Buying a microphone isn’t as simple as ‘some are good, some are bad’. The truth is that different microphones are more appropriate for different uses. In this article, we’re running down the best microphones for voiceovers and looking at which brands, models and types of microphone you should be looking at for recording a voice over.
In the age of YouTube, and the liberating world of technology which means you can produce professional video and audio in your own home, more and more people are looking for voice over microphones. Some freelance voice actors and voiceover artists can even work from home if they have a home recording studio setup and the right equipment.
What to Look For in a Voice Over Microphone
Dynamic vs Condenser
This is an age-old debate in the audio world. The two main types of microphone are dynamic and condenser. There are some simple differences. Condenser mics require power and dynamic don’t. Condenser microphones tend to offer more detail (depending on the brand and build quality). Generally speaking, condenser microphones are preferred for studio use due to detail and clarity, dynamic mics are used for live audio as they are rugged. There are exceptions, of course, but many of the best voice over microphones are condenser mics.
What We’re Looking For
The criteria for the best mics for this sort of voice recording are below.
- Detail. This is pretty obvious one, but it is essential when recording your voice. Some instruments you will get away with just a decent recording but everyone will know if a voice is recorded badly.
- Ease of use. Many people recording voiceovers don’t want to have to deal with a whole audio setup. Many mics will need an audio interface to work which is an added expense and can be difficult to operate. For these reasons, we have included some simple options for those who don’t already have a studio. USB brings a ‘plug-and-play’ capability.
- Durability. We want microphones with a bit of durability and ruggedness.
- Price. Different people have different budgets. Fortunately, there are good microphones for voiceover under $200 or under $100 for those not looking to spend a huge amount of money.
Recommended Voice Over Microphones
MXL 770 Cardioid Condenser Microphone
The MXL 770 Microphone has grown in popularity a lot in recent years. It has an amazing combination of value and quality and it is a good option often available under $100. (Be sure to check out the current price on Amazon).
It isn’t made by the most high-end audio brand in the world, but this can be a brilliant option for beginners and those on a tight budget. The 770 has worked its way into home studios all over the world and most of the reviews on Amazon and other online retailers are very positive. This microphone will need to be run through an interface or mixer rather than straight into a computer.
The cardioid pickup pattern makes the MXL 770 great for vocals and it will pick up the voice recording nearby and avoid background sounds. An EQ can get rid of the unwanted low-end sounds to leave you with a clear, crisp voice recording.
Blue Yeti Microphone
Blue Microphones are one of the brands t0 have brought home audio recording to the masses. USB recording technology was not widely respected when the brand brought out their range of products, and the Blue Yeti and Blue Snowball have been immensely well received. These products are used everywhere by people making the upgrade to professional sounding audio and are affordable as well as easy to use.
The Blue Yeti has some brilliant features which put it above its sibling the Snowball in our list. It comes with its own sturdy desk stand to make it great for recording at your computer desk. You can choose from cardioid, bidirectional and omnidirectional recording patterns. Cardioid is probably the best for recording voices.
A headphone output means that you can monitor your recordings through headphones without latency. A gain control allows you to adjust the pickup to get a clear audio signal based on the volume of the voice. You probably won’t hear many Blue Yeti recordings on Hollywood films, but as a youtube microphone or beginner voiceover mic, it is a great affordable option.
Rode NT1A Vocal Condenser
Rode are a brand many audio engineers have started to turn to more and more in recent years. Since launching in the 90s their range has grown a lot, and the NT1A is one of their flagship models. It is a bit more expensive than some of the other microphones on our list, but the quality is exceptional.
With an ultra-low noise capacity and a large, gold plated diaphragm for detailed recording, The NT1-A is designed to be an all-in-one solution and is sold in a package with a stand, cradle and even a pop filter. The frequency response lends itself to vocal recording, which of course includes voice recordings.
A huge amount of positive reviews on Amazon and other online music retailers back up the quality on offer here, and if you have the capacity to record (a USB or other audio interface) this is worth considering. If you want a simpler option, Rode made an NT-USB which plugs straight into your computer.
Neumann TLM 103
It wouldn’t be right for us not to recommend a Neumann microphone for being the best to record your voice. They’re amazing pieces of kit, a feat of audio engineering. The Neumann U87 is known as being one of the best condenser microphones ever, but a more modern option is the Neumann TLM 103.
Transformerless technology in the wiring and the best components and engineering make this super low-noise. Used correctly, the audio the Neumann TLM 103 can create is good enough for any audio application from Hollywood film to independent film, youtube video to a studio album. The amazing quality comes at a cost, but isn’t as expensive as some of their products (vintage Neumanns change hands for $3-4000.
Voice Over Recording Tips
It isn’t just a case of finding a good microphone and starting to record. We have a few tips to help you through in terms of getting a clean recording. It is possible to use the best mic in the world and not get even a usable recording. Our tips should help you through.
- Ensure the recording isn’t clipping or peaking (distorting at high volumes).
- Treat your environment for the best acoustics, you can use acoustic panels or a vocal isolation booth.
- Test your recording levels before you go for a final recording.
Fortunately, there a lot of microphones out there tailored to recording voices. A lot of home rappers, vocalists and YouTubers are in need of microphones for these kinds of uses and there are options whether your budget is under $500 or under $100.
The truth is that USB technology and the popularity of home studios and commercial studios mean that it is easier than ever to record a voiceover whether it is for a game, YouTube video or other use. If you have had an experience using microphones and want to leave your views, feel free to comment below.