Seeing as it’s Valentine’s day, I thought instead of getting all *mushy we could get a little nerdy… “gear-nerdy”, to be exact. I should warn you, this could become something of a recurring theme around here.
Now, “gear-nerdom” isn’t just for people buying something like a hollow body ’62 Chet Atkins Country Gentleman electric guitar like George played (mind, I’ll take one with a walnut stain, please and thank you). No, the biggest piece (in my opinion) of the whole gear formula starts right in front of your face.
Yes, It’s the one, the only… the microphone. It’s worth noting that in saying the “only” there are roughly a million different mic’s out there – but that’s not the point, moving on. All of us in the voice biz have different setups, so I thought I’d give you a peek into what I use here in my studio.
My go-to mic is a Rode NT2-A, also known as a multi-pattern dual condenser microphone. Fancy words to describe a silky smooth, flexible mic, capable of handling all I can throw at it. It was recommended almost twenty years ago by one of the OG’s in the voiceover world. I don’t want to name drop just yet but I can promise you that you’ve heard them. The NT2-A rivals the ever popular Neumann U87, which is a similarly styled mic. For those mic-heads reading this, you know what I’m talking about (also, is “mic-head” cool? Did I just start something?).
For those of you who don’t spend their nights up late reading about this kind of thing, microphones are basically transducers – they convert energy from one form to another. The NT2-A is what you call a ‘condenser’ mic. It uses suuuuper thin metal plates that create a diaphragm. Said diaphragm picks up differences in air pressure caused by vibrations (for example, your voice) and converts them into electrical signals that travel down the mic cable and into Pro Tools or your digital audio workstation of choice or a Barbie portable tape recorder. Whatever, we don’t judge here. Maybe you’re 2022’s answer to Geoff Emerick.
Condenser mic’s are everywhere, including the trusty NT2-A. You know that Wrecking Ball song by what’s her name? Guaranteed this mic was used to record some of that. Also I’m just realizing that song hasn’t been popular in a few years. I should really work on updating my references.
I love this mic so much that I’m convinced it makes my Nic Cage impression believable, at least, that’s what my cousin Nancy tells me. For the record, it’s not an impression of Nic from The Wicker Man or anything, we’re talking more Wild At Heart / Mandy vibes.
Truthfully, this is only one part involved in the signal chain to get a solid, consistent voice take. Talent also helps. So does the room. There are people out there with $3,000 dollar mics in a room that echoes more than the Grand Canyon, calling themselves “pros”. Yikes.
As I mentioned above, this is just the beginning of our gear talk – and trust me, I did my best to keep this brief. We’ll touch on more gear and tech stuff. Plus, I’ll toss in some really odd facts about all this stuff and teach you cool tips and tricks you can try at home. Like how you can use a speaker as a microphone (whaaaat??) But I’ll save that for a different gear chat.
You rock, thanks for diving in with me. Those of you working in the sound recording field, I’d love to hear about your mic choices, and for those of you who have no idea about any of this crazy stuff, is there something you’d like to learn that we haven’t talked about? Got questions? Fire away! I like a challenge. Hit that CONTACT button and maybe we’ll feature your feedback in the next post.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to go finish the Valentine’s movie I started. Dune’s romantic, right? It was either that or Jackass Forever.
(*I said we wouldn’t get mushy but c’mon – you gotta love that guitar.)
James Dooley is the owner of Dooley Media Works, a voiceover recording and video production company. When he’s not being the “friendly, yet authoritative” voice of brands like KAYAK, Dove Soap and Honey Nut Cheerios, he provides voiceover coaching and professional voiceover demo production for aspiring voice actors looking to succeed in the business.