Which is the Best VO Mic? - The Pro Tools Expert Voiceover Microphone Shoot Out - Part 2

01-09-2015 10:00 AM

Voiceover Mic Shoot Out Part 2

As we discussed in part 2 of our voiceover mic shootouts we are often asked which is the best microphone for voiceovers. Although it is ideal to have several microphones to choose from to find which best suits a particular voice, as smaller facilities we don’t always have that luxury we need to have one microphone in our VO booth to cover all voiceover duties. In choosing a voiceover mic we usually recommend considering these criteria…

  • What is your budget?
  • How much room treatment do you have?
  • Do you have phantom power?
  • Is this for narration or for ADR?
  • Which mic pre amp do you have?

Part 2 - Boutique and High End Microphones

In this second set of tests we are going to look at some of the higher end and specialist microphone s to see how they perform against the reference Neumann U87. You can also compare them with the first set of tests as they are all recorded under the same conditions.
The Microphones Selected for The Boutique VO Mic Shoot Out

We picked a variety of more specialist and higher end microphones for this second set of tests which we introduce in the video.

  • Josephson C715
  • Brauner VMA
  • MicroTech Gefell UM900
  • AEA KU4
  • Manley Reference
  • Peluso 2247LE
  • Sontronics Aria
  • sE Electronic Gemini II
  • Neuman U87 which we also included in the first round of tests to provide a consistent reference again.

Who Are KMR Audio?

The team at KMR Audio very kindly helped us by loaning virtually all the microphones for this second set of tests.
KMR Audio has Europe’s largest selection of high end recording studio equipment on demonstration for you to try before you buy, and in stock for you to get working right away. They have demonstration facilities to audition your recording gear before you buy it with locations in North London, Richmond Surrey and Berlin, Germany.
Their North London showroom has an acoustically treated listening room allowing you to compare the largest selection of demo equipment available anywhere from microphones, monitors or outboard gear in a controlled environment. They also have a small demo suite in Richmond and a fully functional recording studio in Berlin to put the gear you are thinking of investing in, thoroughly through its paces.

The Test

We invited professional voice artists Andrew Bicknell and Posy Brewer so we had examples of both male and female voices to come to our “Twickenham test lab”. James Ivey and Mike Aiton had the pleasure of recording their dulcet tones with each microphone.
The Engineering Stuff

  • We continued to use the “house standard” mic amp, the Focusrite ISA One; which should be very familiar to Pro Tools Expert regulars as it has featured in our mic amp shoot outs. We think it delivers a fantastic sound that totally belies its cost, and is both typical and affordable by most.
  • We kept the input impedance at the ISA110 standard setting (1k4ohm), and engaged the high pass filter (75dB knee frequency with 18dB/Octave roll-off) to avoid pops.
  • No foam pop shields were used, just a mesh filter.
  • The distance to each microphone was kept uniform, with the special straw measuring tool, at 6.5”
  • Any multi polar pattern mics were recorded set to cardioid.
  • All mics were recorded at 24bit 48KHz as close as possible to a level of -23 LUFS (using Nugen’s VisLM loudness meter) with NO compression or EQ or ANY plug-in at all (tempting though it was!).
  • The test rig was running Pro Tools 11.2.2 HDX on a Pro Tools PC (OSX 10.8.5) and the audio interface was an Avid Omni clocked to a Rosendahl Nanosyncs.

The VO Mic Shoot Out Comparisons

After the recording session was over, each microphone recording was top and tailed, and then mastered to exactly -23 LUFS with Nugen Audio’s LM Correct to ensure each recording sounds equally loud using the K-weighted curve and BS1770-3 universal standard algorithm. Each microphone was allocated its own dedicated playlist in our master session.
We will be shortly posting all the blind listening tests for your enjoyment. Please do let us know what you think of the microphones and in the words of Mark Anthony, “…lend us your ears”.

We would like to thank KMR Audio for providing the bulk of the microphones and voice artists Andrew Bicknell and Posy Brewer for lending us their voices.