When choosing a microphone for voice over work, a lot rides on that purchase, including—someone has to say it—careers. Pick the wrong mic, and bookings dry up because great voices aren’t served well by crappy microphones that produce muddy or tinny sound.
Want high-quality recordings? Invest in high-quality equipment. Fortunately, a decent mic doesn’t have to come with a huge price tag.
The most important consideration when looking for a mic is your unique voice, and how you’ll be using it. Some mics will fit your voice better than others. Like if you have flat feet, sure you can wear sky-high heels, but they’re going to hurt.
Think about the acoustics in your recording studio—even if it’s a sound-proofed closet. Is there background noise? Choose a mic that minimizes pick up. Will the recording be done on the fly? Then portability and easy set-up are nonnegotiable. Will the mic require a lot of post-recording clean-up? Okay, skip that one.
Clarity, brightness, warmth, sound quality, and durability rule. Picking up higher registers—read, female vocals—is trickier, so bear that in mind when shopping, and seek a mic with a wider dynamic range.
The bottom line when it comes to buying a microphone? Go for the completely necessary features. Then add bells and whistles as budget permits. Try out a number of mics—be super picky—and see which one makes you sound the best before forking over your credit card. Understand the return policy when buying online.
Here are the nine best microphones out there with all budgets in mind, some with comments from their owners. Not surprisingly, they can be more than a little vocal about their favorites.
Great cost-effective options under $250
Many voiceover talents vouch for the Rode NT1-A Vocal Condenser Microphone, and this is what ACX recommends for narration. This microphone costs around $229, so it’s definitely budget-friendly for beginners. Quiet and neutral sounding, it creates high-quality recordings with a wide dynamic range. It comes packaged with a shock mount and an exclusive “studio secrets” DVD, offering recording tips and techniques.
Mid-range microphones up to $600
Got a bit more money? Here are four other excellent choices for voiceover actors.
The SE Electronics sE2200a II C Microphone is a large-diaphragm cardioid condenser mic. This model has super vocal isolation, filtering out a lot of background noise. No case is included, but it does come with a rugged shock mount. It sells for $299. Users praise its warm and clean sound, and its ability to deliver clear and dynamic recordings of various voices and tones, female and male alike.
Designed with voice over actors in mind, the Harlan Hogan VO: 1-A Microphone is a sweet deal, also at $299. A mic pouch, hard case, quick clip mount, shock mount, XLR cable, and two replacement mount bands are included in that price. If a USB-style connection is preferred over XLR, it’s available.
VoiceBunny’s own Tara Tyler uses a Blue Microphones Bluebird Cardioid Condenser Microphone, preferring its clean, bright sound for both male and female talents. She says it has “just enough low end to ensure the vocal doesn’t sound ‘muddy’.” She further comments that a sturdier shock mount is needed than the one it comes with, but that the Bluebird’s pluses outweigh its cons. The Bluebird runs $299 and has a three-year warranty.
Looking at comments on other articles about buying the best mic for voice over, many in the industry recommend going with the American-made CAD E100S Microphone, which runs $499. It’s a large diaphragm super cardioid condenser mic. To be honest, it looks more like an electric razor than a microphone (it’s rectangular), but it makes for beautiful sound. One owner says that the CAD E100S eliminates most background noise by itself; he claims he can sit outside his sound booth and use it.
For its quality, the Rode NTK Tube Condenser Microphone is bargain-priced at $529. Its large-diaphragm condenser mic makes for a warm sonic character without distortion, good to know for those who make LOUD recordings. It has wide dynamic range. Durability, versatility, and great audio are all hallmarks of this microphone, which comes in a padded plastic hard case. Like all tube mics, it needs to warm up, so plan to turn it on about thirty minutes before recording.
Professional grade microphoness
The Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3 Super-Cardioid Shotgun Tube Condenser Microphone is fantastic for recording outside, and there’s a reason it’s been called “the gold standard.” It’s used on so many tv sets and in professional studios. It’s a directional shotgun mic, so it points directly to the voice and rejects feedback. It has great sound quality, it’s rugged, and is lightweight and easy to use. It sets VO artists back $999. One user commented that it was a great mic to take on the road, with easy set-up.
For voice talents, almost everyone’s favorite mic appears to be the Neumann U87, but a lower model, the Neumann TLM103 also produces great quality audio recordings. Listed at $1,099.95, it fits the bill for professional broadcasters and for those who have serious home studio requirements. Neumann users say the mic picks up voice nuances—important for conveying emotion in a performance—as well as the overarching sound. This diaphragm condenser mic is very sensitive, as expected at this price.
Even higher end microphones are available. Throwing lots of money at equipment will make a difference in sound quality. But if your mic is at a professional level already, it will take loads of cash to make small tweaks in sound quality—and to tell the truth, these may not even be noticeable.
Go forth and shop around
This listing gives you nine good alternatives to choose from, whatever your budget. Try to borrow or rent the mic you’re interested in and test it in your own studio environment. The best mic for you is always going to be the one that makes you sound the best.
Whichever microphone you pick, take care of it, and it’ll serve you for years to come.
This article was co-written by ArticleBunny