinderella slipper that is "just right" for your unique voice. Tube like sound without the tube hassle and headaches.
The sE Electronics sE4400a is wonderful if you need versatility. I find that if you're going from narration to voice acting for a video game or a character in an audio book, you can use the same mic to record omnidirectional, cardioid, distance, proximity, and a high pass filter along with a 10 or 20 dB cut. Go from a whisper to a scream and capture your most visceral performance with the flip of a switch.
Price Group : Entry level
I recently did a double blind test with my Lewitt LCT440 pro and my Sennheiser MKH416.
Everyone was stunned when they couldn't immediately pick out which was the 440 and which was the 416. Incredible clarity with true sound capture make for an astonishing performance at this price point.
Simply put, I believe that one of these belongs in every home studio.
The mic comes with a great little kit that includes a magnetic pop filter, windscreen, shock mount, and cable.
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.
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)