Because of advances in modern technology, many have started a rewarding career in this industry from home and have been very successful. Although it is relatively easy to start, a critical component to consider is the technology required to start this business. An essential tool in your technology toolbox would be a voiceover microphone. How else will you capture the sound of your instrument? One can possess a great voice, acting ability, and drive, but without a good microphone, a voiceover career is just a pipe dream. There are hundreds of mics on the market, so let’s explore how to decipher which one is right for you?
Voiceover Microphone Options
USB Microphones are the newest technology of microphones. They were designed with a USB end to plug directly into your computer and begin recording. They are the most popular microphones because they are inexpensive, user-friendly, and available in most online stores. You can set it up quickly and easily. A couple of popular USB mics include:
- Blue Microphone Snowball iCE
- Blue Yeti USB Mic
- Audio Technica AT 2020
Dynamic microphones are the top choice for radio broadcasters. They give DJs that big, boomy, warm radio sound which is helpful while speaking in a noisy DJ booth. As a popular choice for podcasters, musicians, and singers, they are great at recording instruments like the drums. They are usually reasonably priced and don’t require a power source. Popular dynamic pics are:
- Shure SM58
- Electro-Voice RE20
- Sennheiser MD-441U
Large-diaphragm condenser microphones work well for voiceover recording and singing. It provides the best sound quality, tone, and resonance and makes your voice bigger, crisper, and beautiful. You can capture the depth of low-frequency sounds and the preferred choice of audio engineers.
- Rode NT1
- Sennheiser MK416
- Neumann U87
How to Choose a Microphone?
What do you want to spend on a new mic? Overall, the best microphones are the large diaphragm condenser microphones, but they are usually the most expensive. Many newbie voice actors feel more comfortable choosing a USB mic to start, as they are unsure of success and fear investing too much into this new hobby or career. The USB mic can barely be distinguished from a condenser mic as technology evolves.
If you are serious about making voiceover a career and want to invest in a good microphone, I recommend a condenser microphone if you have the budget. The sound is the best and will give you a competitive edge against top talent. Agents will likely take you more seriously if you have invested in a good mic and may be more likely to represent you.
Try Before You Buy
I would also definitely recommend doing a “mic shoot-out.” This means going to a local music store and asking the technician to set up 3-5 microphones for you to try in a quiet space. It may take some time to set up, but it is worth it. When I had to make my choice for a mic, I had three mic’s in a soundproof room set up and spent a good 40 minutes testing each one slowly. I tend to have a higher register voice and book a lot of work with specs for teenagers, millennials, and young adult voices. I wanted a mic to give me a slightly warmer, and deeper tone, and only by taking my time was I able to feel confident in my choice.
My Voiceover Microphone Choices
I chose the Rode NT1 as my first microphone. I did a lot of research and loved the sound it gave me. My clients asked me which mic I used, and most replied, “Oh, that’s a great mic!
Almost four years later into my career, I felt the need to upgrade my mic. My latest purchase was the Neumann TLM103. Neumann is probably the most respected microphone company, and the TLM103 is a trendy choice for voice actors. I rented this mic for one month from my local music store, and within 20 minutes, I knew it was the mic for me. It was incredibly crisp and clear and gave my voice a lot of colors. I will continue to use my Rode NT1 but will use it as part of my traveling rig.
Other Great Microphones
Two other very popular microphones for voice actors are the Sennheiser MK416 and Neumann U87. The MK416 is what they call a shot-gun mic. It is the microphone most used on film sets. It’s the one you see set up on a boom arm with the mic operator raising the boom arm right above the actors’ heads, following them around the set. This mic is very forgiving and can hide a lot of background noise. If your beginner booth isn’t the quietest, this will be a great choice.
The Neumann U87 is the Rolls Royce of microphones commonly seen in Hollywood studios. There is a lot of debate about whether it is worth the heavy $5,000 price tag, but those who do it are taken seriously as professional voice actors, and agencies are pleased if their talent owns one.
Your Best Voiceover Performance
The voiceover business is a unique, rewarding, and creative industry. There has never been a better time to begin a career in Voiceover. Everywhere we turn, we hear voices on television, radio, online, on the phone, and even when we pay at self-checkout at the grocery store.
Whichever mic you choose is ultimately up to your individual needs, goals, and desires. You can not go wrong with doing your research and not rushing into any major decisions. When you pick the right mic, you will be confident in your abilities and perform at your best potential.