Best Voice Over Microphones in 2021
Finding a microphone that will highlight your talent and bring confidence to your recording can be a bit of a challenge. The market is flooded with a range of voice over microphones, and everyone has an opinion on which ones are the best. However, the question of which microphones are best for recording voice over performances comes up often.
There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a microphone, including your budget, the sound you’re trying to achieve, and the space you plan to be recording in. In a Voices survey, 25% of respondents say they chose their microphone through trial and error.
Armor Pro Audio‘s Bob Breen, a 25-year audio industry veteran, has heard his fair share of microphones. In this article, Breen gives his tips on how to help find a microphone that will complement your voice and set you up for success.
Best Microphones for Voice Over
|1.||Rode NT1A: This reliable mic from one of the world’s most popular microphone brands is an industry standard that you can’t go wrong with. Buy online.|
|2.||Audio-Technica AT2020: Its wide dynamic range, durable performance, and inexpensive cost make this a mic of choice for a ton of voice actors. Buy online.|
|3.||VO: 1-A Harlan Hogan Signature Series: Specifically designed for voice acting by voice over icon Harlan Hogan, this condenser mic comes with a foam-lined travel case. Buy online.|
|4.||Neumann TLM 103: This large-diaphragm mic is a top choice in the music industry, especially for its first-rate noise reduction qualities and ability to effectively reduce plosives. Buy online.|
|5.||Neumann TLM 102: Don’t underestimate this mic due to its compact size, because it really packs a lot of punch. Equipped with a built-in pop shield a treble boost that results in silkier vocals, the TLM 102 is a Neumann mic for half the price of the TLM 103. Buy online.|
|6.||Sennheiser MKH 416: The perfect mic for recording outdoors. A pressure-gradient shotgun mic that boasts low self-noise, high consonant articulation, and feedback rejection, the MKH 416 is everything you want in a tube condenser microphone. Buy online.|
Different Types of Voice Acting Microphones
There is a wide selection of voice over microphones on the market, but there are two types of mics that are generally the most common: condenser and dynamic microphones.
Condenser microphones have enhanced response sensitivity. Since the diaphragm is thinner, it iss capable of reacting quickly to very faint sound waves. This means that condenser mics are able to pick up a lot of detailed sound. A condenser mic is most recommended for studio voice recordings. Even though it is super sensitive to sound, it works well for voice recordings as there is only one sound that needs to be picked up (your voice), which won’t be competing with any other sound (such as different instruments in music tracks).
On the other hand, a dynamic microphone is not as sensitive, which means that in comparison to condenser mics, there is less detail captured in recordings. However, this can be a benefit for recording quality, as it also means that the mic won’t pick up any background sounds. Generally, removing background noise can be beneficial if you have soundproofing challenges with your space. However, this may not be a worry on your end if you have already taken the steps to soundproof your studio space.
Now that you know the differences between the main types of microphones used in recording, you can get out there and start browsing for your perfect mic.
How Do I Choose the Best Microphone?
Testing out your mic
If you are unfamiliar with the different types of microphones available on the market, Breen recommends looking into borrowing a microphone first. If you have a friend or colleague who already has their own microphone, see if they can lend it to you so that you are able to bring the microphone into your recording space and test it out that way. “Get the microphone into your space, use it how you intend to use it, and listen,” says Breen.
Try many types of microphones before you decide on one
If you are able to get a mic into your space to test out, and you feel it sounds good, don’t stop there. Test out many different types of microphones before you settle on one. It is good to have a comparison between different types to help you narrow down your choice.
Choose a microphone that picks up the most detail in your voice
Breen says that the most popular kind of microphone is a condenser mic. Condenser mics tend to pick up the most detail in your voice
Stay away from handheld mics
A stage mic or handheld mic is not well-suited for voice over recordings. Your microphone should have a stand and leave you hands-free to prevent any external sounds caused by movement.
Consider the price of the microphone, but know that expensive doesn’t equal better
The best microphone for your voice won’t necessarily be the most expensive one on the market. From one perspective, the best microphone is the one that is affordable and gets the job done—which is why many of these criteria could be considered “nice-to-haves,” as opposed to “need-to-haves.”
Having said that, the microphone and the preamp are the pieces of technology that are between you and your computer, so get the microphone that makes your voice sounds best, but also fits your budget.
Consider the microphone’s frequency response
Some microphones, like the RE20 (the stereotypical radio microphone), are large-diaphragm microphones designed to pick up lower frequencies such as a deep male voice, a bass drum, or even a bass guitar.
The small-diaphragm or small capsule microphone is designed to pick up higher frequencies such as the female voice, the brightness of an acoustic guitar, or shimmering cymbals. You may have seen these as the overhead microphones on a drum kit, or above an orchestra.
Hertz (Hz), named for the German physicist Heinrich Hertz, measures the number of cycles per second. Where the human voice is concerned, this means the number of times the vocal folds vibrate per second.
How many Hz is the human voice?
- A healthy male voice usually falls between 110-120 Hz
- A healthy female voice usually falls between 200-210 Hz
- Children’s voices usually fall between 300-400 Hz
The higher the vibrations per second, the brighter the sound.
USB Microphones for Voice Actors
A note on USB microphones: when it comes to what mic you choose, understanding what makes a USB mic different from a traditional analog microphone might help you make a decision. A USB mic has built-in hardware that creates a digital signal, whereas an analog mic relies on a computer to transform the audio. You can also find out more about the benefits of each type of microphone.
While the debate around which type of microphone produces better audio is alive and well, it’s up to you to choose what you’d prefer. It’s one of several factors to consider, but USB microphones tend to be easy to set up initially, and that in and of itself can be a big selling point if you’re looking to dive right in.
How to Test and Compare Microphones
If you do have the opportunity to test a microphone for yourself before you buy, it’s good to know that some of them are designed to be used at different distances.
According to Bryant Falk of Abacus Entertainment, studio microphones generally give your voice more bass as you get closer to them. Most condenser mics are designed to be placed only a few inches (a hand width or two) from your mouth. However, you would be wise to make use of a pop filter to avoid plosives.
In any case, it can always be useful to go into your local music store or head to a site like SweetWater. In either case, you’ll find professionals who can guide you through the process of testing and purchasing a mic.
Which Microphones NOT to Buy: A Word of Advice From Vocal Coach Tommy Griffiths
“I coach hundreds of voice actors from around the world, and I’ve seen and heard it all,” says Tommy Griffiths.
Griffiths advises to refrain from using:
- Gaming headphones with a mic attachment
- A handheld recorder like Zoom
- A stage mic (or dynamic mic)
- A web cam mic
“You’ll waste your money and never win an audition. Please. Believe me when I tell you this.“
“One more thing: most microphones require extra gear like a preamp and/or a digital interface. You’ll also likely need to consider a mic stand and a windscreen or pop-filter.“
Understanding the Importance of Preamps
You also need to take the preamplifier (or preamp) into consideration. A preamp is a device that amplifies low-level signals to a standard operating level. Essentially, you need a preamp for any source of sound.
A lot of interfaces come with a built-in preamp, but the win of having an external preamp that you can plug the microphone into allows for a better sound quality and helps to lower external noise levels.
Here’s more on how preamps improve voice over:
If you’re just starting out, don’t worry too much about purchasing an external preamp. You can instead opt for an interface with built-in preamps. You can still produce great voice over recordings with your audio interface preamps and a condenser mic.
The most important thing to remember when purchasing a microphone is to not make an impulsive decision. Give yourself time to test out different microphones in the space you will be recording your voice over. Shop around, do your research, record some sample reads, and listen to how your voice sounds.
Once you’ve chosen the best microphone for your voice, sign up for a Voices account and share your top-notch recordings with the world.