Way back in one of my first blogs I wrote about getting your basic home studio set up (you can catch up with that here if you’re interested!) so today I wanted to get into a little more details on some good kit for those just getting into voice over.
Before getting into detail on the kit I use I want to impart the golden rule to remember: You do NOT need to spend £1000’s on kit to become a voice over artist. I was burned a little in my very early days when I was sold a “portable mini studio” by another VO artist after completing a course with them.
On later doing my own research on the components that made up this “studio” I found I could have gotten everything for a great deal cheaper than I had paid, and the help to set up the studio was nothing I couldn’t have found for free with a simple Google search... Well, you live and learn.
This comes to golden rule number 2, we live in a digital age now, there’s nothing and I really do mean nothing you can’t find out about being a voice over artist on line. There are many former voice over artists out there who now sell on their expertise and information to bright young things trying to sell your dreams to you out there.
Not that there aren’t some good VOs out there offering good training, I just advise to be careful and do your research! Now, onto the kit that has served me well...
I'll also put links to all this kit below at the end of the blog!
The main event and your money maker – the microphone
Now, there are several different types of microphone out there, but the best type for voice over work is a condenser mic in a cardioid pattern. Now a condenser is great for picking up all those little details and nuances of the voice and the cardioid pattern means that it picks up sound best in a narrow field, basically directly in front of your face to capture your lovely voice!
There’s a good blog here if you want to learn more about the types of mics, but to keep things simple just remember the cardioid type for the moment.
I have 2 mics one very much a budget mic and another closer to the mid range:
The budget mic – The t.bone SC 400 – Price Currently at £41 via their website
The old t.bone aint that pretty but how can you argue with this price? I’ve never had any issue picking up work with this mic, as long as your studio environment is well set up then you should be set. I only ever had one minor complaint from a client that said that the bass was a little strong on recording using this mic and it isn’t always as clear on high frequencies.
But, if you’re on a budget and need a good starter mic then this is a good shout.
The medium tier – The Rode NT1A – Price currently £139
This is now my go to mic. I’ve found it’s always given my voice a very warm and welcoming sound and is better at giving those higher frequencies a crisper sound and I’ve had no complaints on the bass end with this fella.
One more essential for any mic is to get a pop filter. These basically reduce the harshness of your “P” and “B” sounds as well as helping to reduce those wooshes of air that might hit the mic and make an unpleasant sound.
What about a USB mic?
Both of these being condenser mics you won’t be able to just plug them straight into your laptop like you would a USB mic. However, if you’re going to try being a professional voice over artist I wouldn’t recommend using a USB mic. While they’re certainly improving in quality they don’t yet match the quality of a good condenser mic, which brings us on the next bit of kit you’ll need…
An audio interface
Condenser mics need their own little power supply known as “Phantom power”, or a little 48v jolt to get the mic working and you do this through the audio interface.
The one I use is:
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC404HD Audio Interface – current price £98
Now, this is probably a bit much for most new voice over artists as it has 4 connections for mics, I only use this one as I also do a lot of podcasting and find it really useful, a smaller example is the one below (but note, it’ll do exactly the same as the above)
Behringer U-PHORIA UMC204HD Audio Interface – current price £68
This looks exactly the same as the 404 model, only instead of 4 mic slots there are only 2. Makes sense.
Finally: the DAW
A DAW, or a digital audio work station, this is the software you’ll be using to actually record your voice. I’m not sure there’s really a “best” DAW out there as a lot if it comes down to personal preference but a good starter is something called “Audacity”
Audacity – current price – Completely FREE!
And that’s the biggest benefit of audacity, it might not be the prettiest out there but it certainly gets the job done and is free!! There’s even a handy plug in if you do audio books for audible that lets you know if the file meets the criteria required which is nice. There are also a ton of tutorials out there as this is one that many voice over artists start out with.
A good mid price alternative though:
Reaper – current price free for 60 days then £45 for a full licence
I love Reaper just through the sheer levels of customisation you can do here in setting up different types of editing tricks to make the whole process easier. And best of all, its all no destructive editing, anything you delete you can get back any time. I really can’t sing Reapers praises enough, the YouTuber Boothjunkie has a good series on getting started with Repaer if you fancy it. And its way cheaper than Adobe audition and their extortionate monthly fees…
So that’s about all really, get the above and you’re off! I’ve deliberately left out laptops, basically, ANY laptop will do, this kit won’t exactly strain your processing power and you’ll not need anything fancy.
Now, there are LOADS of variations on the above you can use if you’re an aspiring voice over artist and with a little bit of a Google search and you’ll be met with a multitude of options! The ones listed in the blog are my personal kit and ones I’ve used. I still recommend doing a lot of your own research and finding out what works best for you.
But, just to give you an idea of how cheap it can be to start out as a voice over artist, here’s a run down of the cheapest combo of the above!
t.bone SC400 - £41
Basic pop filter example - £10
Mic stand example - £30
Audacity DAW- Free
Bam. There you go. For a reasonable sum of £149 you can get yourself out there and start recording. Now there are no excuses for not getting started! Of course, there are a few other bits and pieces like possibly some acoustic foam to treat your recording environment, and you can up those costs to make some slight improvements to the kit, but the point still stands. Its incredibly easy to get started and you don’t need to break the bank!
Finally, as promised, some more links to the other kit I mentioned:
So, what are you waiting for?