More media and content is being created than ever before and voiceovers are needed today from presentations to animation videos, advertising, video games, youtube videos, trailers and so much more. If you are gearing to start your career in voice overs, there can be ample opportunities for you. From providing voice acting to various characters to doing Elearning voice over and narration, every marketing campaign, brand promotion, movies, videos and commercials require voice actors.
Recording a good voice over demo requires practise and a thorough understanding of the recording equipment. And one the most important equipment is the microphone which is required to capture the sound of the talent's voice. The quality of your microphone will have a direct impact on the overall quality of your recordings. As different microphones function differently, we have listed the 2 commonly used microphone types - Condenser and Dynamic; their pros and cons and the popular models of microphones you should be looking at for delivering a quality voice over output!
CONDENSER MICROPHONES:These are the studio-grade mics that professionals use for their studio voice-over recordings and for auditions. They produce clear and natural sounds by picking up every detail in the voice. Condenser mics consist of a thin membrane or diaphragm in close proximity to a solid metal plate. The diaphragm of a condenser microphone has extremely low mass and can follow the sound waves more accurately than other microphones. Condenser microphones, therefore, offer superior sound quality. Although some of the condenser mics are USB, most of the good condenser mics require phantom power which can be provided by the audio interface, which has to be bought separately.
- Natural frequency response
- Wider dynamic range
- More sensitivity
- More meticulous acoustic treatment of your room
- Can easily pick up background noises
- Harder to use without practice
- Indoor use only
- Fragile, can be damaged by moisture and dust.
They are suitable if you have a quiet environment in the studio or even at home. These microphones often pick up the sounds of the vehicles nearby your house. They are very sensitive. Nevertheless, these condenser microphones provide the highest quality sound for your dynamic voice over recordings.
The most popular condenser microphones are:
- Neumann TLM103
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz-20kHz.
- Connector: XLR
- Natural sound
- Popular among pro audio enthusiasts
- Low self-noise
- Flat frequency response
- Blue 1967 Yeti Pro
- Power Required/Consumption: 5V 500mA (USB)/48V DC (analog)
- Polar Patterns: Cardioid, Bidirectional, Omnidirectional, Stereo.
- Frequency Response: 20Hz – 20kHz.
- Easy to use
- Crisp, transparent and dynamic sound quality
- Comes with its own stand mount and custom base that provides adequate stability.
- Has an attractive ergonomic design
Not capable of handling both digital and analog operations simultaneously
- Samson Meteor
- Frequency Range: 20 Hz to 20 kHz
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
- Connector: USB cable
- Large diaphragms for natural sounds.
- Almost zero noise
DYNAMIC MICROPHONES: These are the types of mics that are used on stages. The voice-overs recorded in these mics are warm, and not as natural as condenser mics. Dynamic microphones are great if you are planning to do voice-overs in a noisy environment. Unlike condenser ones, they are less sensitive to background noise. They tend to cancel out the sound from off-axis directions, which can be great for doing a commercial or documentary voice over recording in a fairly noisy environment. So, no matter you are recording in Hindi or offering Indian English voice over, you can use this one.
- Eradicates voice imperfections
- Sturdy and durable
- Doesn’t require phantom power
- Works in noisy rooms and isolates your voice
- Less sensitive
- Narrower dynamic range (difference from quiet to loud sounds)
- Proximity effect (increase in bass or low frequency response when a sound source is close to the microphone)
There are basically 2 types of Dynamic Microphones:
Moving Coil Microphone
- Often preferred for use on stage, because they are quite sturdy and do not require external power.
- Good quality microphone with omnidirectional properties.
- Available at affordable cost.
- Rugged in construction and can handle high pressure levels.
- Can withstand a lot of volume.
- Follows the movements of the sound waves more accurately than a moving coil capsule.
- Produces much, much lower output.
- Contain a step-up transformer to multiply the transducer’s output voltage
- Bidirectional with a lower sensitivity
- Fragile and must be treated with great care
- Shure SM7B
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
- Frequency Response: 50Hz-20kHz.
- Connector: XLR.
- Flat frequency
- Good sound isolation
- Value for money
Little less gain
- Audio-Technica ATR2100
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid.
- Frequency Response: 50 – 15,000 Hz.
- Power Requirements: USB Power (5V DC)
- USB and XLR
- Effectively blocks background noise
- Worth every penny
For good quality sound, you’ve to speak closer to the mic.
- EV RE20 Studio Microphone
- Polar Pattern: Cardioid
- Frequency Range: 45 Hz to 18 kHz
- Output Connectors: XLR 3-Pin
- Great sound quality
- Built-in pop filter
- Highly durable
How to choose the right Microphone?
- Testing different microphones : In the beginning, you might be unfamiliar with the different types of microphones available on the market. Find a friend or colleague who already has their own microphone, understand the specifications, lend it (if possible) and test it to understand which microphone suits your voice. Test out many different types of microphones before you settle on one. It is good to have a comparison between different types to help you narrow down your choice.
- Review the pricing: Remember to always settle for the microphone that is affordable, suited for your voice and gets the job done. Expensive microphone does not always mean ‘better’ so get the microphone that makes your voice sounds best but also fits in your budget. Sometimes, low-cost mics sound better than their costlier counterparts. So, it’s better to use your judgement to pick the best voice-over mic for you.
- Consider the Frequency Response: Large diaphragm microphones are usually designed to pick up lower frequencies such as a deep male baritone and the small capsule microphone is designed to pick up higher frequencies such as the female or child’s voice. While it is up to you to choose what you’d prefer, a professional voice over artist will always keep the frequency factor in mind.
- Factor in voice detailing: In the end, choose the microphone that picks up the most detail in your voice. Fortunately, there are a lot of microphones out there tailored to recording different voices. If in doubt, opt for a condenser microphones as they tend to pick up the most detail in your voice and you will obtain a better audio clarity for your audition or demo.
Accessories and Essentials
- Headphones: Required to hear the material and audio clearly, by keeping the unwanted noises at bay.
- Audio Interface: Most microphones are still produced with an XLR connection and an audio interface will allow you to plug in your XLR microphone, and then will connect to your computer via USB. An audio interface has other benefits such as allowing recording from multiple sources, gain controls and some even have preamps built in. A Preamp will give the clearest, high-quality sound you can get from an audio interface.
- Acoustic Treatments: Being able to hear the ambience of a room can be very distracting in a voice-over, so it must be controlled if you aim to achieve professional results. You can have the best microphone in the world, but if you record in a room with poor acoustics, it will show, and likely ruin your recording completely.
- Pop Filters: A pop filter is designed to get rid of sibilance and harsh popping sounds in your audio recording. These are not expensive and are well worth purchasing to make sure that you don’t end up with harsh vocal pops and sounds bleeding through onto your recording.
- Microphone Stand: You should try to not handle the mic physically. When the mic stays in a fixed position on a mic stand, your recordings will be more consistent and even-sounding.
- Microphone preamps: Usually the mic’s output is way too low to connect it directly to a recorder or audio interface. In order to amplify the sound, i.e. make it louder, it is recommended to use a preamplifier. Preamps come in all sorts and shapes: internal and external, single channel and dual channel, solid state and tube. The important thing is to get the most out of your gear and deliver better gain, less distortion, and hopefully the desired sound character.
Some of the microphones usually come with all the essential equipment at a much-discounted price than when purchased separately. So, keep an eye on the overall kit pricing rather than shelling out more money and struggling with compatibility later.
Voice Over Recording Tips
- Treat your environment for the best acoustics, you can use acoustic panels and while setting up your home studio, always remember to soundproof your room to achieve highest quality recordings.
- Put the right mic in the right place and try out different positions, until you find the right one to record.
- Use a pop filter and a sturdy mic stand to get better recordings.
- Test your recording script before you go for a final recording.
- Do a lot of practice as it will help you to deliver your script effectively and smoothly, and will be a lot less hassle.
- Make sure that you stay hydrated. Keep a water bottle handy as your mouth may make noises, if dry.
- Warm up your voice by reading the script aloud before starting the recording. This lets you find the right combination of volume, projection, and pacing, whether for Animation, Corporate IVR or Advertisement voice-over.
- Stay prepared to edit. Most of us can edit to some extent at home once we’ve recorded. Software such as Audacity can be downloaded for free and will allow you to do the basics of editing.
Also, if you are a beginner looking for new voice over projects or a professional talent searching for a better voice over opportunity, Voyzapp - a premium voice over marketplace in India, can help you get exciting projects easily. Simply register as a voice artist and upload your voice samples and demos to get global voice acting jobs online!
The most important thing to remember when purchasing a microphone is to not to lose calm and make an impulsive decision. Test out different microphones, record sample audios, do your research to actually understand how your voice sounds. Good luck for your next microphone purchase!
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