AT 875R vs AT 2020 - Voiceovers at

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Old January 4th, 2016, 09:22 AM   #1
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AT 875R vs AT 2020 - Voiceovers

I'm a non-audiophile (obviously based on my question).

I've just bought a AT 875R for use as a top mic on my Sony videocam.

However, I've also read that the 875R makes for a decent VO mic.

Currently I use a AT2020 Condensor for recording my voicetracks. But I'd be happy not to have to carry it along on trips if the recorded audio is not substantially different.

Thanks in advance.
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Old January 4th, 2016, 10:55 AM   #2
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Re: AT 875R vs AT 2020 - Voiceovers

Choice of microphone for voice recordings is mostly a matter of subjective "taste".
Some microphone-talent combinations are great, and others are terrible.

Are YOU doing the speaking, or are you recording others?

Since you have both microphones, nobody is in a better position to answer your question than you are.
Don't be afraid to conduct your own tests to see what works best for you.
The opinions of others are no substitute for first-hand experiments and experience.

Feel free to experiment and let us know what you found, or even post examples.
Remember that the environment also plays a part in the recording quality.
A more directional microphone MIGHT be easier to use in a non-optimal space.
For example it may be better at rejecting environmental noise and/or ambient reflections, etc.
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Old January 4th, 2016, 11:14 AM   #3
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Re: AT 875R vs AT 2020 - Voiceovers

I think you will find that they sound quite different as the larger diaphragm of the 2020 will give more low end.

The 875R has a built in 80hz high pass filter but you will also find it has better background noise rejection due to the short shotgun pressure gradient design.

As Richard has said do some tests but both mic's will give acceptable results if used with care.

I have used a similar mic the SE-X1 and the AT875R for voice over work and found them both Ok but the 875R would be more useable in a location environment if you have to do voice overs on location.

Just as a note I recently did a re-shoot of a promo video for our charity and to keep audio continuity I used the same sennheiser radio mic with ME2 that was used on the interviews for the voice overs too.
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Old January 4th, 2016, 12:32 PM   #4
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Re: AT 875R vs AT 2020 - Voiceovers

Thank you gentlemen.

The mic is to record my own voice mainly. Up until now I've used the AT 2020.

My voice is not deep, so having a bit more low end is helpful. On the other hand, I do not have a dedicated sound booth to use and have to deal with environmental noise at times (recently I've been recording in cars as I've been on the road).

I'll do some tests and let you know my findings.

Good to hear they're both good options in any case.
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Old January 4th, 2016, 01:14 PM   #5
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Re: AT 875R vs AT 2020 - Voiceovers

With either mic, the placement and room treatment can make a big difference. If you can hang blankets, that's an easy win. It's not perfect, frequency response-wise, but removing hard, fast reflections can be worth it. For placement, getting more chest will help round the sound and getting more forehead with deliver more character. In either case, avoid putting the mic right in front of the mouth to avoid plosives.

And finally, don't be afraid of EQ. I really dislike it when two mics are compared out of the box without at least first balancing the levels and fundamentals (200-300 Hz). Once you've done that, you can better compare the noise, distortion, and character of the mics without simply liking the loudest, most scooped, or most appropriate bass-level mic.

For instance, when mixing dialog from multiple speakers, I find that matching levels and fundamentals are the keys to getting voices to sound like they belong together.

A simple rule for EQ is that you can cut sharp, deep valleys, but you should only add broad, smooth hills.

Here's a quick guide:
* Deep bass: You can remove a low shelf starting at 50-100 Hz to make room for other sounds and to help reduce plosives and boominess.
* Fundamentals (200-300 Hz): Add or remove broadly and smoothly to get the right balance.
* Around 600 Hz: You can optionally cut here to make room for music.
* Around 1200 Hz: You can add a fairly sharp peak here to enhance consonants and understandability.
* Around 2400 Hz: Add or subtract smoothly to balance a nasal sound. This is where magic happens. A great sound engineer can finesse this area. A great mic can make these tones sound sweet, while a bad mic could sound coarse or dull.
* 5000-15000 Hz: This is the "air". A great mic sounds open and a poor mic adds noise.
* Extreme highs: You can cut a shelf above 15000 or so to reduce noise

It's good to play with these areas to learn what to target when listening. With a small amount of practice, one can setup a quick preset to get things close and to give you your go-to EQ handles. You might learn that you can easily make these adjustments, that you don't want to make any, or that you only like to touch a subset of tweaks.

Personally, I think levels, deep bass, and fundamentals are all that's needed to make things decent. Things get trickier if there are multiple speakers, music, and fx...

Anyway, give the mics a decent chance with some basic EQ. Then listen closely for nasal tones and character. That's the area where the mic signature really trumps adjustments in post.
Jon Fairhurst
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Old January 5th, 2016, 09:14 AM   #6
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Re: AT 875R vs AT 2020 - Voiceovers

+ 1 to the above.
Typically a LDC is the usual go-to mic for narration and such. However, there are a few big name VO artists who prefer the 416 (short shotgun) sound. Of coarse this is in a controlled studio environment with talent.
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Old January 5th, 2016, 01:40 PM   #7
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Re: AT 875R vs AT 2020 - Voiceovers

Really helpful guys!
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