Microphones for Great Voiceover Dialogue

To convince the human eye that it is perceiving motion, one needs to watch film at a modest 24 frames per second. But to convince the human ear, we need a whopping 44,100 samples per second to accurately perceive sound. The human ear is so sensitive to sound, and to the human voice, that only the highest quality audio recording can please even the casual listener. For production supervisors, post production supervisors, and directors, there is no escaping the need for pristine audio.

Automatic Dialogue Replacement, or ADR, has the specific purpose of capturing new dialogue that most closely matches an actor’s previously filmed performance. Voiceover recording traditionally refers to audio that accompanies a visual presentation of, say, a film or television commercial. For instance, the narrator of a scene in a film, the voice of the driver thinking about the experience of driving a car in the advertisement, an audiobook, an animated voice—all of these are captured using specialized studio mics.

Mics for Voiceover and ADR

The standard LDC (large diaphragm condenser) recording studio mic for voiceover is the venerable Neumann U87, known for it’s broad dynamic range, reliable quality, and availability all over the world. It’s often the first mic I look for in a studio’s mic locker when working with another animation dialogue recording studio. The standard when selecting mics for ADR is the Sennheiser 416 shotgun mic. It has a strongly defined on-axis address which helps to isolate the voice it’s pointing towards.  

Ninety percent of animation dialogue recording is captured with a U87. These mics are our baseline for recording great sounding reliable audio, day in and day out.  Many studios for voiceover recording find the price point of the U87 can be out of reach, but every studio specializing in dialogue should obtain at least one as most professionals, directors, sound supervisors, and post production coordinators rely on these voiceover mics to capture the best performances of their talent.

When I first used the U87, I smiled, as I recognized that I was hearing the sound of so many great dialogue recordings and songs that I had listened to my whole life.  I rely on the U87 every day as one of the best built voiceover mics for movies and film. —Mark