Why the voice over microphone you choose is so important

I’ve been doing voice overs for the last 15 years full time.   The one thing that amazes me still after all this time is how much a microphone can contribute to the feel of a voice over read.    It’s subtle, but the different sound characteristics of a microphone can change the feel of a read a LOT.     I have gathered up a selection of microphones that work with my particular voice talent style that covers most of the bases.   Things like transformers/frequency response/etc all determine how things will sound once your yap hole hits the microphone diaphragm.    There really is no ‘one perfect’ voice over microphone for all talent and all applications.  But there are some ‘fail-safe’ microphones that won’t be ‘wrong’ either.    If you want a very clean and neutral microphone that is nothing special, but will be ‘okay’ on all voice over applications would be the Neumann TLM 103.   If you don’t have that kind of money sitting around ($700 or so used), you can always go with the CAD E100S ($250 or so used) or a MXL V67G ($70 used).   All sound similar.    I sold my TLM 103 once I heard the CAD E100s.  Same sound, but for much less cost.   I didn’t use the TLM 103 that much, but wanted ‘that sound’ incase I needed it.     The MXL has similar frequency response and saturation, a great mic for the TLM 103 sound without the cost.     I’ve guided a couple voice talent to the MXL and they’ve been happy with it.      Another popular voice over microphone is the Sennheiser MKH 416 shotgun mic.    It’s the ‘lazy mans’ voice over microphone.   Pretty good to use if your recording booth isn’t very good and you don’t like to do any EQ work.    I have one that I mostly use for travel and also auditions that I record in my main open area (not my booth).   Voice talent also like the MKH 416 due to the frequency push in the upper mids that make it push through the mix….it’s okay that way but can get annoying/shrill pretty quick.   Do NO use it for long form narrations..also has a tendency to respond better to male vs female voices.     The Neumann U87 mic is kind of the ‘holy grail’ for voice overs.   However, this seems to be one of the most ‘picky’ in terms of the voice style that it makes sound good vs absolutely awful.     It’s enhances voices that have a naturally lower register.  Anyone who has a neutral voice or higher pitch will sound awful on this mic…’like ass’ due to the mid low frequency hype.   I have had talent get all excited about getting a U87, then use it for one or two session and then shelve it because they sounded awful.  Most of them had a mid range to higher pitch voice (females).     One of my favorite microphones is the Blue Baby Bottle mic ($250 used).    It can be temperamental if EQ is not set right, but it’s fairly smooth, doesn’t hype frequencies that interfere with voice overs (such as REALLY low frequencies that turn the reads into mud), has a natural push in the upper mid frequencies, but still maintains pretty smooth voice sound.    I use that most of the time for long form or commercial work.      Then a very HI-FI voice over microhophone, with a very full frequency response is the Mojave Audio 201Fet mic.    EXTREMELY clean/clear.   Not much saturation sound at all, very easy to EQ to get the rumbling low end and clean high end.    That’s the mic I use when I know I am going to process my voice over a lot with compression in post.       So these are the microphones I like most for my voice over style and what I need to do day in and day out.

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