Voice-over has changed dramatically in the past 10 years. What was once mostly in-studio work, done at a few production studios is now a combination of professional studios and home studios. With the advent of on-line auditioning sites, home studios are providing broadcast quality talent for producers all over the world. For voice artists with agents, home studios have become the primary place to record auditions and send them on to the clients.
Right now, the voice-over world is a wild, wild west with many options out there. In this online library we will list many options and keep them as up-to-date as possible. But know, you don’t have to spend $5000. We have many options from $75 to as much as you want to spend. Your goal: broadcast-quality sound files.
The Physical Studio
You need a quiet place that will not bounce sound around.
1. No windows or cover them with blankets
2. If you use a music stand, cover it with a piece of carpet scrap
3. Clothing around you (the closet) will reduce sound
4. You will need a lighting source to read your material
5. You need room to move your arms– and a place to either sit/stand or both.
6. You want to dampen the sound in front (and optimally) behind you. Acoustic tiles are great for this.
7. You want your mic optimally placed for your voice and in a place that will not block your view of the copy. And make sure you are not looking down collapsing the front of the neck which will change your sound.
8. You may need shock mount to reduce vibrations.
9. Check for blowing noises (or any other noise) around you. Refrigerators, air conditioning, heaters. You may need to set up away from them or turn them off.
Consider how much time you are really going to work in your studio. For example, if you really want to do audiobooks, you need a comfortable studio where you can stand/sit for long periods. The studio photographed above is extremely comfortable for long sessions. The mic is on a boom arm that allows for sitting or standing and the music stand can be moved up and down for perfect placement.
If you are only doing auditions– use the closet! Seriously. It’s less than an hour a day. Or get a large refrigerator box, cut out one side, and put in acoustic tiles.
Where to buy acoustic tiles:
Want a ready made sound studio:
These are great! And you could also use it at home for auditions (or make your own….)
Equipment for the Studio
With the advent of quality USB mics, you can get started with a laptop (or desktop) computer, a quality USB mic, studio headphones and editing software. Yes, you can also have a pre-amp, mixer, etc…. but wait on that until you are ready. These days you as the voice-over artist need to be able to understand a little bit about sound– but you don’t have to learn everything at once. Learn as you go.
Note: Every mic is a little different with different voices. You can go to Guitar Center to test how different mics sound with your voice. You can also return them if you need to. Blue is putting out some really great USB mics. We highly recommend the Blue Yeti and Blue Yeti Pro.
Resources for hardware:
Audacity is free editing software. It’s a great place for beginners to learn how to record, make edits and basic mastering. It’s great for auditions. For long-form narration, we recommend other software that is less clunky. Adobe’s Audition is outstanding for long-form narration and Pro-Tools is great. Just know you are learning to fly a jet engine just to drive around the parking lot.
Tech Checks and Ways to Know if Your Studio is “Broadcast Quality”
SVI Tech Check- email a file to us and we’ll get back to you within 24 hours with honest feedback. We work with several local audio engineers and we are happy to put you directly in touch with them as well. We charge $25 for this service to check up to 1 minute of recorded sound.
Other great resources from Seattle Studio Training:
- http://www.reaper.fm – Download this incredible Digital Audio Workstation for free
- http://www.vertigo-studios.com/category/blog/ – Excellent blog about recording technology
- http://www.recordinghacks.com/microphones/ – The best online database of microphones
- http://www.freesound.org – An incredible library of free to use sound effects
- http://www.youtube-mp3.org – Convert audio from youtube videos into Mp3’s
- http://www.all8.com/tools/bpm – An easy to use online metronome
- http://www.voxengo.com/product/r8brain – For perfect sample rate conversion at no cost
- http://www.rarewares.org/mp3-lamedrop.php – An easy to use MP3 batch converter
- http://www.creativelive.com/audio – Free live webcast’s about pro audio (& more)
- http://www.splashtop.com – Mobile device app to control your computer remotely
- http://www.wetransfer.com – File transfer site, great for sending large projects
- http://www.jamendo.com – Free stock music database for personal use
- www.digitalfishphones.com – Free “Spitfish” De-Esser (perfect for Voice Over)