Voiceover Recording With The Neumann M 147

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  • December 3, 2015
M147 mic

Neumann has been rightly famed throughout the decades for the creation of some of the world’s highest quality microphones. The M 147 is one of the newer additions to the Neumann stable, and borrows some key characteristics from the legendary models of the past. At the heart of the M 147 is a vacuum tube making the human voice in particular sound buttery smooth across all frequencies. It also responds well to to bass cabinets and even kick drums, but I wanted to put this mic through its paces capturing voiceovers, so here we take a look at voiceover recording with the Neumann M 147, experimenting with different miking positions.

M147 mic

The M 147 is an optimal choice for many vocal styles. That quality is to be expected from a company that has set the benchmark for microphone excellence for almost a century

Voiceover (VO) work is particularly important to a commercial studio, as is recording a voice reel. There are many applications for VO – broadcast, advertising, automated dialogue replacement (ADR) for films and many more. Thus, it stands to reason that the mic in question should be reliable and versatile enough to work for a diverse range of styles.

I tested out the mic with a few VO positions:

On axis, 6 inches away –

This resulted in an intimate and full sound across most frequencies. The bottom end was captured well and gave the voice a “broadcast” quality. There was some spikiness in the tops (the M 147 has a slight boost in frequency response above 2kHz) but not enough to be tiring on the ears for long periods.

Off axis, 6 inches away –

This really surprised me. The M 147 has no switchable polar patterns, just cardioid tending toward super-cardioid, so I was expecting it to substantially decrease in fullness as I moved off axis. If anything though, this was my favourite position. It maintained all the velvet in the lows, and slightly smoothed off the tops. It brought to mind a crooning quality, but experimenting with the axis for commercial or broadcast VO can yield surprisingly beneficial results.

On axis, 12 inches away –

As could be expected, the intimacy of the vocal was compromised in this position. The M 147 still captured the voice in a realistic and unmistakable way, but with more air. This wouldn’t be great for broadcast or commercial jobs, but it brought to mind ADR, and the need to capture a more natural and ambient vocal sound.

The M 147 is an optimal choice for many vocal styles. That quality is to be expected from a company that has set the benchmark for microphone excellence for almost a century. What brought the most excitement for me, however, was they way that it responded in less conventional positions (like the aforementioned off-axis configuration). I’m looking forward to more surprises with the M 147.

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Dan Shaw is recording and mixing engineer at Enmore Audio. He also plays bass in Wells and Circle.

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