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Monday, August 26, 2013

how to choose a microphone for voiceovers

Okay so you've got all the recording studio equipment now, you're familiar with your DAW and have enough experience recording to get a good professional result…
What's next?
Many Different Clients!
…but you should just be able to put up your most expensive mic through the premium preamp that you bought and achieve audio nirvana right? Well the answer is maybe, yes and no!

The setup for one person who is the talent in your session is not always ideal for everyone. Let me explain, I was doing the voiceover for the owner of an Internet-based business where people bid for builders on their home improvement projects. The mics and preamps that I had at my disposal were a good professional level. So I started with a UM70 by Microtech Geffel which is a classic and usually delivers great results for voice overs if the talent stands close enough to it to take advantage of the proximity effect. I also have a Pearlman TM – 1and my Frankenstein Mic which is the Joly-modded MK – 012 with an Oktava large diaphragm capsule MK – 101 screwed onto the top of it. I tried each of these mics through my Grace M101 preamp as well as my Golden Age Project Pre-– 73 an excellent clone of the highly sought after Neve preamps.

My client had a good speaking voice and had experience doing commercials previously, which was very helpful in getting a clear even tone with good diction to record. After my initial tests I decided to go with the Frankenstein Mic: Joly-modded MK – 012 with an Oktava large diaphragm capsule MK – 101.this mic with the Golden Age Project Pre-– 73 was perfectly balanced with his voice's tonal range to give me a smooth, non-peaky tone! So the $350 microphone body paired with the $250 cardioid capsule plus a $400 preamp beat out my $2400 ( current cost to build ) Pearlman TM – 1 microphone paired with a $600 Grace M101 preamp! That combination also beat out the vintage UM 70 and either preamp! Is it truly the best Mic and preamp at that price  range?  Well many might think so, however there was some acoustic guitar music in the background that I was trying to blend his voice to and his particular tonal range just seem to fit that combination better. With a small amount of compression and EQ the commercial was ready for radio and TV.  see bid a builder commercial @

As a last example, we were working with a local indie movie producer who had some unusable dialogue tracks on her film that was bound for the Sundance Film Festival this past year, their videographer had shot excellent scenes but had used lavalier mics that were very noisy. After using noise reduction, EQ and other tricks we were faced with using ADR to replace the dialogue of several scenes.  see Video Post Production Reel "The Ultimate Sacrifice"

We had much luck with M Audio’s Sputnik mic in figure 8 configuration for a good live natural sound between two women who were sitting on a couch having a conversation. One scene proved challenging however, due to the fact that the lead actor was in Los Angeles and could not travel here to do his lines. I contacted a colleague at a studio in LA and he performed his lines with him and sent them to me via the Internet. The lines were recorded with a Neumann U87 and were well done, however they had the “Voice of God” sound that did not blend with the actresses' lines done here. With the use of EQ I was able to match them closely enough to make everyone happy, however if I was recording him I would've had him back off the mic or chosen the UM 70 which has less bass. In summary keep your ears and your mind open and you can find the right microphone for any voiceover!

written by Jim Breen
Jim is a studio owner, producer and musician  who lives and works in Jupiter Florida,  one of Palm Beach County's most beautiful areas.