- Recommended Voice Over Microphones
- USB Microphones for Voice Over Recording
- What to Look For in a Voice Over Microphone
- Accessories and Essentials
- Voice Over Recording Tips
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.
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.
The 770 can also be bought as part of a bundle, which comes with stand, pop filter and many other accessories you will find useful when it comes to recording.
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.
The price is pretty expensive, but if you are looking for the elite in terms of build quality and audio clarity, Neumann is a brand which can virtually guarantee this.
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.
USB Microphones for Voice Over 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.
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone
Audio-Technica is another top microphone brand, and we have included the AT2020USB+ in our list of ‘USB voiceover mics’. This is available as a non-USB model too, but the fact that it performs so well when plugged straight into your computer is a huge plus point for those of us who don’t want to mess around with a mixing desk or audio interface.
The AT2020USB+ offers:
- 16 bit and 44.1 or 48 kHz sampling for clear audio quality. 48 kHz is higher than a lot of USB alternatives are able to offer and gives that extra bit of quality.
- Headphone output built in means you can monitor the recording as it is being made, with no latency (delay).
- Comes with carrying case, stand mounts and cables as well as its own tripod for using on top of a desk.
- Superb frequency response which picks up voices perfectly.
Also available is the AT2020USBi. This is a slightly more expensive, upgraded version of this mic which has even more features including sampling rate up to 96 kHz and 24-bit audio, a gain control to adjust the volume levels while recording and connects via HDMI to USB rather than USB to USB.
Whether you opt for the USBi or just the USB model, the AT2020 gives a lot of clarity and features which are more than capable of voiceover recordings. A huge amount of positive reviews are praising the USB technology and saying that the audio is indistinguishable from that which is collected through an Audio Interface. You can hear example recordings in the video below.
In terms of price, this microphone is somewhere in the midrange for USB and voiceover mics. You can buy cheaper, but for this level of features, you certainly couldn’t accuse this of lacking value and quality.
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.
Accessories and Essentials
Audio Interface – Essential (Unless Using a USB Mic)
Most microphones are still produced with an XLR connection. This is what is used to go into a mixing desk or a PA system for live or studio use. 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 pre-amps built in. A Preamp will give the clearest, high-quality sound you can get from an audio interface.
Recommended model: Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 (2nd Gen) USB Audio Interface
This can be purchased on its own or bundled with protools recording software which will make your life even easier! It has preamps included so your audio will be as clear as possible and is capable of making broadcast or studio quality recordings.
As briefly touched upon earlier in the article, acoustic treatments make all the difference. Whether you opt to kit out a whole home studio room or purchase an isolation shield. 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.
A pop filter is designed to get rid of sibilance and harsh popping sounds in your audio recording. They 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. A pop filter can be bought for as little as $10 so there is no excuse for not using one.
What We’re Looking For From Our Mics
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.
Voice Over Recording Tips
More media is being created than ever before. Voiceovers are needed for a huge amount of applications, everything from presentations to advertising, video games, youtube videos, trailers and so much more. For some people, recording voiceovers can even be a career, and there are opportunities to do this freelance from the comfort of a home recording studio.
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.
- Practice, practice, practice. Getting the recording correct is just one part of the jigsaw, and being able to rattle through your script effectively will save you no end of hassle.
- Be prepared to edit. Most of us can edit to some extent at home once we’ve recorded. Software such as Audacity can be download totally free and will allow you to do the basics of editing, even if it is just cutting the beginning and end of the track, and adjusting volumes.
- Think carefully about the stand you will be using. If you are good at staying still, a desk stand such as those that come inbuilt with the blue Yeti may be suitable. However, even a bump on the table can cause this to pick up unwanted audio. When you see people recording voiceovers or podcasts, you will often see them use a boom mic stand or a standard studio mic stand.
A Word on Software
All of this is pretty pointless if you don’t have audio software in which to capture the sound. The setup should be relatively simple if you have any audio knowledge. You will need to set the audio input to your selected microphone or the audio interface your mic is plugged into. From here, the process is often as simple as creating a new track or new project and hitting record.
Audacity is a good Freeware solution. Reaper is an easy-to-navigate alternative with a free ‘evaluation’ period. If you are a mac user, you will have Garageband built into your laptop, this will do a great job of recording voiceover audio.
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 allows you to buy something 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.