Meghan Markle Used A Neumann Mic To Make Her Spotify Podcasts Sound Warm And Engaging
When Spotify signed up Meghan Markle – the Duchess of Sussex – to present a series of podcasts for a staggering $20m, the streaming giant was duty-bound to ensure the Duchess sounded great. The words in the podcast may have been Meghan’s, but the sound of those words was down to Neumann, the legendary German microphone manufacturer that’s part of the Sennheiser Group.
The moment I heard Meghan speaking on her Archetypes podcast, I was struck by the warmth and nuance captured in her voice. It made her sound warm, approachable and intimate, characteristics that were essential for the kind of podcast she was presenting. As soon as I heard that sound, I had to find out which microphone had been used.
Having a forensic fascination for microphones is an unusual hobby, but I’m intrigued by how two different models of microphones can make a person sound completely different. To track down the microphone used, I looked at some promotional photos of the podcast recording sessions released by Spotify. I noticed that the microphone was mounted on its side – an unusual position – presumably not to obscure her face.
I tried emailing Spotify but to no avail. Next, I turned to Google and carried out a thorough image search of just about every podcasting microphone I could find on the Internet. It took me a while, but I finally identified the model as a Neumann BCM 705.
There is a condenser variant of the BCM 705 (the Neumann BCM 104), but the green Neumann logo identified it as a dynamic design rather than the more usual red. Dynamic microphones are far better at rejecting room noise, which is essential for recording on location rather than in a sound-proofed recording studio.
I should have known that in such a high-profile production, the producers would use something like a Neumann or the ubiquitous Shure SM7B. The Neumann looks far more elegant and sounds warmer to my ears. The BCM 705 is also relatively well-priced and designed for broadcasting and podcasting with the ability to bring out emotion in a voice.
Inside the BCM 709, there’s a dynamic capsule voiced for a smooth and clear sound with excellent speech intelligibility. The hyper-cardioid pickup pattern and internal shock mount and pop filter minimize unwanted room sounds, making it ideal for recording in untreated spaces while on location.
Neumann developed the BCM 709 with radio DJs, podcasters and talk show hosts specifically in mind, but the design also performs well for announcers, newscasters and voiceovers. The BCM 705 excels at conveying emotion and pulls out the warmth in a speaker’s voice. The shape of the microphone makes it ideal for use on a boom arm, enabling it to be mounted horizontally or vertically. For video streamers, the BCM 709 is ideal when mounted in a horizontal position, as it won’t obscure the face.
Thanks to an elastic microphone mount and a newly designed internal capsule suspension, the BCM 705 is particularly robust and rejects rumble. An internal foam screen protects the capsule from dirt, moisture and nicotine while reducing pops and plosives. The head grille easily twists off for cleaning, keeping the microphone hygienic.
The BCM 709’s sibling, the red-badged BCM 104, uses a condenser capsule instead, while the 705 uses a moving coil capsule. The BCM 705 has the green Neumann logo indicating it’s a dynamic model. Dynamic microphones are sturdier than condenser models but can sound slightly less natural than condenser transducers. However, with careful design, a dynamic microphone can deliver a warm sound classic that defines the FM radio sound that’s so popular in the United States. This deliciously warm microphone sounds like a condenser but with all the advantages of a dynamic design, making it ideal for recording podcasts on location where robust equipment is essential.
This is an ideal microphone for local radio stations, smaller studios, and high-end streaming and podcasting. The hyper-cardioid pattern and close-speech optimized capsule help filter out unwanted sounds, even in untreated rooms or spaces that are not very well sound-proofed.
The BCM 705’s frequency response is specifically tailored for the human voice. It has a gentle presence boost above 2kHz to enhance speech intelligibility. At the same time, its soft bass roll-off compensates for the proximity effect, creating a low-end which is full but never boomy.
The Neumann BCM 705 doesn’t require phantom power and it’s easy to set up. Connect it to a USB audio interface or digital recorder using an XLR cable, and you’re ready to broadcast live or record a podcast. Although it’s primarily designed for broadcasting and podcasts, the BCM 709 can shine in the recording studio. Its dynamic design soaks up high sound pressure levels enabling it to capture powerful vocals or a blast from a brass section.
Verdict: The Neumann BCM 709 is a superb dynamic microphone with a pressure gradient transducer ideal for podcasting, announcing and streaming. It has many of the excellent characteristics of a traditional condenser microphone, but it can sound like a studio microphone, even in an untreated room. The built-in pop filter and anti-rumble suspension make it incredibly versatile and excellent at rejecting unwanted sounds, no matter where it is used. It does need a fair amount of gain, but the noise floor is excellent and the result is a beautiful warmth that brought out an extra dimension and depth in Meghan Markle’s Spotify podcasts, making her voice sound far more engaging and warmer than some other microphone might have managed. Highly Recommended.
Pricing & Availability: The Neumann BCM 709 dynamic microphone is available from Neumann distributors and costs $729 / £569 / €649.
More info: neumann.com
- Acoustical operating principle: Pressure gradient transducer.
- Directional pattern: Hypercardioid.
- Frequency range: 20Hz – 20kHz.
- Sensitivity at 1kHz into 1kΩ: 1.7mV/Pa = –55.4dB ± 1dB.
- Rated impedance: 200Ω.
- Rated load impedance: 10kΩ.
- Equivalent noise level, CCIR: 32dB.
- Equivalent noise level, A-weighted: 18dB-A.
- Signal-to-noise ratio, CCIR (re. 94 dB SPL): 62dB.
- Signal-to-noise ratio, A-weighted (re. 94 dB SPL): 76dB.
- Weight: 500g.
- Diameter: 64mm.
- Length: 85mm.
- Height: 110mm.