What has changed though is that there has been a flurry of people setting up home studios - some fantastic, some not so good. Part and parcel of getting hold of a good voiceover for your project is sound quality. So I wanted to help make sure that you as a content maker, get what you need from a voiceover artist with a home studio, for they are not all created equally!
For many years I was a sound engineer in the BBC (we were called Studio Managers) and the training alone taught us all about acoustics, sound waves, acoustic treatment, audio kit and microphones, troubleshooting and more - all the theories and tricks of recording and broadcasting a huge array of content for listeners all over the world.
When I left the BBC 10 years ago, I brought my knowledge of audio from working on both sides of the mic with me and applied it all to my own studio at home.
Here's my pick of the things you need to keep in mind when you are looking to hire a voiceover artist with their own studios
Microphones - these are the ears of the people you are reaching with your voiceover. You want to make sure you have the best kit at the start of the chain. You know what though, not all microphones work for all voices. I have spent years testing and trying mics that bring out the best in my voice. My most used mic is the AKG 414. This is not a USB mic, this is a professional, condenser mic that is phenomenally versatile and I know it works very well with my voice. Check what mic your VOs use.
Recording space - sound waves are wiggly creatures and are tricky to control! Especially in the home, where there are fridges, heating systems, lawnmowers and traffic. Over the last 10 years my studio has been tweaked and remodelled to be at it's best. My office that contains my booth, is on the top floor of a very solid house on a peaceful street "the studio between the sea and the sky" is in a quiet part of a seaside town, with hefty double glazing. Within this space, I constructed a voiceover booth which itself is sound treated to make the least of sound in the outside world and the most of the sound I make within it. I have worked to achieve the right level of sound absorbency for my voice and my clients always value the broadcast quality studio sound. Check the sound quality of the studio your VO is based in.
Recording and Editing - My mic goes from the booth into a Focusrite processor and into Adobe Audition that I run on Mac and monitor on Rokits. I love using Audition, for me it's very intuitive and I can not only edit basic files, I can mix multitrack sessions, add music and SFX if I need to, sync my files to existing content and event create sound art. I can edit quickly and effectively. I know what to leave in as well as take out, thanks to my years in broadcasting it really is second nature. This means you get a high quality recording, you can chose the level of edit I can provide. I started using Adobe Audition when it was still it's previous incarnation Cool Edit Pro, in the BBC World Service in around 1998, I even trained reporters to use it in Ghana. Ask your VO what edit software they use and how well they can use it - you need to make sure your recording is good quality.
Connectivity - I've been connecting to studios all over the world from my voiceover studio for years. So, I know what systems are available, popular, reliable and how to use them. Sometimes clients just want to direct me over the phone, Skype or Zoom while I record locally. More often though these days, studios who have their own connectivity want to use what they are comfortable with. Therefore it's my business to make sure I am available how they want me to be. By having a directed voiceover session on ISDN, Source Connect, Source Connect NOW or Cleanfeed, clients can record and sync to picture if they need to. It's like being in the same building, which is not only brilliant for getting a great result and being able to explore read options on a script - it's also wonderful to work with people so directly and closely!
Maybe you don't want to direct and you want your Voiceover Artist to direct themselves. Do make sure that your Voiceover can deliver this for you.
I feel a whole extra blog about this coming on... Do check a Voiceover's connectivity set up and their self direct experience.
This is a summary of the things to check when you are looking for a voiceover with a home studio, feel free to get in touch if you have any questions on the subject and if you'd like a free sample of a read in my studio.
I take huge pride in delivering great audio and customer service and I can promise you that I am at least as fussy about sound as you are. Always happy to talk!