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Dear All,

I was wondering what your favorite mic/mics are for recording voice-over or dialogue for whatever type of project you guys are sound designing - video games, films, etc.

Additionally, do you have a specific mic for different applications? Like a mic you use mainly for screechy cartoony voice talents? And then another mic for bassy, intimate narration recordings?

Also, for something like a video-game, do you go to great lengths to get it to sound authentic - i.e. as if it were set-sound? Like, place the mic a bit further than a regular "dead VO"? For example, the sound team for Fantastic Mr. Fox actually went out to a farm and had George Clooney rolling around and running on the farm and recording his lines as opposed to an air-conditioned dead studio. OR do you record it clean and up-close with a U87 and then "dirty it up" afterwards to make it sound like set-sound?

Anyway, just curious as to how you go about recording your dialogue and narration for your projects. Feel free to include your preamp setup and any acoustical peculiarities about your studios as well!

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Our workhorse commercial VO mic is the AT4050 straight on about 4-6" away with a pop filter. That mic sounds good on everyone and has a pleasant upper mid push that helps VOs cut through. It usually requires some de-essing, but that's never really an issue. It also matches great from session to pickup session. With female voices you don't ever want any brighter than this mic though. Mics like the 416 are unpleasant on women to my ear.

For the huge male voices we tend to go with the MKH60 shooting down through the mouth at the chest at about 45 degrees from above with no pop filter and no rolloff. That mic and position scoops the mids some and gives a natural smiley curve that the big voices can take advantage of.

For filmic sounding VO we use the schoepps CMC 6 with the cardioid capsule about 8-10" away with no pop filter. Pristine perfect film sounding VO that sounds like it belongs. We recorded Laura Bush's upcoming book this way.

I recorded a session with James Mardsen for Cats and Dogs 2 where we used a pair of Sennheiser MHK 50s - one 6" away and one 18" away. That also sounded great.

  • Wow. You sound like you do stuff right up my alley. Any experience with the CMTS-501? The cardioid Schoeps capsule you're talking about is the MK5? Or the MK22? How did you get Laura Bush not to pop? – Utopia May 11 '10 at 21:33
  • We have both capsules and I didn't run that particular session, so I'm not sure which was on there. Mrs Bush tended to lean back in her chair, so even though we set the mic up 10" away, she would add another 2-4" just leaning back. Popping wasn't an issue from that distance. – Rene May 12 '10 at 13:20
  • Wow. Was the room an issue if the mic was that far away? Do you do a lot of audiobooks? I'm very curious as that's one of the main things I do. – Utopia May 14 '10 at 23:13
  • no, our rooms are very dead. Acoustic Systems booths. Photos at dallasaudiopost.com and the book is available for sale I think, so you can judge for yourself. We don't do books as a core business, but we do cut voices as one. – Rene May 17 '10 at 14:20
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I like to use a large diaphragm condenser for most voices, and then a large diaphragm dynamic for any voices that have to sound a 'bit rough' or shout, as I really don't want them to back off from the mic and introduce room acoustics. The budget dictates the manufacturer and model of mic, if it's a tight budget then it's a Rode NT1-A and a Shure SM58. If there is a more generous budget a Neumann U87 and a Electro-Voice RE27N/D.

Although if it was just based on my own taste and not what clients expected to see I would use a DPA, I started my career with my own matched pair of B&K 4003s, and have never come across a nicer mic to use, this is probably nostalgia though.

  • I've got some B&Ks! I'll have to check them out on a voice. – Utopia May 11 '10 at 21:35
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One microphone that i've tried and really was pleasantly surprised was the SE electronics 2200. I've compared it side by side with a neumann TLM 103, liked the 2200 better, a very defined present sound but without the sibilance i was getting with the 103. This was for narration with a female voice.

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    Female narration is the bane of my existence. – Utopia May 11 '10 at 21:45
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Absolutely essential reading on this topic: Dan Brockett's fairly definitive small-diaphragm condenser mic shootout article, with audio samples and lots and lots of commentary. He doesn't get into studio mics like the U87 or NT1a, but he focuses on voice recording, and while I've not used all the mics in that list (oh, if only!), I've found myself largely agreeing with his assertions for those mics I have actually used.

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I'm surprised no one here mentioned sennheiser mkh8040 and mkh40.

Im using mkh8040 as over head, and Neumann u87 as front mic for dubbing a major film.

The sound designer brought his own mkh8040 to use as overhead instead of our studio's Akg416 boom.

He likes to monitor his mkh8040 only in a dual mic recording, while I mute the track with Neumann u87.

The mkh8040 gives lovely sound, when positioned down like a boom mic. Better than U87

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