If you have ever been to a pro studio you have probably seen that 9 times out of 9 they are running ProTools as their main pro audio recording application. There is good reason for this. ProTools is one of the most powerful, and well produced recording programs out there today. You certainly don’t NEED to run a ProTools voiceover studio at home… but why the hell not! If you are a student, or your child is a student, or you have an uncle who is a student but his creepy mustache keeps you awake at night I DON’T CARE. Find a student, and have them order ProTools for you for under $300 you can’t go wrong! Trust me when I say that it will pay for its self when you land your first VO Gig! Don’t be overwhelmed by the TON of features that come with PT10 – I am always here to help! Don’t forget to pickup an iLok… PT uses the iLok to validate your serial numbers.
Let’s talk about the emerging tech behind a Mobile studio. There I was 20 miles away from my home studio when a request comes in to audition for a job. Do I hop in the car and race off to my studio? Do I book a local studio for 10min? Nope… I turn to my iPhone. I love living in our incredible age of technology! So now I have a problem. What app do I purchase?
After much research I found everything a VO artist might need for demos in an app called “TwistedWave Audio Editor”. Recording, editing, and delivery (MP3 sent to Email or FTP) was so easy I couldn’t believe it! The app is well put together, and I was very happy with the functionality. It was simple to tap and drag to delete all the little blips you don’t want in an audition. This is my Mobile app for VO hands down! So maybe its time to upgrade that iPhone mic to a “Blue Mikey”? Check it out… Very tempting!!
Speaking of XLR cables there is a lot of mystery revolving around how much to spend in this department too! The quickest way to save yourself a bit of money here is to keep your Sound Booth close to your interface (Computer). The shorter the cable the less you need to worry about getting the super expensive “Monster Cable”. Monster makes a great cable, but why they are charging you 50 times the price of a perfectly comparable Planet Waves cable is beyond me! Keep your cables under 5 feet, and the mid range XLR cable will sound Great! But I need a 15 foot or longer cable you say? Hire a contractor to knock down a wall or two, and get that sound booth closer!
While it may sound like a Ghost busters gadget Phantom power is actually an electrical current that travels along the same wire that also accommodates the microphone sound signals to your interface device (same XLR cable dual purpose, hence the Phantom).
So there are a ton of great computer recording interfaces – how to decide? Easy… If you are only recording VO then you can save some money by getting just what you need The Mbox3 Mini
. I recently upgraded from an old Mbox2 , and the new sound is incredible! Now all you need is some software. We are getting there!
To sidetrack real quick I wanted to mention something that you can do for FREE right away to start putting your home studio supplies together.
Almost every day on Craigslist in your area you can find that very important sound deadening material that you see all the time in big studios.
The secret: “Cubicle walls” – Find them very cheap or most of the time for FREE! There is a layer of foam backed acoustic cloth on both sides of those cubicle walls, and you can very easily disassemble the wall to cut out the large piece of material.
I went to the hardware store to pick up some light weight Rigid Foam Insulation
, and used some liquid nails with a staple gun to glue down the edges.
That’s it! Cheap portable 5 foot sound panel just like the one in the picture here!
The most important part of your Studio is hands down your Microphone. Some might argue otherwise, but they might also frequent those little palm reading shops you see all over the place – can anyone confirm that they are actually reading palms in there? Anyway… the Mic is the thing to focus on for Voice Over. You are going to want to start looking at large diaphragm condenser mics. You may notice that there are over 9000 different kinds of Mics out there so I am going to recommend a great starter mic.
The Studio Projects C1. Yes you can spend THOUSANDS of dollars on your mic, and if you are a nationally renowned radio host you better do just that. For our purposes the SPC1 is the most bang for the buck! It really does sound like a thousand dollar mic… I am using this mic in my studio. Now lets think about getting that mic some Phantom power!
We live and die by one thing in the Voice Over world – Our Demo.
If you are still shopping your 3 year old demo around it is probably time to update it! Your voice is constantly changing, and the voice on your old demo is likely not exactly the same as the one you will be using at a live audition. Now you might think this advice extreme, but just consider how much the world has changed in the past few years. You need to change right along with it. Listen to the current mainstream voice talents (even if you don’t like them) because THEY are working pros. Find the most famous voice that matches your persona, and start to emulate them. You want to be your own talent of course, but it can’t hurt to add a few of their qualities to your bag of tricks!