How To Build A Voice Over Home Recording Studio
By Monk at AudioLinks
Posted on Friday, June 14, 2013
Category: AudioLinks, Headphones, Microphones, Music Business, Pro Audio, Recorders, Recording, tech tips, Uncategorized, VO
Are you a voice over actor hoping to build your own home recording studio, or improve on an existing one?
If so, take a quick tour below of my professional voice acting home recording studio for ideas, advice and creative inspiration before you begin.
My recording studio, dubbed “Lodge Studios,” is my dedicated work space for voice over recording.
Every so often, I record and mix small ensembles and musical groups in the studio. But for the most part, Lodge Studios is where my day-to-day reading and recording take place.
The recording room, nicknamed the “Big Booth” room, measures 12-1/2′ x 15-1/2′ in size.
The room is constructed with three layers of drywall held together with noise-dampening adhesive.
Both the walls and ceiling are treated with panels of rigid sound absorption material.
The door, which started out as a heavy fire door, has three additional layers with a triple gasket seal. It’s sealed so well, that when you close the door, your ears pop.
The room is well sealed externally to help keep outside sounds from entering, and is treated internally to help eliminate unwanted reflections or reverberations.
For decor, I decked out the studio with retro-futuristic artwork by Bradley Schenck, as well as some of my own work. The artwork livens up the studio with techie flair, without being too loud or flashy.
I have the same attitude regardless of what I am looking to purchase for the studio, whether it’s more soundproof tiles or a mixing console; I treat the studio like a second home.
The better I sound, the more work and gigs I get. Or, as my old motto goes, “Do good work, get more work.”
Here are three pieces of gear that make or break any voice over recording studio:
1. My Microphone
As a voice over actor, my microphone is my closest business partner.
I use a few different microphones depending upon the type of script or copy I receive from a client.
A classic standby is my Shure SM7 Studio Microphone, which is incredibly versatile and can last a lifetime if well maintained.
My primary microphone I use for most recordings is my Neumann U87 Ai, but I often use modded Rode NT1a’s as well.
Sometimes in the studio, I record several different instruments for guest clients in session, so I need multiple microphone options depending upon the particular needs of each client. For instance, I never put my favorite voice over microphone in the sound hole of a kick drum.
However, it is important to note that voice over actors don’t need several microphones for voice work; one microphone that sounds great with your voice should be enough to do the trick.
2. My Preamp
A good microphone needs a good preamp.
I use an A.R.T. preamp with vintage Mullard tubes. The modern hardware is nice and quiet, and the vintage tubes give the signal a warm tone. Plus, the sound can always be adjusted with my Yamaha MG166CX 16-channel mixer, for convenience.
3. My Audio Interface
The analog audio signal of my voice as I speak into my microphone goes through my preamp into an interface to be digitized.
The digital signal then runs through my MOTU 2408mk3 box interface and is ultimately recorded and edited with Pro Tools running on my Intel Mac.
From there, the finished audio file can be delivered in just about any format to whomever needs it, including clients and colleagues.
Studio Gear Wrap-Up
But if you buy good gear and take care of it, it will take care of you for years to come.
All of my gear, including my classic Yamaha NS-10s monitors, my old Hafler amps and my handy JBL monitors were purchased slowly over many years.
Unfortunately, some gear won’t last. Amps will burn out, speakers will pop and audio cards will fail in the middle of a great recording session.
I always try to have a contingency plan to troubleshoot to help prevent small, manageable issues from snowballing out of control. The last thing I want is to send a bunch of musicians or clients away because of a technical issue.
Since the majority of voice over work takes place in a single room all day, I made sure to include comfort and accommodation as top priorities when constructing my recording studio.
The studio features soft chairs, sofas and good lighting.
It is also properly ventilated, which is a must for any home recording studio. Heat and AC are available to all working in the studio, which makes it very easy to work in the studio for hours on end.
The air system that feeds the room is constructed with layered silent duct. You can’t hear the air entering or moving through the room, which helps cut down on disturbances and interference when recording.
Extra Voice Over Studio Tips
If you’re hoping to one day build your own voice over home recording studio, remember to follow these handy tips:
- Buy good gear. Purchasing good gear is worth the investment for your long-term goals and success.
- Less is more. Beginning voice over actors really only need the essentials when starting their careers. Find the essential gear that best suits your voice and industry, and worry about purchasing additional, non-essential equipment later.
- Keep your signal path clean and simple. Reducing clutter in your studio can also reduce the chance of technical problems from arising.
So go make some sound investments in your voice over home recording studio, and your voice will bring your studio to life!
Have a home studio you’d like to share with us, or some advice or stories on building one? Leave us a comment below: