Microphones and Equipment

Recommended Microphones
Below are a list of a few microphones that I recommend for starting your voice over career. Note that these are all USB microphones. The main difference in a USB mic vs. a XLR mic is that they are less expensive and less complicated to use as they have the analog to digital converter built into the mic and they plug directly into your computer. XLR microphones are considered to be of higher quality, but require additional equipment (a pre amp / digital converter) to use – therefore making the cost higher and troubleshooting a bit more complicated.

NOTE: All of the links (in blue) will take you to the amazon page where they can be purchased. If you right click (or Control + Click) you will get the option to open up the link in a new window / tab  without leaving this page.

What I am currently using:

Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone

Aprox. $149.
This mic was recommended to me by a another voice actor when I was just getting started and I am still using it. It has a very solid feel and there is no noticeable background hiss that you may notice using other USB microphones at the same price point.

It has a built in headphone jack with zero latency so you can monitor yourself in real time. There is a volume control for your headphones as well as a mix control dial which you will not use for auditioning purposes. The mix control will change the volume of what you are speaking relative to any pre recorded audio you are playing. You can plug this mic directly into your iPhone or iPad using the Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter (MD821ZM/A)

What You get:
AT2020+ Mic
Soft carrying Case
Tripod Desk Stand
9 foot USB cable
Mic stand adapter

Other items you will need:
A microphone stand. This comes with a tripod style stand which is useless as because the AT-2020 is so heavy it has a tendency to topple over. Plus, I prefer to stand while performing. Below are links for some mic stands:

Hercules MS533B Hideaway Boom Stand

On Stage DS7200B Adjustable Desk Microphone Stand, Black

NEEWER Microphone Suspension Boom Scissor Arm Stand

A Pop Filter. I prefer to use Men’s no-show Athletic Socks as a windscreen. Just put the sock over the mic. It’s less expensive and easier to store and travel with. If you’d rather get a pop filter or decide to get a mic where an athletic sock will not work as well here links to some pop filters. I have not used any of these so have no opinion on them.

Dragonpad pop filter®

Auphonix Microphone Pop Filter 6-Inch

Shure Popper Stopper with Metal Gooseneck and Heavy Duty Microphone Stand Clamp

Headphones. I recommend using headphones when editing, even if you are not comfortable wearing them when recording. Below are links to some good quality headphones:

Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone

Sony MDREX10LP/BLK In-Ear Headphones
Amazon won’t let me link to this page for some reason. Possibly because they make something similar which I haven’t tried: AmazonBasics In-Ear Headphones with Microphone. If you want the Sony ones, just copy and paste the pink text into the search box in Amazon.

These are great portable earbud cases:
(x2) TANGLE FREE Earphone Holders (both Black) by Cord-On ***Two earbud cases*** Other colors available

OTHER GOOD MICROPHONES IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO COMPARE PRICES AND FEATURES:

Audio-Technica AT2020USBi Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone

Aprox. $199.
This is a newer version of the AT2020+ It has a higher bit depth (24 bit as opposed to 16 bit) and a higher sample rate (96K as opposed to 44K) – Although that’s nice, I don’t think it will make too much of a difference as far as recording auditions and compressing them to mp3 files.
It DOES come with a lightning adapter to plug directly into your iPhone or iPad (Nice!)
It DOES have a mic gain control to adjust the input volume on the mic. (Yes!)
It does NOT have the mix control (I don’t care!)
It does NOT have the headphone input. (Boo!)

Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone

Aprox. $169.
This mic was recommended by someone I met at the Don La Fontaine Voice Over Lab. He said it was as good as the AT-2020. It looks similar and has the same features (headphone jack with volume control, Mix volume control) and also comes with it’s own pop filter. The included tripod stand also appears to be more sturdy.

Apogee MiC 96k Professional Quality Microphone for iPad, iPhone, and Mac

Aprox. $229.
Several friends have recommended this mic, both as a travel mic and a mic that are using at home. It does have a few more features which is why it is a bit more expensive. It has a gain adjustment which controls the volume of audio going into your computer, so you don’t have to adjust the volume on the computer itself. it also has a light which turns red if the volume is too hot. It’ main selling point is that it was designed to work with the iPhone and iPad and comes with the lighting adapter (saving you 29 bucks) It does not have a headphone jack and does not come with the Apogee MiC Carrying Case
which costs 29 bucks.

Shure PG42-USB Vocal Microphone

Aprox. $249.
This is the mic I am considering purchasing because it has good reviews and has some features I want that the AT-2020 lacks. It has a -15db Pad switch – this basically lowers the sensitivity of the mic by 15 decibels which can help prevent over modulating when shouting or otherwise being unusually loud. It also has a mic gain control built into the mic like the Apogee so you can adjust level settings on the mic itself (as opposed to on the computer) as well as light to see if you are peaking when you are recording.
It also comes with a shock mount and it’s own carrying case (Bonus!)
I’ll post a review of this mic after I test it out.

 

What I’m using while I’m on the road.
There have been times where I’m contacted by my agent and they need me to record an audition within the hour, sooner if possible. This is the mic I use when I do not have time to get to a studio:

Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

Aprox. $39.99
To be perfectly honest, I have mixed feelings about this mic. I’ve read many reviews singing the praises of this mic. Maybe that’s why I’m disappointed with it, as I was expecting better performance. Some challenges I’ve encountered are that it’s very easy to get distortion from the audio being too loud, even with the -10db pad enabled. It picks up a lot of room noise, and the quality is no where as good as my Audio-Technica AT2020USB PLUS Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone which I use at home. That being said, the quality of the Samson mic is better than the built in mic on my phone, it’s the most portable mic I’ve seen and it clips neatly to the top of my iPhone.
What you get:
Samsung Go Mic
Carrying Case
7 foot A Mini USB to USB cable.

I wanted to make this a completely portable kit so this is what I bought:
(Note: clicking links will take you to Amazon. Right click or command-click links to open the Amazon page in a new tab)

Samson Go Mic Portable USB Condenser Microphone

Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter (MD821ZM/A)

StarTech 1ft Micro USB Cable – A to Micro B (UUSBHAUB1)

AmazonBasics In-Ear Headphones with Microphone

(x2) TANGLE FREE Earphone Holders (both Black) by Cord-On ***Two earbud cases*** Other colors available

Western Digital My Passport Carrying Case – Black

I can put the Go Mic in it’s case along with the Mini USB to USB cable, The Apple Lighting to USB Adapter, the in ear headphones and earphone holder all neatly in the neoprene case and keep it in my glove compartment. Then I just find a quiet spot, plug everything in and record the audition in my car using the Twisted Wave app (9.99 at the app store).