Condenser Mic Advice Please!

Aurora Adams
Aurora Adams
Voice Over: English

Hi,
I'm needing to upgrade my mic from a USB to a condenser mic, and I've been reading so much advice (Gravy for the Brain and other sites) but some of what I read is conflicting, so it leaves me very confused about which mic I should get. I know there is no one answer, so to some extent it is a matter of what works for your voice. But I still need to make a decision, and as they are expensive my fear is that I might pick wrongly.

I know Rode NT1A reasonably priced/entry level, but I've been told it is a little bright.
Audio Technica has been recommended, but then online I read some negative points about it.
Shure comes up a lot, but that is Dynamic, which I've been told is not preferred for voice over.

If anyone can tell me what you are using and having success with I'd really appreciate it..

Many thanks!
Aurora


  • 2 months ago
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David Jacobs
David Jacobs
Voice Over: English

Hi Aurora!

I use a Rode NT1-A mic like you describes and it's perfect! Any 'brightness' can only be a good thing as it means clarity on voice. If it's too 'bright' then the recording software you use on your computer can solve that with a number of effects like 'bass boost' for richness etc.

It's not just about the microphone itself. It's just one component. The way you record and the edits you make to the tracks will make the most difference.

Get the Rode!

Hope this helps! Let me know what you decide to do.

Kind regards,

David


  • 2 months ago
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Sally Walker-Taylor
Sally Walker-Taylor
Voice Over: English

Hello! I use an Aston Origin, which is a mid-range upgrade from my entry level condenser (the CM25 in the focusrite scarlett studio pack, still a decent starter mic). I'm very happy with it, Aston make great mics.


  • 2 months ago
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Brendan McCoy
Brendan McCoy
Voice Over: English

Hi Aurora, I'm going to assume that as you are upgrading from a USB Mic that that you also need a digital audio inferface? In which case I would suggest you get the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Gen Studio kit that comes with the CM25 Condenser mic that Sally mentions. The whole kit comes as a pretty good price (About £200ish) if you get it direct from Focusrite and it's a decent starter mic which definailty be better than almost any USB mic (Unless you're using an usb Apogee Hypemic or Mic+ as they are great!) And depending on your specific audio needs which depends on your voice type or room acoustic of your recording area, you could easily upgrade the mic for another £150 with something like a Neat King Bee (£120 with a crazy low self-noise) Audio Technica AT2035 (not the AT2020 as that's the one that's a bit rubbish) or if you're looking for something with less room pick up you could try Oktava MK012 with the hypercarioad cap option.

Hope that helps! :)


  • 2 months ago
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Rhiannon Moushall
Rhiannon Moushall
Voice Over: Australian

Hi Aurora,

I use a RODE NT1A and I have an extremely bright 'pingy' tone. It took quite a few weeks to find the correct recording set-up for my voice ie. gain, distance from mic, volume settings for output etc. but I've been using it for a couple of months and have received great feedback on my samples (and landed a job). I use the Focusrite Scarlett Solo as an interface, and edit in Pro Tools.

Best of luck finding what works for you!


  • 2 months ago
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Aurora Adams
Aurora Adams
Voice Over: English

Thanks so much guys for your responses! Really appreciate it. I'm still confusing myself a bit with all the options! Brendan- you mention the Audio Technica AT2035- would you say that is better than the AT4040 then?
Also I've just discovered that there is a Rode NT2-A, which has a high pass so is better, but it's meant to be pretty heavy.. Does anyone have any experience of it?
Thanks again! :-)


  • 2 months ago
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Brendan McCoy
Brendan McCoy
Voice Over: English

I don't actually own an AT4040 but I have used one on a couple of jobs and personally I really liked it's sound for my voice, and it's definitely one i'd like to add to my mic locker, but new it is nearly 3 times the price of the AT2035 which I think is really solid starter "pro-grade" mic. And at around that same price point (in fact sometimes you can get these for even less) you do have the Sennheiser MK4 (pretty much an industry standard), the Lewitt 441 Flex (which has all the pick up patterns if you need that kind of versatility) or the Rode NT2a, NT1000 or even a complete NT1 (original, not the "A" version, which supposedly sounds a lot less harsh at the higher end, but I have no personal experience with it) studio kit with interface, rycote type shockmount with integrated pop shield and cables, which seems like a pretty good deal, although i've no idea about the quality of the preamps in the Rode Interface... sorry if all that muddies the waters further!

Also, if you're worried about the the harsh high end on some of the Rodes, the high pass doesn't actually help with that, as "high pass filter" is the same as a "low cut filter" (which confused the hell out of me when I first started learning about these things!), it allows higher frequency sound to "pass" though the signal chain whilst "cutting" the lower frequency sounds, usually rolling things off below 50hz or so, which takes away some bass and can help with traffic rumble and the like.

Again, hope that helps!


  • 2 months ago
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Aurora Adams
Aurora Adams
Voice Over: English

Thanks Brendan! No I didn't know that the high pass filter is the same as the low cut filter. I still don't really understand most of the terminology yet. I've got to spend some time learning the all the settings..
I won't be buying new- looking on ebay the AT2035 and AT4040 seem to be similarly priced- so if you had to choose one of the two would you pick the AT4040?

I'm also watching a TLM 102 but it's currently at £265 and still has 5 days left so will no doubt go for over £300. Better to spend £100/£150 on an AT4040 for now and then look to upgrade after actually booking some jobs! Don't you think?


  • 2 months ago
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Brendan McCoy
Brendan McCoy
Voice Over: English

Totally fair enough! And if you can get a well locked after AT4040 for around the same price as a AT2035 I'd say bite their hand off for the 4040. And I'd be very surprised if a Neumann TLM 102 doesn't go for above £300 even secondhand! I do think the AT4040 is great mic, if you can afford it, but do also pay attention to the quality of the mic preamps that come in whatever user interface you choose to go for, as it's a bit of a waste to plug a great mic in to a interface with noisy preamps or tnot doesn't have enough clean gain. But don't spend more than you can afford on upgrading your gear, and certainly don't go in to debt for it! :)


  • 2 months ago
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Sally Walker-Taylor
Sally Walker-Taylor
Voice Over: English

What I did was get a decent enough but less expensive XLR mic to start (eg Rode NT1a) and re-invested the earnings from my first booked jobs into upgrading my kit. Just a suggestion in case that approach might work for you?


  • 2 months ago
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Aurora Adams
Aurora Adams
Actor

Thanks Brendan and Sally- good advice!
Re interface- I've not done much research yet. I know a lot of people use Focusrite..?
There is a free zoom talk tomorrow with Voiceover Network about setting up a studio, so I'm looking forward to that. :-)


  • 2 months ago
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David Jacobs
David Jacobs
Voice Over: English

I use the Focusrite Scarlett Solo i2.
Compact and has an instrument input so if you play electric guitar/bass/piano, you can plug that in too! Under £100 as well.


  • 2 months ago
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Aurora Adams
Aurora Adams
Voice Over: English

That's good to know- thanks David! Unfortunately I don't play any instruments, but it sounds like a good one to go for..


  • 2 months ago
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Brendan McCoy
Brendan McCoy
Voice Over: English

The 3rd Gen of Focusrite Scarlett series of interfaces are great for the price and will probably last you for a good few years of usage and if you're only going to be recording one mic then the Solo will definitely do you, but if you want to record multiple mics at ones with more mic inputs. Sometimes it's nice record the same VO on a couple of different sounding mics at once and see which one either I or the client prefer for a job, as I can allow you to not have mess around too much EQ'ing and can just send over the best clean takes of the raw the audio, if the client is okay with that.


  • 2 months ago
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Aurora Adams
Aurora Adams
Voice Over: English

Thanks Brendan- yes that seems like good advice. I'm only looking to get one mic for now, but I may as well get an interface that supports two mics for the future. So that would be the 2i2 interface?


  • 2 months ago
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Aurora Adams
Aurora Adams
Voice Over: English

Also, I should probably update my headphones- does anyone have any headphone recommendations?
The ones I've been using do hurt my ears after not long usage, so I'm thinking the over ear ones that rest on the skull rather than on the ear would be best for me. If anyone has a specific model to recommend that would be much appreciated! :-)


  • 2 months ago
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Aurora Adams
Aurora Adams
Voice Over: English

The ATH-M50 seems to be recommended- for well balanced sound and are comfortable. Does anyone agree/disagree? Thanks!


  • 2 months ago
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Peter Kerry
Peter Kerry
Voice Over: English

Hi Aurora.
I have another suggestion for you based on my experience. Its a microphone that is not well known because the brand is normally associated with pro audio equipment like amplifiers. However Marantz make a good microphone that i sometimes use and it's only around £ 120 new. It's the Marantz MPM-2000 and it's a large diaphragm condenser microphone. It's a very overlooked piece of kit and for some voices it out perfomrs the Rode NT1 and Audio AT2035.
I have used it compbined with a Presonus Audiobox interface which is on par with the focusrite interfaces. The headphones that i use and are industry standard for not just voice but also music are the Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro.
So if you got the Marantz, presonus and Beyerdynamic, you would have a much better setup than buying a package type with everything in one kit.
The good thing about the beyerdynamic headphones is that they will last forever and they are respected by most pro studios. So even if you eventually do voice over as primary source of income and want to upgrade to a Neumann mic later, you won't have to upgrade your headphones.
This combination actually has won me some complements for audio quality form some big studios even though the budget is under £ 400 for NEW gear. They can't believe i'm not using a much more expensive mic. It is similar to the Rode NT1 in that it is quite bright - but within few hours you can find the spot i.e. distance from mic that suits your tone.
Just one piece of advice in buying a second hand condenser mic - large condenser mics are generally quite delicate and can be prone to deteriation if they not stored in dry conditions. Even if they have gold plated diaphragm section, moisture can get i nother parts if they are old and the seals breakdown. So ask : why is the person selling a good mic if there is nothing wrong with it?
You can get good ones but just look into it carefully that it doesnt have any faults or crackling sound when it has been on for a few minutes.
Hope this post helps and doesn't confuse you further :)


  • 2 months ago
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David Jacobs
David Jacobs
Voice Over: English

For headphones, if price is a concern, I think Behringer have a large range of headphones. I have a basic pair (HPS3000) but once adjusted to your head size (not making any literal or proverbial assumptions!), they're very comfortable for long periods of wearing on your head.


  • 2 months ago
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Aurora Adams
Aurora Adams
Actor

Thanks Peter- I hadn't thought about possible effects of time on buying a second hand mic. Maybe you're right and I should stick to getting a new one then. I've not seen Marantz mics come up on anything I've been reading, so that's interesting..
And thanks David re Behringer headphones..

I've just discovered that Audio Technica do a studio bundle: the AT2035 mic, ATH-M40X headphones, Audient iD4 interface. Plus software. For £269. I'm now thinking that getting a bundle is the way forward, because trying to work out all the best individual options has been giving me so much stress! So if I get a bundle then I can upgrade my mic in future, as has been suggested.

I was thinking about the Focusrite Scarlet bundle, but the actual mic doesn't seem to rate highly from online reviews.. So perhaps this Audio Techinica bundle might be better. My only concern with it is that the Audient interface looks tiny! I wonder if it is fully professional?


  • 2 months ago
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Peter Kerry
Peter Kerry
Voice Over: English

That seems like a good option with the Audio Technica. They are a good brand and respected in studios. It will certainly be suitable for a lot of voice over work and should last a good amount of time
Out of interest, what did you record your demo voice overs with that are on your profile?


  • 2 months ago
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