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Paul Cronin December 20th, 2007 03:50 PM

Picking a Voice over Mic
Looking to get input on a good voice over mic. Currently I am using a Shure SM48 in the studio and the field. I would like better quality with richer sound and be able to use it in the studio and in the field.


Jack Walker December 20th, 2007 04:31 PM

The Heil Sound PR20 might be the perfect upgrade for studio and field:

This mic has a great sound, is a dynamic so it holds up really well, and is a favorite for radio broadcasters on remote. It can be mounted in the Heil spider shock mount in the studio, or it can be handheld in the field.

The PR40 will give you the absolute best sound of the Heil mics because of its bass pickup. The PR40 is considered by some radio broadcasters to be the best mic for their purpose (the nicest and richest sounding) of any mic ever made.

The PR20 also has a great sound, has built in pop screens, and as I mentioned is at home in the studio or on the road in the hand.

If you call Heil you can talk to a very knowledgeable person and get recommendations for your exact use:
Number at the bottom of the home page: 1-618-257-3000

Jim Boda December 20th, 2007 04:40 PM


Originally Posted by Paul Cronin (Post 796042)
Looking to get input on a good voice over mic. Currently I am using a Shure SM48 in the studio and the field. I would like better quality with richer sound and be able to use it in the studio and in the field.


Traditionally, you want to go w/ a nice large diaphragm mic for studio work. Since you want durable field & studio mic, almost anything would be an upgrade. :-)

At the low end...you could consider a RODE NT3 mounted on a stand or handheld.

At the midrange...you could consider a Audio-Technica AT4053a or Audix SCX1/HC to use handheld or on a boom for interiors.

At the higher end...you could consider the Schoeps Colette Series Microphone Set - Includes: CMC6 Microphone Amplifier, MK41 Super-Cardioid Capsule, B5 Pop-Filter

Jack Walker December 20th, 2007 05:18 PM

Here's a short professional review of the PR20:

Here are a couple of reviews on the PR30 and PR40 and some info on Bob Heil:

Bill Davis December 20th, 2007 06:25 PM


Originally Posted by Paul Cronin (Post 796042)
Looking to get input on a good voice over mic. Currently I am using a Shure SM48 in the studio and the field. I would like better quality with richer sound and be able to use it in the studio and in the field.


After more than 30 years doing professional voiceovers (porobably 2000 paid gigs and counting) here's my 2 cents.

"Better quality with richer sound" is more a function of your pre-amp and signal chain (not to mention the TALENT of course!) than it is the microphone.

Over my career, I've probably worked in 40 different sound booths, and stood in front of perhaps 100 different microphone models - and ALL of them sounded just fine when properly recorded and processed.

Yes, some mics are more accurate - others are more "colored" - but at that point you're asking for which mic best captures the tonalities and idiosyncrasies of YOUR voice - and there's simply no way to tell that but trial and error.

So I'd take ANY advice you get here with a grain of salt.

IIRC, the great Ernie Anderson (of ABC daybook and "Love Boat" VO fame) used a Sennheiser long shotgun for a lot of VO work - an approach hardly ANY studio engineer would suggest as the "first choice" for VO work - but it "clicked" with his voice.

I'll also note that with all the mics I've owned and used over the years in my own studio, Shure SM5b to Senn 451 to AKG 414 to Neumann TLM 103 etc, as I've settled in with each, I've found myself subtly adapting my delivery to get the best sound out of each. It's not a conscious thing, it's just learning that with some early dynamic mics, a pushed "announcer style" got the best results - with others I could use the sensitivity or crispness or whatever that mic's charachteristics to get clean recordings if a LESS energetic delivery was called for.

You see, that's the problem. Not only are mics different, but each JOB is different.

So my bottom line advice is buy as good a mic as you can currently afford. Reserve some money for the recording chain it will feed.

Then forget about all the hardware and concentrate on COMMUNICATING.

Cuz in truth, a great performance on a lesser mic will sell more widgets than a crappy performance on the best mic on the planet.


Steve House December 20th, 2007 06:33 PM


Originally Posted by Paul Cronin (Post 796042)
Looking to get input on a good voice over mic. Currently I am using a Shure SM48 in the studio and the field. I would like better quality with richer sound and be able to use it in the studio and in the field.


Very high on my shopping list, like budgeted for purchase right after the holidays, is an Electro-Voice RE-27 N/D cardioid dynamic. The RE-27 and its predecessor cousin the RE-20 are standard go-to mics for radio broadcast work and there's probably not a radio station or commercial production house in North America that doesn't own at least one of them. If you want to audition their sound, rent the movie "A Prairie Home Companion" - the RE-27 is featured prominantly as the mics on stage during the performance scenes and they were the live mics used for the shoot, not props. They're not really field mics but still an excellent choice for the studio. Now I'll admit I'm prejudiced because it is a good match to MY voice, a sort of baritone, and I like the sound I got when I used it during my days as on-air talent in radio. It also was a good mic for the female talent in the station as well, all of whom happened to have relatively strong voices. But it's not necessarily a mic for all voices - no mic is - and as Bill says, matching the voice and the mood of the scene to the qualities of the mic is the most important consideration. He's dead on when he says focus on the performance, not the gear. Get the best tools for the job that you can afford, certainly, but in the end the mic you choose is only a tool.

Jack Walker December 20th, 2007 08:58 PM

I'm going to exercise my right to vote a third time. I suggest the PR20... for the probable uses in this case... at home, on the high seas, driving down the freeway, and so forth.

Since a mic is being replaced who's greatest claim to fame is that it "offers many of the same qualities as the famous SM58 but at a lower price," it's not necessary to go to a $600 and way up mic to get an improvement probably.

As far as Heil is concerned, the PR series (20, 30 and 40) has been highly proclaimed to be better sounding than the old standbys. In any given situation and any given voice, a different mic may be perfect. (For example, since the RE20 is a bit muddy compared to the PR40, the old RE20 might be a better general purpose mic since it covers up more problems in a situation where everybody off the street is going to be coming as guests and going on air.)

The shotgun voiceover thing has been widely popular in L.A. But that's not really a suitable solution handheld leaning out on a sailboat.

Of course I agree with the posters of the professionals above regarding voiceover mics in general. But in the given case, considering price, performance and likely situations of use, I suggest the Heil PR20. (Or perhaps the PR40 for that little extra smooth on the highs and substance on the lows... but not necessarily the best while in action and hand holding by the barrel.)

(And it just occurs to me that Leo Laporte loves his Heil PR40.)]

One final note. Of course post processing has a huge effect on the sound. But the PR20 has one of the best sounds for doing minimal processing in a variety of recording situations.

Steve Oakley December 20th, 2007 11:43 PM

for strict VO work, besides what the other guys said, once you spend about $250+ I don't think there are any bad mics, just a matter of preference, and what works best for a particular voice. Under $200 and I think you start to hear various problems.

just to back up what some one else said, I had a Joe Meek Mic pre amp which was a very nice unit. gentle compression and nice eq can even a lot out. recording with some compression can be a big help.

I have also used a shotgun to record a VO... ONCE ! I had the VO person stand back about 3ft and they yelled the VO. worked for the spot which was very high energy + compression and it sounded great, spot is on my reel BTW :) but that is really the exception to the rule. OktavaMod is one consideration, as well as the dozens of other mics once you get into the $500 or so range.

Paul Cascio December 21st, 2007 07:33 AM

You might want to checkout the M-Audio Sputnik. It's a large diaphram tube mic for only $600, and the reviews have been very impressive. I bought one but haven't used it much as of yet.

Gerry Gallegos December 21st, 2007 07:42 AM

VO Mic
Traditionally what is going to work the Best in a studio scenario (RE20,27, Shure Sm7, Neumann U87, and its copies) are not going to do very well in the field due to their size ,weight and stand/shock mounts required, although they could, depending on what exactly your situation is. as others have stated once you go beyond a certain price point, you're pretty much just choosing different flavors, and the quality is for the most part workable. To really properly answer your question, your budget and "Field" use description would help out a lot. There are a bunch of great mics out there that could fit your situation nicely, but why recommend something that might be out of your price range.

Ty Ford December 21st, 2007 08:00 AM


Originally Posted by Paul Cronin (Post 796042)
Looking to get input on a good voice over mic. Currently I am using a Shure SM48 in the studio and the field. I would like better quality with richer sound and be able to use it in the studio and in the field.


Like Bill Davis, I have been doing VO since slightly after dirt was invented. I review mics (and other gear) for a living.

The thing that's special about your request is you want to use the same mic in both places.

Here's a dark horse candidate for you. The Audio Technica AE5400. It's a live vocal mic that uses some of the parts of the Audio Techinca AT 4050.

I have also used my Sennheiser MHK 416 for VO. While I use my Schoeps cmc641 in the field and in the studio as a VO mic, it's a bit expensive. But worth it.


Ty Ford

Paul Cronin December 21st, 2007 09:19 AM

Wow loads of great information. This site is the best.

I will test some mics and see how it works with my voice and two others who will be doing the VO.

A few had questions on where the mic will be used. Jack made his suggestions based on the fact he knows where I shoot. I am on and around the water for all of my shooting. Most of the time there is wind and some times a lot of wind. The mic can get wet unless I build a custom cover which I do for most of my gear. Also most of the time I am a one man show so I record into the camera (Sony XDCAM EX1) and not a field recorder. Try climbing a mast with a camera much less a recorder.

In the studio it would be into a Firepod hooked up to my Macpro. I use FCS2 and Adobe Production so a few options. I do have a sound proof 7'x14' Auralux designed custom built room that is VERY dry so that helps.

As for my budget I can spend up to $600 this sounds like a good budget from the suggestions.

Thank you again and once I purchase the new mic I will post the direction I went and why.

David W. Jones December 21st, 2007 10:12 AM

Well like a few others here, I have been doing voice work for most of my life.
Voicing everything from National TV spots for Stratos Boats, to cutting billboards for many ESPN TV shows, as well as a few screaming car spots thrown in for good measure. And my favorite microphone is......... Sorry I don't have one!
Thats because there's not a single best microphone for VO's!
Because everyones voice is different.
For example, I can't use the EV RE-27 that Steve mentioned because I get weird sibilance, while I sound just fine through the RE-20.

As far as a VO mic for both studio and field?
Well I will have to say that microphones are like hammers.
Choose the right hammer for the job.
What may sound great in the studio, might sound like stink in the field.
If you are looking for an inexpensive microphone that you can cut VO's with, while being able to stand up to the rigors of field work, you might look at getting a used Sennheiser MD421 off ebay, if you have a Pre with enough gain to drive it. They are relatively inexpensive, and pretty bullet proof.

That being said...
Remember, a talented voice artist and a great engineer can get a fabulous voice over from an Electrovoice 635a hung from a coat hanger.
While someone with the most expensive microphone known to man can achieve less than stellar results.
A good set of ears, and talent that can take direction, goes a long way.

Jack Walker December 21st, 2007 03:31 PM

One mic for the studio you might try is the Audio-Technica AT4047

For outside I still like the possibilites of the Heil PR20. I think it would be worth calling Heil and asking about your particular rugged, wet and windy recording situation and ask what they think.

When you mentioned climbing the mast and getting wet, it occurred to me that a theater lavalier might be something to try if you had the chance. You could tape it down, use a mini rycote and it would be bothered by splashes.

Paul Cronin December 21st, 2007 03:37 PM

Hi Jack,

I do have two wireless Lavaliers and they work great. But there are a few clients that want to hold a mic. Keep the client happy. I have looked into testing a few mics but the only one I was able to test today was a AKG-C5. The mic sounded nice but it was not my studio. They did not have Heil mics. But yes I will give them a call.

I also understand it is the talent and engineer who can make or break the sound. But I also need a decent piece of gear to get started.

With all the input it sounds like I should buy two mics and that might work with my budget. The search goes on.

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