Voice Over Recording Equipment

By Jessica Wight , posted 24 June 2014

When setting up a small voice over studio, it is highly important you know your options and evaluate your own budget and financial position to decide just how ambitious you can be with your own studio. You might be a voice over actor, or in need of voice over for any form of media, but setting up the right equipment is the first step for achieving a professional audio soundtrack.

As well as a computer and video/sound editing software and plug-ins, you will need to invest in a microphone, a microphone stand, pop filters, interfaces and headphones and monitors.

You will also need to treat the ambience of the room in which you are recording, as the acoustic needs to be perfect.

Dynamic Microphones

Dynamic microphones are the most commonly used kind in music and generally media. Most of the time on TV in performances the microphone the vocalist is singing into will be a dynamic microphone. Their characteristics are generally the ability to withstand high volumes and force whilst also being durable and cheaper than their condenser cousins.

The two most popular and iconic dynamic microphones are Shure's SM57 and SM58 models. Both have gained a cult status as reliable and quality microphones, with 57s generally being considered to be more acceptable for lower frequencies usually found in male voices and 58s for the higher more feminine qualities.


President Barack Obama with two SM57s

The SM57 has been so popular and such a mainstay since it’s conception in 1965 that Every U.S. president since Lyndon B. Johnson has delivered speeches through them. It is the microphone used for speeches by the White House Communications Agency. Buying one of or both of these is a cheap and cheerful solution to checking off a potentially expensive objective in your journey to assemble a studio.

Condenser Microphones

Condenser microphones are more delicate and expensive, but pick up a lot more detail, quality and ambience from a recording session. When assembling a professional level vocal portfolio, condenser microphones will be a powerful tool in capturing your talent in a clear way that you can process into work that you’re proud of to show potential clients and employers.

Condensers have been getting cheaper lately, with certain (lower quality) models going for similar prices to dynamic. The main thing to keep in mind with condensers is that at certain high volumes their diaphragms can potentially break, which shouldn't be a hazard at all for a voice artist who is unlikely to be able to generate the volume required to do this.

Microphone Stands

You can use a desk stand to hold your microphone next to the computer or a microphone floor stand if you prefer to record standing up.

Pop Filters

Pop Filters are little screens attached to the microphone which are used to diffuse the sound of plosive and sibilant sounds, like the "P" and the "S".

Interfaces

A computer audio interface is where you plug your recording equipment to link it to your computer and communicate with your software. There are several options for both PC and/or Mac, which won’t break the bank but offer you the heights of quality that you’ll need for your aural display of work.

For PCs and Macs there are several home studio interfaces that are both small in size for easy portability and to save desk space, whilst saving you money without having the extra bells and whistles that’ll cost more and only distract from your focus.

Monitors & Headphones

Studio monitors and headphones are also crucial so you can properly evaluate your performances and recordings with the most accuracy. One or the other will allow you to inspect the quality enough to ensure that the person listening to your material is getting the quality that you've heard yourself and intend for them to as well. With the studio monitors no frequencies are hyped so you hear exactly what has been recorded. Never record with the speakers on, as they will decrease the sound quality.

Good Luck!

In comparison to working with a voice over agency or record label, it is unlikely that your setup will be superior, however it is a vital step in regards to promoting yourself and amassing a portfolio you can be proud of to showcase the talent and put you in the limelight that you deserve.

Jessica Wight (@JessicaWight3) is a chocoholic and The Beatles lover currently working in a project for GoLocalise, a voice over agency in London.

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