Most voice-over artists work from home. However, without a professional voice-over (VO) studio, that wouldn’t be possible. Whether you’re new to the industry and committed to making a career as a voice actor happen for yourself, or a VO veteran, you will need to know how to set up the perfect voice-over recording studio, including all the technology and equipment necessary. Don’t worry about searching for individual components, I’ve compiled all the essentials to make sure your home studio has all the recording equipment and other key factors necessary for your voice-over work.
A comfortable and peaceful environment should be the first thing on your to-do list when creating your recording studio. This is the place where you will spend most of your time, so it has to be quiet and a space you like. A pop filter won’t suffice to block out background noise, so make sure your room is sound-proof. While you may think you will have to dedicate an entire room to your recording studio, an empty corner is all you really need. It should be big enough to fit a sound booth, a whisper room, or a studio brick which will cost you between $4,500 - $10,000 depending on what you choose. This may sound expensive at first, but if you have a successful career as a voice-over artist which generates your regular monthly income, this upfront investment will be well worth it.
If you’re completely new and still unsure whether you see yourself as a long-term voice-over talent, then you can try using what you have on hand without shelling out the big bucks. Use your basement, the space under your stairs, or behind cupboards to record in. As long as you can keep your recording space there without having to take it down and set it up again daily, it should suffice.
Chances are, you already have a computer, so you won’t need to buy a new one. You will use it to store, record, and edit all your recordings as well as send them to clients or agents. Always make sure to have a backup, either an external hard drive or an online cloud like Dropbox or iCloud.
You will also need recording software that lets you record, edit, and clean up your sound clips. Free recording software like Audacity can help you get started. It’s easy to use and offers all the basics which may be ideal for newcomers before moving to more complex software. Among professionals, Pro Tools is a popular VO software to use. It allows you to mix your own commercials and starts at $199.
When setting up a home studio, a quality voice-over microphone is a key to good sound quality and recordings. Most VO artists choose a condenser microphone, which has strong audio signals that pick up a greater range of sound and show off the unique nuances of your voice. Additionally, you will need a microphone stand so you can record hands-free and keep your focus on the sound of your voice.
If you’re completely new to voice-over recording then you can get a more affordable USB microphone. While it doesn’t have the same high-quality recording sound as a condenser mic, it’s ideal for artists that need a mic they can travel with. A USB mic can directly be plugged into your computer or laptop and save you that big initial investment of the more professional condenser microphone.
Buy a pair of comfortable headphones, those that you don’t mind wearing for hours on end. Although Bluetooth headphones are becoming increasingly popular, wired ones still offer the best value for money.
The connection between the computer and the microphone is the audio interface. All you have to do is plug the microphone into the interface using the XLR cable that comes with it and the mic’s soundwaves will be converted into a digital format on your computer. If you only bought a USB mic, then you won’t need an interface for now. But keep it in mind on your purchase list once you invest in a more professional condenser mic.
You may have seen podcasters, musicians, or VO artists use a shield in front of their microphones. This is called a pop shield and attaches to the front of your microphone to reduce any popping noises that may be heard when recording on more amateur devices, like on your phone. A pop shield brings out the sound of your voice and makes it appear more clear.
There you go, all you need to set up a perfect recording studio at home is a comfortable and quiet recording environment, a computer with recording software, a microphone, headphones, an audio interface, and a pop shield. As a newcomer, you may opt for the more affordable versions and wait before investing in professional equipment. Either way: make sure to set up a proper space so that your audio recordings can help your career as a VO artist take off.