Best Microphone for Voice Acting
It takes more than precise enunciation and a velvety voice to be a successful voice actor. You also need to equip yourself with the right tools, which is why finding the best microphone for voice acting is essential. Unfortunately, the sheer variety of options can make selecting a microphone feel overwhelming. That’s why we’ve done the hard work for you, narrowing down the field to five excellent contenders that can help you deliver your best performance.
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Top Pick: Neumann TLM-103
At once exceptionally quiet and impressively sensitive, the Neumann TLM-103 can make a solid claim as the best microphone for voice acting on the market. Few microphones can capture the level of detail and clarity the TLM-103 achieves without introducing an unacceptable amount of noise. As if that weren’t enough, this large-diaphragm cardioid condenser mic is also capable of handling serious sound pressure levels. No matter what kind of voiceover work you’re doing, the TLM-103 is hard to beat.
Runner-Up: Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3
There’s no such thing as a consensus in the voice acting community, but the Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3 comes pretty close. From home hobbyists to some of the top professional voices in the industry, many vocal talents swear by the venerable MKH416. It offers the precise directionality expected of a shotgun microphone while remaining very forgiving and easy to use. Its superior ability to eliminate unwanted noise makes it suitable for nearly any acoustic environment.
Also Great: Mojave MA-201fet
The best vocal recordings feature an alluring fusion of warmth and clarity. This quality is difficult to achieve, but recording on a Mojave MA-201fet is a good start. A solid-state, large-diaphragm condenser mic, the MA-201 provides a rich, warm sound that remains clear enough to preserve every detail of your performance. Its gentle coloration and smooth top end make it a fantastic match for female vocals, but it’s a worthy choice for nearly any voice actor.
5 of the Best Microphone for Voice Acting
How to Pick the Best Microphone for Voice Acting
From frequency response curves and variable polar patterns to self-noise and impedance ratings, identifying the best microphone for voice acting is no easy task. To help you make informed decisions and avoid marketing hype, we’re here to separate the signal from the noise. When it comes to voice acting, the primary goal is to produce clean and clear audio that allows the performer’s vocal talent to shine through. To that end, low self-noise and a natural frequency response curve are crucial.
The best microphone for voice acting should also be able to reliably capture the nuances that make a great vocal performance. This means capably reproducing a wide dynamic range, from retaining subtle details to handling sudden spikes in volume. A microphone with good sensitivity and a high maximum sound pressure level is key to fully capturing any vocal performance.
Equivalent Noise Level
Anyone who has spent time in a recording session knows that noise is the enemy. Even in a controlled environment, a substandard microphone can produce enough noise to render a vocal performance practically unusable. Much of the noise is generated by the flow of electrons through the mic’s internal circuitry.
Some noise is also created by the movement of air molecules surrounding the diaphragm. This distracting audio phenomenon is best known as self-noise. The corresponding specification, equivalent noise level, is usually expressed in terms of A-weighted decibels (dBA). Generally speaking, a rating of 15 dBA or below is perfectly acceptable. An equivalent noise level below 10 dBA is exceptional, denoting a microphone with a nearly inaudible level of self-noise.
As much as we might try, a microphone’s acoustic qualities can’t be boiled down to a few simple numbers. Nonetheless, a mic’s specifications can still tell you a lot of very useful information. In particular, checking a microphone’s frequency response can provide a quick glimpse of how it captures sound. Most microphones can record frequencies ranging from around 20 hertz to 20 kilohertz, but each model reproduces those frequencies in slightly different ways.
To help you understand these differences, manufacturers include charts called frequency response curves. These curves visually graph out how microphones respond to each frequency level, showing you which ranges are boosted and which are suppressed. This information can help you identify which microphones best complement the qualities of the vocals you’re recording.
In a great acting performance, even the smallest details can be essential. Subtle variations in pitch, tone, pacing and volume all help to convey emotion and create a more dynamic performance. Effectively capturing all of this requires a microphone that’s sensitive enough to pick up an actor’s full range. A “hotter” microphone can also help compensate for a weaker preamp by requiring less gain.
The process of calculating a microphone’s sensitivity is a bit convoluted, but the rating itself is quite simple. Sensitivity is given in decibels, but the value is always negative. A microphone with a sensitivity of -30 dB, for instance, is far more sensitive than a -50 dB microphone. Generally speaking, it’s best to opt for a sensitivity of -40 dB or higher.
Sound Pressure Level
On the other end of the spectrum from sensitivity is maximum sound pressure level (SPL). Just as higher sensitivity can help capture subtle inputs more effectively, a higher maximum sound pressure level is invaluable when you’re dealing with high-volume inputs. That’s because a louder noise generates a higher sound pressure in the vicinity of your microphone. If the sound pressure is too great, it can begin to distort your recording.
A microphone’s maximum SPL tells you how many decibels it can record without beginning to experience distortion. Fortunately, most modern microphones are equipped to handle very loud inputs with relative ease. A max SPL of 120 dB should be considered a bare minimum, but a rating of 130 dB or higher is preferred.
Whether you’re recording your own vocals or working with other voice actors, you need a microphone that can stand up to regular use and abuse. To that end, it’s important to select a mic that’s well-built using quality materials and proven manufacturing standards. This also helps create consistency across products, ensuring that the microphone you purchase will perform exactly as you expect.
A great mic should have a high-quality capsule with a gold-sputtered Mylar diaphragm and a precision-drilled backplate. The precision with which the backplate is drilled has a major effect on the consistency of the sound, so choosing a manufacturer with a great reputation is important. Finally, a rugged body made from quality materials protects your investment against wear and accidental damage.
If you’re searching for a great voice acting microphone, you’ll find excellent options at nearly every budget level. A well-built microphone with low self-noise, good sensitivity and a capacity to handle high sound pressure levels will ensure that you get professional results no matter the application. In the end, the choice ultimately comes down to your individual needs. If you need a mic to record your own performances, look for a frequency response curve that complements your vocal qualities. If you’re planning to record multiple actors, it’s often better to opt for a versatile mic with a flatter, more transparent sound.
Thank you for reading, and we hope this provided some value and insight on your search for the best microphone for voice acting!