Terri Doty

I was at a good spot when I first started in Voice Over. My boyfriend (now husband) was an engineer that could point me in the right direction. Plus, I’d just finished working at music store for two years.

When it came to putting together my own studio, a lot of it was trial and error. Quickly learned what worked and what didn’t.

Since then, I’ve gotten a lot of questions from fellow voice artists (new and old) about gear. Which is actually a little crazy to me because I don’t consider myself an expert, yet the words that fall out of my mouth seem to make sense more often than not. Least about VO.

Now I know I’ve talked about microphones before. Condensers, dynamics, and ribbons were briefly discussed, as were some of my dream microphones. Maybe more mic talk is necessary.

What kind of microphone should I get?”

Loaded question. Some might be scratching their heads as to why.

Royer R-101While it’d be easy to shout out brand names and reference the go-to talking points of said brands, that’s not all that needs to be factored in. Many don’t consider what’s right specifically for their voice.

Price will be a factor in the shopping/buying process. And sometimes the brand name can help or hurt. Basically: don’t be a label whore and stick to a budget.

I cannot stress enough how important it is to test out of a microphone. Sorry, MICROPHONES. Test out several. You’d be surprised what works and what doesn’t.

If at any point when testing out a mic you think it sounds harsh (i.e. too much mid-range), walk away from that microphone. Too much sibilance? Too dull? Too boomy? That’s not the mic for you.

Another thing to keep in mind is where you’re testing these microphones out. Being in a studio setting is preferable, but that might be difficult depending on where you go.

In the case of things sounding too quiet, you might need an upgrade to your existing equipment. This is especially the case with ribbon microphones. Either look at another microphone or consider getting a good preamp.

That brings up another good point: equipment limitations. Condenser mics work off phantom power. If you don’t have that, you’re looking at a dynamic or ribbon. Ribbons require at least 70db (decibels for those just tuning in) of signal to work. Can’t do that? Dynamic it is!

Safe to say, you can’t just go anywhere. For local shops (my preference), that mic you want to try might be their only one. Opening it simply for the sake of testing it out might not be in their best interest.

If you’re at a shop where they have mics on display, one might assume that they’re willing to hook up a mic or two and let you try them out. Call ahead and maybe set up an appointment with someone. Don’t forget to ask questions. If they won’t let you test out microphones, consider going elsewhere.

Most places have a strict return policy when it comes to microphones. Meaning they won’t allow you to bring them back. This is mostly for health reasons, which I completely understand. But this is all the more reason to know what you want before sinking hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars into a mic.

The life of a microphone is all up to you. Take care of it and it will last you a long time. Most have instructions for proper care. For instance, my new Royer R-101 should be covered when not in use. Ribbons are so sensitive that even the slightest gust of wind can damage it.

Well, I think that’s enough audio geekery for now.

If you’d like for me to expand on live mics, let me know. I’d be happy to blab out about that in a future post.

Leave a Reply

Your message*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>