Joe CiprianoJoe Cipriano relies on his Neumann U87…
Which microphone helps you to make your bread and butter?
Let us know by leaving a comment!

Neumann U87A microphone for a voice actor is a very personal thing. For some, it’s like their baby while for others it’s more than that! As mentioned earlier in this post, voice talent Joe Cipriano prefers to use a Neumann U87, considered the king of microphones from one of the most respected companies in the tech universe for microphones. He pairs the Neumann with a microphone preamp called the Avalon M5.

When we record the VOX Talk Podcast, I use an iSight microphone by Apple. We bought it a couple of years ago for recording podcasts and find that it does the trick for shorter recordings to air on the website.
In a past episode of VOX Talk, Colin Campbell produced a generous piece about the difference between condenser microphones and dynamic microphones. Again, each talent will have their own preference between these two very different animals. I’m giving you an invitation to share your microphone preference here via comment on this post.

Which microphone do you record voice-overs with and why?
Image courtesy of Cellar Dweller Productions. Click on the link to learn more about the Neumann U87.

Previous articleMimicry VS Imitation
Next articleVoicey Awards – Tonight!
Stephanie Ciccarelli is the Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Classically trained in voice, piano, violin and musical theatre, as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, her podcast Sound Stories serves an audience that wants to achieve excellence in storytelling. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.


  1. Still being somewhat new to the VO industry (and also working with a considerably smaller budget than Mr. Cipriano), I use an AKG Perception 200. I’m not currently using a preamp, but I’m recording into a digital multitrack unit, not directly into a computer. I do like the sound I get from it. It has a 300Hz rolloff switch that allows me to get close to the mic without getting too much proximity effect going on. It’s very clear, has almost no self noise, and requires very little eq. One of these days, maybe I’ll sell a kidney and get myself a U87, but in the meantime I’m pleased with my AKG.
    My best to all,

  2. I’ve been recording for 25 years and I too love the U87…especially my brother’s U87 that was modified into a tube mic. However, my studio has been using another very nice combination over the last decade or so. A mic by AKG called ‘The Tube’ and a John Hardy preamp. The AKG is a modern remake of their vintage C-12 and has a smooth top end over a generously warm low. The John Hardy is a transparent pre that let’s the Tube do it’s stuff.

  3. John Taylor chiming in on mics from Hollywood.
    I use the Sennheiser MKH-416. They call it the “LA” mic. After working with this mic at several Los Angeles studios and talking with engineers about pre-amps and processing I spent the $1100 at B&H Photo and Video and bought the 416. It works for my voice. It’s thick in the midrange and it cuts through the mix in promos and imaging. For me it’s been great! (hooked up to Focusrite Voicemaster Pro and inside a Whisper Room isolation booth) For other types of voices it might not be so great. The good news? You can get this mic from rental houses around the globe for a daily fee. (It’s the industry workhorse for location sound) Test drive it and see if you like it. But your best investment is in acting classes. Your technique as an artist is what will get you the gigs. Does anyone remember what brand of paintbrushes Da Vinci used?

  4. I use the EV RE 27n/d mic. I love it so much; I’ve ordered a second mic for use with interviews and other assorted projects.
    I hope to, one day, be able to “kick it up a notch” with the high end mics. But for right now, it’s perfect.

  5. I’ve just bought the Samson Pro – it has many of the characteristics of the U87 but is far, far less expensive. It plugs into the USB port of my PC, has an optional shockmount like the U-87 and can be used with its own pre-amp (free software from Samson). I love this mic!

  6. Wouldn’t it be grand to be able to afford such a classic mike? Even used on ebay, the Neumann U87 ranges from $1,000 to $2,600. I worked with several studios along the Gulf Coast for many years and got to try out plenty of mikes. Once I was ready to buy my own studio equipment, I chose the mike that had suited ME for MY voice, which is an EV ND27, costing about $500 in 2001. I pair it with a Symetrix 528E processor and continue to get wonderful results.
    I am looking at a Neumann TLM-103 as an upgrade. But how can you choose a mike without trying it out first?
    I also use a Samson CO1U USD condenser to record with my laptop when I’m “on the road.” This is for “emergency audio” only, since I’m not particularly happy with the sound I get from it. I’d love to hear what others use for their “portable” studios.

  7. Robin,
    Sometimes online stores will let you ‘try’ a mic before you buy it, try You will have to pay for shipping back and forth- but I figure that’s much cheaper than being out the money for a bad mic!
    I bought my first mic at the end of last year when I really wasn’t sure what I was doing (not that I know much more now!). I bought a MXL V-69 Mogami tube mic. It’s fine (the pro-tools plug-ins help), but I’m looking to replace it soon. With my ‘small’ voice, I need something that will pick up quiet sounds without all the room noise, while not overmodulating when I raise my voice. I still want to keep my young sound, so I don’t want to be ‘pumped up’ too much.
    Does anyone have any recommendations? I’m also interested in portable mics- I travel quite a bit.

  8. I’ve been really satisfied with the Pacific Pro Audio LD2ube I picked up a few years back. It’s got a lot of clarity and sensitivity, with a great tube warmth. It retailed for under $300 when I got mine, and I think stands up really well to some of the higher end mics. I use it for applications outside of voice over as well (it’s really a wonderful mic for acoustic instruments), so it’s definitely earned its keep!

  9. Studio Projects B-3 Condenser has been fine for me, feeding a Presonus VXP. Certainly a cost issue. We work with the RE 20s at the radio station, and I find them warm, but flat – no presence whatsoever (I suppose that’s what a pre-amp is for….. )
    If I was going for a dynamic mic, I would choose the Sennheiser MD421. A work horse, nice and crisp, not expensive, and bulletproof. We just took one out of our newsbooth last week after about 20 years of the daily grind.
    So it’s SP B-3 in the studio for me, and a Samson USB into the laptop on the road (although haven’t had much call to use it, yet…)

  10. I have 3 mics that I use, depending upon the qualities I’m looking for on a given project. The Rode K2 was my first and is a fantastic mic for depth and feeling. I use the new Rode Podcaster for doing things on the go. It connects to the USB port and is really great for what it is! Most often, I use my AKG C451B because it’s so versatile. The K2 has its own pre-amp and the AKG runs on phantom power. I run both through my Roland 2480 which gives a wonderful sound.

  11. Hello from beautiful downtown Burbank – sunny and warm. I’m still on my first studio mic – MXL2003 studio condenser with phantom power running through Mackie Spike XD-2. I now feel like the trailer park studio. However, it’s launched my studio well and now I’d like to upgrade also.
    If anyone has a moment to listen to my voice and suggest a mic that would be greatly appreciated.
    Also, I heard a rumor about something called a “snowball” – is that right? It’s supposed to be the newest coolest thing – anyone know what this is or anything about it?
    This is a good one Stephanie – thank you.

  12. I’ve got the Sennheiser 416 MKH and swear by it. I don’t think many will argue it’s the best shotgun you can buy (about $1000, but money well spent). From talking to many other working pros and engineers, the Sennheiser and the Neumann are hands down the best for VO purposes. I couple my 416 with an Avalon 737-SP vacuum tube pre-amp and a Mackie Onyx 1220 mixer. That along with my Telos Zephyr ISDN box, and Vocal Booth sound room set me back quite a bit, but I looked at it as an investment (and a nice write-off), and it’s already starting to pay me back. The saying is true… you’ve got to spend money to make money.
    As far as the other person’s comment about the snowball – it’s a good back-up mic and also good to take with you if you’re away from your studio and you have a remote set-up, just couple that with a voice box to deaden the air, and it’ll sound fine.

  13. Hey Chris – thanks for the snowball info – do you know who makes it? model #? anything else? I will probably go with the Sennheiser or Neumann but I understand this snowball is great for use when you can’t use your ISO booth. Regarding the ISDN box – I’m upgrading here also. Any tips, hints, websites that you can point me to would be really great. Anyone else out there with ISDN initial buy and set-up tips – I would love to hear from you.
    Thanks all – Vanessa

  14. I started out with an EV-20 which seemed the standard in radio. Once I starting setting up my own studio, I wanted a warmer sound – and went with the Neumann TLM-103. I love that mic! It runs into a symetrix 528E processor. I still use a plug-in to beef it up, but the mic is great!

  15. For the money (especially if you can win an auction on eBay), you can’t beat a Shure. I have an KSM27 and a SM7B. I use the KSM when I need that “big voice” effect, and the SM when I need that intimate effect for dialouge, or character work.

  16. Hello and Greetings from Munich, Germany. I’m more of a “silent” artist on this site and I don’t post too often (actually it’s the first time 😉 but when I read something about my “baby”, I have to leave a comment…
    I’m working with the U87 as well, and I have to say that it’s perfect for my voice. I’ve tried other Mics as well – even the “Brauner Valvet”, which sounds very nice, too, but the U87 is way better, as it doesn’t push my “s” and “sh” as the others do. I’m working with a Neumann TLM 103 sometimes as well, but there’s a big difference – as it tends to push high frequencies and forget about the mid frequencies (in my case). It’s ok for IVR and other files used in telecommunication systems, but for broadcasting in my eyes there’s nothing better than the U87. I use an SPL Gainstation A/D in combination with it, and I can highly recommend this variation.

  17. Being another one of the “new guys” to the VO industry, I started off with the good old Shure SM-58, which worked for a while, but was upgraded to an AKG C2000B, a small diaphragm condenser mic that acts like a large. It has a nice rolloff switch, along with -10db/0db setting modes (very handy to keep noise down). I’m using a Focusrite Voice Master preamp, mainly utilizing it’s phantom power and noise reducing expander. Overall, I’m quite happy with the sound and the deal, as I got the mic new for $300, and the used preamp for the same price.

  18. I just recently bought a Shure SM7B. Same microphone Robbin Quivers uses on the Howard Stern Show. Same mic Westwood One Networks uses in their studios. Anyways, its a very good mic. It needs a really good preamp, this mic needs lots of clean gain. It’s the nicest piece of gear I own at the moment.

  19. Also using the Neumann TLM103. Great sounding mic for the price. Paired with an Aphex 207D tube preamp running digital out, this rig has a sweet sound that easily stands up to more expensive gear. Typically, in LA studios, I’ve found myself working with either this mic or the MK416. The Neumann tends to be a little more forgiving than the Sennheiser, and warmer–a good complement as my voice has an edge.


  21. I run my home studio here in Australia with a sE (Studio Engineering) “mini”, or as it’s known Stateside the “MIC” !
    I previously ran a Sennheiser MD421, but it’s very hollow and more suited to tom toms and guitars, so the sE was a worthwhile purchase, have used it for commercial VO’s in metro markets, nobody’s complained!

  22. My favorite go to microphone is the Telefunken AK47. It’s in the same price range as many of the top end mics ($1,600 – $2,000) It has a multiple pattern selection and to me has characteristics I like of vintage U47, U67 and U87 microphones. I also have a handmade microphone by Dave Pearlman with NOS tubes. The sound is very clean and not the slightest bit harsh.
    I also have a PR40 microphone by Heil. A veteran microphone maker, he has improved greatly on the RE 20 microphone creating a less expensive microphone that doesn’t need to be driven quite as hard and yet still has the voice of god thing going for it.
    My goto mic pre is the Millenia STT-1, which is every bit as good as a Manley and I think kicks tush on Avalon.
    Of course a lot has to do with how you’re getting everything into the box and I use an Apogee Rosetta AD/DA.
    for when I’m on the road, an Alienware laptop with minme USB and the Heil seem to work out nicely. The combination allows me to create a recording environment in a hotel room that is not only great for auditioning, but can hold it’s own for short form recordings to many broadcast setups. Most hotels have broadband wireless in the rooms, and by simply holding the phone near my mouth when I record, I can have a poor man’s phone patch for clients. A pair of Beyerdynamic DT 770 headphones allows me to monitor and make sure I’m not popping p’s, etc. Only drawback is if the client is directing me and asks for playback, they have to listen through the laptop speakers.

  23. I also use an AKG Perception 200. It seems to have a good sound for my voice. I am very new to VO/VA work, but have worked “behind the scenes” for many years. I run the AKG into a Mackie Satellite, then onto my laptop (IBM). So far. so good!.
    Best to all and thanks for sharing your thoughts. It’s been educational!

  24. I am fortunate to have purchased my Neumann U89 years ago when they sold for about $1200. Now I think they are approaching 3k. Don’t know the difference between the 87 vs the 89, but it is a warm sounding, truth telling instrument. Seems to add nothing to the audio print… what you have is what it hears… nothing more – nothing less. Although my Mackie vlz1402 has phantom power, I have the U87 plugged into an Aphex 230 with just a hint of compression and eq.
    I know it can be the most expensive part of your audio chain, but, honestly… the mic is the one part of your studio, more than any other component, that is the monitor that others hear you with. If the monitor picture is flawed or tinted in some way, anything else you do to your audio will also be tinted or flawed.
    There are plenty of excellent mics out there. If you are serious about your vo business… fork out the big bucs for the mic!

  25. Hey this is great! Thought I’d chime in too.
    I’ve faced many mics through the years, and really like the Sennheiser, and AKG. In my own studio I have a Shure KSM32 condenser mic, which is rugged enough to travel with. I like its extended frequency response and has extremely low self noise, has a switchable low frequency filter to reduce background noise and carries all of my vocal ranges very well, and is great in close miking situations. I run it through a Behringer mixer and tweak in ProTools if necessary.
    All that being said, I would like to hear myself through a Neumann, and perhaps own one someday.
    Thanks for listening.
    Bobbin Beam

  26. I’ve used the Sennheiser 416 and Neumann U87 in L.A. for years. Between the two, the 416 is very clean and flat.a small diaphragm very directional mic gives me that. The U87 is as clean, but the large diaphragm isn’t as natural sounding, to me. I use the 416 for promos, trailers and narration.

  27. I use a TLM 103 into an Avalon 737 and Lavry Blue. Killer combo!!! I used high end mics, SONY C800G, U87. But I found my voice best on the TLM 103. The 103 can have a harsh top with a lot of preamps. But with the 737 on high gain, everything gets smoothed out.

  28. Best kept secret in the music biz right now is the Shure sm7b, it’s a broadcast mic ideally made for radio, but for the last five years has been the pop/rock mic of choice, used by Springsteen, Pearl Jam, Metallica, Wilco.

  29. Great info! I’m using an MKH416 and a recently purchased Red Type B. Not too fond of the MKH with my voice. But the Red seems to really work. Currently I have the standard R8 cap for the Red, but the R6 cap will be here soon. It’s supposed to be inspired by the AKG C12. I love that I can just swap capsules out on the Red. Many different flavors at a fairly cheap price.
    I’ve tried most all of the standards for VO (TLM103, RE20, SM7B) with the exception of the U87, and so far the Red is the only one that has given me that, “this is the one”, feeling. Can’t wait to finally get a U87 though. But then again, it may not work with my voice.
    I’ve also heard great things about the Telfunken M16 mkII and Brauner Phantom C for VO. TOO MANY MICS, NOT ENOUGH $$$. 🙂
    I’m running into a Safesound P1 pre into an Apogee Duet. Clean as a whistle and nice and beefy from the Safesound. Sometimes I’ll use the pres in the Duet too. Tons of clean gain. Almost too clean at times.

  30. I’m using a Neumann TLM 103 into the Aphex 230– into an “old school” Panasonic RAMSA 24 channel mixer. Mainly used for VO work.
    I would like to give a shout out to Universal Audio for their “plugins”. Around $400.00 with audio card. You need the card to run there vst’s or DX plugs. And you can’t go wrong with “waves”.
    I would eventually like to upgrade to the U87 from Neumann. I’ve been saving my pennies, so my next mic purchase will be in the $1,500 and $2,500 range. Any help for that price range would be appreciated.
    Stephen Patrick

  31. Voicework is my profession and with over 35 years in this career I’ve acquired a variety of mics and recording gear along the way. For over 20 years the holy grail mic in my studio was the workhorse Shure SM5b. I’ve voiced literally thousands of commercials on that old mic! But lately I’ve been voicing most of my narration work on a Telefunken AK47 thru an Avalon 737, which produces a fantastic sound with my voice. From the 737 I go straight into Pro Tools for final processing and rendering. With over 3 decades of VO behind me I’ve equipped the studio with a variety of Neumanns…TLM49, 103, 193, U87, Soundelux E47, the old SM5b, SM7, EV-RE27, Senn 421, AKG 414, and even an old RCA 77DX. For more mainstream spot commercial and trailer type work I’ve been using the U87ai which I modded with an Innertube a couple of weeks ago. Am still getting used to and dialing in the Innertube rig for VO work. I am also getting close to pulling the trigger on putting a 416 in the booth. Much of my work is spot commercial VO via LA and it makes good sense to give them what they are used to hearing.

  32. I have a Telefunken AK47, Neumann U87, ADK Hamburg II AU and a Blue Bluebird. My preamps include a Manley Voxbox and GML 2032. My go to setup at present is the Telefunken AK47 into the GML 2032. The GML is nice and clean as compared to the Manley. I’m considering getting the Neve Portico compressor for dynamics, but haven’t decided on that yet. I’m not too crazy about the Neumann U87 on my voice. The mid boost bothers me, same with the ADK Hamburg II AU. But, if you’re looking for a good sounding mic for around $300, you might want to consider the Blue Bluebird. You’ll just need to tame the plosives on that one.
    By the way, I run my preamp directly into a Lynx L22 soundcard bypassing the mixer.
    Thanks for letting me ramble!

  33. I love my SM5B. I own 6 of them. It has a great warm sound but also cut through. You can get nice and close up on them. It’s a shame they don’t still make them. I use them with a Focusrite Voicemaster Pro and a Symetrix 528e. Sounds really nice with the Focusrite.
    Bill Plax
    CBS Radio New York

  34. I have three go to mics. An EV27 N/D, Neumann U87 and a Sennheiser MKH 416 P48. I run these into a DBX 286A and have dialed in set-ups for each mic. Only thing I would add is an Avalon M5.
    Alton (Al) Hoover

  35. I have a U87, OktavaMOD mk319 and a 416 that I run thru a John Hardy M-1.
    I prefer the 416 because it has a super clean “ready” sound…and sounds really nice thru the John Hardy.
    The OktavaMOD is my second go to mic…the U87 is goin’ up on e-bay soon…great mic of course, but not so much on my voice.

  36. Having been in radio for most of my life, I have used a great number of microphones, starting with the RCA 44BX and 77DX, Altec 639A and many more, including the Sennheiser MD-241 and Shure SM-7. One that I preferred the most was the AKG D-202-E, which hasn’t been manufactured in decades. I was one of the first to introduce the E/V RE-20 to radio, over 30 years ago, mainly because most disk jockeys have no idea what “mic technique” means, and the `20 is very forgiving in that regard (as is the D-202).
    For my voice-over studio, I looked at specs for something like a couple of dozen mics. Many of them, like the Sennheiser shotguns, were way out of my budget. Shotguns are great when your acoustic environment is poor, as they focus on what is right in front. That is probably why the V/O industry tends to gravitate toward them.
    In my situation, I cannot do much to acoustically treat my room. Thus, I needed a cardioid mic with a good front-to-back ratio. Some manufacturers could not — or would not — provide this info, so they were scratched from my list. Finally I boiled my choices to the new Electro-Voice RE-320 and the Heil PR-30, but then I found a used Oktava MK-319 on eBay for even less and bought that. I used the Oktavas in one radio station I built, where the acoustics were very “live” and they did better than an AKG C-4500B-BC which cost several times the price. With a WindTech popgard on it, it sounds plenty good to me.
    Maybe I’ll get a Neumann later, but for the time being, this Russian mic does the job. It’s got good back rejection, and I get a lot of use out of my wife’s fur coat by hanging it up on the wall behind me to absorb any room reflections coming from that direction. Simple, but it works!

  37. In order, the mics I really like I own: Shure SM5, AKG 414, Shure SM7B, and the new kid on the block, the Rode NTK. I do a lot of voice work for radio stations, and love them all for different reasons. I use the old Symetrix 528, it’s got more bottom end than the newer, mellower 528E. Just got a PreSonus Studio Channel and Focusrite Voicemaster Pro. I’ll light these up and see which one accentuates my voice. I’ve been messing with a Rode NT1000 and Sterling Audio ST51. They haven’t really done it for me yet. Love the Neumann U87. Worked in front of a couple when I was in New York at WXLO years ago. Never had the Holy Grail Neumann U47, only saw Sinatra singing into one on a video. That is what VO people dream of at night.

  38. I am in the process of buiding a home studio and I have been researching microphones and preamps possibly too much…..but I am leaning towards either a CAD E100S or a Harlan Hogan VO 1-A with a symetrix 528, Presonus Eureka or Twinfinity 710S. Does anyone know how the HH VO 1-A matches up? Or if the CAD E100S is up to pro standards? My other option is to go with a Neumann TLM103 or AKG C414 and make due with a mini-pre and upgrade to an Avalon 737 within the year. My intent is to make a pro-demo, and to upgrade the microphone and or pre-amp within a year but I’m not sure if the CAD E100S or HH VO 1-A will due or should I invest in a TLM103 and go with a less than ideal pre-amp or invest in a decent pre-amp and spend $400 or less on the mic? My budget for both is $1,000 – $1,500.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here