The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
Shootout of 18+ VO Mics (Neumann, AKG, Blue, Shure, Miktek, Lauten, RODE, etc.)
Old 8th November 2020
  #1
Here for the gear
 
VO Storyteller's Avatar
 
Shootout of 18+ VO Mics (Neumann, AKG, Blue, Shure, Miktek, Lauten, RODE, etc.)

I'm a longtime GS reader and first-time poster. I've operated a small, but active, voiceover studio for the past several years. During that time, I've benefitted tremendously from the insights and examples of other users here on GS as I've gradually expanded and refined my studio gear.

At various points, I've owned and used more than 20 VO mics, most in the mid-to-upper-mid price range ($500-$1500 retail price). Whenever I acquired a new mic, I'd make a test recording using a standard VO script that accentuates plosives and sibilance. That way, I could better compare the mic's performance against others I had used. In essence, I conducted a six-year shootout.

As a service to other VO artists and GS readers who might want a side-by-side comparison of a wide range of mics, I've compiled short clips from the test files I produced for 18 of the mics. The mics (listed in approximate order of ascending price) include:

Oktava MK-319
Blue Bluebird
Blue Bluebird SL
Audio-Technica AT4040
CAD E100S
Shure SM7B
Audio-Technica AT4047/SV
Neumann TLM 102
RODE NTG3
BeesNeez BU87i C
Miktek C7
AKG C414 XLS
Neumann TLM 103 (circa 2000 production)
Neumann TLM 103 (Anniversary edition)
Neumann TLM 107
Lauten Atlantis FC-387
Miktek CV4
Blue Kiwi

Nearly all of the mics were in excellent-to-mint used condition when I purchased them, but it's possible there might be some divergence from how a new mic would sound.

The files linked below are in 24-bit WAV format, normalized to around -21.7 LUFS. With the exception of one microphone (explained later), these are the raw, unprocessed recordings. The recording space was consistent across all the files. I have a well-treated and mostly isolated booth that creates a pretty neutral sound environment, except for some HVAC rumble between 20-60 Hz and a mild room resonance peak between 90-130 Hz, both of which I tame in post-production. (I use Room EQ Wizard software to measure room resonance.)

My signal chain has changed over time, but the two chains are similar in that they are relatively clean and uncolored. They are:

mic > Focusrite ISA Two pre > Focusrite 2i2 interface (for the Oktava, Shure, AT and Miktek mics)

mic > John Hardy M-1 pre (w/Jensen upgrade) > UA Apollo Twin Duo interface (for the rest of the mics)

For three of the mics (the Lauten Atlantis, Kiwi and TLM 107), I've included multiple test files highlighting some of their voicing (Atlantis) and polar pattern (Kiwi and TLM 107) options that I've used in VO work.

As I noted above, one test file had limited processing added. My CAD E100S is from the bad production run about five years ago that was notoriously noisy (self-noise ~20-25 dB). The price was right and it otherwise sounded great, so I kept it. For the test file in the shootout, I applied Izotope RX's Spectral De-noiser plug-in to reduce the mic's self-noise to more closely approximate a non-defective unit.

A couple of notes about my vocal performance. First, my voice is somewhat inconsistent across the files because the tests were conducted at different times. In some cases, my voice was a little ragged (hoarse or phlegmy), affecting its tone and resonance, which shouldn't be attributed to the mic. Second, my distance away from the mics varied from 7-10 inches, based on what I determined to be the sweet spot for each mic on my baritone voice.

Finally, another mic I've owned and used is the RODE K2, but I couldn't find a test recording for it. It was a pleasant sounding mic, but it didn't quite suit my voice, even after I upgraded its tube. It was smooth in the mid frequencies, but brittle at the high end and lacked body in the low end. The closest comparator in my test files is the Miktek C7, but with slightly less body and more sibilant.

I have my own opinions about which of the mics sound best for my voice in VO applications (which is why most of the mics on the list have found new homes over the years). I'd be curious to know what other professionals on GS think of them and whether I might have made a mistake in jettisoning any of the mics. (There are a couple I wish I'd held onto, but I didn't really need such an expansive (and expensive) mic locker.)

I hope this is helpful to the GS community.
Attached Files

VO Mic Shootout - Oktava MK-319 Focusrite ISA.wav (3.81 MB, 529 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Blue Bluebird John Hardy M-1.wav (3.93 MB, 524 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Blue Bluebird SL John Hardy M-1.wav (3.95 MB, 519 views)

VO Mic Shootout - AT4040 Focusrite ISA.wav (3.80 MB, 537 views)

VO Mic Shootout - CAD E100S John Hardy M-1.wav (3.94 MB, 524 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Shure SM7B Focusrite ISA.wav (3.83 MB, 545 views)

VO Mic Shootout - AT4047SV Focusrite ISA.wav (3.82 MB, 519 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Neumann TLM 102 John Hardy M-1.wav (3.82 MB, 541 views)

VO Mic Shootout - RODE NTG3 John Hardy M-1.wav (3.81 MB, 526 views)

VO Mic Shootout - BeesNeez BU87i C John Hardy M-1.wav (3.78 MB, 531 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Miktek C7 Focusrite ISA.wav (3.75 MB, 526 views)

VO Mic Shootout - AKG C414 XLS John Hardy M-1.wav (3.71 MB, 521 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Neumann TLM 103 (circa 2000 production) Focusrite ISA.wav (3.80 MB, 546 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Neumann TLM 103 (Anniversary edition) Focusrite ISA.wav (3.80 MB, 521 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Neumann TLM 107 (cardiod) John Hardy M-1.wav (3.88 MB, 537 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Neumann TLM 107 (hypercardiod) John Hardy M-1.wav (3.76 MB, 536 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Lauten Atlantis (neutral) John Hardy M-1.wav (3.86 MB, 545 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Lauten Atlantis (forward) John Hardy M-1.wav (3.80 MB, 540 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Miktek CV4 Focusrite ISA.wav (3.83 MB, 513 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Blue Kiwi (cardiod) John Hardy M-1.wav (3.76 MB, 529 views)

VO Mic Shootout - Blue Kiwi (hypercardiod) John Hardy M-1.wav (3.76 MB, 537 views)


Last edited by VO Storyteller; 8th November 2020 at 02:12 PM.. Reason: Typo
Old 11th November 2020
  #2
Lives for gear
 
dickiefunk's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
When I heard the AT4040 and AT4047 I was expecting the opposite sound from these!?
📝 Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 90 views: 106768
Avatar for dabigfrog
dabigfrog 11th July 2014
replies: 44739 views: 2684948
Avatar for RSKAudio
RSKAudio 1 day ago
replies: 1137 views: 242238
Avatar for homestudioguy
homestudioguy 2 days ago
replies: 9 views: 3669
Avatar for Alchemy Sound
Alchemy Sound 20th November 2014
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearslutz Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…
🖨️ Show Printable Version
✉️ Email this Page
🔍 Search thread
🎙️ View mentioned gear
Forum Jump
Forum Jump