Which microphone do you rely on the most and why?

+8 votes
One mic does not fit all, not by a long shot...so just wondering which one is your go-to workhorse and the reason for it.
asked in Home Recording by brianhaymond (200 points)

14 Answers

+1 vote
I was an Audio Technica user for a long time. I was using the 4033. Now I'm using the Neumann TLM 102. Can I tell the difference? A little I suppose, but I've also had to adjust my technique a bit as well.
answered by audioeast1 (160 points)
I've been on a Sennheiser 416 for 6 years, virtually the only thing I have used in that time.  AWESOME for promos etc.  However on the narration projects, I think I would like to have a TLM103, but the cost is high.  I bought an RE20 3 weeks ago (which I'm selling) and it might be fine for radio, but nothing else.  I have a Studio Projects B1 that is fantastic for the price.
Two microphones are my mainstay.  Harlan Hogan's Signature Microphone, the VO-1A is the one in my booth, and my travel mic is the Sonnheiser 416.  Since I do primarily commercial work, both mics suit my needs very well.
I have tried many mics expensive one cheap ones and the best to suit my voice and customers seems to be the Rode NT1.
This is not to say that I may need something different if my client base changes.
Basically for newbies starting out...the most expensive and "industry standards" are not necessarily the best ones for your voice!
+1 vote
Been using a Sterling Audio ST-59 and very pleased with it. I demo'd several mics in the $250-$400 price range at Guitar Center and this one just sounded better than the others for my voice.

I highly recommend trying to demo several mics at once like I did, with the same script...it really gives you a better sense of which mic is best for you.
answered by RickBrown (420 points)
+5 votes
The best microphone is the one that flatters your voice the most and is within your price range. Two caveats:

1. Even a high-end mic can make you sound terrible in an unprofessional recording environment.

2. Owning a Steinway does not make you a concert pianist.

I rely on the MXL VO: 1-A  (Harlan Hogan) studio condenser microphone.
answered by paulstrikwerda (320 points)
iF YOU CAN AFFORD IT... and I bet you can get a rate, visit your local big recording studio and ask they do a mic shootout on your voice.  Then you'll know which is the best for you.  After all, it's a career-long question which should be answered up front.  That said, there are two main ways to go - dynamic or condenser.  Some cheaper condensers have a hyped upper end... the "t"s and "s"s will be pronounced.  Both types, in cardioid pattern, are likely to have proximity effect, which means the closer you get the bassier it gets.  (Not the  ElectroVoice RE-20, btw.)  I've been through the AKG 414, the Sennheiser 421, the Audio Technica 4033, RCA 77DX, and have settled on the Mojave MA-200... BUT I work it 16 to 18 inches away.  YMMV.  The Sennheiser 416 is popular in Hollywood (very directional).  Neuman mics are also standards.
about proximity effect: with some rare exceptions the dynamic mics are affected by this effect but the condenser mics no, because they capture the vibrations in a little different way.
I disagree, since ALL directional mics exhibit some level of proximity effect - more bass the closer you get. The method of operation (condenser or dynamic) does not change the physics of cardioid mic design. I get that bass boost proximity effect on both my Sennheiser 416 (shotgun condenser hypercardioid), and on my trusty Shure SM57 (dynamic cardioid)
+1 vote
I don't know what it is about Shure, but I love their mics! I agree with Rick, though, demo out a lot of mics before deciding to buy.
answered by morganb (620 points)
+3 votes
I am a big fan of Audio Technica, I have a 4033a, 8035 shotgun, and the 4047SV, which is my everyday mic.  Good, clean, and accurate.  I am a low tenor, and it seems to be a good fit.
answered by TJJones (210 points)
ABout Audio Technica 2020
+4 votes
I LOVE my AKG C414!  I've tried so many, for fun...including a Neumann.  Still love the warmth, clarity, and quiet of my AKG.
answered by adeniro (220 points)
+7 votes
One of the great unchallenged myths in VO work is the "test 500 mics and see which one is best for your voice". One GOOD mic does tend to fit all with VERY few exceptions.  As a working VO pro when you go to a recording studio you will be unceremoniously plonked into a vo booth in front of a mic and expected to get on with it.

At your home studio you need to get your room sounding right FIRST and then buy the best mic you simply CAN'T afford.
answered by Unrecognized User (280 points)
I agree at all: the best sound mic is... THE ROOM! te proof? the 416 is widely used also because is an HyperCardioid and with it the room reflections are minimized by the high directivity.
+3 votes
I use a Sennheiser 416 also, and I'm looking at getting a Harlan Hogan VO-1A to have as a backup.  I also have a EV RE20 that I hate the sound of.
answered by SteveVallo (280 points)
I recently had a chance to review (but not keep, sadly) the Sennheiser MKH 416.  It is awesome!  When I can afford to spend a grand on a mic, that will be the one (well, the first one;)).

My VO-1A is the only mic I have right now, and it's paid for itself 10-15X in less than a year.  Once I get my recording space a bit more up to speed, I'd love to graduate to a TLM103.
+2 votes
My primary mic is the Rode NT2-A - by far my favorite.  But I have also recently used the AudioTechnica AT2035.  But as someone mentioned, the mic is not the whole story.  The interface counts too.  but perhaps the biggest ingredient after that is the process of recording, editing and finalizing the audio for the client.
answered by KenTheriot (190 points)
+2 votes
I LOVE my Electro-Voice RE 27!
answered by TommyGriffiths (360 points)
+1 vote
Been experimenting with a Lewitt LCT 640 that I bought recently.. very versatile... but so far my go to mic is my Shure KSM 32 condenser... I call it a Neumann without the second mortgage... because I listened to several shootouts between the 32 and several Neumanns in the tlm series and I can't hear the difference... ymmv.  

+1 on the advice of auditioning as many mics as you can before pulling the trigger.  And remember to make sure the EQ is flat before you compare... even changing the EQ a little can significantly change a mics character.

Good luck
answered by tomdonovan (3,530 points)
+1 vote
I think the characteristics of a microphone need to match the characteristics of your voice.  I have always used Neumann mikes as they bring out subtle harmonics in my voice, and gives great bass.  I have a U87 but also the cut price TLM 103, which is really the same mike but without the polarity characteristics of the U87 which you don't need for VO work anyway!
answered by peterbaker (160 points)
+10 votes
Blue Yetti on a MacBook pro.  Hundreds of recordings of all types.  Works great.  There was a recent production problem that made level adjustment difficult (a whole shipment was wrecked), but hopefully this has been corrected.  I love the simplicity, ability to do gain control on the mic and the variety of mic settings.
answered by deborahsalebutler (41,140 points)
+1 vote
As with anything you perform on - a guitar, a microphone, etc. how it sounds to you is usually what's best.  Since I'm also a musician I have (2) Neumann TLM102's originally bought for VO work but actually find them better for singing and recording instrumentation.  

I have adopted what I am always put behind when I record in professional studios - either a Sennheiser 416. or Neumann KMR8i (I have both).  I also use a Sanken CS3 and am currently using  Nuemann KMR8i Shotgun.  I have a deeper baritone.  However if budget is an issue (and when isnt' it) I have used the AKG200B (which is now discontinued).  I usually see producers putting Women on a Neumann U87 and deeper voices on the 416 or KMR shotguns.  Sennheiser now owns Nuemann btw.  Have not tried the Harlan Hogan MXL but see it alot.
answered by bryancarmody (270 points)
I recently switched from my Electro Voice RE20 to the Rode NT1 and I love it! For the money, great fit for my voice and for its clarity.