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Scape27

Is a shotgun mic a sound choice for voice over ? If so, what about the Sennheiser MKH 8060 ?

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Hi, 

 

Over the past few weeks I've been looking extensively into acquiring a new mic to replace my Sennheiser MK-4 for general voice over work. I initially had my mind set on getting a Neumann TLM 103 or possibly some other large diaphragm condenser in the same $1000 price range, but along the way I stumbled upon quite a few voice artists praising shotgun mics such as the Sennheiser MKH 416 as their go-to mic in the booth, and that kind of threw me off track ... 

 

I believe there would be at least two benefits to this in my particular case :

 

1) Having the mic at a more comfortable (further) distance without picking up too much room tone and therefore getting rid of pesky pop filters that can often get in the way of viewing scripts properly. Similarly, keeping the mic out of view should I decide to start creating some video content.

2) A super-cardioid pattern would pick up significantly less noise than a typical large diaphragm mic in what is admittedly not a brilliantly soundproofed recording space.

 

I'm not married to Sennheiser but as the 416 seems to crop up everywhere I've been looking more specifically at their range of products, and for now I would rather go with the MKH 8060, not because it's a more recent model but because I'm scared the 416 might me a tad too bright for my voice. 

 

I'm hoping some of you might care to share their views / experience on using shotguns for this particular purpose and/or which mics they would recommend ?

 

Cheers,

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I think the reason that the MKH 416 is sometimes recommended for VO is that it can give the voice a bit of a boost, some people like that, others don't.

 

but this is one of the situations where I really would recommend renting three or four mics and test it with your voice, your environment and your ears. that will tell you much more about which mic you want then weeks of researching on the internet (been there, done that)

 

chris

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52 minutes ago, chrismedr said:

I think the reason that the MKH 416 is sometimes recommended for VO is that it can give the voice a bit of a boost, some people like that, others don't.

 

but this is one of the situations where I really would recommend renting three or four mics and test it with your voice, your environment and your ears. that will tell you much more about which mic you want then weeks of researching on the internet (been there, done that)

 

chris

 

Cheers for that Chris ! I'm banking on that holding true for the 8060 too ...And yes, I agree that would be the safest and most efficient approach to finding a suitable mic for my voice. Unfortunately I don't know of any places here in France that offer such a rental service, if one even exists ... You wouldn't happen to know or be able to recommend a good place in Germany for that, would you ?

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13 minutes ago, Scape27 said:

Cheers for that Chris ! I'm banking on that holding true for the 8060 too ...And yes, I agree that would be the safest and most efficient approach to finding a suitable mic for my voice. Unfortunately I don't know of any places here in France that offer such a rental service, if one even exists ... You wouldn't happen to know or be able to recommend a good place in Germany for that, would you ?

 

this thread has some recommendations, one even in france:

personally I rent everything from Kortwich. fantastic for rental, and very affordable, like about 15EUR per mic. (they also have a shop, so might be that they give you a credit for the rental when you buy the mic).

 

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I personally believe that a shotgun microphone is not the best choice for voice-over, especially if you don’t have a nice sounding room. 

If it‘s really only for voice over, a TLM103 will do you very well. Also consider the digital version of it. If you intend to record ADR as well then a shotgun would be more suitable, but something like a Schoeps supercardioid or even cardioid, or the Sennheiser 8050/8040 would work better. 

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Thank you very much for your rental suggestions Chris and OnTheSoundSideOfLife ! I'm onto it !!

 

Constantin : I appreciate your feedback. Yes, my room still needs adjustments; soundproofing AND further acoustic treatment, but I'm slowly getting there, so I would hate to use my perfectible room as a lousy excuse not to invest in a high quality shotgun mic. That being said the fact that my room probably never will be as quiet as I would like it to be obviously had me considering a dynamic mic too, but it just doesn't appear to be the norm for voice actors. Condenser mics appear to be the only "serious" choice for voice over in practically every resource or discussion I've come across. But if you - or anyone else for that matter - can challenge that claim I'd be more than happy to add dynamic mic recommendations to my list of mics to try out ! 

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Recently I stubbled upon the Slate virtual microphone system; a "flat" microphone which you can process later to get the different characteristics of all the "famous" mics out there. They have a large and small diaphragm option. I have it in the back of my mind, as a interesting option to get a variety of options for indeed let us say a voice over microphone. 

 

https://www.slatedigital.com/virtual-microphone-system/

 

slate_digital_sdvrsml2_ml_2_microphone_1386279.jpgslate-ml-1_98559_1.jpg

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44 minutes ago, Vincent R. said:

Recently I stubbled upon the Slate virtual microphone system; a "flat" microphone which you can process later to get the different characteristics of all the "famous" mics out there. They have a large and small diaphragm option. I have it in the back of my mind, as a interesting option to get a variety of options for indeed let us say a voice over microphone. 

 

https://www.slatedigital.com/virtual-microphone-system/

 

 

I think I heard of them some time ago. Interesting to somewhat copy the frequency response and distortion of popular microphone models. But what about the off-axis response which can be so important in an untreated room? Or, as they show the EV RE-20 as one of the emulated microphones, how to reproduce the lack of proximity effect? Will the plugin have a control to state the distance between speaker and microphone?

 

I am really skeptical about this, I guess you can achieve similar results using some EQ in post.

 

Last month I tried to explain a physicist friend what's the difference between the sound of different microphone models and why it's so important. I explained him that not only the on axis frequency response (which would be reasonably easy to replicate with EQ) matters, but also the off axis response and distortion.

Of course it was trivial for him to understand frequency responses, noise floors and maximum SPL. But there are many sound characteristics that we are unable to represent just with a bunch of numbers. After all distortion is a non linear complex phenomenon and a mere percentage doesn't tell the whole story.

 

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7 minutes ago, borjam said:

I am really skeptical about this

The only way to temper skepticism is: try it out yourself. 

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19 minutes ago, Vincent R. said:

The only way to temper skepticism is: try it out yourself. 

 

Yes and no :)

 

As I intended to say, I can imagine an instrumentation microphone emulating the "personality" of another one intended for music. With limits of course (off axis response would be impossible!). But I am really sure my old SE2A microphones won't emulate a Schoeps!

 

Don't get me wrong, *part* of a microphone characteristics come down to some eq, but there is a lot of reluctance against it and many multi microphone lockers could be almost equivalent to a lesser collection. 

 

In hindsight I think in the past I heard about audio plugins purportedly emulating different microphones. 

 

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4 minutes ago, borjam said:

In hindsight I think in the past I heard about audio plugins purportedly emulating different microphones. 

 

I think it comes down to this; As far as I can make up from the reviews (if I was not clear, I never had my hands on one of these Slate setups) They are close but no cigar. So maybe see it as a really quick selection of "what mic characteristics fits best for a voice". So yeah MAYBE you can tweak any good mic to sound about any other within boundaries, but it would take you days to do so (for all the mics) and with this setup it is a flip of a switch/button. And in this case it kinda helps that the preset/plugin is made specifically for the amp/mic combo, taking a lot of trial and error out of the equation (I hope/assume/guess...). 

 

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So getting back to voiceover and the Sennhesiser MKH 8060 … 😉

 

Jokes aside, thanks for the info regarding the slate ML2 Vincent. I know Slate more for their plugins than their mics. A pretty tall order for a $150 mic to be able to mimic all or any of those revered mics, but be it the case or not it’s the fiddling around with software to dial in the right kind of tone or character that would be my grudge. I want to keep my recording process as simple and straightforward as possible, which basically means pressing record in adobe audition and being happy with what I hear “out of the box” ☺️

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5 minutes ago, Scape27 said:

which basically means pressing record in adobe audition and being happy with what I hear “out of the box

In that case (and I just read it was just for YOUR voice only, sorry i missed that), I really would test any mic, like suggested before. About fiddling around ( not matter if it is the slate mic or any other mic anyways); that should be a matter of spending a day messing around to get a couple of nice profiles/chains set up, save it and you are set (well, till you change your room/acoustics etc). My point towards the Slate mic, was that you might be surprised what mic is actually suitable for your voice, and maybe the 150$ mic + software points you in the direction to the "real deal". Dunno, you might see it like that. 

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9 minutes ago, Vincent R. said:

My point towards the Slate mic, was that you might be surprised what mic is actually suitable for your voice, and maybe the 150$ mic + software points you in the direction to the "real deal".

 

Yeah, I get it Vincent ... Cheers ! I’m curious what this mic + plugin solution really is capable of. I’ll look into it.

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My take and experience on the "modelling" mics is that they offer a wide palette of "simulated" flavours. A good analogy is flavoured potato chips. They all start with a rather neutral tasting chip and add a simulated flavour. They taste "like" the flavour added, but will never have the nuance of a proper combination of the two real foods (potatoes + dill, as an example) mixed and cooked together. 

 

You really do need to try before you buy. I'm not sure you will hear a world of difference between the TLM103 and MK4. You will hear a big difference, and have flexibility of choice, if you add different types of mic to your collection (shotgun, ribbon, dynamic, etc.). As an example, you can buy a Shure SM7B (dynamic) and a Rode NTR (ribbon) for almost the same price as a single TLM103.

 

If you are fixed on getting one mic for all situations it is even more important to do a proper audition of mics you think will be the right choice.

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Speaking of recommended mics, there is a Belgian seller on eBay offering AKG SE300B+CK93 at a very good price. I purchased a SE330B+CK93 combo and an additional CK93 and they are in perfect condition. Only complaint, the seller insisted on charging for the shipping of _each_ item. 

 

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Sennheiser 416 is indeed a very popular choice for voice work, both in a booth or in a larger room. It has this thunderous low end response and presence boost that gives it that larger than life character and it has enough reach to stay out of the way of scripts. Unfortunately what makes it so popular is also what makes it so despised, the fact that it super-imposes itself onto the voice it's supposed to capture. Many complain that it eliminates any personality from the actor. Then there is the less than ideal off-axis response so make sure your booth is really dead or record in a room with high ceilings and proper treatment.

I really like the classic Sennheiser dynamics for voice over in small spaces, MD 421 and 441 (my favorite) will sound better ( to my ears anyway) in many instances than spitty LDCs like the Neumann 103. If you spend a grand on an LDC there are better choices out there.

Never tried the slate but also am very skeptical.

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At least in Spain the MD441 is the standard microphone at radio stations. I love it for live concerts, especially horns. It also saved my life with a violin once in a very difficult concert.

 

A friend who had a voice over studio in Spain was a big fan of the CAD e300, which is not expensive.

 

And speaking of "emulations", Austrian Audio, from the ashes of AKG, have announced a really curious beast: the OC 818.

 

https://austrian.audio/produkt/oc818/

 

It's a dual diaphragm LDC which allows the user to record the output of both capsules, including a plugin to process them and adjust a custom polar pattern with programmable crossover points. The idea sounds interesting.

 

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4 hours ago, Scape27 said:

But if you - or anyone else for that matter - can challenge that claim I'd be more than happy to add dynamic mic recommendations to my list of mics to try out ! 

 

There must be a misunderstanding somewhere, because I never intended to recommend a dynamic microphone, although there are some dynamic mics that might be suitable, like the one Werner mentioned, and I‘ve heard good things about the Electrovoice RE-20 (I think is the name). 

I was talking about cardioid and super-cardioid polar patterns and the corresponding mics which I think are good for both voice-overs and ADR, where you may attempt to emulate the sound recorded on set. And they are more forgiving in a less-than-ideal sounding room, where your 8060 might highlight issues rather than hide them. 

Also, don’t think that if you have noise sources in your room that a shotgun mic is going to be of much help. 

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2 hours ago, Constantin said:

 

There must be a misunderstanding somewhere ...

 

No misunderstanding Constantin. I was just wondering if you agreed with what appears to be the general consensus that only condenser mics should be considered for voice over.  I'm glad you mentioned the RE-20 though. I'll be looking into that one.

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For what it's worth it; The TV/Radio station worked at ~16 years ago had the Shure SM7B (dynamic) as the standard voice over mic. Go figure 😉

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3 hours ago, Werner Althaus said:

Sennheiser 416 is indeed a very popular choice for voice work, both in a booth or in a larger room. It has this thunderous low end response and presence boost that gives it that larger than life character and it has enough reach to stay out of the way of scripts. Unfortunately what makes it so popular is also what makes it so despised, the fact that it super-imposes itself onto the voice it's supposed to capture. Many complain that it eliminates any personality from the actor. Then there is the less than ideal off-axis response so make sure your booth is really dead or record in a room with high ceilings and proper treatment.

I really like the classic Sennheiser dynamics for voice over in small spaces, MD 421 and 441 (my favorite) will sound better ( to my ears anyway) in many instances than spitty LDCs like the Neumann 103. If you spend a grand on an LDC there are better choices out there.

Never tried the slate but also am very skeptical.

 

Great insights Werner, thank you ! I had looked at the MD 441, overlooked in fact ... I think it was simply its looks that had me thinking "really ?", which of course is totally daft, and all the more because we share the same age so chances are the mic would take one look at me and also think "really ??" 😂 ... Seriously, I like the idea that it might be the closest thing to getting a condenser mic while still having the advantages of a dynamic. I really need to try that one out ... 

3 hours ago, borjam said:

A friend who had a voice over studio in Spain was a big fan of the CAD e300, which is not expensive.

 

Hi Borjam ... I've seen plenty of reviews by voice actors giving the CAD e300 plenty of praise. Another worthy contender to add to my list, especially considering the much more accessible price.

 

.................

 

Just wanted to add a HUGE THANK YOU to all you kind and resourceful people who responded so swiftly to my queries. My first time posting here so I didn't quite know what to expect. And now I do A truly great community !

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But bear in mind that the MD441 is maybe the most expensive dynamic microphone currently available and the RE-20 is in second or third place in the ranking.

 

The RE20 has a clever design that minimizes proximity effect despite being directional. It’s more popular in USA as far as I know and it was designed for radio stations. i have only tried it on a double bass and the result was pretty good.

 

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1 hour ago, Vincent R. said:

For what it's worth it; The TV/Radio station worked at ~16 years ago had the Shure SM7B (dynamic) as the standard voice over mic. Go figure 😉

SM7B is a classic great choice and affordable but it has really low output due to lack of output transformer so you'll need a really good preamp with lots of clean gain (>60dB) OR you can get something like a cloudlifter that will bump up the output by up to 25 dB, depending on the preamp design. Cascading preamps (cloudlifter is a fixed gain preamp) does make sense for improving S/N ratio vs a single mediocre preamp cranked due to the way that OP amps operate. There's a reason the SM7B / cloudlifter combo is so popular.

40 minutes ago, borjam said:

But bear in mind that the MD441 is maybe the most expensive dynamic microphone currently available and the RE-20 is in second or third place in the ranking.

 

The RE20 has a clever design that minimizes proximity effect despite being directional. It’s more popular in USA as far as I know and it was designed for radio stations. i have only tried it on a double bass and the result was pretty good.

 

yeah, 441s are very pricey. RE 20s are variable D, meaning they should not exibit any proximity effect but I'm not sure I'm buying that claim. I haven't used an RE 20 in decades but I have an EV 668  (precursor to the RE 20, also variable D) and it definitely has proximity effect.

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