Podcasts Voice Over Experts Basics of Building a Voice Over Recording Studio
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Basics of Building a Voice Over Recording Studio

Stephanie Ciccarelli
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Speaker 1:
Welcome to Voiceover Experts, brought to you by voices.com, the number one voiceover marketplace. Voiceover Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom and techniques from top instructors, authors, and performance in the field of voiceover. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voiceover talent.

Speaker 1:
It’s never been easier to learn, perform, and succeed from the privacy of your own home and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won’t find anywhere else.

Speaker 1:
Now for our special guest.

Dan Lenard:
Hi and welcome to this podcast. Perhaps some of you know me as Master VO and read my periodic blog, Master VO: Demystifying the Home Studio. Now a home studio’s a wonderful thing, and to the uninitiated and intimidating one. Now, I get emails from all over the world from beginning voice artists asking almost the same questions. What microphone should I use? What software? What additional hardware?

Dan Lenard:
Then there’s the, “I’ve got this and I’ve got that,” crowd. “I’ve got this great microphone or this great processing box.” I find discussions of this nature to be counterproductive to the home-based studio industry folks. High-end equipment is for high-end users, the well-paid experts in Hollywood, New York, Chicago and Dallas. Chances are you’re in your basement, your bedroom or hall closet, you don’t have room for all this stuff and you can’t afford it. Few people know how to use them, that’s why they earn the big bucks. High-end equipment in the hands of amateurs produces amateur results.

Dan Lenard:
If you have a home-based studio or are planning to build one, I can give you the simplest of advice, keep it simple. The major advances in digital audio technology in the last 10 years has created the ability to record outstanding broadcast quality sound with a minimal amount of equipment.

Dan Lenard:
Let’s go through some real basics on setting up your studio. We’ll cover each one in detail in further lectures. To start with, you need a studio quality mic, whether it be a Phantom-powered condenser mic that goes through a preamp and a digital interface device or the new and simplified USB powered and driven studio condenser mics. There’s an increasing choice every few months and the reviews I’ve read of these products and from my personal use, they’re more than adequate. I can tell you that some very good voiceover folks are using them.

Dan Lenard:
With non-USB studio mics, there are choices beyond limits. Don’t go expensive until you can afford expensive. The low cost studio condensers are still condenser mics, and they produce outstanding sound. Consult your gear dealer for what will work for you.

Dan Lenard:
Next is a digital interface. Again, tons of choices. Again, keep it simple. Unless you’ve been doing radio and multi-track production all your life and you’re only sending out dry voice that is unprocessed audio, you don’t need more than a two channel interface. M-Audio, PreSonus, Ederal and TASCAM all make inexpensive units that are easy to set up. We’ll talk about the advantage of a digital interface in a future lecture.

Dan Lenard:
Next, PC or Mac? Truth be told, I have both, but use my Mac PowerBook G4 for the majority of my recording production. Why? Again, simplicity. Macs just aren’t as susceptible to all the bugs, viruses and glitches that occur with your average or even high-end PC. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had a few problems with my Mac, but the problems were easy to solve.

Dan Lenard:
When my PowerBook zonked completely one day, fortunately, while still under warranty, I sent it directly by overnight to Apple and had it back in less than two days. Since then, hardly a hiccup I couldn’t handle. I’ve never lost a day of production because of a Mac failure. If you’re bound to your PC however, it works great too, as long as you have the right hardware and software. You have way too many choices there, and that too I’ll save for another time.

Dan Lenard:
Finally, where many people really get lost is with the physical location of their studio and what reconfiguration of the room is required. Now this can be a little bit more tricky. The idea of a studio room is two-fold. First, you want no external noise, like the dog barking, the air conditioner or furnace kicking on, or the garbage being picked up outside.

Dan Lenard:
Second, you want the sound of your voice not to bounce around the room so it sounds like you’re talking in a big room. Even in a small room, your recorded voice can sound like you did it in the laboratory of your high school. To reduce external noise, kick the dog out, turn off your air conditioner or furnace. You won’t swelter or freeze for it being offer a bit and you might save some precious dollars at the same time. Mostly be patient. If the garbage truck or a Mister Softee passes by, just wait.

Dan Lenard:
There are some tricks to stopping ambient noise electronically too. To deaden the wall so your voice doesn’t bounce all over, choose a corner of your room or basement and put up some foam acoustical tiles, which you can get at your studio retailer. A few quilts will work too. If the sound is absorbed into the wall in front of your mic, it won’t bounce back from the other walls.

Dan Lenard:
Finally, mostly play and experiment, you’re not jumping onto national commercials this week. Learn your craft, which includes knowing your studio.

Dan Lenard:
I look forward to our next time together. In the meantime, keep plugging away and don’t get discouraged. I’m Dan Lenard.

Speaker 1:
Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this voices.com podcast, visit the Voiceover Experts show notes at podcasts.voices.com/voiceoverexperts. Remember to stay subscribed. If you’re a first-time listener, you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes podcast directory or by visiting podcasts.voices.com.

Speaker 1:
To start your voiceover career online, go to voices.com and register for a voice talent membership today.

Stephanie Ciccarelli
Stephanie Ciccarelli is a Co-Founder of Voices. Classically trained in voice as well as a respected mentor and industry speaker, Stephanie graduated with a Bachelor of Musical Arts from the Don Wright Faculty of Music at the University of Western Ontario. For over 25 years, Stephanie has used her voice to communicate what is most important to her through the spoken and written word. Possessing a great love for imparting knowledge and empowering others, Stephanie has been a contributor to The Huffington Post, Backstage magazine, Stage 32 and the Voices.com blog. Stephanie is found on the PROFIT Magazine W100 list three times (2013, 2015 and 2016), a ranking of Canada's top female entrepreneurs, and is the author of Voice Acting for Dummies®.
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  • David at Voice Coaches
    September 6, 2007, 1:04 am

    Great informative piece!
    This is a great starting place for folks thinking about a home based recording solution for pro work and for continued skill development.
    Even though I have some serious equipment here, I often just pack up my ibook, an m audio interface, and a basic mic to track stuff away from the studio.
    I’ll add that when a Voice Actor is looking for an equipment retailer, that retailer’s technical support department is every bit as important as the retailers pricing. Owning a large studio I have dealt with many, but Sweetwater has been my consistent fav.
    Again, thanks for the great info! I will suggest your podcast to our clients here at Voice Coaches.
    David at Voice Coaches

  • Neil ONeill
    September 7, 2007, 8:56 pm

    Thanks for your presentation. I’m teaching too as well as performing live/acting. What’s a good resource book for beginning studio musicians? I’m thinking of my students et al…
    Best Wishes

  • Dan Lenard "Master VO"
    September 7, 2007, 10:26 pm

    I find the books too detailed! As I keep telling people in my blog, keep it simple.
    Having a beginner invest a great deal of valuable capital on a home studio without the knowledge of how to use it is pointless. A simple home studio set up like I described in the podcast is all they will need. I’m getting more and more convinced to have people just buy a USB powered condenser mic and use Audacity on a Mac or PC to learn the BASICS of multi-track recording or even single track recording.
    I would suggest you give your students a demo of how easy it is to set up a USB mic on a laptop so you can “de-mystify” this process. Even though I’ve been working in a studio for over 30 years, It ain’t rocket science!
    Now the subtleties of how to use a mic are something you have to develop a feel and ear for. Books can explain it, but I suggest just doing it and busting through the “sound” barrier.
    The fact is, and I keep saying this on my Blog; “Master VO, Demystifying The Home Studio,” home PC technology has made a $250,000 recording studio of 10 years ago a $1000 or less toy today. Its not the equipment as much as it is how you use it. That’s the beauty of what this industry has become. Anyone can try it cheaply and see if it is a viable career option for them.
    I’m always available here at voices.com for any specific questions about studio set-up.
    Master VO Blog
    Also, an internet search of “How to build a home recording studio” will open a whole world up.
    The important thing to note here is that the great multi-track recording programs and equipment on the market today are complete overkill for what we do, which is, at a minimum, record dry voice and at the most, adding a music track or a sound effect or two. Programs like Sonar and Pro-Tools or CuBase are for Musicians and bands. They work great for that and are wonderful for experienced VO artists. It takes years to master them. The basics are all that are required of beginners. That’s a simple hands on and simple explanation routine.
    It isn’t the equipment that makes a great voice artist.
    Anybody want to add to that or disagree?
    Dan L.

  • Ed Gambill
    September 12, 2007, 4:41 am

    I have been trying to find a standard for noise floor. It seems that all the organizations that are involved with setting standard want to sell the book rather than post information.
    Here is what I’m looking for and maybe you can help. What is the standard for noise floor regarding broadcast radio or television? Also if you know is it pegged to “A” weighted or is it based on ITU-R 468 weighted scale.
    Also this do you know if there is a broadcast standard for decay time in a studio. I hope you have some idea. Otherwise I think I will use information for one of F. Alton Everest books.

  • Stephanie Ciccarelli
    September 13, 2007, 9:04 pm

    Hi Ed,
    Great questions and certainly not beginner ones either 🙂
    It sounds like your specific inquiries would benefit from private consultation off of the website with Dan.
    You can reach Dan via his websites http://www.dansvoice.com or at http://danlenard.voices.com

  • Roosevelt
    January 14, 2009, 3:02 am

    I’m trying to build a studio in my basement. Where do I start? And How much should it cost? Help

  • Stephanie Ciccarelli
    January 14, 2009, 1:59 pm

    Hi Roosevelt,
    Thank you for your question and comment. I’d like to invite you to read an article about how to assemble your home studio. Check out this list here:

  • Yolanda
    August 28, 2009, 2:59 am

    I found this to be very helpful. I have been researching this venture for a couple of weeks. When you are on information overload it’s good to find information that supports some of your findings. Confirming some decisions and obtaining additional helpful hints was a relief.
    Thanks So Much!

  • Joe Collette
    April 4, 2010, 2:50 pm

    Hi Dan,
    Thanks for keeping it simple! I gleaned just the right amount of info from this podcast. Looking forward to your next.

  • mark grove
    August 2, 2013, 4:57 am

    thank you dan for making it simple. i guess i’ll have to move up just slightly from my sennheiser mic which are just 100 dollar dollar headphones with a mic, which are good quality, to a real condesor mic.
    i use a pc. my options are limited, but i keep plugging away everday with auditions.
    i wont quit. i love it!!!

  • Bill Cannon
    January 29, 2014, 4:25 am

    Hi Dan I very much appreciate your expertise and knowledge that you took the time to share with us about setting up a studio. I do not have the ability to set up a studio in my current residence which is an apartment. Any thoughts about what particular space would be best for me that I could possibly rent as a studio?
    Thanks Dan Best Wishes Bill Cannon

  • Eliza Cranston
    November 18, 2015, 5:13 pm

    Thank you for sharing this podcast on voice over recording studios! I’m trying to set up a studio for my personal recordings and this was really helpful. I find that keeping out excess noise is the hardest part of the process, so I’d like to look into some electronic solutions. Do you have any links to further information on this?