Best Voiceover Microphone?
What is the best microphone for recording voiceover? One mic to rule them all?!
Neumann U87. End of blog.
To be fair, the 'best' microphone is subjective (different ears like different things) and entirely personal (a 'bad' mic on one person could sound great on another). However, if you were to conduct a survey with industry professionals, I reckon the ubiquitous Neumann U87 would top the list.
It's also worth mentioning that different microphones can suit different types of voiceover recordings and performances. Horses for courses and all that. That being said, the U87 is loved partly because of its great versatility.
A Neumann U87 Ai goes for 3600 US dollars and a vintage U87, a lot more again, well out the budget range for most voiceover artists and actors. Perhaps a better question would then be...
What's the best voice-over microphone for a home studio setup?
Again, it's subjective, but my favourite has to be the Sennheiser MKH 416. It's tight pickup pattern and off-axis rejection are great for getting clean-sounding recordings in less than ideal circumstances. On my voice, the low end is warm without becoming muddy and there's a nice 'air' in the higher frequencies which adds a presence and intimacy to my performances.
I have a reasonably bassy, resonant voice and in small recording booths, the sound my voice produces can get a little bit, well, flabby, for want of a better word. I've found that any mic with a super-cardioid or hyper-cardioid pickup pattern helps cut out the flabbiness; helps add to the illusion that I'm talking directly to an individual listener as opposed to a group of people, which is what it sometimes can sound like when I'm on a cardioid microphone.
Here's the important thing about the Sennheiser MKH 416 on my voice though, regardless of how it makes me sound from a sonic point of view, it makes my performances better. It helps me act better. I feel more comfortable, more relaxed and more supported, and if you feel like that, your acting, your performance (which is the MOST important thing in voice over / voice acting) will automatically improve.
So when searching for a voice-over microphone try not to focus too heavily on the sound, but more on your performance. If you trial two, let's say, $1000 microphones, the chances are you're going to sound 'nice' on both, but on which one do you deliver the more engaging, original, authentic performance? Because those are the qualities that will book you the job. If you want to hear the Sennheiser MKH 416 in action and find out a bit more about it, then I highly recommend you check out Booth Junkie's YouTube channel. He's reviewed a lot of microphones and does some great breakdowns on the benefits of various mics.