What Are the Best Voice Over Microphones? [2022] | Voices (2022)

What Are the Best Voice Over Microphones? [2022] | Voices (1)Voice Over

What Are the Best Voice Over Microphones? [2022] | Voices (2)

David Ciccarelli

September 9, 2022

Finding a microphone that will highlight your talent and bring confidence to your recording can be a bit of a challenge. The question of which microphones are best for recording voice over performances comes up often. The market is flooded with a range of voice over microphones, and everyone has an opinion on which ones are the best.

Our opinion: there is no ‘best mic,’ but rather, the best mic for you. For instance, I personally use the Neumann TLM 103 for podcasts which we discuss below, however it’s going to be a personal choice.

There are a number of factors to consider when purchasing a microphone, including your budget, the sound you’re trying to achieve, and your recording space. In a Voices survey, 25% of respondents say they chose their microphone through trial and error.

Voices’ own Content Producer, Randy, weighed in with his opinion, too:

“You can brainstorm all you want to try to come up with what mic you think is going to be best, but it comes down to what sounds best in your space. Your space has to be such a huge part of the consideration.”

In this article, Randy’s insights are paired with the expertise of Armor Pro Audio‘s Bob Breen, a 25-year audio industry veteran who has heard his fair share of microphones. Lastly, we’ve incorporated the expertise of Sweetwater’s Nick D’Virgilio, a long-time performer and audio clinician for some of the largest instrument brands.

Below, you’ll find:

Microphone types explained: Condenser and Dynamic mics

The best mics for voice over

(Video) Best Microphone For Voice Over in 2022 [Top 5 Picks For Any Budget]

How to choose the right mic for you

How to test and compare microphones

Understanding the importance of preamps

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 microphones and dynamic microphones.

Condenser microphones have enhanced response sensitivity. Since the diaphragm is thinner, it reacts 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 often recommended for studio voice recordings. Because of the sensitivity and low self-noise, condenser mics are great at picking up all of the subtleties of a great voice over performance.

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 depending on your recording space (or venue, as dynamic mics are typically seen at live events), as it also means that the mic won’t pick up any background sounds.

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.

Best Microphones for Voice Over

Best Mic for Beginners: Audio-Technica AT2020

This large diaphragm condenser mic has a wide dynamic range, durable performance, and inexpensive cost, making it a great choice for a ton of beginner voice actors who are serious about establishing high-quality recordings from the outset of their voice over careers.

Best Mic for Budget: Rode NT1A

While not the cheapest mic, it is the cheapest mic for some really high quality performance. You can’t go wrong with this reliable mic from one of the world’s most popular microphone brands. It’s an industry standard. It’s commonly purchased in a kit that comes with a Shock Mount, Detachable Pop Filter, and Dust Cover, delivering more bang for your buck. Rode even offers an impressive 10-year warranty.

Best Mic for Travel: The Audio-Technica AT2020 USB or the Rode NT USB.

The USB version of the starter and budget mics mentioned above offer the same dynamic range, durable performance, and inexpensive cost as their XLR versions, making them both a great choice as your travel mic.

A Note on USB Microphones for Voice Actors

When it comes to which 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 converts an analog signal to a digital signal, whereas an analog mic relies on an A/D Converter to transform the audio.

When it comes to USB versus XLR mics, there is no debate about which is better. XLR microphones produce better audio by nature of how they are built. The debate is whether or not USB microphones have distinguishably less quality. it’s up to you to choose what you 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.

(Video) Best Microphone For Voice Over Pt 2 // (UPDATED)

The reality is that while USB mics are not everyone’s first stop (we, too, have our hesitations), they serve very real purposes depending on your voice over career and personal situation. Watch this video to hear the quick pros and cons of USB mics to help you suss out if one is right for you.

Ultimately, the USB setup is a bit easier and the price point is a bit lower, which makes it a little easier to travel with.

Best Large Diaphragm: Neumann TLM 103

This large-diaphragm mic is a top choice in the voice over industry, especially for its first-rate noise rejection qualities. As you would have learned from Randy’s video above, your specific set up may be better suited to a large diaphragm mic. The Neumann TLM 103 is the first stop for many voice actors working on establishing themselves in full-time VO work. Check out Nick’s demo of the Neumann TLM 103 below.

Best Mic for Professional Studios: Neumann U87

Often the dream mic to aspire to, and with the highest price tag on this list (and many other mic review roundups, too), the Neumann U87 is the mic used by long-standing and well-established recording industry professionals.

TV Broadcaster Brodie Brazil shared his love for his U87 Ai, and his five truths about it that we think you’ll find helpful in determining when it’s the right time to look at investing in one.

Best Mic for Recording Spaces with Less Soundproofing: Sennheiser MKH 416

As a shotgun mic, the small diaphragm condenser ensures a narrow scope of directionality that, when used in a space that still has some soundproofing needs, helps to capture only your voice. Voice actor and coach Bill DeWees told us that he switched to a 416 when his neighborhood began the construction of new homes that, despite his soundproofing efforts, was bleeding into his recordings when he was using another mic with a broader polar pattern.

All in all, the MKH 416 is a pressure-gradient shotgun mic that boasts low self-noise, high consonant articulation, and feedback rejection. It’s very popular for dialogue recording on TV and film sets, and will have everything you need in a tube condenser microphone.

Up and Coming Mic Brand: Warm Audio

Just as REAPER is an up and coming DAW because of its open source and low price point (and free trial), Warm Audio is a mic brand to keep your eye on, too. They have some great mid-priced products with a fast-growing fanbase, including Sweetwater’s Nick D’Virgilio.

Best Mic for Podcasting: Shure SM7B

The Shure SM7B is a great choice for podcasters or broadcast talk radio-style settings. It won’t capture a high-fidelity voice over recording so it’s an unlikely option for voice over. This is the only dynamic mic you’ll find on our list of mics in this article. That’s because, as Randy’s video above explains, dynamic mics take a lot more vocal input to jump into action. A condenser mic is more sensitive and will therefore capture much more detail in the recording—something voice actors need as it provides a great level of control in post production.

Nick makes mention of its suitability to music production and singing, which, as you would have learned above, is often a sign that it might not be sensitive enough for voice over work.

(Video) BEST Microphones EVER for MALE Vocals 2022

The Mic We Use in Our Studio: AKG C414

The C414 by AKG is a great mic option not only for its versatility in how it can be used, but because it offers up to nine different polar patterns, too. This means that you can adjust the directionality of the mic depending on your recording space conditions. We use it to record our podcasts, our in-studio YouTube videos, and more.

Nick demos this mic in his video and speaks to its versatility some more:

The Mic to Use Only if You Have to: The Blue Yeti

The Blue Yeti is great for zoom calls or doing voice over on amateur YouTube videos, etc. But using it may impede your ability to book voice over work because it comes with software that runs in the background of the mic’s operations. Anyone in an audio career will tell you that when it comes to gadgets and add-ons in a mic, less is more. You want full control over what processing is applied to your recordings and mics like the Blue Yeti remove that level of control. You would not see a pro voice actor sticking with a Blue Yeti.

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, Bob 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 you’re 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 make your final decision

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’s always good to have a comparison between different types to help you narrow down your choice.

And remember, even your ‘final’ decision may change down the road as your space changes or your priorities evolve.

Choose a microphone that picks up the most detail in your voice

Condenser mics tend to pick up the most detail in your voice, and Breen says the most popular kind of microphone is a condenser mic. That’s good enough for us!

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 necessarily 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.”

Consider the microphone’s frequency response

Some microphones, like the RE20 (the stereotypical radio microphone), are large-diaphragm microphones designed to flatter 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 sounds with even more accuracy than a large diaphragm with it’s small and nimble membrane. It tends to work well in recordings where even more high-end detail is desired, such as string recordings, the brightness of an acoustic guitar, or shimmering cymbals.

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.

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.

(Video) Best BUDGET Microphones For Vocals (2022) - Audio-Technica AT2020, Rode NT1-A & Lewitt LCT 440 Pure

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 use 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. There, you’ll find professionals who can guide you through the process of testing and purchasing a mic.

As you saw in Nick’s videos above, you can perform the same test with each mic to get a feel for their differences and ultimately, your preference.

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.

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!

What Are the Best Voice Over Microphones? [2022] | Voices (3)

David Ciccarelli

David Ciccarelli is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Voices. As CEO, he is responsible for setting the vision, executing the growth strategy and managing the company on a day-to-day basis. He's been a finalist of the EY Entrepreneur of the Year Award and a Canadian Innovator Award. He often writes about his entrepreneurial journey in the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur, Forbes and for M.I.T. Executive Education. He graduated with honors from the Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology and is a graduate of Harvard Business School.

Connect with David on:

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(Video) Best Microphone for Voice Over?

FAQs

What microphone do most voice actors use? ›

In general, condenser microphones are the preferred choice for voice actors. A dynamic mic uses electromagnetism to convert sound into an electrical signal. It is less sensitive and will pick up less detail than a condenser mic, so it tends to be used for live performances rather than studio recordings.

What mic do professional singers use? ›

Rightfully sitting at the top is the Shure SM7B, arguably the best microphone for vocals. Not only does this microphone offer astounding sound quality, but it is also the most versatile high-end mic I've ever owned.

What is the best microphone for narration? ›

A condenser mic is most often recommended for studio voice recordings. Because of the sensitivity and low self-noise, condenser mics are great at picking up all of the subtleties of a great voice over performance.

What mic does Billie Eilish use? ›

Audio-Technica AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone.

What mic did Michael Jackson use? ›

Over the course of past 30 years, the SM7 found its way into the recording studio. Case in Point: Michael Jackson's groundbreaking album Thriller. Quincy Jones and recording engineer Bruce Swedien used an SM7 for most of Michael's vocals and, according to legend, all of Vincent Price's. It was a brave choice.

What mic does Ariana Grande use? ›

Sennheiser SKM 9000

Other uses such as Kendrick Lamar and Adele use this type of microphone.

Is Blue Yeti good for voice over? ›

A great sounding voice over starts with the microphone. Condenser microphones like Blue Yeti make it easy to capture all the details of your voice with professional quality. When recording, make sure to utilize good microphone technique and placement to get the best sound possible.

What type of microphone would you use for voice overs interviews and natural sounds? ›

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones are the perfect choice when you want your voice overs to sound clear and natural. Unlike dynamic mics, they require you to choose a power-supplying audio interface. It's easy to see why condenser microphones may be the ideal option for recording your eLearning voice overs.

How much does a voice acting microphone cost? ›

“The costlier the better” doesn't really apply when finding the best microphone for voice over work; it's not about the price. The majority of decent VO microphones are available in the $100-400 range, and they may work better for your task than a high-end $1,000 mic.

What microphone do anime voice actors use? ›

Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

Condenser microphones are considered the industry standard for voice actors.

What equipment do you need to voice act? ›

Microphone: A microphone is required to capture the sound of the talent's voice. The quality of your microphone will have a large impact on the overall quality of your recordings. Headphones: The talent needs to be able to hear the material, so headphones are essential.

Is Blue Yeti microphone good for voice acting? ›

The Blue Yeti Pro USB microphone is a great, great starting choice for would-be voice artists. It's widely used by tons of YouTubers and upstarts. Also, it doesn't require external amplification, which is already great for a cardioid mic.

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