The perfect voiceover mic?
There are many good reasons why Neumann U87 microphones are the most widely used mics in the world of voiceover. You see (and hear) them everywhere. They are well engineered, quiet and reliable. The K87 capsule translates the spoken word with great clarity and intimacy. They say more hit records have been made with U87’s than any other mic on earth. Not to mention millions of voiceovers.
Can they be bettered?
Well, yes. A U87 can be a little peaky or honky on the wrong source – especially in the mid range. The headroom is a notoriously limited (try barking a used car commercial into one). The frequency response is curtailed above 16kHz, thanks to German broadcasting’s Brown Book regulations from the 1970’s. When it comes to female voices they can exaggerate sibilance – especially if not placed 100% optimally. And they don’t have all that much bass either, though that can be overcome thanks to the proximity effect.
But many of these limitations can be removed with some careful modifications plus the ears of the world’s most highly regarded mic technician, Klaus Heyne in Portland, Oregon. His client list is just outrageous (Barbra Streisand, Bryan Adams, Neil Young as well as studios such as Lucasfilm, Disney, Cello and Paramount).
When Klaus modifies a U87 he keeps the heart of the mic – the capsule – intact, but the electronics are almost all upgraded. His work is a dark art. He rebalances the frequency response, addresses the headroom issues and lessens the infamous mid-range honk by removing the global and frequency specific loops. Even better, he can fine tune the capsule somewhat to customize it for a specific voice. In Emma’s case a slight dip in the sibilance range, in Colin’s case a gentle cut in the low mids.
We couldn’t be more happy with the results of our customised mics from Klaus. You get a device that is still very definitely a U87 but with higher highs, lower lows, less distortion, more headroom, more 3-D and with infinitely more sex-appeal.
His website is – how to put it – not exactly state of the art. Minimalist might be the fairest thing you can say. But don’t let that fool you. Klaus doesn’t need to advertise; he has a long waiting list and his mods are not cheap, but in the end it’s all more than worth it.
The best voiceover mic? Well, that’s the one that suits your voice and your room best. In our case it’s a KH U87ai.