Here is a video I voiced for my friend Cy Leland and Trident Media Services. I think Cy’s editor Sammy did an amazing job considering this project went from paper to finished video in 36 hours. I think you’ll hear how the Sennheiser 416 helps the voice cut through a pretty dramatic score.
I’ve actually had the Sennheiser 416 short shotgun microphone in the home studio for about a month now. I recorded a couple of political spots with it in late October. And yeah, I like it. At least for commercials and promos.
It has an upfront “in your face” sound to it that seems to adds some crispness and presence to my voice. And this is with an absolutely flat dry audio chain. No other processing or EQ is needed, which is why a lot of studio engineers like it.
I still need to experiment with it some as to microphone placement. A common positioning is to have the shotgun tube in front (duh) and above the talent and pointing down so the tip is on axis with the upper lip. Distance is a matter of how loud the voice is, I think.
I’ve never had one of those big booming voices, never been a “loud talker” and take the “less is more” approach anyway on most projects. When I’m at an outside studio I can usually tell if some radio guy has been the last talent before my turn. The engineer has to bring the microphone back in much closer for me.
So I’ll be playing with the new 416 to find the “sweet spot”, just how big that spot may be (not very) and a good distance for the particular read I’ll be doing.
My other microphones include Beyer-Dynamic ribbons which have a very warm sound and an Oktavamod from Michael Joly which I think compares very favorably with other common voiceover mics such as the AKG C-414 or Neumann TLM-103 for much less coin.
The very attributes of the Sennheiser 416 for commercial and promo work are what makes me think of using one of my other mics for long form projects. The question is, will narration of, say training material, recorded with the Sennheiser 416, become a little tiring on the ear ten minutes into the program? I suppose it will depend on the project and the copy. It always does.
It seems odd that a microphone made for film and video location recording would find its way into the voice-over booth but it has. The Sennheiser 416 is popular on the West Coast but not so much in New York. One studio in the Dallas area uses it a lot and it is there where I work on one of my biggest accounts.
Engineers like it because of the way it enables voices to “cut through the mix.” It also works well in less than perfect recording environments because of its ability to reject side and rear noise sources. Many actors like the Sennheiser 416 due to a “presence” boost that it seems to have.
However, this microphone also has its detractors. Corey Burton is a long time Hollywood voice actor who absolutely hates this piece of gear and has a rant against it on his website.
I ordered one last week and it should be here any day now. I’ll let you know how it works out in my humble studio.