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The best mic-preamp combination- the best voiceover vocal chain
Old 7th November 2012
  #1
Here for the gear
 

The best mic-preamp combination- the best voiceover vocal chain

After much research we proudly present the best combination of microphones and preamplifier for voiceover. But before we start, here are some important factors that you have to "inhale" for voiceover:

More Info you will find here: http://www.mixwerk.com/


1.) First, test a new combination of mic and preamp before you buy it. Some voices can be perfect on, for example, a Neumann TLM103, but some have just too much sibilance. So ask you local dealer to get some mics and preamps to test before buying.

2.) Be cautious with the self-noise of the mic and mic/preamp combination. For commercials your recordings will be compressed to death and you will hear all kinds of background noises, inlcuding your vocal chain noise at the end.

3.) The better the "sound" of your speaker booth or recording room, the better the recording will be. If you use the proximity effect than your room noise will be less importand but the sound of your speaker cabin will have greater impact if you move further away from the mic.

Ok, so let`s get started with some nice combinations that are in the "low price" range!





Neumann TLM 103 and A Design P1
Price (US) $1.900 or 1.800 €
The Neumann TLM 103 is great for narration and costsonly one-thrid as much as its big brother, the U87. The Neumann TLM 103 delivers. This Mic is like milk chocolate and one of the quietest microphones available. If you use it in combination with the 500 Series A-Design P1 you can't go wrong. The P1 gives you exceptional sound quality with the classic vibe of some of the great vintage preamps.





Gefell M930 and Grace M101
Price (US) $2.000 or 1.750 € (Europe)
The Gefell mic is an insanely good mic for voiceover and extremly quit (like the Neumann TLM 103, but with highs that are not so crisp). You will find nothing substantially "better" until you hit stuff like the Brauner VM1 or Horch RM2J, which is 5 times the price. The Grace 101 has a stellar quality for a unbeatable price. It offers a clean and authentic sound with no EQ or compression - the kind that you normally get only from the expensive stuff. This combo sounds fantastic on your voice. It doesn`t color the voice so much but it will deliver every last bit of detail in the source.





Neumann TLM 193 and Focusrite ISA 220
Price (US) $2.100 or 1.600 € (Europe)
The TLM 193 is the perfect microphone for both budget-conscious voice talents and larger facilities where a Neumann performance is required without having to pay for the additional features of their flagship models. It comes with the legendary U89i capsule and transformerless design, providing sterling sound and a low self-noise. The Focusrite ISA One is a great workhorse and it adds a "sheen" to the top end (which the TLM 193 can miss sometimes), making the vocals sound "glossy". You simply can`t go wrong with this combo.




As we come to the medium price range, here are some combos that you really should test:





Neumann TLM 67 and DAV BG1
Price (US) $3.500 or 2.500 € (Europe)
This is a very basic but also very clear combo. Just a very good standard voiceover mic (not unlike the old U67) that brings a nice, warrm sound and a clear and easy-to-use British preamp with no EQ or compression. Its a killer combo for deep voices with absolut low noise at an unbelievable price.





Neumann TLM 103 and Avalon VT 737 SP
Price (US) $3.300 or 3.300 € (Europe)
The Neumann TLM 103 has a good quality for the price. Its bright tone is great for a crisp vocal sound. But it's bright nature can mean sibilance problems for certain voices. Changing mic position/axis is generally a pretty easy fix. The Avalon VT 737 SP is a very clean and uncolored unit and it is a channel strip which would be more flexibile than just buying a pre. The EQ and compressor work well, especially since the attack time has been they increased (Babyface Mod) on all 737's. And its built with quality in mind.





AKG C414 XLS and Focusrite Red7
Price (US) $3.500 or 4.200 € (Europe)
The C 414 XLS offers nine pickup patterns which enable you to choose the perfect setting for your voice recording. We like the fig. 8, with a powerful voice, it captures absolutely everything. The AKG C414-XLS is an all rounder with a characteristically smooth high end. It has very low self-noise and you can dial in some really cool proximity effect with the patterns. Put it together with the Focusrite Red 7 and you will have a perfect voice set-up. The Red7 always sounds great, the compressor is very good and even the de-esser/exciter is usefull in many situations. It really works well with any voice and it's also a quite beautiful thing to look at.






BeesNeez Mahalia and A-Design P1
Price (US) $3.500 or 3.400 € (Europe)
The electronics in all BeesNeez microphones are of the highest quality. The tubes used in their microphones are hand-picked from European and American new old stock (NOS). The Beesneez Mahalia is often compared with the old Neumann U67. It has a dark tone and is widely used with female voiceover. Together with the A-Design P1 (or John Hardy M1) it is an excellent combo for your perfect voiceover recording. These two units give you exceptional sound quality with the classic vibe of some of the great vintage combos.





Brauner VM1 Lite and BAE 1073
Price (US) $4.600 or 4.500 € (Europe)
The Brauner VM 1 Lite has a sort of 'perfect' brightness. It's fast and detailed at the top end without any overly harsh stuff. Its has only two polar patterns: Cardioid and omni. All VM-1 lights are fully upgradeable to the full version. The BAE 1073 gives you a very warm flavor with strong low mids and slows down transients, which is a very pleasing effect, since this is the opposite of the Brauner VM-1 caracteristic - a Ying & Yang principle for your voice.





U87 and John Hardy M1
Price (US) $4.800 or 3.800 € (Europe)
For voiceovers, the gold standard is the Neumann U87 (AI). It cuts well on the air and makes almost everybody sound good. For old Neumanns you`ve got to make sure that the preamp is very quiet and has plenty of gain. The John Hardy preamps uses Jensen transformers and are very clean and transparent, but still not to the point of sounding sterile. They are not completely neutral like the Millennia STT1. But this combo is a "must have" for every voice talent. In this picture you see a U87 AI and a John Hardy M4 with 4 channels.



And now we reach the "high price" area:





Horch RM2J and MIllenia STT1
Price (US) $9.000 or 7.900 € (Europe)
Horch is very versatile, having two switchable modes: linear with infinite number of polar patterns, or "extreme tube mode", with a really BIG sound for voiceover. You can use it with almost every preamp it will always be simply great. Use it together with the Millenia STT1 and you will have a super-clean, huge, transparent sound, little else out there will be able to surpass your voice sound. You can even select tube or solid state sound in the STT1 with a very clear EQ and compressor. The bottom line: your voice will sound really great.






Brauner VM1 and Schoepps VSR5
Price (US) $10.500 or 7.500 € (Europe)
The Brauner VM1 has a very low noise floor, 11-12dBa self-noise typical, low for a tube mic. Tons of air and detail without being scratchy or brittle. Its simply a world-class studio mic. Together with ultra-clean Schoepps VSR5 your voice will sound larger-than-life. If there’s a hint of harshness or a slight resonance in your voice, this preamp will let you know about it — but not by over-emphasising it. It just presents the information if you care to listen — and that’s what a really, really good preamp is supposed to do. Straight wire with gain. Anyone serious about state-of-the-art performance should give this combo a listen.

Last edited by Mixwerk; 8th November 2012 at 12:05 AM.. Reason: forget website for more info
Old 9th November 2012
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

They can all yield great results in the right room, with the right voice, and the right experience. I don't think it's possible to say that one will be the best choice or the right choice for all voices.

Having said that, I recorded a few major name VO artists like Ernie Anderson, Paul Frees, and Daws Butler in the late 1970s with a U87 and a Neve console preamp, and they sounded great. (Ernie hated any and all pop filters.) That, plus a UREI 1176 limiter yielded fantastic results, with a little adjustment -- no EQ other than the room itself and good mic technique.
Old 9th November 2012
  #3
A Shure SM-7B and a Robbie PreAmp do it for me. Lots of GREAT results for radio and TV adverts.
Old 9th November 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
minister's Avatar
I agree with this:

Quote:
Originally Posted by MusicTrax View Post
They can all yield great results in the right room, with the right voice, and the right experience. I don't think it's possible to say that one will be the best choice or the right choice for all voices.
You also fail to mention how important the talent and the room are. Put a great talent on a 416 and a whatever pre and it's great. Put a lousy talent in a bad room on a Brauner VM1 and Schoeps Pre and it will be awful. I loaned my Brauner Phantera to a friend and he gave it back to me and said it didn't work for him because it revealed all the problems with his booth. This mic reaches into the room.

In my experience, get your room right first. I hate booths covered in Auralex, I think they sound awful, and it is a bad experience for the talent. If the talent doesn't like the room, he/she won't be inspired to give a great read.

What does the client "hear" first? The read of the talent, not the mic or the pre. So, get your room, your situation, your workflow down with a decent mic and pre (that you can afford) set first. Then work up from there.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mixwerk View Post

U87 and John Hardy M1
Price (US) $4.800 or 3.800 € (Europe)
In this picture you see .... a John Hardy M4 with 4 channels.
FYI, that is a Jensen Twin Servo. You can see it on the front face of the box. Different than the M4. Both great.
Old 9th November 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by minister View Post
I agree with this:



You also fail to mention how important the talent and the room are. Put a great talent on a 416 and a whatever pre and it's great. Put a lousy talent in a bad room on a Brauner VM1 and Schoeps Pre and it will be awful. I loaned my Brauner Phantera to a friend and he gave it back to me and said it didn't work for him because it revealed all the problems with his booth. This mic reaches into the room.

In my experience, get your room right first. I hate booths covered in Auralex, I think they sound awful, and it is a bad experience for the talent. If the talent doesn't like the room, he/she won't be inspired to give a great read.

What does the client "hear" first? The read of the talent, not the mic or the pre. So, get your room, your situation, your workflow down with a decent mic and pre (that you can afford) set first. Then work up from there.




FYI, that is a Jensen Twin Servo. You can see it on the front face of the box. Different than the M4. Both great.
I agree with all of this. It seems to me the "nicer" the mic, the more it brings out a bad room. Try that Brauner, a Manley, or even a U87 in a room with little treatment or the wrong treatment and you'll hate it. Switch to a RE20 or SM7B and it might work better (or not).

These are very nice bundles though. I'd be happy with any of the preamps. I'd actually say the preamp is my least concern when recording VO. I think my priorities are Room, Mic, Preamp in that order. Talent is important of course but I don't make those decisions.
Old 9th November 2012
  #6
Gear Nut
 

mm you don't add the price of the 500 rack when you suggest the P1.
I got something for 1175$ including shipping that sounds like an elam 251 plugged in a Neve 1081. Really happy with it :D. My only complain: no power button on the pre .
Old 9th November 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
celticrogues's Avatar
 

I'm a big fan of a TLM170 through a Millennia HV-3C.

-Mike
Old 10th November 2012
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Our place has an insane mic collection, since one of the co-owners used to run a big tracking studio.

Surprisingly, my go-to VO mic there is the TLM103.

It came out best against M149, Brauner VM1, C12, U77, U87, SankenCU44x, Schoeps CMC41.
Old 19th July 2016
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

The Miktek CV4 into a BAE 1073 must be very very good what I hear around !!
Old 19th July 2016
  #10
Lives for gear
 

I use an M149 and Aphex 1788A. Sounds pretty dang good.
Old 20th July 2016
  #11
Lives for gear
What, no ribbon?

The absolute best dialog recording I've ever done were with a 77DX (recently rebuilt) with a good preamp. In fact, for one project I had to do dialog between a 'canned' announcer and a 'live' stagehand behind the screen. I put the announcer on a U87 and he sounded great. Then I put the stagehand on a 77, and he sounded like he was in the room.
Old 13th August 2016
  #12
It's interesting that the acoustic-part of the Vocal Chain is hardly mentioned.
I want to change that

Feel free to give some suggestions with Mic+Preamp combinations, and maybe we'll feature some demos in our upcoming videos.
Old 13th August 2016
  #13
Lives for gear
 

Neumann BCM 104 and a good channel strip with at least low shelf eq and compressor. Ex la610 6176 Gtqc etc
Old 13th August 2016
  #14
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lemix's Avatar
An interesting subject/thread for sure...I wonder if this would be the right forum for it.
IHHO the variables are endless...one should judge by the results. Room is very important of course.
I do have a fairly decent mic and preamps collection from my earlier music tracking days and use whatever combo I feel would work for the gig...
Just last week did a VO using a 416 and an old Studer D19.
At a place I regularly gig at we have an ISA 428 and a Shure SM7.

Whatever works...
Old 14th August 2016
  #15
My favorite voiceover combos.

1. Brauner Valvet X - LMNOPre

2. TLM67 - Chandler TG2

3. Sony C800g - voxbox

4. U87ai - BAE 1073

5. Brauner Phantom - Chandler Redd

6. RE-20 - isa one.

7. Flea 47 - BAE 1073
Old 14th August 2016
  #16
Lives for gear
 
TVPostSound's Avatar
Just to add:

You can have the best mic and pre in the world. But if your talent is no good, or can't work the mic, its all crap.
Old 16th August 2016
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Adebar's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lemix View Post
IHHO the variables are endless...one should judge by the results. Room is very important of course.
I did VO in different environments. In a great room I would add to the endless variables a Josephson C715 or C716 with the Gordon preamp.
In a less good room we made good experience with a 416.
Old 22nd September 2016
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Milliken View Post
Neumann BCM 104 and a good channel strip with at least low shelf eq and compressor. Ex la610 6176 Gtqc etc
Love that you mentioned the bcm104. When the mkh416 isnt right on a talent, thats the one i go to.
Old 22nd September 2016
  #19
Lives for gear
I recently purchase a tons of preamps. I organized it for a wide variety of flavors for a choice of colors. I ended up thinking about it like this.

Neve flavor = Solid state with nice slow tempo gain changes for nice mid-lows. I still need this flavor
API flavor = Solid state with fast temp gain changes for clean mid-highs and fast transients. I went for an M12 for this
Jenson flavor = Transformer heavy sound for the "suction" sound that kind of acts like a gate reducing the level to 0 faster from the low levels. Ended up with hand wired Jensen 110E 10:1's for this
Tube clear sound: Non over driven tubes give the best clarity, millennia, Tube tech are good examples.
Tube driven: Mixture of tube to tube with volume controls & transformers for saturation control. I went for a Train to do this
AEA flavor: The transformers are turn up rather than down. Only works without phantom power. AEA TRP get's it done!
And now we have digital controlled analog stuff that sounds cool. Warm12 is what I went for here.
And lastly, shiny and airy: Grace, Avalon, and Audient all do this using completely different methods. I went with Audient for lower cost using OP-amps. Avalon uses tubes and should really be in the Tube clear category. Grace uses an entire circuit for each gain level.

Anything designed by fred forcel is awsome.

In general it's about using a preamp that is opposite to what the mic is.
Tube mic---solid state pre
Solid state mic---Tube pre
Bright mic---Dark pre
Dark mic---bright pre

Take a Tube ribbon, put that into a Tube+transformer pre = Way to dark

But of course.....no rules.....be creative.

In general, I think mixing is easier if every track is from a different mixture of mic and pre. They don't fight for the same sonic signature. But that does not work well for say,,,a set of toms.
Attached Thumbnails
The best mic-preamp combination- the best voiceover vocal chain-img_0526.jpg  

Last edited by elegentdrum; 22nd September 2016 at 06:56 AM..
Old 22nd September 2016
  #20
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by elegentdrum View Post
I recently purchase a tons of preamps. I organized it for a wide variety of flavors for a choice of colors. I ended up thinking about it like this.

Neve flavor = Solid state with nice slow tempo gain changes for nice mid-lows. I still need this flavor
API flavor = Solid state with fast temp gain changes for clean mid-highs and fast transients. I went for an M12 for this
Jenson flavor = Transformer heavy sound for the "suction" sound that kind of acts like a gate reducing the level to 0 faster from the low levels. Ended up with hand wired Jensen 110E 10:1's for this
Tube clear sound: Non over driven tubes give the best clarity, millennia, Tube tech are good examples.
Tube driven: Mixture of tube to tube with volume controls for saturation. I went for a Train to do this
AEA flavor: The transformers are turn up rather than down. Only works without phantom power. AEA TRP get's it done!
And now we have digital controlled analog stuff that sounds cool. Warm12 is what I went for here.
And lastly, shiny and airy: Grace, Avalon, and Audient all do this using completely different methods. U went with Audient for lower cost using OP-apms. Avalon uses tubes and should really be in the Tube clear catagory. Grace uses an entire circuit for each gain level.

Anything designed by fred forcel is awsome.

In general it's about using a preamp that is opposite to what the mic is.
Tube mic---solid state pre
Solid state mic---Tube pre
Bright mic---Dark pre
Dark mic---bright pre

Take a Tube ribbon, put that into a Tube+transformer pre = Way to dark

But of course.....no rule.....be creative.

In general, I think mixing is easier if every track is from a different mixture of mic and pre. They don't fight for the same sonic signature. But that does not work well for say,,,a set of toms.
One of the best posts I've read on GS. Technology meets art in unusual ways. Clean and dirty ying and yang.
Old 23rd September 2016
  #21
Gear Head
 

Sennheiser 416 and a GML 8304 preamp is my go to VO combo
Old 24th September 2016
  #22
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Joestudio View Post
Love that you mentioned the bcm104. When the mkh416 isnt right on a talent, thats the one i go to.
I idiot proofed our commercial studio workflow buying a second one and taking down the u87. Too much proximity affect and sibilance the 104 solved instantly. Rich Neumann vibe without the harsh. Anyone with good ears who has experience with this mic knows it's a sleeper
Old 27th September 2016
  #23
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
My favorite voiceover combos.

1. Brauner Valvet X - LMNOPre

2. TLM67 - Chandler TG2

3. Sony C800g - voxbox

4. U87ai - BAE 1073

5. Brauner Phantom - Chandler Redd

6. RE-20 - isa one.

7. Flea 47 - BAE 1073
I bet #3 sounds smooth!
I did not expect #6
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