Staying in the mic

Seven months after first setting up my studio equipment, I’m still learning the nuances of how to use it properly, particularly the microphone itself.   My current (and thus far, only) mic is the Harlan Hogan VO-1.  While I understand there are a plethora of opinions, preferences, and experiences about various mics, and that mics respond differently to different voice types, I’m perfectly happy with the Hogan for now.

My instructor Ron Allan has a Hogan mic installed in a studio booth he uses for students, and which I used during my training to record  exercises and projects, but also to voice actual commercials for him as intern work where he thought I would be a good fit for the spot.  Ron suggested I go to a dealer and compare mics, so I went on a Saturday to Sam Ash, where they had such a comparison display with 12 different mics you could do a test run on.

When it came time to building my studio, I went with a local computer technician who is a voice artist himself, Danny Betz of Redemption Computers LLC.  Danny’s “pro” studio package came with the Harlan Hogan mic, as he found it is a very good starter which will respond well to a broad variety of voices.

NOTE:  I would be remiss if I did not give Danny Betz a plug here.  Danny is a crackerjack computer technician and knows what equipment a voice actor needs.   I found him to be very knowledgeable, trustworthy, and the Pro package I ordered from him did not disappoint.  Everything was top quality, from the custom-built PC designed for voice artists with huge amounts of audio files, to the studio monitors, down to the huge screen monitor that allows me to read copy without eye strain.  Danny spent an hour carefully setting everything up and testing it out, and another hour training me on its use.

For more info on his business, go to www.RedemptionComputers.com.  You can reach Danny by email at   Danny@RedemptionComputers.com

In my case, with my resonant (ahem) baritone, I feel the Hogan responds well in reproducing it digitally, and I’m pleased with it.  However, I did have to learn to use it properly to maximize the sound.   Ron felt I sounded best up close (4”-5” away), with the diaphragm pointing slightly away from me at 45 degrees, and with my mouth aiming an inch or two off-axis.  I have experimented some in the last few months, moving farther away, changing the diaphragm angle and mouth position, but in general, I’d say Ron’s positioning for me seems to work best.

There are some added benefits to that technique.  First, even though I relocated my computer outside my studio, it still makes a detectable hum.  However, angling the diaphragm away from that location reduces the noise floor a dB or two, down to -65.

Second, staying up closes  allows me to keep the input gain low and not pick up more noise floor, while getting the benefits of “proximity effect” – enhancing the bass tones in my voice for greatest effect.

And third, being slightly off-axis means I’m not covering my pop filter with saliva every few seconds.  I’m using a curved metal pop filter by Blue, I like it for the double layer of mesh for durability.

All in all, I’m reasonably happy for now.  What would be on my shopping list for the future?  Oh, I wouldn’t mind trying the Sennheiser MK416 shotgun mic.  I like the idea of the uni-directional pick-up pattern only picking up sound in a very tight cone behind you (as well as your voice), and reducing the noise floor further.  I did actually test the Neumann U87 and the Neumann TLM103 at Guitar Center one day.  Both fantastic mics; the difference to me was minuscule, but probably very noticeable for those at the top echelon in the industry.

How about you readers out there?  What microphone is your favorite for voice acting, and what experiences have you had using different ones?  Click on “Leave A Comment” on the upper right and feel free to share your thoughts.  (NOTE:  no spam or solicitation messages, those WILL be deleted)

That’s all for now.  Until next time, keep your best voice forward and watch those plosives.  Take care.

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