Microphone check 1, 2

Microphone

is this thing on?

I recently decided it was time to invest in a new microphone for my home studio. What I thought would be a relatively simple task actually involved a lot of work!

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I was thinking a condenser mic—one that would give my voice a nice depth. And if it could in some way minimise mouth noise and sibilance that would be total bonus!

So next step was to do some research—what are other voice actors using, what has the best review to price ratio and what would make me sound super-awesome*.

So I started with researching the mic choices of my voice actor colleagues. LinkedIn forums, World-Voices Organisation (WoVO) chats and Twitter provided a wealth of knowledge and a range of mics deserving of further review (including non-condenser options):

  • RE 20 (an old faithful from my radio and TV days)
  • Rode NT1A
  • Neumann (in my dreams)
  • AT 4033
  • SM7B dynamic
  • Sennheiser MKH-415 shotgun

Budget ruled out the Neumann and Sennheiser and reviews on voice over use of the RE 20 were mixed. My previous samples using the RE 20—while I think they sound great—were heavily produced and therefore not entirely an accurate representation of what I would provide from my home studio.

I must admit I was leaning towards the Rode which received great reviews (particularly for female voices), was very reasonably priced for its features and had great after sales support. Plus being an Aussie girl I do like to buy Australian made where I can.

What actually stopped me from purchasing was advice in a WoVO chat about mic choice depending on the individual voice, the style of read and what you want it to do as well as being realistic about what can be altered using technique versus equipment versus post production. Ultimately, the overwhelming advice was to try before you buy.

So I locked in my very first mic shootout at my local music store. They did not stock the AT 4033 but I had read the Rode was quite similar. They also threw in a mic brand that was not part of my review and I did not know much about—the SE (both the 2200a ll and Z5600a).

 

Microphone shoot out selection

And the results?

I tested each mic in my main voice over styles—corporate and commercial. I read the same scripts on each mic and then compared.

  • The Rode made my voice sound surprisingly light and airy. Perfect conditions for baking, not so much for my bread and butter.
  • Z5600a was realistically out of my price range but the wooden presentation case and aluminium flight case were devine. Luckily for my finances this mic was super-sensitive and gave me a large serve of sibilance with each ‘s’.
  • The sm7b gave my voice a really nice depth and I liked the sound—I really liked the sound—but it had a produced quality to it. Something I felt was not going to be versatile enough for the various styles I am required to channel on any given day.

Se microphone

 

So folks, that makes me the proud owner of the SE 2200a ll and just goes to show, you really need to take these bad boys for a test drive before making any decisions! I have been using the mic for a while now and am extremely happy with my decision.

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*noting that I am well aware, unfortunately, that a mic alone does not have any super-magical vocal powers that will coat my vocal chords in glitter and allow me to project a vocal rainbow into the mic

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