after intensive research here comes our new article with over 60 microphones for Voice Over.

We will present an extract of the full article here. To see the full article click below on the link, than click on the english language flag in the upper right corner of the Mixwerk website and than menu "Blog":

Mixwerk Voice Over Microphones 2015 -Full article

The best microphones for voice recording 2015



1. Introduction                                                                                    

2. Types of microphone and characteristics                                         

3. Making the right choice

4. 60 Voice-over microphones in comparison

4.1. Price category up to 500 USD

4.2. Price category up to 1,000 USD

4.3. Price category up to 1,500 USD

4.4. Price category up to 2,000 USD

4.5. Price category up to 3,000 USD

4.6. Price category up to 5,000 USD

4.7. Price category up to 10,000 USD


1. Introduction


Anyone who deals with voice recording and technical matters in the studio on a daily basis soon notices how the smallest differences in polar pattern or the signal to noise ratio of microphones can give quite different results in quality. A microphone suitable for voice-overs is not necessarily also suitable for film dubbing.

But what characteristics can tell us which microphone can best be used for which purpose?

Following is our overview for you of the most important microphones, getting at the differences and microphone-specific advantages and disadvantages inherent in their characteristic features.


In order to do this, we would like to begin by explaining the fundamentals of the different types of microphone. The best known is the large-diaphragm condenser microphone, which nowadays has a place in every professional recording studio. It differs in the way it transforms audio pressure from the dynamic microphone, which should also under no circumstances be omitted with reference to recordings of speech.


2. Types of microphone and characteristics


The condenser microphone


The condenser microphone is sub-divided into two categories: the small-diaphragm and the large-diaphragm condenser microphone. Small-diaphragm microphones are usually cigar-shaped and are spoken into from the front, while, by contrast, large-diaphragm microphones are made significantly wider and are spoken into almost exclusively from the side. Both are equipped with a light diaphragm, which can pick up fast signal impulses easily. Condenser microphones therefore have a sound which is transparent and rich in detail.

Not everybody knows that small-diaphragm microphones can record frequencies just as low as large-diaphragm microphones. Most large-diaphragm microphones can also be used for higher frequencies as well as small-diaphragm microphones. Condenser microphones in general have a very wide range, most of them covering the full audible spectrum.

The size of the diaphragm plays an important role in the polar pattern; with large-diaphragm microphones the recording field is narrower for high frequencies. In practice, this means that signals that reach the diaphragm directly from the front („on axis“) sound richer in trebles than sound sources positioned to the side („off axis“). Apart from that, large diaphragms have a unit impulse response very slightly inferior to that of small diaphragms, which are able to follow the sound waves more precisely because of their slighter bulk.

There is, however, one significant advantage that the large-diaphragm microphone enjoys over the small-diaphragm microphone: it is lower noise. Because of its larger diaphragm area, the large-diaphragm microphone has a stronger desired signal, resulting in a better signal to noise ratio.

A characteristic of large-diaphragm microphones is that they present sounds – especially the human voice – as fuller and more substantial than they are in reality. „Larger than life“ is one way of putting it. And that's the sound we all want!

The first large-diaphragm microphones were all equipped with tube electronics. The smooth mellowness of the tube sound is, in a way, the large diaphragm's crowning glory. The slightly overmodulated performance of tube circuits produces overtones and enables the signal to appear denser and more „interesting“. Caution is, however, advised. A more natural sound is often desired for voice recordings and this can more easily be achieved using a large-diaphragm microphone with transistor circuitry.

Large-diaphragm condenser microphones are available with fixed or variable polar patterns. Models with a fixed polar pattern almost always have cardioid polar patterns, which is very useful for voice recording.

With the cardioid feature, sound coming from the front is recorded louder than that from the side. The cardioid is least sensitive for sound coming from behind. In voice recordings one normally aims for a very direct sounding signal; a more ambient sound is usually not desired. The cardioid feature, with which sound reflections from the rear and the sides are not captured,  approaches this audio ideal.

The condenser microphone usually has an active amplification circuit, requiring a supply of current. This is often provided by the so-called 48-volt phantom power of the microphone's preamp.


Shotgun microphones


Shotgun microphones are part of the standard equipment of film shoots. When the microphone should not be seen in the frame, one works with the microphone at a greater distance. Shotgun microphones are effective for this with their very narrow recording fields and simultaneous suppression of sound from the sides.

Shotgun microphones have, however, a very strong close-talking effect. A reasonably linear recording requires a certain distance from the microphone. Shotgun microphones are thus not very useful for classic voice-over recordings. But on a film set, it is often not the optimal sound that is being targeted, necessitating post-synchonization. In ADR, the shotgun microphone is also indispensable in the studio, in order to preserve the typical on-set quality of the sound. Beyond that, it is perfectly suited to the recording of radio plays or computer games, which normally also aim for a more natural sound.

Shotgun microphones are usually condenser microphones and therefore require current in the form of phantom power via the preamp. Some shotgun microphones can also be operated with battery power, especially those designed for use with video cameras.


Dynamic microphones


A dynamic microphone is an electro-acoustic converter, which transforms waves of acoustic sound as faithfully as possible, first into mechanical vibrations and then into electrical waves. The way in which a dynamic microphone functions is based on the principle of induction, in accordance with which an electrical conductor moving in a magnetic field produces a current. This conductor can also be at the same time the microphone diaphragm (ribbon microphone) or be affixed as a coil to the diaphragm (moving coil microphone).


Moving coil microphones

In a moving coil microphone a movable induction coil attached to the microphone diaphragm is positioned in the circular field of a magnet. When the diaphragm vibrates, a current is produced in the coil that can be picked up without a repeating coil, as the coil's resistance is already at about 200 ohms. Compared to a condenser or ribbon microphone, the moving coil microphone lacks a linear frequency response characteristic, making it extremely difficult to keep the complete frequency range linear. The unit impulse response is also not optimal, due to the relatively large mass of the diaphragm.

Despite these limitations, high grade moving coil microphones offer good sound quality and are also used a great deal in studios. One finds them used on the stage even more often. They are more robust than condenser microphones and perform without distortion even at high sound levels. As the moving coil microphone in any case lacks a linear frequency response characteristic, many manufacturers try to influence the frequency response in such a way that a microphone is especially well adapted for a particular task. Thus, in recent years, a couple of moving coil microphones have emerged that have marked the typical sound of the radio announcer.


Ribbon microphones


The diaphragm of a ribbon microphone is an aluminum ribbon from two to four millimeters wide and one centimeter long. This ribbon is suspended between the two poles of a magnet and is only capable of minimal vibration.

Ribbon microphones generally have a linear frequency response characteristic and, due to their light diaphragm, have a good unit impulse response. This enables the ribbon microphone to engage in definite competition with the condenser microphone. It is sensitive to wind, shock and fast movements. As ribbon microphones are generally quieter than other microphones, they require a low noise preamp with high gain in order to achieve a usable sound for post-production.

The ribbon microphone is designed as what is known as a pressure-gradient microphone. In this design the capsule is open at the back. The „natural“ polar pattern of the ribbon element is therefore a figure of eight. This means that it reacts identically to sound from both the back and the front. This can be a drawback, depending on the space, as it takes in much more space than the cardioid variation. An example of a useful function of the figure of eight characteristic is in an interview situation. A ribbon microphone can be positioned between two speakers in such a way as to record both speakers with only one microphone.

As a result of the figure of eight charactistic, most ribbon microphones display a very strong tendency towards a close-talking effect, i.e. with a small distance from the microphone there is a marked increase in bass. This permits voices to sound sonorous, large and full. For precisely this reason, ribbon microphones are very popular with American radio announcers. Those for whom the typical polar pattern is not beneficial can nowadays avail themselves of a number of ribbon microphones with different polar patterns.

Ribbon microphones sound full, round and pleasantly soft. They give a more detailed recording than other dynamic microphones but are also smoother in higher ranges than condenser microphones.

Ribbon microphones provide the human voice with magnitude and velvet elegance and are therefore highly suitable for song and speech. It is precisely those voices which tend to harshness which can benefit from the ribbon sound. Most ribbon microphones are, in addition, relatively unproblematic when it comes to sibilants.


A peculiarity – the pressure-gradient microphone


The pressure-gradient microphone is not really a microphone type of its own. It is more correctly viewed as a microphone with a pressure-gradient feature. With its capsule open at the back, the diaphragm is accessible to sounds coming from all sides. Depending on the type, simple pressure-gradient microphones give a polar pattern between cardioid and figure of eight. The electrical signals emitted by the pressure-gradient microphone are proportionate to the pressure-gradient. In a formal sense, all microphones other than pure pressure transducers (with an omnidirectional characteristic) are considered to be pressure-gradient transducers.


3. Making the right choice

In view of the multitude of microphones, it is no simple matter to choose the right one. The following questions may help to narrow the choice of microphones down:

Depending on the voice and the desired tone, different microphones may be in the running. There are, of course, a few all-rounders, which can be put to different uses. If you have the opportunity to obtain several microphones to test, by all means do so.

Now here comes our selections for the best microphones for voice recording.


4. 60 voice-over microphones in comparison


In what order would it be best to undertake the discussion of 60 microphones? We asked ourselves this question and opted to organize them according to normal market prices. Of course, we could have done it differently, for example, according to which are „best suited to male or female voices“. But, we considered that the price of a microphone is a relatively „objective“ feature, whereas the final sound recorded with it also depends on the preamp, analog-converter, general audio trends, etc.


So here we go:


A.)  Price category up to 500 USD            

B.)  Price category up to 1,000 USD        

C.) Price category up to 1,500 USD     

D.) Price category up tp 2,000 USD    

E.)  Price category up to 3,000 USD     

F.)  Price category up to 5,000 USD    

G.) Price category up to 10,000 USD      

A.) Price category up to 500 USD


Shure SM57

Type: moving coil microphone

Polar pattern: cardioid

Frequency response: 40 Hz to 15 kHz

Price: c. 110 USD


Both on the stage and in the studio the SM57 delivers a reliable performance.

A singular sound with unusual power in the bass and clarity.

The frequency response has been optimized to enable the voice to come through excellently in the mix without having to tamper with it at the mixing console EQ. The consistent cardioid feature makes it feedback-proof even on loud stages.


Rode NT1-A

Type: large-diaphragm condenser microphone

Polar pattern: cardioid

Frequency response: 20 Hz to 20 kHz

Maximum SPL: 137dB SPL

Self-noise level: 5dB (A)

Price: c. 180 USD


The RØDE NT1-A 1" condenser microphone has become a standard for the industry. It delivers the warmth, the great dynamic range, the clarity and  the high overmodulation stability that are otherwise familiar only in microphones in higher price ranges.

With a self-noise level of only 5 db (A), it is known as one of the lowest-noise studio microphones, making it an ideal microphone for song and speech..

The large 1" capsule with a gold-plated diaphragm gives a balanced sound. Another point in its favor is the accessory pack with which the microphone is supplied.



Oktava MK-319


Type: large-diaphragm condenser microphone

Polar pattern: cardioid

Frequency response: 20 Hz to 18 kHz

Maximum SPL: 122 dB SPL

Self-noise level: <14 dB (A)

Price: c. 250 USD


The  MK-319 is the successor to the MK-219 and it displays the same uncompromising love for detail, giving a larger-than-life performance in improved form. The MK-319 benefits from a new angled casing that produces a warm and open sound by minimizing sound refractions in the grille.

The microphone is fixed-pattern and is well-suited to both studio and broadcast use. The diaphragm has a gold vapor coating and its own low-noise preamp circuit. This gives a balanced frquency response from 40 Hz to 16 kHz with a slight increase in presence, which provides additional warmth and clarity to the human voice.

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Full Acticle for 60 microphones



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