What Do You Need for a Home Recording Voice Over Studio?
There is no ‘right’ time in your voice over career to set up your home studio. You could be a newcomer to the industry or a professional but whatever your situation, you might be thinking that having a home studio will be a benefit to your career. Putting some thought into the type of equipment you’ll need is important.
There are some essentials that you are going to need.
A Computer and Recording Software
This is one of the most expensive requirements – and hopefully one you already have. Your computer, whether a mac or pc, desktop or laptop, is going to be crucial to recording. You don’t need anything fancy, but make sure it meets the minimum specs for your recording software. Most programs require around 5GB of hard drive space, 4GB of RAM and at least a 2GHz CPU. If you can afford a higher spec machine, go for it as you’ll get more years out of it before needing an upgrade.
With recording software, your computer can now be used to record, edit and cleanup your sound clips. There are plenty of free recording software options, such as Audacity, ProTools First or Presonus StudioOne. These range from basic and easy to use, to a little more advanced, but no matter which you choose, play around with it and get used to all the tools that come with each.
An XLR Condenser Microphone is best for voice over, and you’ll get a better signal from it than a dynamic mic. For the professional, buying this kind of mic is an easy decision and worth the expense, but a newcomer might consider a cheaper USB Microphone first. This won’t result in the same high-quality sound of an XLR Condenser, but it is useful for anyone on the go, and can be plugged directly into a computer. A USB mic would also mean skipping the purchase of an audio interface.
An Audio Interface
The audio interface connects your mic to the computer and allows you to adjust the mic input as well as the audio output. Most interfaces allow for speakers as well as headphones to be plugged in. Simply plug the microphone into the interface using an XLR cable. The interface itself usually connects with a USB cable, but some also use firewire.
Proper, comfortable closed back wired headphones. Something that you can happily wear for hours, because that’s how long you’ll be wearing them. You could use Bluetooth headphones but that often means bypassing your audio interface to connect them, and what you really want is to monitor the sound directly from the interface itself. Bluetooth can also cause some delay between your software and your headphones and they’re usually pricier.
A Pop Shield
The pop shield will be attached to the front of your microphone to reduce ‘popping’ noises, like the type you may have heard when taking recordings on your phone. One of these will add to the clarity of the sound of your voice. It won’t be able to mask the sounds of car horns and cupboards banging or reduce any external noises. Some microphones even come with one as part of the pack.
A Good Recording Environment
More important than all the gear and electronics is where you’re doing the recording. Think about where in your house the best and quietest place will be. Be aware of any external sounds, but also of sound of your voice in the room. You don’t want your recording sounding “roomy” or “echoey” any more than you want the sound of birds chirping in the background of your recordings. If you must spend any money on soundproofing, spend it on isolating your space from external noise first. That’s going to be a bigger problem than any internal noise of the room. And don’t forget about the noise coming through your ceiling either. It’s not just windows and doors that let it in.
Dampening the room on the inside can easily be done without needing expensive acoustic foam panels, simply by hanging blankets, or any heavy materials around the recording space. I used thick winter sleeping bags (which conveniently zip together) and hung them off hooks on the walls.
As with any business, it’s best to start small with the basics before investing heavily in it. Start with the essentials, and once you have regular income, you can gradually upgrade as needed.