This is the second article in a series on choosing a microphone for voice-overs and voice acting. In the first, we compared USB and XLR microphones. This time, we’re focusing on another choice: dynamic microphones vs condenser microphones. The terms “dynamic” and “condenser” refer to the mechanism the two mics use to detect sound. For our purposes, we only need to know that these two mechanisms pick up sounds a little differently.
Dynamic microphones are made for singing. They sound great when you’re belting into them at high volume. Because of the way they’re designed, they’ll need some extra pre-amplification. Your external audio interface has a preamp built-in, but it’s not quite enough to use a dynamic microphone for voice acting (or speaking). So, if you want to use a dynamic mic, you’ll need three things: the mic, an audio interface, and a separate preamp.
Condenser microphones are the standard studio microphones used for voice-overs. They’re what most commercial studios and most voice actors use. Condenser mics are super sensitive and pick up all the nuances and the subtleties in your voice—and they can pick up all that richness without needing an extra preamp. Just plug them into an external audio interface and voilà, you’re done. You sound like a million bucks!
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever use a preamp. High-end condenser microphones like Neumann (pronounced “NOI-man”) and AKG sound even better with a preamp. They’ll really shine—and you’ll see (or hear!) why so many voice actors love these mics. So, with a high-end condenser mic, you’ll also need the mic, an audio interface, and a preamp.
For voice acting, I recommend you use an industry standard like a condenser mic. If you’re also a singer and you have a great dynamic microphone, don’t sweat it! It’ll work just fine for voice-overs if you use a preamp. As a voice actress, I’ve had a couple of great dynamic microphones, one of which is legendary. My first microphone was also a dynamic mic and I loved it. I got so many compliments about my voice when I used that mic. So, there’s no rule—it’s just a little bit easier on the wallet if you start with a lower end condenser microphone.
I’ll see you in the next article in this series in which we’ll discuss microphone polar patterns.
To learn about gear and sound, read Part 2 of the Get Clever Series, called Recording & Editing Voice Overs.