First let me tell you that I am offering this advice to allow more people to do auditions and even final quality voice work, without needing to record in a sound proofed booth or the closet. The reason you find yourself having to go to all the expense and trouble to put your mic in a special enclosed area, or even buy special contraptions to set your mic inside of like a foam triangle is because you bought a LARGE DIAPHRAGM mic. That is really not necessary and is the start of your having to go to a lot of extra time, trouble and later problems. You can get away with a cheaper mic like the Shure SM58 without having to invest in a preamp or iso-booth. Or better yet, I advise considering the Sennheiser MD 421 Mk II mic which retails new for $379. If you can get one used on EBay for less than $300, do it! You can pick up the Shure SM 58 for $99 new or cheaper used on EBay.
Both mics can be hand-held and you can work it so you don't need a pop filter, NO BOOM, NO MIC STAND, NO MUSIC STAND---as you can record reading the scripts off your computer screen as the mics won't pick up your room tone, your computer noise or even traffic noise outside within reason.
This Shure is a cheap way to go and will do a decent job.
The Sennheiser has a 5 position bass roll-off switch which can help you avoid the proximity effect, I.E. the bassy sound you get as you get close to the mic.
Many many Hollywood studios use the Sennheiser Shotgun mic to record games and more. the MK 416 retails for $2,040 but you can buy them at Sweetwater for about $1,200. Yet I spoke with Sennheiser directly and with their newer technology they advised the MD 421 Mark 2 for home use. I don't like putting this mic on a boom because the mic stand adapter clip positions the mic too horizontally straight at your mouth. You can hold it sort of like a reporter but off to the side and talk over it as it points to your opposite ear from whatever hand you're holding it in.
Because this mic is normally used to mic drums and musical instruments, it is used to receiving a loud signal so you need a preamp to boost your signal before going into your sound card's line input. Don't use the mic input. I use the Mackie VLZ 1202 PRO which again can be bought cheaply as "used" on EBAY. Then, if you have a PC, get a copy of SoundForge (old versions are great if you have a friend with it) It has everything you need without having to use a Multi track system like Audacity or ProTools. You can even cut and paste tracks together as though you are multitracking.
ONE WORD OF CAUTION. If you search for the MD 421 Mark Two on EBay, just enter "Sennheiser MD 421" in the search box. Many people list the Mark Two as different things from the number 2 to the roman numeral II.
BE VERY CAREFUL AND MAKE SURE THE MIC IS ENTIRELY BLACK. The old MD 421 has a silver back end where the mic cable plugs in and this mic is not as good as the Mark 2. If I were to settle for the old model I wouldn't pay more than $200 max for it. Still it would be better than a large diaphragm mic and save you from having to record in a closet or booth.
Problem when you are in the booth or closet is that you can't easily monitor your recording levels. In games your levels will peak and distort easily when you do pains, attacks, deaths etc.
I hope this is enough for now.
Feel free to ask me anything else. I also have Stevie Nick's "vocal mic" which is the $895 Sennheiser MD 441 and this MD 421 MK II is A LOT BETTER! PROVES that as time goes by, technology advances and prices go down if you're lucky.
Remember how much a computer flat screen monitor used to cost? Look at how cheap they are now!
Happy successes to everyone!

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Great info for a beginner like me.


You are so welcome. Let me know if there's anything else I can do to help!
Happy Holly daze to you and yours!
Well I'm very glad you have the shotgun. It's a good mic. Highly sensitive, and for games, one would really have to have a pad or ride gain tremendously when shouting, but that's why I recommend the Sennheiser MD 421 II to most people. You can't hold the shotgun in your hand, and it does pick up clothing noise etc. But if you managed to get that all under control, congratch. Also the MD 421 II can provide more bass along with the 5 position bass roll off switch that the shotgun doesn't have. The 416 is a great mic but for most people it's too costly and does indeed need isolation more than the other one. I hope all things continue to work well for you and have fun with that great mic!
Is my TASCAM US 122 sufficient with the Sennheiser, or do I need a pre-amp?

Also, any word on the Shure SM7B? Some reviews for the Sennheiser mention the Shure as a better choice.
I'd stick with the Sennheiser. First, the Shure cannot be held in your hand from the looks of it. I've used Shures and they are ok but in general, the Sennheiser will give you more flexibility and not have to be mounted on a stand. Not sure how good the Shure is at not picking up room tone or computer noise, even though it has some noise cancellation features built in. Your Tascam might be ok but you won't be using the Phantom power part of it. Both the Shure 7B and Sennheiser need a lot of boost since they are often used to record drums, loud singers etc. So I'd try it first. When recording games, your levels jump radically from soft to loud with build up short attacks or hits etc. It's very hard to record those without clipping or riding gain.
If anything breaks, Sennheiser will replace the whole capsule for $35. Not sure about the Shure. But if you want to go inexpensive...the Shure SM 58 is still a good little mic and won't pick up as much room tone as a Snowball or other mics. Let me know if I can be of more help and keep me posted!
The reviews for the Senheiser mention a tube pre-amp. Do these pre-amps plug in USB, or to the sound card? I'd rather avoid going through the sound card - doesn't that present problems depending on the quality of the card?
You don't need a tube pre amp at all.
But you do need something to boost the signal of that Sennheiser. I use a Mackie VLZ 1202 Pro and you can get them reasonably on EBAY the other easier and cheaper choice is a used Shure SM 58. You can hand hold it, doesn't need a pre amp etc. You're right about Sound cards not being 100% quiet, but the only real way around that is to use a MOTU into your firewire. Those are costly. USB preamps aren't usually the best and most don't have the amount of gain you need nor the flexibility of more controls for tone etc.
Spoke to someone about this, today, who said the extra silence from the Senheiser 421 MK2 will be countered by increased hum.  Is this true?
This makes no sense.  What extra silence is this person referring to?  That mic is typically used to mic drums and other instruments. Thus it requires a preamp to boost the signal adequately when recording less loud things like voice.  There is no hum.  If this person has hum, they should investigate it's source.  It could be their AC going over power strips, could be their sound card has bad signal to noise ratio or they are recording too low or without a preamp thus shoving up their sound card's natural noise too much.  Whoever told you this is most likely not an audio person. Let me know if I can be of further help.  And if one wants something cheaper and even easier, get a used Shure SM 58 and hold it. It doesn't need a preamp.

Woah, that's a lot of tech!


I am a techie also but have only been doing sound for a short tome.

I have known SHURE mics since the days of the bands and public speaking and have stuck with the brand.

I am going to go to the music shops around and try on some of the other mics now to see the difference in the way they 'treat' the voice.

As always; thanks for the great tips!


Ron Harvey

Nicole Aniston

I would like to offer you 15 mins of free help no matter what the subject. No gimmicks  Not trying to coerce you into anything.  I just like to help with the years of practical and provable experience I have and I get straight to the point.

Hello! It's great to have VU and your column to interact with. It was nice to hear another voice-actor preferring a small diaphragm. I have been using an AKG C535-eb (which I heard was used by Rob Roddy and also by Ole Blue Eyes on stage). Has anyone out there had any experience with this mic? I'm curious. I use a Mackie 1402 board, & I'm happy.


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