Recommendations please: Best Microphone for voice talent?

I am looking for a good microphone for recording voices for my animation (my laptop microphone just doesn’t do the trick). Any recommendations?

Sound engineers will tell you that the mic is NOT the most important aspect of getting a good recording, but here are some popular ones:
For broadcast (radio, etc), the EV RE series:

For vocals (singing), the Shure SM58:

If money is not a consideration, the Neumann U87:

I have been using AKG mics ( for many years with good success.

Some things to keep in mind when purchasing a microphone:
1. The spoken voice has a much larger dynamic range than the singing voice, so condensor mics are often a better choice because they make it easier to capture fluctuations in volume that naturally occur when speaking.
2. Make sure you have the right connectors to actually use a mic. A direct box ( is commonly required. Also, be aware that certain mics may require a “phantom” power source.
3. When working with voice talent, it may be necessary to compensate physically for the pecularities of their voice. Notice in this video:
how they brighten the boy’s mousy voice by sticking him in a room full of glass, while they have to deaden Kristen Bell’s voice by hanging curtains on the wall.
4. The wind screen is useful when recording someone who “pops their p’s”, but it will not stop the mic from picking up their breath (nose) noises.

I agree with John, the mic isn’t the most important aspect the preamp is(number 2 on the list by john is an example of builtin preamp), followed by location then by the mic.

If you have a good preamp and a good location you can excellent results results with most of the mid range(pricewise, like the Shure mics) mics.

"the mic isn’t the most important aspect the preamp is"

Completely false. The preamp has far less effect on the sound of the recording than the mic does. I could put a 9098 preamp next to a Hardy next to a Mackie and for recording voice any would be more than adequate. (we own all 3). You’ll be able to get away with almost any preamp that’s not garbage, while the mic you choose will make a big difference. (No one in this forum could blind test perceive a quality difference between those preamps, while almost anyone tell the difference between most mics).

However, as John says, you will want a good location. For your purposes that probably means something as simple as a quiet medium-sized room, free of loud noises like roads outside or interior noise like loud HVAC or equipment buzzing. Don’t use a closet - the early reflections will give the recording a distinct sound you won’t like for most purposes. You’ll want a room with enough soft stuff in it (couches, curtains, rugs) that there’s not too much reverberation (like the echoes in a shower). And if you make a recording and find that it’s too reverberant, just hang some thick-ish fabric on the walls here and there until it sounds right. Don’t worry about blowing your money on acoustic foam like Sonex or the like.

As regard to the mics John mentions, you probably won’t be happy with the EV or SM58 choices due to the high frequency rolloffs these and most other dynamic mics have, and the U87 is ridiculous overkill ($3000+) for your purposes most likely if you’ve been just using your laptop mic up to now. The reason you want a condenser is not the dynamic range issue (louds to softs) so much as the frequency range issue (highs to lows). Condensers will simply sound more realistic

AKG is a good choice and if you found a 414 in good shape used, that would be a good bet. But don’t waste your money on a new one. It’s very expensive and probably again overkill for what you need.

Better bets might be the Audio-Technicas (this might be a great choice: or any of their large diaphragm condenser mics. The 4033 is a venerable favorite for recording most anything.

Rode also makes fantastic mics at reasonable prices, and if you want to get real inexpensive, you can move to one of the many Chinese mics that are available now, that actually aren’t that bad. could work for you.

With a condenser you WILL need a mic pre that provides phantom power, a mic stand, an XLR mic cable, a mic stand, and a pop filter, not to mention a way to get it into your computer. To get the whole electronics requirement in one package, I’d recommend you just grab something like this: As for the other stuff, just grab it off Craigslist for next to nothing.

But without a preamp your mic doesn’t really matter.

Like using toonboom animate. The computer is more important than the software because without a computer it doesn’t matter what software you buy you ain’t going to get a good result (due to inability to use the software properly :slight_smile: ).

I don’t disagree it has less effect, but like you said you need one. You can have the best mic in the world but without one your pretty much screwed. It is obviously a different standard if you can choose whatever gear you want, but not many people have that ability.

The level of setup really depends on what Z wants. I don’t think he wants to go over the top for a full professional setup, just something that works well (unlike a builtin laptop mic). So one of the cheap m-audio recording devices with a preamp and most decent mics would probably do the trick.

But without a preamp your mic doesn’t really matter.

Of course. But that’s not what you said, which was “the mic isn’t the most important aspect the preamp is”. Which is patently false.

lol well im going to disagree with you cause I made my case why it is. There is nothing false about it. You need one and shouldn’t even consider buying an expensive mic if you don’t have one.

What your arguing about is what has the most influence. Very different.

Another reason is for people starting the preamp is the most forgotton thing (a lot of people don’t have a clue you need one and I have seen lots of posts in music forums about people buying mics without thinking/knowing about this and not being very happy).

Thanks to everyone for your help!

Is it possible to obtain the same quality sound from a USB condenser mic?

What sort of quaility are you looking for?

I would assume with the usb mic the preamp is part of the mic, although I am not 100% sure on.

Correct. I’m looking for DVD quality sound, the same sound as you would expect from any cartoon on the Cartoon Network.

I’m taking a trip to Sam Ash Music store tomorrow. I was considering the Samson G Track Condenser Microphone as it allows for real time monitoring via on board headphone port, however the clerk recommended against this and any USB mic. :frowning:

If you’re going to the Manhattan NYC Sam Ash, you would probably do better at B+H Photo Video, both in terms of price and the knowledge of the salesmen.

A USB microphone like that is an unusual thing. In fact the description claims they were the first. I have never used it but in the description they make it sound like it is good for mock up etc, it makes no reference of a use for production in any way. That to me makes me think that it won’t get to the level you want. You also won’t be able to get it far enough away from the computer. It sounds like an interesting recording device.

Personally I would recommend picking up a cheapish recording device like The one John listed is 16bit/48khz, while this is the first one in their range that is 24bit/96khz for recording quaility.

Then with the mic so long as you get a decent one (with the frequency range you need) you will get a fairly good result.

Of course that is dependent on you having a good location for the mic.

Getting a setup like this allows you to switch mics/upgrade if you want more.

Tony Teach did a great short video on inexpensive mics:

Want to refresh this topic for beginners. I am making podcasts using Blue Microphones USB rly satisfied ,
If u also interested in video or music production I can share some hq effects too