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Member for

21 years 2 months
I'm new to this forum; have been reading posts for some time and found it very educational. I have a question, especially to those who have some experience recording voiceovers.

I'll soon be setting up a home project studio for recording voiceovers, most likely for FM radio audio skits with cartoon-like wacky voices (some of which pitchshifted) on sfx/musical background. I'll be recording from home (will have a well designed vocal room) but will be “coached” by a guy who owns a small commercial studio (he'll help me with mixing, etc).

He feels very strongly about me using AKG 414 BULS (says U87ai too aggressive) and since chances are I'll be working with hI'm for the next couple of years, that's the mic I'll probably will be getting, at least for starters. Now assuming that's the mic I'll use, what are my options in terms of a preamp? (Budget for pre is around $1000 – just need one channel, maybe another $1000 for compressor during tracking)I would like to have a detailed sound that is not too aggressive but that stands out easily from the mix. I heard great things about John Hardy M-1, Grace 101 or HV-3. However when i went to a local music store, the salesman told me that something as transparent as those pres in combination with AKG 414 BULS will sound flat, dull and boring in the mix. (and then suggested Universal Audio LA-610 or Blue Robbie saying it would add some life to AKG 414 BULS. Is it true that JH or Grace wouldn't compliment well this specific mic for VO? Any insights would be greatly appreciated. Thanx.


Member for

15 years 2 months

Scoobie Wed, 12/27/2006 - 21:13
The AKG 414 is a great mic, but I would get a ElectroVoice RE20 for voice-over work. Save you some money also. The money you save will help you buy a good compressor/limiter. A must for doing voice-over work.

The John Hardy would be a good choice, IMO.


Member for

15 years 7 months

BobRogers Thu, 12/28/2006 - 04:09
What does your "coach" say about preamps? You are being offered something very valuable with the free training - worth far more than the difference between a couple of good mics or preamps. If you like this guy's work and he is willing to help you, I'd stay within his comfort zone - with the equipment he knows the most about. Let's face it. Different people get good results with all kind of gear. When someone says, "preamp X is better than preamp Y," they mean that they can get a better sound out of preamp X. You have someone who is willing to show you how to get the most out of the gear he recommends. I'd be pretty reluctant to buy anything else until I'd learned all I could from him.

Member for

20 years 9 months

FifthCircle Mon, 01/01/2007 - 12:19
Wow... a 414 BULS being tame compared to a U87Ai??? Don't get that one. The 414 has got to be one of the most brittle sounding expensive mics out there. All top end and not much else. The only way I would consider using it would be to send it off to Jim Williams for an Audio Upgrades mod.

The U87 may not be a perfect mic, but it is a standard in the VO world (especially for animation). Other great mics include the mentioned EV RE20 and the Shure SM7. In the "great but not as common" category, the Sennheiser MD441 and Microtech M930 or UM70/71 are great offerings. For some voices, some of the BLUE mics can also work well.

In the end, I'd try to get several mics to demo and see what works for your voice best. It may be a 414, but it also may be something else. What matters most is what work for you rather than what somebody says you should use.

As for pres- the Hardys are awesome (and after talking with him at various trade shows, he seems to be one of the "good guys" out there). I own a pair of the original Boulder Twin Servos and they are great. I would generally go for a bit larger sounding pre for VO work, though. One of my favorites is the A Designs Pacifica. Good meaty sounding mids, but also a clear top end. It gives you the best of both worlds for voice. When in the field, I use a Grace Lunatec but that is because it is small and clean sounding. If I can get a larger sound (in a studio), I'll prefer that.

I would stay away from lower-end "tube" pres that are really poor quality solid state pres with a tube to "grunge" up the sound.


Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Sat, 01/13/2007 - 12:20
Let me start by saying I do music, not the spoken VO so much, but here something else to consider...
I have the 414TLII and like it much better than the standard 414. Without the transformer in the mic the low end is better, and for voices people tend to dig low-end punch.
Also, what about the Avalon 737sp? It's a killer preamp, and if you can snag it on eBay for a good price ($1600ish for a good condition used one) it will hold it's value. Try it - if you don't like it you can put it back on eBay and get most (if not all) of your money back out of it.

Good luck!

Member for

19 years 11 months

Davedog Tue, 01/30/2007 - 12:49
JWHardy wrote:
the guy told me

The guy is an idiot.

John Hardy
The John Hardy Co.

How did I miss this???

John, you dont hang here often but everytime its a real informative time!

That there's funny........

If I wasnt a poor electron farmer I'd be buyin me some of that Hardy stuff.....

Ben got it right. The BULS version is WAY bright and in yer face....."more aggressive than an 87"....I dont think so. An 87 in excellent condition is one of the MOST versatile mics on the planet. I own an older one and everytime I think I'm gonna plunk down a bunch of lettuce on something to 'replace' it, I hear it and it never fails to hold its own and change my mind. It certainly allows for the single-malt budget to stay up where it should.

Member for

17 years 8 months

Cucco Wed, 01/31/2007 - 07:26
aqualand666 wrote: the 414 is one of the most transparent microphones in existence.

????????????????????????????? :shock: :shock: :shock:

Hmmm...I wouldn't call the 414 transparent in the slightest. To me, transparent means, what passes through the microphone sounds exactly (or darned near exactly) like the actual source. The 414 (all versions) is a VERY top heavy mic with anemic low end and sterile (not transparent, sterile) midrange.

For transparent...there's plenty of choices. DPA, Gefell M930 (not perfectly transparent...think transparent plus a little sweetener), Neumann TLM193, etc.

But...for VO, transparent is often not the preference. Often it's the flattering mic - one that emphasizes positive attributes in the voice.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 01/31/2007 - 16:28
see cucco, i don't know if i would ever really characterize a Neumann as being transparent. then again i've never heard the 193, the TLM 49 is much more coloured than the 414. i would say that along with earthworks, the 414 is up there in terms of transparency.

it was my assumption that the reason Neumann discontinued most of their tube model microphones was because they did such a great job engineering the FET versions of them (most of which seem to be so incredibly warm.) i might also say the 451 is rather transparent.

what exactly are you saying, that the 414 has colour within the high frequencies but doesn't with mid and low range? i think meat loaf might have said that two out of three ain't bad. what is "top heavy" anyways, most condesner mics have some kind of elevated high frequency response. when you boost high frequencies, usually it gives a little more clarity to the subject regardless of what frequency that instrument lies within. doing so, you may also get some noise which could very well be what you are calling colouration in this case.

i could be wrong though

Member for

19 years 11 months

Davedog Wed, 01/31/2007 - 18:25
aqualand666 wrote:

i could be wrong though

Well, yes, that is a possibility. I think you're gonna get into some areas here that you're not aware of the level of expertise you're questioning.

Jeremy, be nice.

Ya see, Mr. Aqualand, he records classical music in all sorts of sonic temples and knowing exactly how much 'color' a mic has, how much extended high-end it captures, how balanced each one is in its frequency range and how this affects things is Cuccos' business.

I'm only stating that because I sense issues will be arising soon......

Heres what I think.............

I wouldn't call a 414, and for the sake of argument lets say the BULS is the model, a transparent mic in any sense of the word as used to describe recording noises. Transparent would be something that you absolutely hear the source as it is in the environment its being reproduced in. A TLM193 is exactly that, whereas MOST other Neumanns are not. They have their own sheen and add their own sparkle, midrange blurr, whatever you want to call it.....color. My 87 has color to it. Thats what I like about it. Does it faithfully reproduce the source? Yeah. Accurately, with its color

Its kind of silly to try and lump mics like the Earthworks stuff with the 414. Dont get me wrong, I love the 414 mics, I just think they have a limited use. But what they shine on, nothing gets close. And a 451...transparent?????Do you have one that is? Does anyone?

Anyway, I just wanted to buffer the explaining you're gonna get for your statements. Maybe we'll all learn something in the process....

K...J.... its all yers....

Member for

16 years

hueseph Wed, 01/31/2007 - 18:48
I feel like a prodigal son has returned. Only, instead of being reformed and repentant, he's brought home his bad ass attitude and still wants to just move right back into his room. Not to aggrivate things. I'll stop now. Carry on. My appologies ahead of time if this turns out the way I expect.

Member for

21 years 2 months

Pro Audio Guest Wed, 01/31/2007 - 23:30
never thought i'd hear the words "414" and "limited use" in the same sentence

consider this; tube microphones posses some of the widest frequency responses that you can get and whether its a flat curve or not, doesn't make that microphone any less coloured.

frequency curves can obviously influence this matter and since the circuitry of the microhpones we are discussing are FET i guess we don't have much else to use as basis for reasoning.

i might be willing to suggest that if the u 87 and the 414 both had the same frequency response curves, the 414 would be the more transparent mic, simply because of its circuitry alone.