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

By | 7 September 2017

The most important mistake voice over artists make – and that features some professionals – is utilizing the improper microphone. It could possibly wreck your work. In case you market your self on Voice123.com or Voices.com, the improper microphone will insure you don’t get employed, or in case you do, that you’ll not get employed by that very same particular person once more.

Right here we'll take a look at the three forms of microphones most frequently used, their strengths and weaknesses, price, and easy methods to decide which one (s) to go for.

We'll speak concerning the sorts, then take 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 total audio chain, no exceptions. You may have probably the most fabulous gear on the planet downstream from the mic, but when the mic doesn’t reduce it, it does probably not matter about the remainder of that gear. Then again, a terrific microphone adopted by average-priced gear will provide you with a superior audio product.

What are you seeking to do? Are you on the lookout for a mic that's 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 supplier adverts, you want a distinct mic than in case you're doing "man or woman subsequent door" – practical – voice work, or customary announce voice work. Listed below are the forms 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 may not sound completely fabulous in your specific voice, nevertheless it is not going to sound terrible, which isn’t true of different sorts, together with some very costly microphones. A dynamic additionally isn’t 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 don’t get via.

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

In case you're on a finances, a dynamic is the one alternative, as a result of the opposite two price much more for ones which can be value it. There are low-cost variations of the opposite two, and you don’t want 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 pc interfaces or with an exterior energy provide, see your supplier for information, or inside batteries). With out the mechanical resistance of a dynamic mic's coil to beat, a condenser is much extra delicate to nuance, and due to this fact sounds way 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 nearly at all times the easiest approach 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 parts – 'f', 's', 'p' – and require a pop display (see your supplier). Tube mics additionally produce what's referred to as harmonic distortion, which we don’t consciously hear however is chargeable for what's referred to as "tube heat" (nothing to do with temperature!) And sounds fairly intimate.

Condensers are available in two different flavors: massive diaphragm and small diaphragm. Giant diaphragms are for while you desire a huge, intimate sound. Small diaphragms are stated to be extra correct. Nonetheless, the appropriate 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 instances, what sounds finest in your specific voice is what you need to get. How to decide on a mic? We'll get to that in a minute.


Right here's the third kind, 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've 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 all over the place for half a century. RCA stop 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 brand is so designed as to carefully resembled RCA's brand.

Ribbon mics are heat and clean, jazz guys prefer to document with them, they're very good for women' voices, and for sure male voices they add a pleasant satisfing depth. In addition they have a low output, which signifies that you must crank up the enter in your system to get an honest degree from them. However elevating the enter outcomes what's referred to 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 cope with this drawback properly, nevertheless, and a few firms are making preamplifiers (speak together with your supplier about this) designed particularly for ribbon mics.

Whether or not a ribbon – or any mic, for that matter – will sound good in your voice cannot be recognized with out truly making an attempt one out. Ribbons are fairly delicate to shifting air; in case you blow into one to check to see if it's on, there's a superb opportunity you'll 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 put within the studio, to keep away from ribbon injury from the air passing throughout them as they have been moved .



There are one million manufacturers, which in fact 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's onerous to go improper. Listed below are the three hottest dynamics, and so they in all probability outsell all the remainder put collectively:

Electro-Voice RE20
Sennheiser 421U (see supplier concerning the particular one in your function)
Shure SM7
Shure SM57 / SM58 – inexpensive and can be utilized in case you don’t have the cash for the others

These mics, aside from the final two, are within the $ 350- $ 700 vary. Though every has a attribute 'sound,' they’re fairly 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 referred to as proximate results: in case you get proper on high 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 understood for its lack of the procurement impact. and so forth. The RE20 was additionally made below a distinct mannequin title, PL20. devices and is 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 could be beat.


Two flavors, right here: transistorized and tube. As talked about above, a tube condenser, like all well-designed tube machine, 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 aren’t essentially designed by individuals who perceive precisely what they do nor easy methods to design a tube circuit for finest impact. This part offers with condensers basically.

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 dimension. It is going to love your voice or hate it.

There are dearer Neumanns, and a collection of low-priced fashions prefixed with the letters TLM. A very good variety of voiceover artists use TLMs (<$ 1000); for my part they aren’t practically as natural-sounding because the U-87 or a superb dynamic. I had one however bought it after a number of months. It might sound actually good to your specific ear, nevertheless. I make this level as a result of tastes totally different, and it’s absolutely true that one voice can sound unhealthy 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 need to use a pop display on a condenser. This machine stops these blasts of air from non-vocal speech parts, most notably "P" sounds, which 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 don’t want to be sporting headphones on the time. Now, it's 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 though most individuals don’t use pop screens with dynamics.

Low-cost condensers: an enormous no-no.

Low-cost condensers are all around the market. You should buy a microphone with a pleasant spider shock mount and in an attractive aluminum flight case all for $ 75. Um, I don’t skinny 'so, Looooxy. They’re unnaturally brilliant on the high finish and boomy on the backside.

The actually nefarious a part of that is that, in case you're simply beginning out, your ear is definitely fooled into pondering that this sounds good. It does sound form of thrilling, however this can be very fatiguing to take heed to a recording made on one. As Phil Spector famously put it, "It's all within the center." Individuals prefer to crank up the treble and bass. When you have a mic delivering plenty 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 you could even assume, "Wow, what's the large deal about this factor? It's boring." No, it's pure. Unboosted highs and lows. In different phrases, it sounds such as you, not you-through-a-microphone. That's correctly.

Bear in mind, you might be competing with individuals who personal high-end condensers, and that's how they sound. I'll 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's 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's tres cool-looking, and comes with a snarky-looking padded, fitted maroon bag for transport and safety. It's about $ 990.

There are different ribbons which have glorious reputations, extra hitting the market on a regular basis, see your supplier. I'm not conscious of ribbons getting used that a lot for voiceover, however I believe it's as a result of a large number of folks have no idea about them. I believe it's additionally due as a lot to inertia as something – everybody learns what everybody else is utilizing and continues swimsuit. Additionally, ribbons don’t have the in-your-face sound that dynamics and particularly condensers have.

How to decide on the appropriate mic for you

The actually finest manner is to name an expert recording studio and guide 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 distinct monitor of a recording. It's infinitely higher to match the mic to your specific (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. Whenever you take heed to your self recorded on every one, the perfect one will normally make itself plain, and it's 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 data of the primary two, select a winner, evaluate it to the third one, select a winner, evaluate it to the fourth, and so forth. Then do it once more, solely have the engineer combine up the playback order.

Don’t do that check in an novice dwelling studio. They nearly actually is not going to have the mics you have to make the check significant, and the particular person recording you’ll nearly actually not be competent to judge which mic to make use of for voiceover; most dwelling studios exist for the aim of recording music and sung vocal, not voice appearing and voiceover.

What in case you don’t have a studio inside 50 or 100 miles, or their charges are too excessive (though I believe paying $ 100 to check a number of thousand ' value of microphones will prevent unbelievable heads, sending mics again, and so forth.)?

Right here's what to do: in case your finances 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 appears like Disney, however much more importantly, I’ve but to document a voice on it that has not sounded actually good.

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

Absent that type of finances, get an Electro-Voice RE20, Shure SM7, or Sennheiser 421U (they arrive with a few variations so inform your supplier that you just're utilizing it for VO.

In case you're undecided whether or not you actually need 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 unhealthy on anybody's voice.

The place to get it?

In case you're 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 true there, no mailorder hassles). In case you don’t have one, go browsing to one of many huge catalog shops resembling Sweetwater, Full Compass, Zzounds, or Guitar Heart. They’ve pretty liberal return insurance policies and are straightforward to work with. They promote numerous stuff and have aggressive reputations to take care of. Plus, their costs are normally an identical from piece to piece so that they must make up for it with actually good service, all to our benefit.

In case you've obtained the bucks for a $ 1500 – $ 2000 + condenser, go browsing 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 you have to speak to execs. Not that the catalog shops don’t have execs, however their degree of experience varies. I've talked to guys who knew nothing about what I needed and guys who knew so much; at Sound Pure they're all execs and they’re actually taken with getting you what you want and never a penny extra.

Inform them every little thing you need to do, what different gear you’ve gotten, what to purchase in case you don’t have any gear but. They actually give an ideal huge rip about their clients and concerning the professional audio enterprise basically. I cannot say sufficient good about them. In case you're questioning about all this good stuff I'm saying about Lawson and Sound Pure: not solely am I not getting paid by them, they have no idea I'm writing this text!

To sum up: If there's a professional studio close to you, guide an hour and check their dynamics and condensers utilizing the tactic above.

Whenever 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 – every little thing's a lot simpler that manner. From $ 1500 and above (which your native retailer in all probability is not going to 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 folks actually like them, some folks actually don’t. I'd go together with the RE20.

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


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