2020 Microphone Shootout!
There are a number of variables that go into how you sound as a voice actor. Of course your VOICE is a huge part of it- but so if your recording space. But the magic happens when the right voice finds the right mic in the right space. It's best to hear yourself on the mic before you plunk down your hard earned money! And if you're just starting out- know that you don't have to break the bank to sound great. In fact, my message in webinars going back to the beginning of Covid lockdown was exactly that. While the great studios you're used to going to as a working professional generally have the Neumann U87 and/or a Senheiser 416, not everyone has the budget for those at home.
As I've said in previous posts and articles for Pro Sound News, lower-priced, large-diaphragm condenser microphones have come a long way in the past decades. You can easily achieve for hundreds of dollars a sound that you'd expect to cost thousands.
Let's dig in! I have recorded myself flat on 6 different mics set at the same level. No EQ or compression has been used. The only processing done is gain matching so that they all hover around -17 LKFS. The files were recorded directly to Pro Tools via an Mbox Pro 3 (I know. Not the sexiest pres- but I'm not a voice actor and they do the job). There is no cleanup either. So every gross mouth noise (it's 1am as I put this together and my mouth is clicky even with water and I'm too lazy to go upstairs for an apple) and all room tone (I don't have a fancy booth) are left as-is. You get to hear my voice- warts and all.
There are 6 recordings strung together, which include a Neumann U87ai, Senheiser 416, TZ Audio Stellar X2, Mojave MA-50, Rode Nt1A and a Rode Podmic. The lowest priced mic costs $99, while the highest priced mic costs $3,200. For more thoughts on mics, interfaces and other accessories- please check out my two-part Black Friday voice actor shopping list.
Give a listen, and then comment below which mic you think is which (slated A-F). You'll hear some obvious differences. But the question here isn't which one is best. The question is do you hear enough of a difference to justify the expense of some of the top-tier mics- especially if you're just starting out. You may need to log into or join my website to enable commenting.
I'm eager to see what you're hearing!
So which mic was which? Answers below. Most people who guessed got none to one correct. This isn't to say which mic is "better" than another, but it definitely demonstrates that you can sound great for a lot less than you might think! I'm hoping to repeat this test in a better environment with both male and female voices soon! Stay tuned.
A- Senheiser 416
B- TZ Audio Stellar X2
C- Rode NT1A
D- Neumann U87ai
E- Rode PodMic
F- Mojave MA-50