January 11th, 2010

My “high-tech” voice over home studio

Voice over home studio?Ok boys and girls, it's time to open myself up to you, bare it all, to "show you the goods." Yep. It's time to pull back the curtain (literally) and give you a sneak peak into my utlra high-tech voice over home studio!

Now I warn you, if you are a beginner to voice acting and doing voice overs, then you may have images of sleek and sophisticated studios complete with effects cabinets twinkling with little LED lights, microphones that cost more than some cars, and mixing boards longer than many people's hallways. If that's the image you hold in your mind, then prepare to be disappointed. But hey, at least after reading this post you'll have a better idea of what many home studios look like! ;)

The room

My studio fits in a room that isn't even big enough to hold a twin bed. I've got my old, old, old midi keyboard on the left, then my desk complete with iMac and studio speakers in the middle, and then my practice area on the right.


My voice over home studio

Gotta practice

To the right of the computer I keep my mic on its stand along with a whiteboard on the wall to hang scripts. This allows me to practice anytime without the hassle of setting up my "sound proof booth" (which you'll see in a minute.)


Practice area

The booth

When it's time to do an actual recording to send off to a client, I gotta set up the "sound proof booth" (for lack of a better term.) I simply open my closet door, push aside some of the clothes hanging there, and place my mic stand right in the middle. I use a highly sophisticated system to attach my printout of the copy to the blanket covering the back wall (a.k.a. cellophane tape). Take a look:


In the closet

The movable wall I place around the closet was constructed out of parts I bought from the local hardware store. I think in total it only cost about $50 (excluding the blanket I drape over it — that was a freebie.) I took photos when I built the thing to be used in a future post, so stayed tuned. In the meantime, here are some pics:


The open booth


The closed booth

And that's it!

As I said before, if you are a beginner to voice overs, then your image of what a home studio consists of might be skewed a little. Of course, if you've got the money to buy some really good stuff then by all means, go ahead. But since I'm the type of guy who tries to find the path of least financial resistance, this set up works perfectly for me! (And if you think my studio is a little "barren" then be sure to watch this video I posted a few months ago.)



11 Responses:

  1. Christina Fadala

    That’s a great set up. I’m in a rented apartment and have a similar closet which isn’t very deep. This looks like it would be perfect for me and the price is right. Does the closet have a light fixture already installed?

  2. David R

    Thanks for the comment Christina!

    The closet has no light fixture. The movable wall doesn’t completely block out the ceiling light so I can see just fine. Actually, it casts light exactly on the spot where I hang my scripts. I didn’t plan it that way… I was just lucky it worked out that way! :)

    -David

  3. Kristi

    Nice job! You definitely did think ‘outside the box’. I was wondering how to set up my own home studio, and your piece gave me some ideas. I like that you have a set up that didn’t cost a fortune. I was worried that my home studio was going to be too sparse if I didn’t purchase more equipment. Thank you!

  4. David Radtke

    Thanks for the comment Kristi! :D

    Actually, that setup was made about a year ago, it’s changed a little since then. My computer is now in a different room and the booth has increased in size by one more “wall”. I’m planning on removing my clothes permanently and get some high-quality acoustic foam instead (I’ve been slowly saving my nickels and dimes!) The reason is I’d like to have more space to move my arms and gesture.

    When it’s done I’ll do another post about it.

  5. nicole

    Hi there
    I also liked your idea. but i heard that tall ceilings let the voice breathe a bit thats why I’m afraid to use my closet. also, do you recommend using a dynamic mic for a studio room that is not really a studio room – i.e. not sound proofed enough…
    thx

  6. David Radtke

    Nicole,

    Thanks for the comment!
    There are a variety of schools of thought regarding room size, soundproofing, etc. I prefer to make my sound as “clean” as possible with almost no room sound. This way, producers can add whatever effects they want to my voice. If you already have a recording with an excess of room sound, that sound cannot be taken out of the recording — the producer’s hands are tied (and they really don’t like that :wink: )

    I think the mic you’re talking about is a “shotgun” mic and not a dynamic mic. Dynamic mics are great for onstage musical performances but they are not sensitive enough for voice over work. Shotgun mics help to “block out” excess outside noise because they pick up sound from sources only directly in front of them.

    I hope this helps!
    -David

  7. Dave

    I ran across this site and was wondering if you are aware of anyone that builds those “phone booth” sized announce booths that you used to see in busy multi-langage event coverage?

  8. Herlin

    I have a 21 inch iMac (Core 2 duo). What are the things I need to be able to do voice overs at home. Hardware, software, mindset everything. And please dont be afraid to get TOO technical. Thank you for all your help.

  9. David Radtke

    Dave,

    I’ve seen those phone booth sized announce booths and have even considered buying something similar for myself. But for now, the set up I have is working just fine for me.

    ——————————————–

    Herlin,

    The VERY first thing anyone should spend their money on is training.

    Now, I don’t know if you are taking (or have taken) voice acting lessons or acting lessons, but this is the very first thing anyone should spend their money on. Money spent on good training comes before money spent on good equipment.

    With that said, the computer you have is fine. I’m using a five year old iMac with no problems (one of the first with an Intel processor.)

    I’m using an M-Box 2 Mini as my pre-amp/digital interface. I like it because it comes with ProTools LE… which is a mighty good piece of software for recording just about anything.

    My main mic is a Groove Tubes GT50 condenser mic. It makes my voice sound the way I like. Just remember, a mic that makes my voice sound good may not necessarily make yours sound good. I’ve got some excellent mics listed on my best voice over microphones page.

    And the mindset:
    I have a quote from Elaine Clark’s book There’s Money Where Your Mouth Is hanging near my booth. It reads:

    “If you don’t believe in yourself, then no one else will either.”

    Take those words to heart.

  10. Chris

    Excellent crash course in the basics of voice acting. Nice as an author to see what kind of things go on behind the scenes.

  11. David Radtke

    Chris,

    That was a long time ago.
    You should see it now…


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