The Basics of the Voice Over Home Studio

by Bill DeWees on January 17, 2011

To build a voice over career will, in all likely-hood, require you to have your own home recording studio.  Today’s agents, casting directors, and prospective voice over clients expect that you can record auditions, if not final projects, in your own studio.  Many agencies are set-up with audition studios but to create full-time voice over work will require generating a pretty high volume of auditions and ultimately jobs.

Filling the “sales funnel” is a discussion for another post but suffice it to say that you need your own studio that is adequate not only for auditions but for final projects as well.

The good news is that you don’t have to be an audio engineer or technical wizard to set-up or run your studio.  All you need is an understanding of the basics.

Step one….find a quiet place to record.  This will most likely be your greatest challenge.  As most of us in the voice over business have not built our studios from the ground up, we have to make our studios work within our everyday living environment.  For me, I work in the master bedroom walk-in closet.  As long as toilets aren’t flushing and no one is screaming in another part of the house, it’s makes for a pretty darn good studio.  The clothes already hanging in there serve as acoustic treatment to minimize the bouncing of my voice off one wall to another.  A couple of years ago I added a 3′ x 5′ Whisper Room recording booth into the closet to add yet another layer of sound protection.  It helps to minimize disruptions from lawnmowers, snowblowers, and the like.

Step two….Find a quiet computer.  Or at least one that can be isolated to minimize computer fan and disc drive sound.  I’ve located my computer (a 3 year old Dell Optiplex running Windows XP) in an adjacent bathroom porting the cables through holes in the wall that my wife and I drilled.  This allows me to operate my computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse in my studio while my computer sits in a separate location keeping all computer noise out of play.

Step three….Get some recording software.  Unless you’re doing a lot of high end audio production (radio imaging, car dealership ads, etc.) simple is better.  Adobe Audition is my software of choice.  I’ve worked with a number of programs.  What separates them is features, not audio quality.  If your budget is really slim, check out the free program called Audacity.

Step four…Get a good sound card.  Your computers factory sound card will most likely not cut it for pro voice over work.  There are a number of internal and external cards that you can purchase.  Possible choices include models from M-Audio, Lexicon, and MOTU.

Step five…Get a solid studio condenser microphone and pre-amp.  This topic alone has generated volumes of discussion and debate among recording professionals.  I presently use a Neumann TLM 103 microphone with an Aphex 230 tube pre-amp but I started with a Marshall XL2001 that you can find on Ebay for about $50!

You’ll also want a decent set of headphones (and might want studio monitors/speakers though I rarely use mine since I work with headphones almost exclusively).  Other considerations would include ISDN, phone patch, outboard gear, software plug-ins and other things that I’m sure a more tech-centric person will be glad to point out 🙂

This is by no means a comprehensive report on building a voice over studio but rather what I consider to be the primary components that deserve the bulk of your time and attention.  My greatest piece of advice….don’t allow your search for the “right gear” over shadow more important elements of your business like developing performance skills and your marketing efforts.  The studio and technical component of your voice over business can become a big “time suck” if you let you.  Enlist some technical help to get things set up and working properly and then focus on growing your skills and your business.

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Who Is Bill DeWees and Voice-Over-Training.org

Bill DeWees is a professional voice over talent and voice over coach. Bill's voice over credits inlude Warner Bros, Microsoft, Dell, National Geographic, AstraZeneca, Whirlpool, Quicken and many more household names both globally and across the US.

Bill's website www.Voice-Over-Training.org provides valuable voice over training including techniques to record better voice overs, strategies to close more voice over jobs and step by step methods to build a voice over career and business.

Bill DeWees delivers his own style of voice over training through a range of engaging online courses, live workshops, events and personal one on one coaching sharing all his secrets from his own 6-figure voice over business to help you build yours. To connect with Bill or get additional information visit Voice-Over-Training.org

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