3 Hard Truths About Mics

by | May 18, 2014 | Mics

micshootoutLast week’s Senny 416 buying frenzy reminded me of a few hard-n-fast facts about mics.

One can hardly argue that $799 is a darn good offer on one of the most coveted mics on the market. Joe Cipriano’s altruistic motives made the deal genuine — even warm — in a cut-throat marketplace that shaves off profit margins by the month. BSW’s earnest desire to gain more of that VO market was not disingenuous. They’re honestly a worthy equipment vendor.

I’m not exactly sure Sweetwater was directly answering the BSW offer — when, the next day — they discounted an AKG mic of similar value by the same reduction.  But it, too, was a significant value.

Some of that “feel-good” discount “run” on mics soon started to fray, though, when a very knowledgeable voice artist immediately reacted to the AKG C414 deal with this caveat:  “…’you serious about the c414 as a vocal mic?…They’ve been pretty much relegated to micing pianos and some horns.  Terrible, terrible vocal microphones….”‘

Others, though, recounted fondly their use of the C414 in past sessions, and how it brought out the best of their voice.

Still more voice-actors chimed in to say the $799 price-point on the 416 was now being honored by other popular online equipment vendors, and they they were throwing in things line shockmounts, pop-filters, and mic stands to make the deal stand-out.

No other topic rules VO conversation like mics (well…maybe ISDN).  So at the risk of sounding incredibly trite, may I remind you of the


1) Mics are an incredibly personal choice.  The 416 has earned its reputation, but it’s not good in confined spaces (small closet recording booths), it’s not particularly well-liked by the female gender, and it’s not optimal for audiobook narrations.   There are probably more reasons why it’s not for everyone.  You’ll hear it over and over: find a way to beg, borrow, or rent different mics — brands, prices, technologies, and orientations — until you can tell what’s right for your voice.  And don’t believe YOUR ears.  Ask trusted audio engineers to give you feedback on the different ones.

2) Don’t be swayed by price (too much).  Peter Cutler, the engineer who travels with Marice Tobias for all her workshops, swears by the Chinese-made Studio Projects C-1.  It’s $300 or less.  There are other, similar stories.  Decent-sounding mics for your voice can be had for a decent price.

3) The Mic is only as good as the environment in which you record.  Yes, a great mic can overcome a lousy recording space.  But similarly, an optimal recording environment can make a mediocre mic sound like butter.  Strive for a reasonably-priced, good-sounding mic (for you), WITHIN a well-prepared audio space, and you are kill your auditions!

Honorable mention:  Don’t go by looks.   Just because a mic fits your pre-concieved notion of what a mic SHOULD look like, doesn’t mean it’s gonna sound good.  Sexy design ≠ good sound (as a rule of thumb).




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