Q It Up: What mics do you use?

Richard Stroobant [bigdick[at]cjay92. com], CJAY 92/VIBE 98.5/AM 1060 CKMX, Calgary, Alberta, Canada: We are extremely lucky here. We have Neumanns — either a couple of U87’s and U89i’s in all our production rooms. If I had a choice of all the mics out there, my choice would be... either a U87 or a U89i.

RE20 stand wclip 500Gary Michaels [michaels[at]wask.com], WASK/WKOA, Lafayette, Indiana: Here at the stations, we primarily us the good ol’ RE20’s, in production and on-air — great all-purpose studio mic. You can work this mic as close or as far away as you like without loss. Now if only I can get the jocks to leave the processors alone! One production room is set up with Shure SM7’s — another fine all-purpose mic, but has a much tighter pattern. In my own production studio I use an RE20, for consistency of sound, and my fave, a Shure KSM27. I LOVE this mic as the proximity effect is incredible. If I want to do the voice of THOR, I can get into that mic and do it without it bringing all the breathing to the front. It’s a durable little guy and is my go-to mic for most production applications. Requires phantom power though.

I don’t have experience with many others other than some Sennheiser 421’s that I’m not too savvy on. If I could try new mics, I might opt for an RE27 or an AKG 4500. Perhaps an AT4040 — just to try different diaphragm mics for  subtle nuances.

Franklin Raff [fraff[at]radioamerica .org], Radio America Networks, Washington, D.C.: Please don’t tell the strudel-slurpin’ technocrats, but I own a Neumann honkin’ Gefell, and I wish I didn’t. It just doesn’t give me what I want. What I want is extreme sensitivity — the ability to feel tones deep inside the nose and voicebox — even at the expense of some funkdienst expertenfuehrer’s idea of pristine dynamic balance (which can be altered in post anyway). For this purpose, one of the best and most unusual mics for the buck is the humble phantom-powered Marshall MXL 2001 (Affordable — I’ve got four!). The Marshall is a lot like the Rode NT mikes, but the diaphragm is just a few millimeters bigger and the case is steel: it’ll pick up that whispery sort of ether that the best-trained voice talent know how to get close enough to evoke. (This is terribly important with women and celebrities, the latter because one needs a tremendous range to work with in post.) But a hypersensitive mic is detrimental to the product if it’s used by ‘plosive-poppin’ talent (I don’t make monkeys, sir...), if it’s shrouded in pop filters (perhaps we should ditch the windscreen and try a corset, madamoiselle?), or if one has hard drive/HVAC hum or The Water Cooler Show bleeding through the walls. So I keep the aforementioned heavy artillery at my agency studio. Sadly perhaps, and especially in the era of consolidation, the venerable RE20 is the right tool for the job in most noisy, bustling production environments.

Johnny George [vo[at]johnnygeorge .com] CSI-Susquehanna, Indianapolis, Indiana: I’m using a Rode NT-2 at work going through a Symetrix limiter/compressor/gate. It could use a tube preamp to warm it up a bit more. I just added a PreSonus Tube preamp in my home studio for my AKG 414B. It really did warm it up. Both mics are very crisp & clean without any sibilance problems. My main problem is I have more of a mid-range voice with not a lot of bottom end grovel as some do. (My Prod. Director comes to mind.) If I had my choice of any mic, I’d most likely go with a Groove Tube mic or the smaller, stubby Neumann. They both have a smooth, clean resonance. And obviously, I’ve now become a tube pre-amp fan — better late than never, huh?

Justin Taylor [studio[at]voiceimage .com], Voice Image Productions, Orlando, Florida: My studio’s main VO mic is the Neumann TLM 127. I also use the AKG 414 from time to time or the EV RE-20. The RE-20 seems to cut through on imaging use better than the Neumann’s broader sound, but for commercial and narration applications I stick with the Neumann.

Equally as important as the mic is the pre-amp. I use the Universal Audio M-610. It features nice adjustments for warmth and signal saturation.

All in all, it’s still not the sound I want. I know it when I hear it and I haven’t been able to achieve it at my place yet. But I’m working on it. There’s a certain sound I am shooting for and when I get it, I will know it.

I’m always searching for that full, rich, crisp sound that once in a while you get a taste of. If any comrades know what it is, please email me at studio[at]voiceimage.com. I would greatly appreciate it!

Many years ago I had a session with an old Neumann U-89 using an old tube pre-amp. Now that was warm and very punchy, but considering the guy bought it used at the time (15 years ago) for somewhere around $4k, it would have to be way up there by now.

I always roll off the bottom end but I still wanna have some punch, warmth, and fullness. Onward I search.

Craig Jackman [craigj[at]canada.com]: Here at the station, most of the mics in use are EV RE20s and RE27s, and I have to say that I just despise these! Carry-over mics from the previous company are Beyer MC-740 large diaphragm condensers, and these are much better to my ear, reproducing through the speakers what I hear in the voice booth. The best I can say about the EV’s is that they are idiot resistant. It was interesting so see the jocks in the new combined company who are so used to working the RE20’s so close that they are almost swallowing it, have to learn to back away from the mic to avoid popping. We installed Popper Stopper spit screens so that they had to back away from the mic, which helped open up the sound by removing the wind socks. For my home use I have an old MicroTech Gefall that works for me. Again, it’s a large diaphragm condenser mic. The best mic I’ve ever had the chance to use was an AKG SolidTUBE which was (you guessed it) a large diaphragm condenser with just a touch of tube warmth.

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