Every work-at-home professional needs a personal space reserved for career needs. For a voice-over professional, your studio environment should serve as a space where you can get down to business, as well as feed your soul and inspire you to be creative in the booth.
Believe it or not, it’s possible to include all this in one small home recording studio space. It just takes a little planning and imagination.
Selecting Your Home Studio Space
Keep acoustics in mind as you set aside a space in which to build your studio. Some homes come equipped with amazing acoustics, while others are acoustical nightmares. If you find that your home is particularly echoey, try to cushion some of that noise with extra furniture or even a homemade recording booth. Many people don’t realize this but clothing, comforters and pillows can make great soundproofers. If you can invest a modest amount, there are plenty of professional acoustic products capable of transforming your studio space.
Some other products you might want to consider are portable recording booths and isolation booths. Check out a full list of the brands of microphones and headphones a pro talent on Voices.com uses.
A portable recording booth is handy because you can take it with you on the road and record from virtually anywhere. Voice actors often need to record while on vacation or attending events and will usually find themselves returning to their hotel room to record a few projects or audition for jobs that they are invited to via email.
Can Home Studios Be Too Big or Too Small?
Teddy Roosevelt once said “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”
These words can be of great comfort to voice actors working from a home recording studio nestled in a bedroom closet, to someone whose spare room is draped with comforters for sound absorption and talent who experience noise issues with their space.
Don’t forget to assess your space first before starting any construction to ensure that it will be a suitable recording space and that the right amount of home studio equipment and home studio essentials will fit comfortably inside.
Being resourceful means making the most of what you have where you are. In the following section, you’re going to hear from professional voice talent about their studios, studio dimensions and also discover that even the most modest of studios can still crank out pristine broadcast-quality audio.
What’s Your Studio Like?
“My studio is in a bedroom and is kept to it’s 5 foot desk. I live in a log cabin the acoustics are awesome!”
“168 Sq Ft. It was formerly a game room.”
“I converted a small half/bath to a studio. The commode and sink were removed leaving ample space for a desk and recording space.”
“My stunning studio is a custom-built addition to my house that employed soundproof construction techniques. I looked back at the construction specs. The room is 16’x19′, with an approximate interior space of 14.5’x18′, or about 260 square feet. I record in a 6’x8′ WhisperRoom, and I have a computer desk and loveseat outside the WhisperRoom.”
Buying Equipment That Fits Your Budget
At one time, investing in equipment was very costly, limiting the number of people capable of owning a home studio. But digital technology has changed all this, which is why it’s now possible to create and maintain a high-quality voice studio for under $2000. You will need to invest in a good microphone, as well as a stand for the microphone.
Other essentials: a pop filter, cables, a recording interface and a decent pair of headphones. And of course, you’ll need a computer and recording software to go with it.
9 VO Hacks to Sound Better and Save Money
Voice actor and coach, Tommy Griffiths shares 9 tips that can set you up for voice over recording success.
1) Dump the Homemade Microphone Isolation Box
Sorry, but a plastic bin lined with household bedding foam won’t achieve the results you’re looking for. These homemade microphone isolation boxes can actually create an echo-effect, as if you’re talking inside a giant Big Gulp Cup, and ironically cause bad acoustics rather than enhance your acoustics. If you have a really small space, you can gain some tips from other voice actors who have made the most with the space they have. Check out how one voice actor built a micro home recording studio.
2) Avoid Overpaying for Acoustic Foam
Want to avoid paying $5-$25 per square foot for acoustic foam to cover the recommended 70 percent of your wall surfaces to “deaden the sound” of your voice over home studio? Hang an area rug on the wall. It’s not the ultimate fix, but you’ll get a better sound than with than a bare wall. And it’s way cheaper.
3) Cover Wood or Tile Floors
Don’t forget to cover your bare wood or tile floor, too. As noted above, rugs are cheap and great for this use too!
4) No Headphones?
Can’t find your headphones? Earbuds with a 1/4″ jack adaptor are better than listening to playback with tiny laptop speakers. However, please don’t forget that headphones can be instrumental in helping you land jobs. While listening back on earbuds can be ‘ok’ when you’re recording materials just for your own listening, you should always listen to any auditions or files you’re sending to clients on a good pair of headphones before sending. They can help you detect imperfections that can make or break your ability to land/keep the job.
5) Thump! Thump! Thump!
Using a mic with a tabletop mic stand? Merely touching the table or desk often creates low-frequency noise (or thumps!) that vibrate through the mic, and ruin good takes. Floor-based mic stands are cheap- some starting at $19- and mic shockmount and adapter thread-size can be universal.
6) Wake up, Sleeping Beauty
Don’t roll out of bed and into the studio. Wake up first. You’re voice is at its worst when you wake up, and your brain needs ramping up. Wait an hour to get the cobwebs out of your throat. Do my 5-Minute VO Workout. Eat breakfast. Sing. You don’t sound your best first thing in the morning. Your voice might be deeper, but you’ll also sound tired.
7) Check Your Medicine Closet
Do you know that some medications (over-the-counter and prescription) can affect your voice? Some may actually thin-out the quality of your voice. Talk to your doctor if you think you’re experiencing these issues.
8) Need a Break?
Brush your teeth. Seriously. There’s nothing more invigorating for a voice actor than a fresh clean mouth. Your mouth will be well-moistened too, which helps to reduce mouth-noise.
9) Don’t Print Out Scripts – For Many Good Reasons
Seen the price of printer ink lately? Save a tree. Avoid crinkling paper noise at the mic. When reading off your monitor, you can easily enlarge the text, too. If your mic isn’t near your monitor, attach an adjustable tablet or smartphone mount to your mic stand.
Home Studio Takeaway Tips
Having a home studio is an important part of being a successful voice actor. You need to set aside a space for yourself that is a dedicated space where you can record professional sounding voice work for your clients. It may take a bit of time to set up your studio exactly as you want it to be but the process can be a slow one and you can find alternative ways to more expensive solutions (ie. soundproofing your space).