What microphones are best for voice-over?
There are probably thousands of microphones out there from really cheap to a small fortune. Some better suited for voice-overs than others and some also better suited for your voice. Luckily technology has got a lot better and cheaper the past 10-15 years. You simply don’t have to pay that much anymore to get a good enough professional setup. A studio budget as little as a few hundred Euros can work just fine! Below is a list of microphones I have tested and recommend in general but in the end, it’s all about your voice and what you think works best. I will leave out all custom and high-end state of the art super expensive boutique mics out there. They are all probably excellent also for voice-over but the price tag is just too high versus the extra quality you will get in a home recording setup. Also, new brands and models arrive all the time. Many of them are probably excellent for voice-over work. I will add new models when I have tried them out.
Here's a list of good mic's in the price range €200 - €2000
- Rode NT-USB Not the best microphone on the paper but it sounds surprisingly good at voice-overs if you get really close to it when reading. The proximity effect you get when reading close to the mic adds bass and is needed with this mic almost always. It’s the easiest solution you can get. Just plug in the USB cable and start recording. The sound card is built-in in the mic and pop filter is premounted. The USB audio is only 16 bit so be careful not to record with too low levels to get a good result. Rode NT-USB is not as good as some of the other mics recommended but good enough for many jobs and really cheap. A good travel solution and one of the better USB microphones available.
- Rode NT1A
A very affordable clean sounding mic. Actually very close in character to more expensive state of the art microphones. Widely used by voice-talents recording at home. Low noise.
- Rode NT1 (black) Kit Clean neutral sounding mic with extremely low self-noise. The character is more neutral than the NT1A and it might need a little EQ to make some voices stand out in the mix. It comes with a professional shock mount and a double metal pop filter and is overall very well built.
- Sennheiser MK 4
Sennheisers contribution to the low/mid-level priced segment. It’s liked by many voice-over artists and studios for it’s a relatively good price and clear sound on voice recordings. It’s very close to the Neuman TLM 102 in price and specifications (Sennheiser owns Neumann). Low noise and expensive sound. It can be a little too bright with some female voices.
- Neumann TLM 102 Neuman TLM 102 is probably more or less the same as Senneheisers MK 4. Slightly smaller body than the MK 4. Sibilance can get problematic on some female voices so make sure it suits your voice. Low noise and it really cuts thru when it matches your voice.
- Lewitt LCT-540
If you never have heard of it, it could be because it makes no noise! It has virtually no self-noise at all. Lewitt is a new brand but the engineers used to work at AKG so they know how to make microphones. The LCT-540 is very similar soundwise to the Neumann TLM 103 but without the typical lower mid/bass Neumann sound. It's crystal clear with plenty of nice low end and it also has some really nice features build in. You will find HP filter (80Hz and 160Hz), -6dB and -12dB pad and a "clip history" warning feature. This way you can do a soundcheck and if the signal clipped the mic will warn you so that you can engage the pad function. It comes in a very sturdy weather protected case and pop-filter and shock mount are included.
- Neumann TLM 103
Classic Neuman sound at a better price than the classic U-87 (also a good mic for voice-overs but a little pricey to be recommended here). TLM 103 is close in character to the U-87 but less noisy and a little more hyped in the upper frequencies. Low noise and plenty of gain in the outgoing signal. A really good mic if you like the Neumann sound.
- Sennheiser MKH 416
A classic mic for recording dialog on film shootings that also work great for voice-overs. Make sure it fits your voice though as it can get a little too “sharp” on some voices. Usually works best close up with dark male voices but give it a try regardless of voice profile. It´s very directional and does not sound good off-axis so you need to be right in front of it. Cuts thru and works very well for commercials.
- Microtech Gefell M 930 A very good all-around voice-over microphone that works with most voice characters. Low noise, small in size and well-balanced sound. Many broadcasters in Europe use it. A real workhorse.
- Ehrlund EHR-M1 A "Cheap" State of the art microphone specially made for voice-overs. Its small size makes it easier to read your script without getting the mic in the way. This mic really cuts thru without any EQ. It’s expensive but is one step up from the Gefell M 930 and is "as good as it gets" in my ears. Low noise and extremely clean sounding.
Note! Any of the mics above will sound bad if you do not treat your recording space properly. Don't spend all of your money on the microphone. Spend just as much or more on acoustical room treatment.