When it comes to equipment for voice over, there are a LOT of opinions. Should you use an “industry standard” microphone like the Neumann TLM 103, the Sennheiser MKH-416 or the AKG C414? Should you go for the low end of the scale with something like the AT2020, the MXL 990, or EEK! The Blue Yeti?
First, I’ll tell you, I’ve used all of the microphones above. If you have heard my podcast The VO Meter, this is not news to you. Our “Questionable Gear Purchase” segment is probably the most popular with our listeners because we always have new gear. I’m sure, it’s fun to hear our trial and tribulations, sort of like how it’s impossible to look away from a train wreck!
In spite of all the equipment swapping I’ve done, I may, and I stress MAY have had an epiphany. I LIKE being the Yeoman. My family growing up was decidedly working class. My parents were both public school teachers, and my Dad was a struggling professional musician on the side. We were not in poverty, but we were pretty freaking close. I remember my Mom scrimping on groceries and buying me “bobos”. That’s what the kids called the shoes you could buy at Kmart for less than $20. That’s all my brother and I wore for years. We had very few luxuries. My Aunt used to drop off boxes of chips, cookies and soft drinks because we couldn’t afford those. I even remember helping my Mom stuff envelopes for a local business so we could get paid a small amount of money as a side job. My Mom was on sabbatical at this point to help raise my brother and I. It was only years later, when my Dad started getting regularly booked in Atlantic City, Philadelphia and New York, and my Mom went back to teach full time that we climbed to the middle class.
As such, I always had a strong work ethic instilled in me. Part of it was necessity. If I wanted to buy something as a kid, I needed to pay for it myself. So, I worked! I had a paper route starting at around age 10. As soon as I could get working papers I got a part time job at Burger King. Then the local grocery store. I would work as much as I could around school and other activities like sports and Boy Scouts. In the latter, I also worked hard and earned the rank of Eagle Scout. All while playing baseball, in several school bands, doing the morning TV announcements, editing the school paper, and working 15-20 hours a week. I eventually was accepted and graduated from college with a bachelors degree.
This background has always left me in touch with the working person. I view myself the same way. So, when I look for equipment for voice acting. I’m am ALWAYS trying to do more with less. That brings me to my current microphone of choice. The Neat King Bee. The original. I actually bought one of these 2 years ago and liked it, but it was in the middle of a huge binge I was on where I was still trying every mic under the sun. I liked it then, but figured it was just okay, or good. After another recent mic bender where I went out and tried a few more mics, I have decided (possibly for now) that Good, is GREAT. The King Bee, both the original and the newly released King Bee II are perfectly fine for what most voice actors need! And if I’m being honest, the style is great too. I just LOVE that black and gold striping on the original as it sits in the honey comb shock mount. Just look at this beauty in my studio!
Could I buy (another) MKH-416 or TLM 103? Yes. Do I need it? No. The point is, at $200 used and $169 new (for the II) both are great choices for any voice over, and really great for you Yeoman out there.