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Need recommendations on what gear to buy for a pro level home voice over booth/studio Condenser Microphones
Old 29th January 2018
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Need recommendations on what gear to buy for a pro level home voice over booth/studio

A little bit of backstory. I am a USAF veteran of 10 years. While I was enlisted I developed a passion for voice over work and bought my first condenser mic, a USB Audio Technica ATR2500.

I had a blast with it and that started my love for VO and audio gear. Since then I have gone through several various upgrades to get where I am now. I have an Electrovoice RE20 with a DBX 286A and a Focusrite Scarlett Solo USB interface. All knocking on the low end of mid grade but they get the job done for the VO work im doing in my closet booth that I have treated with acoustic foam.

One area Ive always struggled with is the audio production side of things so I recently enrolled in college for audio production and will be using my chapter 33 GI bill benefits.

Now for where Im going with all this. I have a full time job and side business so money is comfortable. Just by attending college and collecting my benefits and left over grant money I will have roughly $40,000 delivered to my bank account tax free. My wife has already given me the thumbs up that I can use half of that cash to build a pro level home studio/booth.

So here I am, looking for what I should focus this $20,000 on. I have a few ideas but I figured a discussion may lead to some new components I wouldn't have thought of.

Keep in mind this is for Voice Over work, I cant sing or play an instrument at all. I will list a few items I had in mind toward my budget. Thanks for the help.

Vocal Booth or Whisper Room - I need at least 4' x 4' as i have broad shoulders and plan on treating the interior with Owens Corning 703. Im estimating around $8,000 for this unless there are better options out there.

Interface - Apogee Symphony 2x6 Ive seen these used and in good conditon for around $1,000

Pre Amp - Avalon VT-737sp ive seen used for $1200-1500 but Im hesitant to buy used for fear of damage or misuse to the tubes.

Mic/Mics - If I go with the above I will have about $9k to tinker with in mics.

Ive had my eye on a Neumann u87 Rhodium edition for a long time but thats half my mic budget.

I may pass on the u87 if the reissue of u67 that were announced turns out great.

Sennheiser MKH 416 - $999

Lewitt LCT550 or 640 - $800-$900


Am I missing anything big for the studio? Would the parts I listed give me a truly pro setup? I have studio monitors, headphones, Macbook and plenty of DAWs to work with so no need to spend anything there.

Also a note, while I am just venturing down this path and what I want to put together is overkill, I understand that someone at my level normally wouldnt spend this amount on a home studio. I am only doing so because I am passionate about VO. My family is already well taken care of and provided for. And the money I am getting will be purely residual play money. So please no lectures about wasting money and not needing certain items, thanks kindly.


- Mike "Voxton" Oliver
Old 29th January 2018
  #2
Lives for gear
 

Mike, congratulations and thank you for your service. VO work is a fascinating way to make a living. I was lucky enough to know and work with Don LaFontaine a little, so I can perhaps be of some help.

1. Recording space - aside from it being quiet, the primary aspect you're searching for is....nothing. It shouldn't add anything to the track. No overtime ambience but also no "closed-in" feeling. Small overly absorptive booths can do that. Natural sounding is your quest.

2. Interface - a 2 in/2 out box will likely do what you need. There are a LOT of good choices out there. Pay attention to the headphone amp on them. That's likely your primary monitoring source, so attention paid up front will be well rewarded across time.

3. Preamp - several of the best interfaces offer mic preamps and they may well prove to be perfectly adequate for what you need. Unlike those of us doing music recording and tussling over the eternal Neve/API/(fill in the blank) question, your requirements are (1) quiet (2) quiet (3) QUIET and (4) clear. Intelligibility is key to your success.

4. Microphone - I would highly recommend you start with the Sennheiser 416. It has been the defacto choice for male voiceover ever since folks started trying to copy Don's "...in a world..." sound. Oddly enough, Don didn't use one at his home studio. But Don sounded like that when he said "hello", so the mic wasn't the primary determining factor in his sound. Vary your distance until you find a couple of sounds you can work with.

If you're consistent with your levels, other processing you might want to do can be done in the box, so other hardware likely isn't essential.

Even though any recording software will probably be ok, I think most folks are still using Adobe Audition to make their .wav and mp3 files to send off. You might ask around to make sure. VO agencies will tell you if they have a preference.

Three other tips I can offer - a natural expressive read is key to success in this world. People have to want to listen to you and accept whatever info you're offering. Next, develop a couple of different vocal personalities. Neutral, folksy, high pressure sell, all will be useful at some point. Have them ready. And last (and maybe most difficult), develop an internal clock. Delivering information within the confines of a restricted timeframe (like a 30 second commercial) without sounding rushed or uneven is an art form. Don was amazing at it. Ed McMahon was legendary for being able to bring the VO on a 60 second commercial in at 58.5-59 seconds without a clock anywhere. A skill worth developing.

Your "read" is paramount to your success in this world. If you have doubts about yours, study a little with a couple of the good teachers out there to polish things up before you venture out. I knew someone who spent a $100K inheritance on great gear to do this very job. But, even though he had a lovely voice, you wouldn't listen to this guy read you the daily specials at Denny's if he was standing there taking your order. He read like a seventh grader. And none of us who saw the issue could convince him of the problem. He blew his inheritance and blew up his life over nothing. So listen to guys like Don and Tom Kaine for a guide on how to really do it and keep your gear budget slim.

Hope this helps a little.
Old 29th January 2018
  #3
Quote:
Originally Posted by burp182 View Post
Mike, congratulations and thank you for your service. VO work is a fascinating way to make a living. I was lucky enough to know and work with Don LaFontaine a little, so I can perhaps be of some help.

1. Recording space - aside from it being quiet, the primary aspect you're searching for is....nothing. It shouldn't add anything to the track. No overtime ambience but also no "closed-in" feeling. Small overly absorptive booths can do that. Natural sounding is your quest.

2. Interface - a 2 in/2 out box will likely do what you need. There are a LOT of good choices out there. Pay attention to the headphone amp on them. That's likely your primary monitoring source, so attention paid up front will be well rewarded across time.

3. Preamp - several of the best interfaces offer mic preamps and they may well prove to be perfectly adequate for what you need. Unlike those of us doing music recording and tussling over the eternal Neve/API/(fill in the blank) question, your requirements are (1) quiet (2) quiet (3) QUIET and (4) clear. Intelligibility is key to your success.

4. Microphone - I would highly recommend you start with the Sennheiser 416. It has been the defacto choice for male voiceover ever since folks started trying to copy Don's "...in a world..." sound. Oddly enough, Don didn't use one at his home studio. But Don sounded like that when he said "hello", so the mic wasn't the primary determining factor in his sound. Vary your distance until you find a couple of sounds you can work with.

If you're consistent with your levels, other processing you might want to do can be done in the box, so other hardware likely isn't essential.

Even though any recording software will probably be ok, I think most folks are still using Adobe Audition to make their .wav and mp3 files to send off. You might ask around to make sure. VO agencies will tell you if they have a preference.

Three other tips I can offer - a natural expressive read is key to success in this world. People have to want to listen to you and accept whatever info you're offering. Next, develop a couple of different vocal personalities. Neutral, folksy, high pressure sell, all will be useful at some point. Have them ready. And last (and maybe most difficult), develop an internal clock. Delivering information within the confines of a restricted timeframe (like a 30 second commercial) without sounding rushed or uneven is an art form. Don was amazing at it. Ed McMahon was legendary for being able to bring the VO on a 60 second commercial in at 58.5-59 seconds without a clock anywhere. A skill worth developing.

Your "read" is paramount to your success in this world. If you have doubts about yours, study a little with a couple of the good teachers out there to polish things up before you venture out. I knew someone who spent a $100K inheritance on great gear to do this very job. But, even though he had a lovely voice, you wouldn't listen to this guy read you the daily specials at Denny's if he was standing there taking your order. He read like a seventh grader. And none of us who saw the issue could convince him of the problem. He blew his inheritance and blew up his life over nothing. So listen to guys like Don and Tom Kaine for a guide on how to really do it and keep your gear budget slim.

Hope this helps a little.
1. I wouldn't disagree with any of this. The bigger the whisper booth you can afford, the less likely it is to sound 'closed in' (to steal the description above).

2. Interface, as stated above, go for the best quality headphone amp and pre you can. That should save you money on adding preamps and headphone amps.

3. As above.

4. Sennheiserer 416 or u87 both use the P.48 capsule. as such they are interchangeable. Getting a rhodium version or any other is adding cost for no value. a U67 is a very different mic. I have one and don't put it up for VO. Make of that what you will.
Old 29th January 2018
  #4
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by burp182 View Post
Mike, congratulations and thank you for your service. VO work is a fascinating way to make a living. I was lucky enough to know and work with Don LaFontaine a little, so I can perhaps be of some help.

1. Recording space - aside from it being quiet, the primary aspect you're searching for is....nothing. It shouldn't add anything to the track. No overtime ambience but also no "closed-in" feeling. Small overly absorptive booths can do that. Natural sounding is your quest.

2. Interface - a 2 in/2 out box will likely do what you need. There are a LOT of good choices out there. Pay attention to the headphone amp on them. That's likely your primary monitoring source, so attention paid up front will be well rewarded across time.

3. Preamp - several of the best interfaces offer mic preamps and they may well prove to be perfectly adequate for what you need. Unlike those of us doing music recording and tussling over the eternal Neve/API/(fill in the blank) question, your requirements are (1) quiet (2) quiet (3) QUIET and (4) clear. Intelligibility is key to your success.

4. Microphone - I would highly recommend you start with the Sennheiser 416. It has been the defacto choice for male voiceover ever since folks started trying to copy Don's "...in a world..." sound. Oddly enough, Don didn't use one at his home studio. But Don sounded like that when he said "hello", so the mic wasn't the primary determining factor in his sound. Vary your distance until you find a couple of sounds you can work with.

If you're consistent with your levels, other processing you might want to do can be done in the box, so other hardware likely isn't essential.

Even though any recording software will probably be ok, I think most folks are still using Adobe Audition to make their .wav and mp3 files to send off. You might ask around to make sure. VO agencies will tell you if they have a preference.

Three other tips I can offer - a natural expressive read is key to success in this world. People have to want to listen to you and accept whatever info you're offering. Next, develop a couple of different vocal personalities. Neutral, folksy, high pressure sell, all will be useful at some point. Have them ready. And last (and maybe most difficult), develop an internal clock. Delivering information within the confines of a restricted timeframe (like a 30 second commercial) without sounding rushed or uneven is an art form. Don was amazing at it. Ed McMahon was legendary for being able to bring the VO on a 60 second commercial in at 58.5-59 seconds without a clock anywhere. A skill worth developing.

Your "read" is paramount to your success in this world. If you have doubts about yours, study a little with a couple of the good teachers out there to polish things up before you venture out. I knew someone who spent a $100K inheritance on great gear to do this very job. But, even though he had a lovely voice, you wouldn't listen to this guy read you the daily specials at Denny's if he was standing there taking your order. He read like a seventh grader. And none of us who saw the issue could convince him of the problem. He blew his inheritance and blew up his life over nothing. So listen to guys like Don and Tom Kaine for a guide on how to really do it and keep your gear budget slim.

Hope this helps a little.
Thanks a ton for the reply. I am always working on different delivery methods and styles. I've always had a pretty naturally soothing and engaging reading pace and its worked well for me in the limited jobs/roles I have booked but I try to learn a bit more every day.

I plan on getting the 416 for certain to use at least in the narration and trailer capacity. I want a few high performing mics that are a bit more neutral for other work so that I have hardware options to go with. There are certainly plenty of options out there and I'm excited to build the foundation to start a microphone collection of my own to get the perfect sound every time.
Old 29th January 2018
  #5
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
1. I wouldn't disagree with any of this. The bigger the whisper booth you can afford, the less likely it is to sound 'closed in' (to steal the description above).

2. Interface, as stated above, go for the best quality headphone amp and pre you can. That should save you money on adding preamps and headphone amps.

3. As above.

4. Sennheiserer 416 or u87 both use the P.48 capsule. as such they are interchangeable. Getting a rhodium version or any other is adding cost for no value. a U67 is a very different mic. I have one and don't put it up for VO. Make of that what you will.
Thanks a ton for the input, is there a certain aspect of the U67 that makes it less appealing for VO?

Between the 416 and the U87 if the price isn't an issue which should I go with? I have a mid baritone voice its not a booming grumbling bass. Its most suited for Narration and commercials I don't foresee too many movie trailers landing in my inbox.
Old 29th January 2018
  #6
Here for the gear
 

Firstly, thank you for your service! My former better half is in the service so I'm acutely aware of the level of sacrifice that goes into serving your country. With that out of the way, I want to offer some advice because I've been through the process of answering some of the same questions you're asking. Just so you know where I'm coming from, what's my background? I'm a voice over and audiobook narrator, somewhere between hobbyist and fulltime. I get enough jobs to where I generate some income on a professional level, but I still maintain a 9-5 job.

1) Having gone through the process of setting up a whisperroom this summer, I would say 100% get a 4x4 whisperroom. As much as I'd love to have a nice acoustically treated room to let my voice stretch its legs out, nearly every take is going to be ruined by some small creak in your house, someone driving on the road, etc. I think you overestimated the cost somewhat though. After all was said and done (with the corning treatment) I think I spent about $5k. I would opt for the ventilation system as well as the ventilation silencing system, because man does it get hot in there. I opted to put a 27" monitor, driven by a small fanless laptop with an SSD (for silence) in my booth to read my copy from. Booth Junkie has a great video on installing the corning insulation in your booth: YouTube

2) No solid recommendation here, the unit you mentioned looks good, a lynx hilo would be good too.

3) I'd look into something as transparent as possible, a grace m101 or m201 is a great option for voice over because they add almost no perceptible coloration to the signal. You could just get two m101s if you want to power both of your mics(more on that later) in at the same time

4) Get an mkh416 and either a u87ai or a tlm 102 right off the bat and be done with it. These mics are the bread and butter of the voice industry. A plus on the mkh416 is that since it picks up such a small amount of room noise, you can use it outside of your booth if you're recording demos or non commercial stuff.
Old 29th January 2018
  #7
Gear Nut
 
andstrumental's Avatar
I agree with everything above. the only thing to watch for is that the 416 is a shotgun mic, and therefore (not intuitively) it picks up up some of the room 180degrees to its rear. For an outside ENG interview mic, there is nothing better than a 416. If you're room is not 100% dead, the 416 will add some ambience and be less tight than a LDC cardioid like a u87. My vote would be for a high quality LDC with no tube, use the mic pre in your interface, and focus on getting the room very sound proof and dead. This will get you the best bang for your buck. My two cents...

PS. I've used a 416 every day for the last 10+ years doing onsite dialogue recording.

PPS. thank you for your service.
Old 29th January 2018
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Sigma's Avatar
for mic i'd try ones out to see what best works for you re 20 and 87's have been used for years in VO work

i would stay away from the avalon it's "mushy"

i'd get a good outboard 4 band eq and a limiter

then i'd mult my mic output ..1 processed [set to whatever thru hrs of work you find is the optimal eq for you] …one not … that way you can send both processed and unprocessed raw out to clients if they are taking you tracks and doing mix

i'd get a millennia td 1 preamp... it's clean and neutral sounding

and like the mic i 'd go to a store and try a few eq's

save money build your own booth
Old 29th January 2018
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sigma View Post
for mic i'd try ones out to see what best works for you re 20 and 87's have been used for years in VO work

i would stay away from the avalon it's "mushy"

i'd get a good outboard 4 band eq and a limiter

then i'd mult my mic output ..1 processed [set to whatever thru hrs of work you find is the optimal eq for you] …one not … that way you can send both processed and unprocessed raw out to clients if they are taking you tracks and doing mix

i'd get a millennia td 1 preamp... it's clean and neutral sounding

and like the mic i 'd go to a store and try a few eq's

save money build your own booth
Interesting. We get a fair bit of voice work through the door. The brief is almost always no processing.

I'd say that is even more important if the OP is not an engineer.
Old 29th January 2018
  #10
Here for the gear
 

Definitely not a sound/audio engineer at all. Gonna get some production experience under my belt but that will be the extent of it. I doubt I have the ear for true engineering work. .I just want whats going to really shine from a home studio as my venture into VO will be as work comes.
Old 30th January 2018
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Years ago I helped a prominent VO artist set up a portable programmable EQ/comp chain so that, on the occasions when he found himself in a situation dealing with a substandard engineer, he could patch in his system with the proper processing we had collaborated on to suit the situation as he saw it. At that point, it was a pricey but effective solution.
Happily, your situation is far more controlled. Hire a good engineer to come into your room and build you several situational effect chains to have available when you do need to send in a more finished file rather than raw audio. Always good to have options in your back pocket. Under most circumstances, the folks making hiring decisions are not renowned for their imaginations, so a little subtle polish can make the difference between getting hired or passed over.

Also, per the 87, as lovely as the Rhodium edition is, I'd suggest the standard model, as there is no audible difference. The Rhodium is a commemorative edition with a price premium. If you wish, a good use of the leftover funds might be put towards a ribbon like the AEA R84. A mic locker with a 416, U87, RE20 and R84 would provide an enormous tonal range.
Worth considering.

As always, YMMV.
Old 30th January 2018
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

Been doing VO work for 40 some years now. Truth is any of the Mics and preamps mentioned are useable.

I have a ****-ton of microphones and preamps, but my most used mics for my voice are an MKH416 and a vintage U87. My most used preamps are a Hardy M1 and an Avalon Vt-737sp with NOS Holland Phillips tubes. I also do a bunch of work with other VO artists across the country via Source Connect and the like. Here is what I want from talent.... Someone who can take direction. Here is what I don't want from talent..... I don't want to hear the room at all. And I don't want an over sibilant compressed sound.

All the best!

Dave
Old 30th January 2018
  #13
Here for the gear
 

Thanks Dave! I'm of course always working to improve my skill/talent in VO. I am pretty good at taking direction, probably comes from all those orders in the service. The booth I am in now is pretty silent while Im recording but I have a pretty high noise floor right now and I don't think the room is to blame. The noise is just a light hiss when my gain is high. Using the RE20 my gain has to be significant to get usablely loud audio. Right now my focusrite is just an interface Im not using the pre amp at all. Im getting 25 dB from a CL-1 Cloudlifter and about 30 dB from my DBX 286a. The hiss can be gated at around -66 dB but that leaves my spoken word only sitting around -18 to -14. Which becomes very noticable if I normalize to proper volume. Right now I have to use ReaFir to filter the hiss out but thanks to my booth it doesnt sound terrible when filtered. But thats why I want to severely upgrade my gear so I dont need to do that anymore.
Old 30th January 2018
  #14
Gear Maniac
 

Set aside a few grand for lessons. If you really want to be good at this you're going to need lessons and then an agent. Vo work seems easy, you're just talking right? We all have bad habits that need corrected. A good coach will spot and correct those flaws.
Old 30th January 2018
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Get suitable high quality front end gear first then audition all of the vocal booth products for a tailored fit as the last purchase.
Your RE20 is a terrific front end starting point, there are many very good reasons it is ubiquitous broadcast gear: however there is no such thing as a single mic being a perfect fit for all needs. The Sure SM7b is the secondary favorite of broadcasters: It offers a very tight card pattern with more coloration than the RE20 and it needs a horse of a pre amp to get up to speed. These two dynamic mics provide 99% of radio studio broadcast work. Both would be greatly helped with an ADL600 or similar tube/transformer based pre-amp.
Another attractive option would be one of the U47 tube mic reproductions such as the FLea 47next or Paluso 2247SE . Tube mics with this level of sonic quality offer transformer based proven technology that has maintained supreme status in the recording world for more than 60 years. I use a Digigrid/Waves LV1 system that features world class Digico "D" pres and Waves plug-ins. It is very important to deliver post produced high quality 24/48 pro std. WAV files for end use. Too this end no system does it better than Digigrid/WavesLV1 at their price point.
Budget; (SM7b $350.) (ADL600 ,used, $1,000. or less) (Flea47 next $3,000. or less) (Digigrid 8 channel IOS ,Street price, $1,600 or less) (Waves 16 channel LV1 license $1,200.) ( Custom computer with large Dell touch screen $2,000) (PreSonus Studio One 3 DAW with fader port $600.)
$9,750. is half of your 20K budget to purchase world class recording capability and plenty of budget left over to purchase an appropriate vocal booth.
Hugh
Old 30th January 2018
  #16
Lives for gear
 
James Lehmann's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by VoxtonVO View Post
Am I missing anything big for the studio? Would the parts I listed give me a truly pro setup? I have studio monitors, headphones, Macbook and plenty of DAWs to work with so no need to spend anything there.
I compiled this webpage some years ago - so the equipment may be a bit out of date (although actually I'm still using much the same gear!) - but there's plenty of other practical things to consider that you might not have budgeted for yet - decent table, chair etc, along with tips about making a session work.

Hope it might help in some small way: James' Voiceover Tips
Old 30th January 2018
  #17
Gear Nut
 

First of all, I gotta say that I love seeing a thread on GS like this where everyone is nothing but cordial and constructive, while also being opinionated (knock on wood!!) Maybe this can be a new trend!

Second, I think everyone has made excellent suggestions. I am going to second the recommendation for the MKH 416. I find it to be the most flattering VO mic for most voices. I do have to add the disclaimer, however, that you should do your best to audition any mic that you are going to spend significant money on, as even the "best" mics have the possibility of not always being the best mic for absolutely everyone's voice. You never know until you try.

Next, I always try to troubleshoot by attacking the weakest link in the chain, first. And (from what you have described) it seems that your weakest link may be the 286A. It's by no means a bad unit - it's a superb value - BUT they aren't known for being the absolute quietest pieces. An RE20 with a cloudlifter shouldn't have such significant hiss if you are going into a quiet preamp. Maybe the DBX is the first thing you might consider replacing?

Lastly, I'm always one for first trying to see if I can first try to make the best with what I have. So in that vein, have you tried any other noise reduction other than a simple gate? Klevgrand makes a very inexpensive noise reduction plugin that I find to actually be slightly better than (and even easier to use) than Izotope RX6. While it does use gates, it uses multiple gates, and does so in a very unique and transparent manner. Both RX6 and the Klevgrand plug have saved quite a few recordings that I've received from clients, that would've previously had to be trashed. Here is a link to check it out:

Brusfri - Klevgrand Produkter AB


Anyway, I'm sure you will continue to get great advice in this thread, as everyone here seems to be very knowledgeable and experienced.

Cheers,
TKB
Old 30th January 2018
  #18
Here for the gear
 

Currently I'm getting by using ReaFir to filter it out and it does the job well enough that I haven't heard any complaints on the audio yet but I really hope to get past having to do that. As far as the DBX286a Its the latest item I added in, before I was just using the CL-1 Cloudlifter going directly into my Focusrite Solo and the hiss was even worse due to having to pump the gain up on the interface to around 75%. I've tried extra gain on the DBX pumping it as high as 59 dB and it seems like its nearly as quiet as when I add the Cloudlifter in but the balance I found in quieting it down just a bit and adding the Cloudlifter back in seems to be a good happy medium that produces usable audio. Give me a few minutes and I will give an example of the hiss I am experiencing in silence and you guys can give an opinion. I like my RE20 but I want a mic with some proximity effect for those richer moments and unfortunately the RE20 just gets louder with no effect due to their design. Its wonderful for broadcast or live applications but I really want more options down the road. I appreciate the noise reduction suggestions and I will give them a look and see if they would be better than the ReaFir plugin so I can pump a bit more gain out of it.

As for testing the mics my options are severely limited. There aren't many studios for me to go to and check out in my area as I live in North Eastern Oklahoma. It would be quite the drive to get to one I could try them all out in. I'm hoping my local Guitar Center will get used version of a few of them in so I can go in and test them out before buying one, thats about my best option to try before I buy.
Old 31st January 2018
  #19
Here for the gear
 

It sounds like you are off to a pretty good start and your passion for VO will help drive your career. Before you sink everything into the best gear you can find, I would recommend two things. First, build something in your home. A multi thick walled studio is much more comfortable than a small instant booth will do a lot more to keep sound out. You can add the interior sound insulation your self.

Second, build your skills. Find a good coach, produce demos. Produce more demos and join the pay for plays when you have a good chance of some success.

If you still want to check out equipment, and you do don't you? Try before you by. The mic has to sound good on your voice, not just a rep. Find a large studio with a helpful engineer. Here's a tip a couple of hundred dollars can make people helpful. If you live in a rural area look at OKC or Dallas. Hunt studios on line, look at their gear. E mail or call them up, people still use phones for calls. Tell them what you want ask what they charge for a mic demo and sound check session. Check it out for your self you will learn a lot this way and meet people who really understand studio sound.

I wish you luck with your journey.
Old 31st January 2018
  #20
Lives for gear
 
jindrich's Avatar
 

I agree with most of what has been said here.

1. Booth. Buy 3 or 4 IKEA Billy shelfs, fill them with fiberglass and finally cover them with a nice cloth. You'll get a very nice and effective modular *booth* for peanuts.

2. Interface. There are many that will fill the bill. As mentioned, choose one with good phones out, the best pres and dedicated line input capability, if you later decide to get an external preamp. No need to spend that much. The new Audient id44 for $600 can be all you might need.

3. Preamp. You might no need one. But if you wan to go crazy look no further than Rupert Neve Shelford with stellar pre+eq+compressor. But something like the new Heritage 73EQ with a 1176 clone will work as well, for less than half what the Neve costs.

4. Mics. 416 and regular U87. Don't skimp on these. Those two mics, the Audient and some good $150 closed phones will get you started, with flying colors, all for under $5k
Old 31st January 2018
  #21
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by jindrich View Post
I agree with most of what has been said here.

1. Booth. Buy 3 or 4 IKEA Billy shelfs, fill them with fiberglass and finally cover them with a nice cloth. You'll get a very nice and effective modular *booth* for peanuts.

2. Interface. There are many that will fill the bill. As mentioned, choose one with good phones out, the best pres and dedicated line input capability, if you later decide to get an external preamp. No need to spend that much. The new Audient id44 for $600 can be all you might need.

3. Preamp. You might no need one. But if you wan to go crazy look no further than Rupert Neve Shelford with stellar pre+eq+compressor. But something like the new Heritage 73EQ with a 1176 clone will work as well, for less than half what the Neve costs.

4. Mics. 416 and regular U87. Don't skimp on these. Those two mics, the Audient and some good $150 closed phones will get you started, with flying colors, all for under $5k

When you say regular U87 do you mean the u87ai that are available retail or a vintage u87?
Old 31st January 2018
  #22
Gear Maniac
 

I can't answer for Jindrich, but I prefer a vintage U87 to the newer U87ai on my voice.

Truth is there are a ton of mics out there that sound great for voice work. You just have to find the ones which work best with your voice, and learn which ones are not so flattering with it. For example, I sound like crap with an RE27 and TLM103.
Old 31st January 2018
  #23
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by VoxtonVO View Post
When you say regular U87 do you mean the u87ai that are available retail or a vintage u87?
I suspect he meant the standard U87ai rather than the "Rhodium" -- which I'm not familiar with but it appears to be a largely cosmetic difference. Regarding new or vintage....new is fine. Seriously. I know people may have strong opinions that the vintage 87s are better but the 87ai will absolutely get the job done, and well. For your application, I wouldn't fork over extra dollars for a coveted vintage mic.

(edit: not to denigrate such opinions as the one immediately above. YMMV as always. Just thinking bang for the buck.)

About the 416....I agree with what's been said already, but just want to add that it's not a particularly forgiving mic with respect to talent placement relative to the mic. You get off axis with that thing, it's not pretty. Especially if you're in a compact space. So you may have to train yourself to maintain a consistent posture relative to the microphone (always a good idea anyway).


For your "booth": among other considerations, establish a space that you will enjoy being in. The Whisper Rooms are fine for what they are, but are pretty cramped and are not great with air circulation. You may find yourself enjoying what you do less if you're not comfortable. "Jindrich" has some good ideas above for ways to treat a regular room to be acoustically suitable for VO....I'd sooner go that route than buying a Whisper Room. It's more comfortable, and as a bigger space it will give you more "air" around the mic and sound less boxy. But you'll need to do more treatment than you might instinctively think.

You can also look at retail acoustic treatment products like GIK, ASC, RealTraps, etc. Quick, easy, nice looking and not all that expensive. As long as extraneous sounds are not getting into the room while you're recording (not a trivial concern of course), acoustic treatment for voice over work is not all that difficult.


Also be prepared to budget for audio transmission technologies -- something like Source Connect (audio over IP), or ISDN lines (kind of rare these days but still in use). Your available market will be much larger if you can work with remote clients.
Old 1st February 2018
  #24
Gear Nut
 

The advice about grabbing a U87 and 416 is spot on. Paying VO clients never quibble over mics. I have had good luck with an SM7b as an alternate flavor. My favorite VO pre is the Grace m801 - lots of clean gain, takes all three mics well, stays out of the way. I would steer clear of EQs and comps, at least until you have a few sessions under your belt. Again, no paying VO client has ever asked for signal processing.

I don't know anything about whisper booths, been lucky enough to always use a studio, but I'd be very concerned about cooling. You'll need constant, quiet airflow. A friend of mine found out the hard way that those small split unit AC packages have a thermostat that disables all cooling when the outside temp drops below 40 degrees.

Most of my sessions had somebody off site that wanted to call in to produce, so a good phone interface is a must. Most cities don't have a provider that will do a new ISDN install, wouldn't invest in it if they do, they're pricing monthly use into obsolescence.

I'd want at least a 4 chan. interface, since your DAW will be your mixer for mics, phone patch, maybe Source Connect down the road. For some movie work, they might want the shotgun, lavalier and 87 all recorded at once so post production has options.

Best of luck with it all!
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