Nearly all professional voice talent will agree that mic choice has very little to do with success. The best advice is probably to pick something decent, stop thinking about gear and worry about your performance. But we all love gear, it’s an affliction that needs to be indulged, so let’s hash it out, shall we?
My primary mic the last 2 years has been a 416, in my opinion the best choice for a VO mic. I’ve used RE20’s for years in radio, owned a Rode NT1A Condenser that I didn’t like and been around the block with the famous Neumann’s.
Here’s how the break down.
Dynamics, i.e. RE20, SM7B…
-Great to have around, especially if you do your own editing. Car dealer spots, E learning, long form training narration etc. I have one I use occasionally, just for stuff like that. I wouldn’t recommend it but you can even get away with a noisy computer in the same room and beyond the basics, you won’t need to worry too much about sound treatment, compared to a condenser. Those Chrysler adds with Eminem were recorded with an SM7B (the VO, not Eminem’s part). Dynamics aren’t as harsh on the ear, which makes them a good choice for audio books and long form narration, as well. There are people here who make great money with dynamics as their primary mic and you can’t ever argue with that.
There are real cons though. The biggest, IMO, being that you will be in trouble when you book a job and have to record in a studio with a nice condenser. Dynamics won’t ever teach you the discipline needed to control your F’s, S’s, P’s, T’s the way you need to in front of a nice condenser You’ll never learn good mic technique if you only use a dynamic. Dynamics are like a trusty hammer that anyone could use with good results – while nice condensers are more like a scalpel that is much better when used correctly but…only for those who are trained to use it. Surely there is a better analogy but anyway. You’ll also sound very “radio” on dynamics, as well and that label is hard enough to shake without using radio gear. Don’t get me wrong, I think the RE20 is an amazing mic, smooth as can be on almost every voice and has near ZERO proximity effect. That’s not a welcome characteristic if you know how to use proximity effect but great for people who don’t know how to speak into a mic and also very impressive engineering. What’s great about the RE20 is the bad speech artifacts that it OMITS but it’s not a mic that helps show off your talent or picks up amazing detail.
are amazingly detailed, they’ll pick up a rusty bearing in your neighbor’s air conditioner. You pay thousands for that kind of detail and must have a very quiet room with lots of well thought out sound treatment to make them sound good. If you neglect to do these things they will sound horrible, magnitudes worse than even a cheap dynamic. But a good talent in a good room with a good engineer makes condensers more than worthwhile.
Shotguns…are the best compromise you can make, IMO.
Well, the Sennheiser 416, few others are brought up in a conversation about voice over mics, although, I hear the Rode NT3 is good for around $600. Benefits include…
– It’s detailed like a condenser, it encourages good mic technique and will teach you to watch your F’s, T’s, P’s etc.
-Tolerant of bad rooms, not as tolerant as a dynamic but they split the difference. You can make it work in a Holiday Inn, or a car if you have to.
– Professional. Joe Cipriano, Scott Rummell, Brian Lee, Harry Legg, Chris Fries, Steve Stone….and leagues of other big name talent all use the 416. No producer will ever be put off by a 416. RE20’s may sound great but will always be an unusual choice for pro VO and scream radio DJ.
-Affordable…~$850 if you’re savvy on Ebay
– Really, really sturdy. They were made to swing around on booms in the wind and rain, they come with a case but you probably don’t even need it.
To sum up, one type of microphone isn’t any better than another. They are tools with different purposes and a good voice talent can make magic with any style.