Voice Over Education Blog

How do these 7 USB mics sound vs. popular non-USB mics? Part 2 of 2.


NOTE: This is the second post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 1!

We always say, learning never ends. That's true of what we know about USB mics. They've gotten better. But are they ready yet for daily use in a professional VO recording studio? As we noted in Part One, in some circumstances, yes -- especially if the owner is just starting on a VO career. With the money you might save, you can invest in things that will have greater benefit to your sound.

But how do they stack up against each other? And can an expert really hear the difference between USB and conventional XLR?

Dan Friedman, one of Edge Studio's home studio consultants, oversaw a USB mic shootout, in which he evaluated USB mics' design and performance, and compared them to some non-USB mics.

Our friends at Sweetwater (a terrific microphone and voice-over equipment retailer) lent us five USB mics for testing (AudioTechnica 2020USBi, Sennheiser MK4 digital, Shure MV51, Blue Raspberry and Miktek ProCast System). In addition, Dan added two more USB mics (Apogee MiC and the Blue Yeti Pro). And for comparison, we also tested three comparably priced XLR (non-USB) Large Diaphragm Condenser (LDC) microphones (XLR BLUE Spark, Rode NT2A, and Studio Projects C1), along with a Sennheiser 416 short shotgun XLR, an industry standard. That's a total of 11 mics. We have 12 audio clips because two of the samples are from the same microphone with different vocal presets.

The XLR mics require an interface, so with them we used the Centrance MicPortPro preamp/interface. We chose the MicPortPro because USB mics are often preferred for travel, and this interface is compact enough for that.

How do these 7 USB mics sound vs. popular non-USB mics? Part 2 of 2.


NOTE: This is the second post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 1!

We always say, learning never ends. That's true of what we know about USB mics. They've gotten better. But are they ready yet for daily use in a professional VO recording studio? As we noted in Part One, in some circumstances, yes -- especially if the owner is just starting on a VO career. With the money you might save, you can invest in things that will have greater benefit to your sound.

But how do they stack up against each other? And can an expert really hear the difference between USB and conventional XLR?

Dan Friedman, one of Edge Studio's home studio consultants, oversaw a USB mic shootout, in which he evaluated USB mics' design and performance, and compared them to some non-USB mics.

Our friends at Sweetwater (a terrific microphone and voice-over equipment retailer) lent us five USB mics for testing (AudioTechnica 2020USBi, Sennheiser MK4 digital, Shure MV51, Blue Raspberry and Miktek ProCast System). In addition, Dan added two more USB mics (Apogee MiC and the Blue Yeti Pro). And for comparison, we also tested three comparably priced XLR (non-USB) Large Diaphragm Condenser (LDC) microphones (XLR BLUE Spark, Rode NT2A, and Studio Projects C1), along with a Sennheiser 416 short shotgun XLR, an industry standard. That's a total of 11 mics. We have 12 audio clips because two of the samples are from the same microphone with different vocal presets.

The XLR mics require an interface, so with them we used the Centrance MicPortPro preamp/interface. We chose the MicPortPro because USB mics are often preferred for travel, and this interface is compact enough for that.

USB mics: Good enough for VO studios? Part 1 of 2


NOTE: This is the first post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 2!

Put five voice actors in a room and they'll soon be exchanging opinions on various mics. The main criteria have been: budget, which mic suits your recording space, and which mic suits your voice type best.

But now, thanks to a number of low-priced USB mics, budget may be less of an issue. They don't need a pre-amp or interface or even expensive cables. But are USB mics really good enough for recording a voice actor at the professional level? We tested a bunch of them, to see.

The short answer is that a USB mic is terrific for beginning a voice-acting career. Roughly speaking, a good USB mic will give 90% of the quality sound you need. They're like an 18-year-old's first car: Something sensible and inexpensive will get the owner safely from point A to point B. In time, you may want to re-invest your profit and buy a more expensive mic. But if it still satisfies you and your clients, an upgrade may not even be necessary.

Many USB mics feature the exact same condenser mic element as their XLR version, so USB models provide a similar high quality sound signature. The primary difference is that the USB mic has its own internal analog-to-digital converter, which affects the quality of the sound being passed along.

When to call yourself a "voice actor," and why. Part 2 of 2.


NOTE: This is the second post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 1!

As someone who performs voice-overs, what should you call yourself? In our last episode, we discussed various terms: announcer, voice-over, voice-over talent, voice talent, voice-over performer, voice-over artist, voice actor and others.

There is no standard definition for any of these terms, and no hard lines between them. But you should probably settle on calling yourself one or another. Your decision might be based on marketing, or simply on your frame of mind. It's up to you. In most cases, we prefer "voice-actor." Here's why ...

Did you miss last week's article? Click here to read last week's article — Are you a "voice actor," a "voice talent," a "voiceover" or what?.

To begin with, "actors" are what casting professionals generally seek.

Actors are versatile in role-playing, and skilled at expressing emotion. An actor can react to direction constructively, even artfully, adding unique qualities to the production. And except for voice acting and readings and such, an actor works without holding a script. Being able to read as if you're not voicing a script is, overall, what our profession is about – sounding natural, like you're simply talking. Even in a voice booth, talent often does better by not staring at the page.

One popular definition of acting is, "appearing real in an unreal situation." What is more unreal than being alone in a sound booth?

So, why not call yourself an actor?

When to call yourself a "voice actor," and why. Part 2 of 2.


NOTE: This is the second post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 1!

As someone who performs voice-overs, what should you call yourself? In our last episode, we discussed various terms: announcer, voice-over, voice-over talent, voice talent, voice-over performer, voice-over artist, voice actor and others.

There is no standard definition for any of these terms, and no hard lines between them. But you should probably settle on calling yourself one or another. Your decision might be based on marketing, or simply on your frame of mind. It's up to you. In most cases, we prefer "voice-actor." Here's why ...

Did you miss last week's article? Click here to read last week's article — Are you a "voice actor," a "voice talent," a "voiceover" or what?.

To begin with, "actors" are what casting professionals generally seek.

Actors are versatile in role-playing, and skilled at expressing emotion. An actor can react to direction constructively, even artfully, adding unique qualities to the production. And except for voice acting and readings and such, an actor works without holding a script. Being able to read as if you're not voicing a script is, overall, what our profession is about – sounding natural, like you're simply talking. Even in a voice booth, talent often does better by not staring at the page.

One popular definition of acting is, "appearing real in an unreal situation." What is more unreal than being alone in a sound booth?

So, why not call yourself an actor?

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