I know that Neumann U87 is a huge expense at over $3,000, but is this what I should be going for to get the best sound possible for doing documentary voice overs or will a Sennheiser MKH416 at a third of the price be good enough?
The reason I ask is that I've read in a number of forums that the shotgun Sennheiser 416 is considered the industry standard and used by the major networks for dialogue recording and that it can supposedly even double as a good voice over microphone.
Thanks in advance for any advice regarding these mics or others.
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02-09-2011 04:53 PM
02-09-2011 04:59 PM
I know of several sound studios in Burbank that use the 416 for VO work. The U87 is a good mic, but if all you are recording is VO it's overkill.Formerly known as C2V
Nobody notices audio... until it's not there.
02-09-2011 05:18 PM
I don't think the U87 is overkill at all if you can afford. It's one of the best sounding large diaphragm studio mics I've ever used, especially for VO. The 416 is used more on production, and then for ADR to help match the production track. I've done a TON of dialogue recording for video games and animation, and we never used a 416. We used the Neuman TLM-103, which is a good mic. A large diaphragm studio mic is what I would use for VO. You don't have to use a U87. There are lots of alternatives that are more cost effective that will do a good job.
02-09-2011 05:30 PM
I have been doing VO work for a very long time, and can say both mics you mention are great, and each has it's place in the booth.
But in reality, it's the voice talent, not the mic, that makes the difference. If it were me, I would make sure I had a good clean audio path, and quiet booth before I started to worry about spending big coin on a mic. In the last week I worked with 12 different mic/pre combos.
And to be honest I seriously doubt anyone listening to the finished product could pick out which mic was used on any of the projects.
All the Best!
02-09-2011 05:32 PM
Thanks C2V and davefisk.
Davefisk, would the Neumann TLM-103 give me the same warm sound that the U87 can deliver?
02-09-2011 05:34 PM
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I think the 416 is used in VO specifically to record deep voices for trailers and other announcements thanks to its proximity effect.
It's pretty cool actually, I own a 416 and if I speak a couple inches away from it it makes me sound like Barry White
I think it would work well for documentary VO as the narrator often has that deep, warm voice.
02-09-2011 05:41 PM
Thanks everyone. I was actually at B&H in NY yesterday and a salesman demo'd the Sennheiser 416, Neumann U87 and Schoeps CMIT U5.
All sounded fantastic and I had a very tough time deciding which one would work best as a VO mic. But if I can use one as both a VO mic and also as mic for documentary talking head interviews then I'm set. If I'm going to invest in a top of the line mic, I would ideally want to be able to kill two birds with one stone so to speak. What got me interested in the 416 was that the salesman said that it's often used as a voice over mic in addition to being used for interviews. Thank you all for the feedback.
02-09-2011 06:03 PM
The 416 is a great exterior shotgun. I also use it for trailer style up front VO delivery.
We keep one in the booth along with an mkh 50 and mkh 60 for ADR as well.
I don't care for the tlm 103 as much as I do the u 87 when doing louder IE screaming car commercials, as it seems to overload quicker.
If the mic your looking for is just for your voice, I would audition as many as possible with your voice. As some people sound great on some mics, and crappy on others. For example I get a weird sibilance when working on an RE27 that I can't stand.
As mentioned, there are many less expensive mics that still offer high quality when used for VO/narration.
Most people won't be able to tell the difference between a U87 and an AT4047. Or tell the difference between a John Hardy M1 and an SCA Jensen J99.
Good Luck with your quest!
02-09-2011 07:32 PM
The TLM-103 is pretty good. I don't like it as much as the U87, but there is a cost difference there as well. All of the games I've edited dialogue on (Mass Effect, Gears of War, Lost Odyssey..just to name a few) were all recorded with the TLM-103. Of course, as you see, you'll get different opinions on that mic. If I were in your situation, I'd be doing the exact same thing you are doing, and checking out as many microphones as possible. I've found the schoeps CMIT-5 to be warmer and more pleasing sounding to me, but that's my personal opinion. The 416 is kind of like the shure SM57 in the music world. It's sturdy, robust, sounds good, and if you need to, you can stir paint and hammer nails with it and it still works.
The mention of the AT4047 is a good one. I had that at my most recent gig at Petroglyph games, and used that for the games I worked on there. It's a good sounding mic that won't break the bank. But Dave Jones makes a great point. Some people don't sound good on certain mic's. With the TLM-103, there were one or two actors that just didn't sound good on it, no matter what we tried.
The mic's you are looking at are all great, so you are on a good start already.
02-10-2011 04:21 AM
I would say that the U87 would be best for voice-overs.
I would only use the 416 for dialogue replacement where the original dialogue had been recorded with a 416, so you use a 416 to match the sound.John Willett
Sound-Link ProAudio Ltd.
Circle Sound Services
President - International Federation of Soundhunters (FICS)
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