Voice Over Microphones – How to Choose the Best One For You and Your Budget


The most important mistake voice over artists make -- and that features some professionals -- is utilizing the fallacious microphone. It could possibly wreck your work. In case you market your self on Voice123.com or Voices.com, the fallacious microphone will insure you aren't getting employed, or for those who do, that you simply will not get employed by that very same particular person once more.

Right here we'll have a look at the three kinds of microphones most frequently used, their strengths and weaknesses, price, and how one can decide which one(s) to go for.

We'll discuss concerning the sorts, then have a look at particular manufacturers, fashions, and costs.

Earlier than we begin, crucial factor I can say to you is that your microphone is crucial a part of your complete audio chain, no exceptions. You may have essentially the most fabulous gear on the planet downstream from the mic, but when the mic would not minimize it, it would not actually matter about the remainder of that gear. However, a terrific microphone adopted by average-priced gear will provide you with a superior audio product.

What are you seeking to do? Are you in search of a mic that is clean and candy, or hard-edged and in-your-face? Are you male or feminine? If you wish to do film trailers and screaming automotive seller advertisements, you want a unique mic than for those who're doing "man or woman subsequent door" -- sensible -- voice work, or customary announce voice work. Listed below are the kinds of mics to think about:


Dynamic microphones are what you see in radio stations and are what dwell vocalists (singers) most frequently use. They're rugged, moderately good-sounding, and okay for many voices, which means one won't sound completely fabulous in your explicit voice, but it surely will not sound terrible, which isn't true of different sorts, together with some very costly microphones. A dynamic additionally shouldn't be nuanced. The half that pics up your voice, the diaphragm, is linked to a coil of wire; air motion from sound makes the coil transfer between the poles of a magnet. The sound has to beat the mass of the coil, and really small sounds do not get by.

This does not make them dangerous. Rush Limbaugh's Golden EIB microphone is a dynamic, and, once more, most radio stations use them. They're good general-purpose mics, and plenty of voice over execs use them. They're equally good for female and male voices, and you are able to do most any sort of favor with them.

In case you're on a price range, a dynamic is the ONLY alternative, as a result of the opposite two price much more for ones which are value it. There are low cost variations of the opposite two, and you do not need one!

So if dynamics are so helpful, why spend extra for a condenser or ribbon?


A condenser microphone, of which there are two sorts, transistor and tube ("valve" in Europe), doesn't have the shifting coil of wire connected to its diaphragm. It modifies present generated by an exterior energy provide (present in most laptop interfaces or with an exterior energy provide, see your seller for information, or inner batteries). With out the mechanical resistance of a dynamic mic's coil to beat, a condenser is way extra delicate to nuance, and due to this fact sounds far more intimate.

Condensers are available in two flavors: transistor and tube. A tube condenser, which is an costly instrument (there are low cost ones and so they make good paperweights however not microphones), is sort of all the time the perfect method to go. They sound very intimate and full, and have an ideal up-front sound with out being aggressive. They're fairly topic to issues from non-vocal speech elements -- 'f', 's', 'p' -- and require a pop display screen (see your seller). Tube mics additionally produce what's known as harmonic distortion, which we do not consciously hear however is answerable for what's known as "tube heat" (nothing to do with temperature!) and sounds fairly intimate.

Condensers are available in two different flavors: massive diaphragm and small diaphragm. Massive diaphragms are for once you need a large, intimate sound. Small diaphragms are stated to be extra correct. Nonetheless, the fitting one for you is the one which sounds finest after making several-minute recordings with every and seeing if one is extra fatiguing or if one simply plain sounds higher to you than the opposite. There are not any guidelines. Each varieties are used for voiceover.

Many voice over artists prefert tube condensers over transistorized ones, however in all circumstances, what sounds finest in your explicit voice is what you must get. How to decide on a mic? We'll get to that in a minute.


This is the third sort, in a category by itself: the ribbon microphone. Whereas dynamics and condensers 'hear' with diaphragms, a ribbon microphone "hears" with a brief, slender, and really skinny piece of corrugated aluminum suspended between two poles of a powerful magnet.

You have seen the large, pickle-shaped microphones on Letterman's and Larry King's desks. They're RCA Mannequin 77 ribbon microphones (used as props on this case), invented, I consider, within the 1930's. They have been discovered in every single place for half a century. RCA give up making ribbons within the 1970's, and an enterprising genius named Wes Dooley purchased all of RCA's inventory ribbons (the ribbons themselves) and doubtless single-handedly re-introduced the ribbon microphone to the US market. His firm is named AEA, and even the AEA firm brand is so designed as to carefully resemble RCA's firm brand.

Ribbon mics are heat and clean, jazz guys prefer to file with them, they're very good for women' voices, and for sure male voices they add a pleasant satisfying depth. In addition they have a low output, which signifies that it's a must to crank up the enter in your system to get a good degree from them. However elevating the enter raises what's known as the noise ground, and you may find yourself with a recording the place you may hear hiss within the background. Wes and different ribbon mic producers take care of this drawback nicely, nevertheless, and a few firms are making preamplifiers (discuss along with your seller about this) designed particularly for ribbon mics.

Whether or not a ribbon -- or any mic, for that matter -- will sound good in your voice can't be identified with out truly attempting one out. Ribbons are fairly delicate to shifting air; for those who blow into one to check to see if it is on, there's a good chance you may destroy the ribbon. When ribbons have been in frequent studio use, they have been 'bagged' -- a fitted bag was put over them -- simply to maneuver them from place to position within the studio, to keep away from ribbon injury from the air passing throughout them as they have been moved.



There are 1,000,000 manufacturers, which after all goes for condensers, however not that many ribbon manufacturers.

To not fear, as a result of there are a number of requirements with which it is exhausting to go fallacious. Listed below are the three hottest dynamics, and so they most likely outsell all the remaining put collectively:

Electro-Voice RE20

Sennheiser 421U (see seller concerning the particular one in your goal)

Shure SM7


Shure SM57 / SM58 -- cheaper and can be utilized if you do not have the cash for the others

These mics, apart from the final two, are within the $350-$700 vary. Although every has a attribute 'sound,' they're pretty shut collectively in that respect. Every is well-made and reliable over the lengthy haul, as in many years.

The Sennheiser, and, I consider, the SM7, have what are known as proximity results: for those who get proper on prime of them they intensify the lows. Many announcers in radio stations prefer to eat them; they need that deep "Voice of God" sound. They're higher used at a distance of 6-10". The RE20 is thought for its lack of the proximity impact. I personally prefer it higher than the others. Electro-Voice has a more recent model, known as the RE27, which customers both actually like or actually cannot stand. Additional, the RE20 was additionally made underneath a unique mannequin title, PL20. The end colour is a bit totally different, but it surely's the identical mic. The PL line of mics was made for miking drums and musical devices and is now not in manufacturing. I discovered a PL20 for $150 and am nonetheless leaping up and down, for the typical used worth of a PL20 or RE20 is double that.

For price-to-quality, none of those mics might be beat.


Two flavors, right here: transistorized and tube. As talked about above, a tube condenser, like several well-designed tube gadget, generates overtones, which our ears understand as "heat." I say well-designed, as a result of ever since tubes have been "rediscovered" about 25 years in the past, numerous low-priced gear with a tube or two in them has hit the market, however they don't seem to be essentially designed by individuals who perceive precisely what they do nor how one can design a tube circuit for finest impact. This part offers with condensers generally.

In all probability the most-recognized condenser mic title on the planet is Neumann (pronounced NOI-man), and its hottest mannequin is named a U-87. They promote new for round $3500, round $2000 or much less used. A Neumann both sounds unimaginable in your voice or it sounds honky. It's the microphone Nationwide Public Radio makes use of completely.

It's present in nearly each recording studio of any measurement. It should love your voice or hate it.

There are dearer Neumanns, and a sequence of low-priced fashions prefixed with the letters TLM. A superb variety of voiceover artists use TLMs (< $1000); in my view they don't seem to be practically as natural-sounding because the U-87 or a very good dynamic. I had one however bought it after a number of months. It may sound actually good to your explicit ear, nevertheless. I make this level as a result of tastes differ, and it's definitely true that one voice can sound dangerous on a sure mic and very good on the subsequent voice. So how does one select? We'll get to that in a sec.

First, you could use a pop display screen on a condenser. This gadget stops these blasts of air from non-vocal speech elements, most notably "P" sounds, to which condensers are particularly delicate. Put your hand in entrance of your mouth and say "P." Really feel the air? If that blast hits a condenser, let's simply say you do not wish to be sporting headphones on the time. Now, it is a good suggestion to speak throughout (at 45 levels) not straight into, any microphone, as a result of all of them will react badly to P pops; it's simply that condensers REALLY react to them. Many RE20 customers put pop screens in entrance of their mics despite the fact that most individuals do not use pop screens with dynamics.

Low cost condensers: a giant no-no.

Low cost condensers are all around the market. You should buy a microphone with a pleasant spider shock mount and in an exquisite aluminum flight case all for $75. Um, I do not skinny' so, Loooocy. They're unnaturally brilliant on the prime finish and boomy on the backside.

The actually nefarious a part of that is that, for those who're simply beginning out, your ear is definitely fooled into considering that this sounds good. It does sound kind of thrilling, however this can be very fatiguing to take heed to a recording made on one. As Phil Spector famously put it, "It is all within the center." People prefer to crank up the treble and bass. In case you have a mic delivering a number of highs and lows, and somebody boosts the highs and lows on their music system, your work will sound worse than terrible. Costly microphones have rolled-off low ends and clean excessive ends. Upon first utilizing one it's possible you'll even assume, "Wow, what is the large deal about this factor? It is boring." No, it is pure. Unboosted highs and lows. In different phrases, it sounds such as you, not you-through-a-microphone. That is correctly.

Keep in mind, you might be competing with individuals who personal high-end condensers, and that is how they sound. I am going to take a $400 dynamic over a $400 condenser nearly each time.

Ribbon microphones

I've expertise with precisely one ribbon: an AEA R84. It sounds actually good. It is an up to date model of an industry-standard RCA ribbon, the Mannequin 44, invented way back and used endlessly, just like the 77. It is tres cool-looking, and comes with a snarky-looking padded, fitted maroon bag for transport and safety. It is about $990.

There are different ribbons which have wonderful reputations, extra hitting the market on a regular basis, see your seller. I am not conscious of ribbons getting used that a lot for voiceover, however I feel it is as a result of a large number of individuals do not learn about them. I feel it is also due as a lot to inertia as something -- everybody learns what everybody else is utilizing and follows swimsuit. Additionally, ribbons do not have the in-your-face sound that dynamics and particularly condensers have.

How to decide on the fitting mic for you

The actually finest method is to name an expert recording studio and ebook an hour or so of their time, and have them arrange an array of mics round you and check learn you, every mic going to a unique monitor of a recording. It is infinitely higher to match the mic to your explicit (and distinctive) voice than to get simply something and attempt to make it match utilizing equalization (Google "equalization for voiceover" and skim it!). I like to recommend you check no fewer than 5 mics, ensuring to incorporate all those listed above besides the Shure SM57 / 58. While you take heed to your self recorded on each, the perfect one will normally make itself plain, and it is a good suggestion to ask the recording engineer's opinion, for s/he is aware of what to pay attention for. My technique is to take heed to the recordings of the primary two, select a winner, examine it to the third one, select a winner, examine it to the fourth, and so forth. Then do it once more, solely have the engineer combine up the playback order.

Do not do that check in an newbie dwelling studio. They virtually definitely won't have the mics it's good to make the check significant, and the particular person recording you'll virtually definitely not be competent to guage which mic to make use of for voiceover; most dwelling studios exist for the aim of recording music and sung vocal, not voice performing and voiceover.

What if you do not have a studio inside 50 or 100 miles, or their charges are too excessive (although I feel paying $100 to check a number of thousand ' value of microphones will prevent unbelievable complications, sending mics again, and many others.)?

This is what to do: in case your price range permits, purchase both a Neumann U-87 or a Lawson L-47 MPII. The Lawson is round $2000, or $1500 bucks lower than the Neumann. The Lawson is the mic I've used for practically 10 years. It seems like Disney, however much more importantly, I've but to file a voice on it that hasn't sounded actually good.

It's bought factory-direct by a fella named Gene Lawson in Nashville, at Lawsonmicrophones.com. In case you name them, you may discuss proper to Gene. He is an ideal man.

Absent that sort of price range, get an Electro-Voice RE20, Shure SM7, or Sennheiser 421U (they arrive with a few variations so inform your seller that you simply're utilizing it for VO.

In case you're unsure whether or not you actually wish to be a VO artist however wish to give it a trial shot, get a Shure SM57 or 58. They're $100 dynamics. As I stated earlier than, they're okay, and by no means sound dangerous on anybody's voice.

The place to get it?

If you are going to get an RE20 or Sennheiser or Shure, get it out of your native music retailer (your best option as a result of service is correct there, no mailorder hassles). If you do not have one, log on to one of many large catalog shops equivalent to Sweetwater, Full Compass, Zzounds, or Guitar Heart. They've pretty liberal return insurance policies and are simple to work with. They promote numerous stuff and have aggressive reputations to take care of. Plus, their costs are normally similar from piece to piece in order that they need to make up for it with actually good service, all to our benefit.

In case you've received the bucks for a $1500 - $2000+ condenser, log on to SoundPure.com. (Lawson are bought factory-direct solely at Lawsonmicrophones.com) Sound Pure has skilled sound recordists to speak to, and at these costs it's good to discuss to execs. Not that the catalog shops do not have execs, however their degree of experience varies. I've talked to guys who knew nothing about what I wished and guys who knew so much; at Sound Pure they're all execs and they're actually inquisitive about getting you what you want and never a penny extra.

Inform them all the things you wish to do, what different gear you may have, what to purchase if you have no gear but. They honestly give an ideal large rip about their prospects and concerning the professional audio enterprise generally. I can not say sufficient good about them. In case you are questioning about all this good stuff I am saying about Lawson and Sound Pure: not solely am I not getting paid by them, they do not know I am writing this text!

To sum up: If there is a professional studio close to you, ebook an hour and check their dynamics and condensers utilizing the strategy above.

While you're prepared to purchase, If you wish to spend $200-$700, get a dynamic: Electro-Voice RE20, Shure SM7, or Sennheiser 421U. Verify your native music retailer first -- all the things's a lot simpler that method. From $1500 and above (which your native retailer most likely will not have) get a tube condenser: Lawson L-47 MPII from Lawsonmicrophones.com, or for others, go to SoundPure.com and name them. Re the RE20, EV additionally makes an RE27. Some individuals actually like them, some individuals actually do not. I would go along with the RE20.

I've labored for years to get a very good sound and am penning this to attempt to prevent a while find your nice sound.


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