Love them or hate them, gadgets are an essential part of life as a Voiceover Artist, let’s look at a couple of my favourites
It’s no secret that as a Voiceover Artist, I love my broadcast quality studio and the fact I can record my work at home in pristine quality for my clients.
I’m fortunate that having a background in broadcasting, as a presenter but also as a sound engineer for the BBC World Service, the technology involved in Voiceover has never held any fear or has it ever been something that I’ve had to learn from scratch.
Whether you’re new to the Voiceover world and you are building your first studio, or if you are upgrading aspects of your set up, it’s often handy to see what others recommend.. here’s my take on a few of the voiceover studio essentials and some tips!
Slight disclaimer that everyone has a different space, career, voice, priorities, budget.. so please take from this the opportunity to start your research and to get some ideas!
What’s the best microphone for voiceover artists?
Probably the tech question that is most asked in Voiceover forums and discussions!
There isn’t actually an easy answer.. this is very much an “it depends” question. The most important thing is to get a decent quality large condenser microphone that will work with your voice. It’s true that different mics favour different types of voices.. some mics work brilliantly with big male voices where others can be sibilant on lighter female voices. If you get the opportunity to try a mic or two then that is great. I did this when I was setting up my studio by going to DV247. What was brilliant was being able to listen to some mics and compare them.
I ended up with an sE Electronics mic, it was massive and a total bargain that lasted me for years. Finding something that pushes above it’s weight and works for your sound is very satisfying and cost effective.
These days I have an AKG 414 as my “every day” mic. This might be one of the lesser spotted microphones used by VO Artists but it works brilliantly on my voice. Back in my sound engineering days, these mics were used for so many things.. from mic’ing up presenters to recording drum kits and orchestras. They are so versatile and I love mine. I also have a selection of Audio Technica mics, very crisp and responsive and a Rodes NT1, which lots of very experience VOs use and is very affordable.
Do you need headphones as a Voiceover Artist
Yes you do! How you actually use them is up to you. I tend to use them most of the time when I’m recording, probably a legacy from my days as a radio presenter. Many people don’t use headphones for a self directed session.. I actually don’t wear them when I’m recording more character work.
Where headphones come into their own is when you have a directed session remotely in your studio with the director on Zoom, Source Connect or Cleanfeed – for example. So that you can hear the direction!
Some people edit with headphones on.. personally, I wouldn’t recommend that as you’ll go a bit crazy hearing sounds that don’t matter in a non headphones environment.
The vast majority of pro voiceover artists use the same headphones!! These are the Beyer Dynamic DT770 which are very neutral and true in sound and comfortable to wear for long periods of time. I love mine! I also have a pair of DT100.. because I like them as well!
My booth itself is probably my favourite “gadget” in my studio. When I first started out I was still discovering what was available that would work for me and my budget and my space and tried lots of foam tile based options. For me, the foam tiles were pretty decent. The only trouble was that from time to time them would fall off the wall on top of me! and I needed a more professional, and nicer environment to spend my days in.
Testing out a few options, I went for a Session Booth Pro which I’m delighted with and the customer service was faultless, with the family father and son team bringing me my booth and building it for me in my space!
Your recording space REALLY matters. I think it matters more than spending your money on a posh mic. You can have the best mic in the world, but if you have a poor recording space with loads of traffic noise or barking dogs (!), you will end up with a beautifully recorded noisy space.
Interface: what’s that?!
When you are setting up your mic and your recording software, you’ll realise that you need a way to get from the mic to the computer and pop some headphones in, or other gadgets.
The way to do this is by grabbing yourself an audio interface.
I am saying this because I’m not keen for you to go down the route of USB microphones – they won’t be very good, you deserve better than that, my friend!
I have a lovely Scarlett box of tricks.. Most VO artists with their own studios go for either Audient or Focusrite interfaces. I have a Focusrite, they have a large selection and a shed load of options to suit all budgets and needs. Win.
Voiceover recording software
When it comes to audio recording software, you really have so much choice.. from free software to the most complex Pro Tools style solutions.
As someone who used the old Cool Edit Pro back in the 1990s, I’ve always been a big fan of Adobe Audition
I have the Creative Cloud version and I love that it can be a very simple “tape and blade” style editor and that I can also mix complex sound art pieces, radio packages and more with it. It’s a complex as you make it. But it is on the pricey side, so you might want to look at Audacity – especially if you are splashing your cash on a good sounding recording space and mic!
Computers for Voiceovers
This is really too personal a choice for me to make recommendations, especially as the world is split between Mac and PC fans! I’m a Mac fan.. which used to be a bit of an issue if you wanted to use Adobe Audition.. I remember having to have this “Parallels” software to run it as a PC on my Mac! What a faff that was. Thankfully, Macs and Adobe Audition get on better these days and I have a lovely Mac with the life changingly good M1 chip.. which basically just makes it work smoothly on Macs. Honestly, it has been a game changer for me.
I’m not very good at talking about computers.. well, I would be if you gave me a script and some cash.. but not in my own words. Anyway, I have to share the delight in having a “mirror” of my Mac screen in my VO booth coupled with an extra magic mouse and magic keyboard for the Mac. This means I have full control of my Mac in my booth for recording and connecting on various tools with clients. I also have a camera in my booth so I can be directed on Zoom right in the booth.
These are just a few of my favourite Voiceover Studio tech gadgets.. I could go on about cables, monitors and mixing desks.. do let me know if you’d like my thoughts on those !!
Clare Reeves is a British Female Voiceover Artist who enjoys lending her warm voice to projects to inspire unforgettable connection. You can hear some examples of Clare’s Corporate Voiceovers here