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Input on VO setup for $2K Budget Dynamic Microphones
Old 19th March 2008
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Input on VO setup for $2K Budget

A friend of mine wants to set up a VO rig from scratch. He has a mac, but that's all, and his budget is $2,000.

I suggested:
-RME Fireface 400
-Heil PR40
-Logic Express
-sE Reflexion Filter
-1 pair Grado SR80
-1 pair good isolation headphones (need to look into this)

Any thoughts. I thought about suggesting a less expensive interface and a nicer single-channel pre like the Great River.
Old 19th March 2008
  #2
Jai guru deva om
 
warhead's Avatar
 

I dont see why any of that wouldn't work fine, as long as the Heil matches his voice well. In general I would say it's a good match for many voices.

Is he going to be mixing with headphones? I'd likely look at trimming elsewhere (the interface could be scaled back easily for voice work) and invest in something decent for monitors.

War
Old 19th March 2008
  #3
Gear Nut
 

monitors, mic & interface

Well, the mic would have to cover a lot of bases. He's planning to use it for all kinds of different voices. I did think about scaling back to say a presonus FireStudio, then he could get some decent monitors and maybe even an SM7b for a second mic option.
Old 19th March 2008
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Knastratt's Avatar
 

I'd go for an Apogee Duet instead.
Old 19th March 2008
  #5
Gear Nut
 

duet?

Yeah, I kinda forgot about the duet. Is the conversion really significantly "better" than that of the FireStudio?
Old 19th March 2008
  #6
Lives for gear
 
Knastratt's Avatar
 

Probably. But the mic pres are much better.
Old 20th March 2008
  #7
Lives for gear
Every voice is different, just like every other thing you put a mic to. He really needs to sample things to figure out what is going to work for him. I made the mistake of just buying things because of names I knew from way back when..it didn't work.
My VO set up ended up so clean it was almost antiseptic. For me I think recording a voice for voice over is no different than recording any other instrument. I want to put the best thing I can in front of it to get the sound & quality I want.
Many VO people use the cheapy sound blaster cards and mics for a couple hundreds dollars and they do very well with them. Doesn't work for everybody though.

Just like recording music there are all kinds of flavors out there. The classic Neve or the clean John Hardy.(relatively) It starts that whole debate thing all over. High quality gear in my opinion will help make the subtle nuances a voice actor uses to convey his message stand out and be musical. Same reason one steps up to the plate for high end gear in music. I think some people miss the boat of that when they use cheap stuff.
To me there is nothing like that presence with big, rich, detailed, warm, and three dimensional, sound. I'm not sure how you get that on cheap equipment. My next upgrade will be with all high end equipment. Seems kind of silly when you think about it for a Mono recording....but it's still sitting in a stereo mix no reason why that voice can't sit in the mix real nice
Old 20th March 2008
  #8
Lives for gear
 
Knastratt's Avatar
 

I'm not pointing out Duet for him to buy it - but to try it.

I'd be disappointed if anyone would buy anything on anyones advice alone.
Old 20th March 2008
  #9
Lives for gear
Quote:
I'd be disappointed if anyone would buy anything on anyones advice alone.
I couldn't agree more. I wasn't trying to point fingers at anyone and if it came across that way I'm sorry. It was really just my long winded way of stressing that voice over gets nearly the same benefit from high end gear as anything else.
Old 21st March 2008
  #10
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by thatvoice View Post
Every voice is different, just like every other thing you put a mic to. He really needs to sample things to figure out what is going to work for him. I made the mistake of just buying things because of names I knew from way back when..it didn't work.
My VO set up ended up so clean it was almost antiseptic. For me I think recording a voice for voice over is no different than recording any other instrument. I want to put the best thing I can in front of it to get the sound & quality I want.
Many VO people use the cheapy sound blaster cards and mics for a couple hundreds dollars and they do very well with them. Doesn't work for everybody though.

Just like recording music there are all kinds of flavors out there. The classic Neve or the clean John Hardy.(relatively) It starts that whole debate thing all over. High quality gear in my opinion will help make the subtle nuances a voice actor uses to convey his message stand out and be musical. Same reason one steps up to the plate for high end gear in music. I think some people miss the boat of that when they use cheap stuff.
To me there is nothing like that presence with big, rich, detailed, warm, and three dimensional, sound. I'm not sure how you get that on cheap equipment. My next upgrade will be with all high end equipment. Seems kind of silly when you think about it for a Mono recording....but it's still sitting in a stereo mix no reason why that voice can't sit in the mix real nice
As far as every voice being different, of course, that is a given, and people on these forums are constantly stressing, "oh, you can't possibly choose just one mic for a variety of voices, and you should never buy anything based on it's reputation." Those of you who say such things are living in a world of luxuries that are not realistically available to the rest of us.

This guy is a photographer who runs a small magazine that just breaks even. He wants the VO stuff for recording the interviews that show up in the magazine and to offer recording services to marketing clients. It's not his primary business. He's not willing to spend more than $2k, and I don't think he should. He just wants to make sure the quality of the audio is on par with an NPR broadcast to the average listener's ear.

The other factor you must consider is that, where, we live, we have no opportunity to rent or demo gear. The only thing we can do is take advantage of a generous return policy, and that method has its limits. There is a real benefit to getting gear recommendations from people who have had experience with them, and just getting other people's opinions & descriptions. I think to suggest that people must have "THE RIGHT MIC" for each voice is unrealistic and unnecessary. I'm sure most radio stations have a few of one quality dynamic (SM7Bs, EVs, or Heils in most cases), and that's it. I say as long as the equipment is of good quality and doesn't do offensive things for the majority of voices, it's perfectly fine.

That said, there are real differences between equipment, so I'm trying to help the guy get a setup that will make him happy for a while. There is a common term that seems to be foreign to a lot of pros & semi-pros on these forums: starting point. You do the best you can with the money and means you have. You try to get something that is reasonably good and versatile, and you go to work. If things go well, you can reinvest your profits and add on in the future. Any help anyone can offer in finding that starting point for a guy who doesn't live in LA, New York or Nashville, is very much appreciated.
Old 21st March 2008
  #11
Gear Nut
 

an apology

Regarding the last post, I probably overreacted to the comments of the two other guys. You weren't really being jerky, but I see that sort of thing a lot on these forums. People acting as though anyone who seeks the opinions or advice of someone else is a fool and a hack. Some of us have a lot more creativity than money and are trying to do the best we can within our means.
Old 22nd March 2008
  #12
Lives for gear
Man oh man I never meant to implicate that in any sense of the word. I do understand how that can happen though...I've read something that I thought was saying something else....it just kind of hits ya wrong at the moment.
No worries! no apologies are needed and please accept mine for not being clearer about what I was saying. I'll try to explain it better. I hope.

Absolutely there is a starting point! I couldn't agree more. It would be a little crazy to go spend 10k on VO gear especially if you are just starting out...unless of course you have so much money you CAN. And money spent doesn't have to be that much. It really is about what works for the person doing it and the job they are doing. Like I said some folks do really well with a soundblaster card and an inexpensive mic.

The only part really that I was using to advise him on was to try what he can. He is lucky to have someone who is helping him at this point in what he is trying to do. I didn't know anyone and that's why I ended up with that antiseptic sound. I didn't want him to make the same mistake. The entire rest was my opinion and about what I liked and thought. I really was only trying to say that the spoken word benefits in the same way any other instrument does when using high end gear.
Maybe there was a part of me that wanted to send a message to anyone who read it that people should take that into consideration when they record a spoken word. Trying to somehow boost the quality of recording the spoken word. Not just to engineers but to voice over people too. I know there are a lot of voice actors who read these columns. Some have some nice stuff...others....not so..

There are a lot of people entering the voice over industry and most of them are buying gear...being their own engineer.
So anyway I wasn't really telling him what to buy or to spend more money. I just got off on some tangent and didn't stop..I think 2k is a great budget for getting started. Could do what he is wanting to do fairly inexpensively.
I am in a similar situation here in that if I want to try something I have to do the return thing as well. I don't know how else anyone can do it. There is always renting but that can get expensive too. I know some manufacturers are putting samples on their sites and that helps but it's not quite the same of course. One other thing, I am more than happy to help you or your friend in anyway I can. I know a lot of people who have been in the industry for much longer than myself so if I don't have an answer for you, I can get one.
Hope that helps clear up what I was saying.
Old 22nd March 2008
  #13
Gear Nut
 

misreadings

Yeah, it is really easy to misinterpret how people mean things, and I really did overreact a bit. It was kind of a gathering irritation from reading lots of other posts where people really were being kinda snotty.

I agree, though... why shouldn't voiceovers sound rich and warm and musical, and every bit as good as music vocals. I do a bit of VO recording myself, and I use my A-Designs MP-2r & Sputnik at this point, which puts me head and shoulders above my local competition (sadly). But of course, if I make more money at it, I'll be adding a Peluso 2247LE and a few other mics, upgrading my interface, and maybe adding another pre flavor or two... if I have the income to warrant it.
Old 22nd March 2008
  #14
Lives for gear
Glad we got onto the same page.
Old 22nd March 2008
  #15
Lives for gear
The Fireface seems like overkill for NPR-like VO work - you want the best single channel strip you can put together for him so that it sounds great on voice.

Swapping to the Apogee Duet from the Fireface gives you $800 to play with. For me, I really like the way the Summit 2BA-221 sounds on my voice and use it in front of my 002R. They're $700 new. Or you could opt for a channel strip from folks like Joe Meek, Focusrite, etc. While not as good as top studio stuff, it may be easier to "set and forget" eq and compression to his liking and get it in.

Logic Express sounds like the way to go - or is Garageband good enough?

Headphones - I am not sure why you need both the Grado and a set of isolation headphones; I use the AKG271 studio headphones ($200) which are isolating (much more than the 141s or 241s that many use) and they prevent bleed into the microphone.

Be sure to also budget $100-150 for:
Cables - don't scrimp on that one channel. Redco makes excellent cables if you don't want store bought.
Mic stand - multiple companies make the kind that can clamp onto a desk and swing away, similar to radio stations. Or just buy a boom stand.
pop filter

I'd hold off on monitors for now. Since he's shooting for an NPR type sound, take the mixes off headphones and go play in the car, in the home stereo, on an ipod.

New is good for most of this, but I wouldn't be afraid to buy some of the mic pres or channel strips new - could stretch your dollars even more. ebay, craigslist can be your friend and you can save on tax (you did factor that in, right?)

Good luck and let us know what he ends up getting.
Old 23rd March 2008
  #16
Lives for gear
at least one of the announcers on NPR uses a U87, but tried a BLUE mouse instead:

The Blue Mouse: microphone

At $1299, it's not cheap, but neither is a modified U87.
for your friend's range, the Heil and/or EV or Shure SM7 may be the best bet.
Old 23rd March 2008
  #17
Gear Maniac
 

Make a pick. Place your bets.
VO Mics & Preamps
VO Mic Test
Old 4th April 2008
  #18
Gear Addict
 

FWIW, NPR's chain for most of the bigger national shows is....

U87 -> Benchmark pre -> Pacific Recorders console (if I recall correctly) -> crappy A/D at 48/16

No EQ, no compression.

This is what is distributed nationally. As for what the local stations do to muck it up, well...
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