Voiceover Mics - 19 different microphones

rob aylestone

Well-known member
In another topic, we were talking about microphones for voice - as in the spoken word, so voiceovers, narration etc.

As usual we all had some pretty fixed ideas based on how we do things, so I put togeher a test. I took my studio, video and stage mic boxes and picked some old favourites and some totally odd ones. I took a passage from a rather dull manual, and recorded it with 19 different mics.

We had been Using a Zoom H6 in the other topic - which may/may not have great preamps, but concensus was that 50% on the gain knob, pad out wasn't too bad a performance setting.

I recorded each microphone twice - once at 300mm/1 ft, and then again at 50mm/2" so those with pronounced proximity effect would show themselves. I also selected mics that I expected to perform less well, but thought I'd give them a chance. Every phrase was normalised to the same peak volume. On some of the dynamics this meant considerable gain changes, and on the higher output condensers far less. No EQ or other tweaking at all. I've number each one, so I will post the mic 1 = XXX answers in a new post later - that way, you can listen without prejudice. If you listen end to end and look at the mic list - you will no doubt have some good guesses and maybe some surprises. My voice is a constant. If you were recording me - which mic would you pick? I'm hoping some will be dead certs, and others might not be. As I recorded them, some did make me think a little. No clues.

Here is the microphone list - in no order whatsoever.

AKG D112, D190C, 451-CK1, 451-CK8 (short shotgun), 414
Shure SM57, SM58, Beta 58, KSM8, KSM9, SM86, SM63 (omni)
Samson C01
Thomann (chinese sourced) SC-100
Beyer M201
Neumann KMS105
Sennheiser 416 short shotgun, ME-2 (lav)
Audio technica 2020

I'll post the results later on - so my suggestion would be a list with two columns - I'd use these, but not these ...... and then see if any favourites were discounted and odder ones on the possible list.

The recordings
 
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TalismanRich

Well-known member
I only heard 17 mics in the tests. I listened with my AKG 240 headphones, primarily for tone consideration, and my Sony 7506s for noise evaluation. These are my comments after two runs through the group.

Mic 1- 1' Hollow, bit of noise . . 2" Clear, OK
Mic 2- 1' Honky, quiet . . 2" OK
Mic 3- 1' Strong bit of hiss . . 2" OK
Mic 4- 1' Loud, bit of hiss , , 2" OK Quiet
Mic 5- 1' Very Bright Noisy. . 2" Better but still noisy
Mic 6- 1' Boomy, Bit of hiss . . 2" Very Boomy
Mic 7- 1' Clear Bright Sl Hiss . . 2" OK Clear
Mic 8- 1' Bit of hiss . . 2" OK
Mic 9- 1' Slight noise . . 2" OK
Mic 10- 1' Noisy . . 2" Some hiss
Mic 11- 1' Hollow thin, noisy . . 2" Better but hiss
Mic 12- 1' Clear Sibilant Sl hiss . . 2" Quiet, bit bassy
Mic 13- 1' Loud noisy . . 2" Boomy
Mic 14- 1' Loud, Sibilant noisy . . 2" OK
Mic 15- 1' Very thin sounding . . 2" Bright, crisp bit of hiss
Mic 16- 1' Lots of hiss, V Noisy . . 2" Slight hiss
Mic 17- 1' Noisy . . . 2" Still slight hiss
Mic 18- 1" Clear bit bright , sight noise . . 2" Clear OK
Mic 19- 1' Hollow, noise 2" hollow slight hiss

Most of the mics sounded better at the closer distance. Mic 13 was particularly noisy, and when it got close, it was very boomy.
It might have been nice to have about 3 seconds of silence after the phrase, just to determine if the noise was ambient or hiss. A bit tricky when you are speaking.
My picks of the group would be 3,7 and 8 if I could only have one.

Mic 12 was a bit of an oddball. Clear but sibilant from a distance but bassy in close. Lots of proximity effect.
I look forward to the results.
 
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rob aylestone

Well-known member
I've not listened to them in the studio here - I just did the clips in the office, so with all the noise, it'll be interesting to have a listen properly too. As I mixed them all up, I wonder if I'll discover the same.
EDIT - one thing is clear - the H6 noise figures on dynamic mics are not impressive. I thought I could remember the order at home, but I can't - unless I have remembered badly!
 
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rob aylestone

Well-known member
Mic 1- 1' Hollow, bit of noise . . 2" Clear, OK Sennheiser 416
Mic 2- 1' Honky, quiet . . 2" OK AKG 414
Mic 3- 1' Strong bit of hiss . . 2" OK AKG 451/ck8
Mic 4- 1' Loud, bit of hiss , , 2" OK Quiet AKG 451/ck1
Mic 5- 1' Very Bright Noisy. . 2" Better but still noisy Shure SM63
Mic 6- 1' Boomy, Bit of hiss . . 2" Very Boomy AKG D112
Mic 7- 1' Clear Bright Sl Hiss . . 2" OK Clear Samson C01
Mic 8- 1' Bit of hiss . . 2" OK AKG D190C
Mic 9- 1' Slight noise . . 2" OK Thomann SC100
Mic 10- 1' Noisy . . 2" Some hiss Beyer M201
Mic 11- 1' Hollow thin, noisy . . 2" Better but hiss Neumann KMS105
Mic 12- 1' Clear Sibilant Sl hiss . . 2" Quiet, bit bassy Shure KSM8
Mic 13- 1' Loud noisy . . 2" Boomy Shure KSM9
Mic 14- 1' Loud, Sibilant noisy . . 2" OK Shure SM86
Mic 15- 1' Very thin sounding . . 2" Bright, crisp bit of hiss AT 2020
Mic 16- 1' Lots of hiss, V Noisy . . 2" Slight hiss Shure SM58
Mic 17- 1' Noisy . . . 2" Still slight hiss Shure SM57
Mic 18- 1" Clear bit bright , sight noise . . 2" Clear OK Shure Beta 58
Mic 19- 1' Hollow, noise 2" hollow slight hiss Sennheiser ME2

I added the names to Rich's list - I think it shows that the voice and mic have to align - the ancient AKG D190 was a surprise, and it's a pretty mic too! The AKG short shotgun sounded nicer than the Sennheiser 416 which I didn't expect. Same with the Samson. Interesting the 414 was not so good.

I'm not sure this does much apart from suggest people should choose by their ears not the make, model and price!
 

TalismanRich

Well-known member
I'm somewhat surprised by a few of the results.

The KMS105 was one surprise, being that it had hiss, even close up. The Samson was good for its results. The SM57 and 58 were surprising for how noisy they were (maybe that's not a surprise). The Beyer M201 was also not as quiet as I would have thought.

Both 451s did well, as did that D190, which has an output level akin to the Shures, yet it was ok for noise. Maybe it shows that I like AKG products for the most part.

I did wonder what the boomy mic was, Apparently that's how they voiced the D112 for bass drums.

A fun time, though. Thanks for doing it.
 

rob aylestone

Well-known member
The neumanns are streets better on a stand on stage, and I’ve swapped them for the beta 58s so I’m a little surprised they performed less well, mind you they’re optimised for lips on the basket singing. I included the D112 because I’m sure I heard somebody say they they used them on vocals. Maybe a low voice really close in could work? We’ve found a B stock U87 at a dealer in Germany. It has some marks on the casing and the wooden box, but we are tempted and our accountant thinks we need to spend a bit. At the moment we’re not certain but it is a very good deal and my record with things is bad, having dropped a camera with a ronin gimbal yesterday and broke it. I’m not sure it would stay pristine after I’ve tripped over the cable a few times.
 
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