10 Best Microphones for Voice Acting: A 2022 Buyer’s Guide and Review

10 Best Microphones for Voice Acting: A 2022 Buyer’s Guide and Review

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There is nothing more important to a serious voice actor or voice-over professional than a good microphone. In fact, it is often said (maybe somewhat jokingly) that a voice actor, singer, streamer, or content producer doesn’t even need a good voice, as long as they have a good mic.

But seriously, if you do have a good voice, getting the best microphone is maybe even more important – the right mic will allow you to really let your expressive range go, from whimpering and whispering to screaming and shouting and everything in between, and capture all of the dynamics, detail, and nuance perfectly.

And, even if you do have a good voice, the best microphones for voice work will make it sound even better!

Today we’re going to get into a fairly long list of our favorite microphones for voice acting, voice-over work, narration, content creation, and streaming. We’ll look at mics ranging from incredibly cheap to, well, pretty spendy, but all of them will offer the best value and the best performance possible in their price range. 

Along the way we’ll try to answer some basic, often asked questions, like:

  • What is the best microphone for voice acting?
  • What brand of mic is best for voice-over work?
  • What microphone do professional voice actors use?
  • What is the best cheap microphone for voice work?
  • What is the best sounding mic for recording the voice?
  • What kind of mic is best for voice acting?

But first…

What Should You Look For in the Best Mics for Voice Acting?

In preparing to write this article, I took a look around the web at various other microphone buyer’s guides, and especially their explanations of the various kinds of microphones and what is most important. And, after reading so many well-intentioned technical explanations, all I could think was “huh?” And I already knew all this stuff!

So yeah, it is quite easy to make shopping for the best microphone incredibly technical and confusing, but it definitely doesn’t need to be. In fact, there are really only maybe three basic but important considerations:

USB versus XLR

This is simply the kind of connector the microphone uses, and each has advantages.

USB microphones are quite inexpensive, and a great place to start. They plug right into your computer’s USB port and usually require absolutely nothing else, so you can pull your new microphone out of the box, plug it in and get busy.

On the other hand, a USB microphone will tend to have (sometimes significantly) lower sound quality than an XLR mic. Don’t get me wrong – they can still sound great, but won’t allow the kinds of dynamic energy and expressive range we often associate with vocal performances, and also won’t capture subtle dynamic nuances or small details as well. USB microphones are also, as a rule, somewhat cheaply made, and won’t have the durability or long life of a more professional XLR microphone.

XLR microphones are the choice of professionals and tend to be much more heavily built, durable and reliable, but also more expensive. They also tend to sound a lot better – the best mics with XLR connectors will be much better at capturing the human voice in its full expressive range, and with accuracy, clarity, presence, and a sweet and beautiful tone.

XLR mics do, though, cost a lot more, and require additional equipment. Specifically, since they have XLR connectors, with standard analog (that is, not digital) output, they require a device called an audio interface for use with a computer. That said, these audio interfaces are not generally too terribly expensive, and do offer other controls and functionality which you might find useful, 

Condenser versus Dynamic

Condenser microphones are very sensitive instruments, which work beautifully in studios and for inside home recording or streaming set-ups – as long as you have done some work to insulate the space from noise. For voice work, condenser microphones are by far the most popular option.

Keep in mind, though, that condenser microphones will need external power supplies – what is called “phantom power” (though this is not true with USB condenser mics, which get their power from the computer’s USB port). Some condenser mics will come with power supplies, but normally you use an audio interface, as mentioned above – not just for phantom power but also because most condenser mics have XLR connectors.

Dynamic microphones are far less sensitive, and a much better option for outside work and recording on location. They might not capture the same nuances and subtlety that a condenser mic will, but for location work, they are great at rejecting background and incidental noise and picking up the voice. It is also often said that, because of their lower sensitivity, you can really just scream into a dynamic mic without any overload or distortion, but to be honest the best condenser mics should allow that as well.

Dynamic mics do not require phantom power, but as they usually have XLR connectors you will still need an audio interface. 

Generally, condenser microphones are strongly preferred for voice work, and if you think you might be doing outside or location recording as well as studio work, it is a good idea to look for a condenser microphone with adjustable polar pickup patterns. This leads us to…

Cardioid Microphones and Polar Patterns

This is an area where we can really make things complicated, or just as easily keep them really simple! So let’s go with the second choice – simple – especially since there is really only one truly viable option for voice work: the cardioid pattern.

Polar patterns simply define the directions from which a microphone will pick up sounds. There are actually a lot of them, including a cardioid, sub-cardioid, super-cardioid, hyper-cardioid, omnidirectional, bidirectional, ultra directional, shotgun, and figure eight.

But again, voice professionals overwhelmingly prefer standard cardioid microphones, and almost every recommendation on our list of best mics for voice-over work will be cardioid. Some of our choices will have adjustable polar patterns, which isn’t a bad idea if you might be doing some location work or outdoor recording, and as one of their options will always be cardioid, they are a great choice for your main indoor work as well.

And now, onto the list!

Top 10 Best Microphones for Voice Acting in 2022

1. Blue Snowball iCE

Sale
Blue Snowball iCE Plug 'n Play USB Microphone for Recording, Streaming, Podcasting, Gaming on PC and...
  • Custom condenser capsule: Powered by Blue’s custom condenser capsule, Snowball iCE microphone delivers crystal-clear audio quality...
  • Cardioid pickup pattern: Captures your voice with clear, focused sound for streaming, podcasting, broadcasting, Skype calls and Zoom...
  • Stylish retro design: Record or stream in style with a classic recording equipment design that looks great on your desktop and on camera
  • Adjustable desktop stand: Allows you to position the condenser microphone in relation to the sound source, improving sound quality and...
  • Skype and Discord certified: Whether conducting interviews over Skype, streaming live gameplay on Twitch, or communicating across the globe,...
  • Connector: USB
  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Various (including cardioid)

The Blue Snowball iCE is the least expensive microphone I’ve ever used that can make acceptable-sounding voice recordings. Extremely easy to set up, with various polar patterns (including cardioid), and offering clear and low noise sound, this is a great place to start, and understandably extremely popular among new voice actors, content creators, and gamers. A surprisingly expressive and good-sounding mic.

2. Blue Yeti

Sale
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC/Mac, Blue VOICE effects, 4 Pickup...
  • Custom Three-Capsule Array: Produces clear, powerful, broadcast-quality sound for YouTube, game streaming, podcasting, Zoom calls and music.
  • Blue VO!CE Software: Craft the perfect broadcast vocal sound and entertain your audience with enhanced effects, advanced modulation and HD...
  • Four Pickup Patterns: Flexible cardioid, omni, bidirectional, and stereo pickup patterns allow you to record in ways that would normally...
  • Onboard Audio Controls: Headphone volume, pattern selection, instant mute, and mic gain put you in charge of every level of the recording...
  • Plug 'n Play on Mac and PC: Instantly start recording and streaming on Mac or PC.
  • Connector: USB
  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Various (including cardioid)

Still quite cheap, and super easy to set up and use, the Blue Yeti is a great inexpensive voice-over microphone, with a real improvement in sound over the company’s Snowball. It’s also well made and durable, and the easily switchable polar patterns make it a versatile mic for both studio and location work. Easily the best budget microphone for voice acting, and one of the most popular mics on the market today.

3. Audio-Technica AT2020USB+

Sale
Audio-Technica AT2020USB+ Cardioid Condenser USB Microphone, With Built-In Headphone Jack & Volume...
  • Condenser microphone with USB output for digital recording
  • High quality A/D converter with 16 bit, 44.1/48 kilohertz sampling rate for superb audio
  • Headphone jack with volume control allows you to monitor the microphone signal with no delay
  • Mix control allows you to blend your microphone signal and prerecorded audio
  • High output, the internal headphone amplifier delivers superior clarity and musical detail as well as more volume overall
  • Connector: USB
  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

As popular as the Blue Yeti is, and as great as the sound is, it must be said that for about fifty dollars more you can notice a dramatic improvement with the Audio Technica AT2020, which has clarity, detail, and presence associated with much more expensive microphones while avoiding any hint of harshness or false emphasis. The headphone monitoring jack is extremely useful, and the AT2020 also comes with a desktop stand, making it even more versatile.

4. Rode NT-USB

Rode NT-USB Versatile Studio-Quality USB Cardioid Condenser Microphone,Black
  • High quality studio microphone with the convenience of USB connectivity
  • Pop shield, Tripod desk stand, ring mount, storage pouch and 6m (20’) USB cable included
  • 3.5 millimeter stereo headphone jack for zero-latency monitoring
  • Connector: USB
  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

With the Rode NT-USB microphone, we are getting even closer to a truly studio-quality unit. The high-quality built-in plosives screen, excellent diaphragm, and wide frequency response allow for wider vocal range and more expressivity and dynamics in acting, and the NT-USB includes a low-latency headphone jack for easy self-monitoring. A bright, clear, and low noise microphone that is so easy to use and has a beautiful sound.

5. Rode NT1-A

Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package
  • Large diaphragm 1” gold-sputtered capsule
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Ultra-low noise, self-noise of only 5dB (A)
  • Includes Rode SM6 shock mount, pop filter and dust cover
  • Internal capsule shock mounting
  • Connector: XLR
  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

We come back to Rode for a relatively low-priced XLR microphone that offers superior clarity and very low noise and really captures vocal expressivity, from subtle nuances to explosive volume, with impressive fidelity. Much better than most other opening level XLR microphones, the NT1-A includes a good plosives screen and a shock mount and is extremely well made and durable.

This condenser mic will require a phantom power supply, and because it uses XLR connectors you will need an audio interface for computer connection. The excellent and inexpensive Focusrite Scarlett Solo will provide both and is a supreme value, and for a step-up in sound quality and versatility – though at nearly twice the price – we also love the Steinberg UR24C.

6. Harlan Hogan Signature Series Microphone

VO: 1-A Harlan Hogan Signature Series Microphone - The Voice Over Microphone!
  • Studio Condenser Microphone tailored to the unique needs of voice over recording
  • Foam-lined travel case and fleece-lined protective storage pouch
  • Fifteen foot Marshall XLR microphone cable
  • MXL quick mic clip & shock mount
  • Wiring by Mogami
  • Connector: XLR & USB
  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

An extremely popular microphone among voice-over professionals, narrators, content creators, and other vocal talents, the Harlan Hogan Signature is as clear and accurate as of the Rode NT1-A above, but with a warm and sweet sound that is especially nice for thinner voices, and makes pretty much any voice sound great. Also great is the versatility of having both an XLR connector for quality and a USB connector for convenience and traveling. 

If you are using this condenser mic with its XLR connector, which will yield better sound, it will require a phantom power supply and an audio interface for computer connection. The excellent and inexpensive Focusrite Scarlett Solo will provide both and is a supreme value, and for a step-up in sound quality and versatility – though at nearly twice the price – we also love the Steinberg UR24C.

7. Electro-Voice RE20

Sale
Electro-Voice RE20 Broadcast Announcer Microphone with Variable-D
  • Professional quality dynamic cardioid microphone with studio condenser-like performance
  • The classic sound of FM radio voices with smooth, natural, and controlled sonic character
  • The Variable-D design and heavy-duty internal pop filter excel for close-in voice work, while an internal element shock-mount reduces...
  • Steel case and hum-bucking coil provide exceptional magnetic shielding and guards against line hum
  • Great for podcasts, voice-over work, audiobook narration, talk shows, sports announcers, radio, broadcasting, and music production
  • Connector: USB
  • Type: Dynamic
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

The Electro-Voice RE20 is one of the most popular and widely used professional microphones among announcers and voice talent, and for lots of good reasons. The Variable-D technology allows you to move around and still provides essentially the same rich, detailed sound regardless of distance or position, while a superb internal pop screen allows you to get as close, and as expressive, as you want. Great for all kinds of voices, this is a beautifully made, superb-sounding microphone. 

This condenser mic will require a phantom power supply, and because it uses XLR connectors you will need an audio interface for computer connection. Earlier we recommended both the excellent and inexpensive Focusrite Scarlett Solo for both, or the even better Steinberg UR24C, but at this level, you might want to consider the beautiful Focusrite Scarlett 18i8, which will give you both audio interface and phantom power, and is a very well made and fantastic sounding unit.

8. Neumann Vocal Condenser Microphone

Neumann Vocal Condenser Microphone, Black (TLM 102 MT)
  • Large-diaphragm microphone with cardioid directional characteristic (pressure gradient transducer)
  • Compact Neumann design
  • Very high maximum sound pressure level (144 dB)
  • Slight presence boost above 6 kHz helps vocals to shine in the mix
  • Connector: XLR
  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

While most serious voice actors turn to the Electro-Voice RE20, just above, the Neumann TLM 102 is another wonderful choice in the mid-priced professional microphone range, and with maybe an even more beautiful sound. With extremely low distortion and noise, wide frequency response, fantastic bass reproduction, and real dynamic energy, the TLM 102 is fantastic for dramatic range and does as well with screams as with whispers. It is known as a great mic for clarity and is loved by people with overly dark or thick voices. It is also a beautiful-looking microphone, with a premium fit and finish and a fantastic retro look.

This condenser mic also requires a phantom power supply, and because it uses XLR connectors you will need an audio interface for computer connection (same as the previous mic). Earlier we recommended both the excellent and inexpensive Focusrite Scarlett Solo for both, or the even better Steinberg UR24C, but at this level, you might want to consider the beautiful Focusrite Scarlett 18i8, which will give you both audio interface and phantom power, and is a very well made and fantastic sounding unit.

9. Warm Audio WA-47

Warm Audio WA-47 Large Diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone
  • Large-diaphragm Tube Condenser Microphone with 9 Polar Patterns
  • Wood Presentation Box
  • External PSU
  • Shockmount
  • Connector: XLR
  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Multiple (Including Cardioid)

While not as well known as Neumann, Rode, or Electrovoice, Warm Audio is fast becoming a real favorite among voice actors and singers. The WA-47 is an especially good example of their design philosophy and overall quality, with a warmth of sound that can make thinner voices sound gorgeous, and an overall accuracy that avoids the false emphasis and harshness you get from even high-end pro mics. Tube rolling will allow you to play with the sound a bit, but the WA-47 right out of the box, with the included standard tube, is one of the very best and most beautiful sounding mics I’ve ever used.

This condenser mic will require a phantom power supply, and because it uses XLR connectors you will need an audio interface for computer connection, while something like the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 would be an excellent choice, we have had especially good luck pairing the Warm WA-47 with the versatile and superb sounding Bose T4S ToneMatch Mixer.

10. Neumann TLM 103

Neumann TLM 103 Large-Diaphragm Condenser Microphone (Mono Set, Nickel)
  • Large diaphragm cardioid microphone
  • Extremely low noise: 7 dB-A. Supply voltage (P48, IEC 61938): 48 V ± 4 V
  • Straightforward handling for homerecording and professional studios
  • Set includes microphone, shockmount and briefcase.Dynamic range:131 dB
  • Connector: XLR
  • Type: Condenser
  • Polar Pattern: Cardioid

It would seem that the most successful and best-selling pop music superstars would automatically go for the absolutely superb Neumann U 87 studio microphone for recording, but a surprising number of even absurdly wealthy pop stars strongly prefer the Neumann TLM 103, which seems to inspire a fierce loyalty among them. For around a third of the price of the U 87, the TLM 103 is so close in sound quality that even trained professionals often cannot tell the difference, and has perhaps an even better ability to capture the highest volumes and a wider range of vocal expression. This may well be the best voice microphone made and is the real choice for top-level voice actors and voice-over professionals.

As with any condenser microphone on this list of best mics for voice acting, you will need a good audio interface with phantom power supply for use with your computer, and at this level you can still use a great mid-range product like the Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 or Bose T4S ToneMatch Mixer, at this level you should strongly consider getting an interface that is the equal of the 103, and can really take advantage of its incredible sound and capabilities. For this there is no better choice than the stellar Apogee Symphony Pro Audio Interface.