Don’t Get Sizzled Before You Start


All business and trade need the right tools to succeed, voice over is no different. So this Blog is for people planning an online voice over career whether new or established.

Why is being online different from offline, simply more pressure and financial outlay is put on the talent so its best to get things in shape before you start your online career.

Over the last few years I’ve been keeping notes on the best gear to have in a studio and the best bang for your buck.

Why? Because you maybe one of the best voice actors around but your gear may let you down.

It’s all part of the presentation, walk into a restaurant that looks awful and you will turn around and leave even though they may have the best food in the area.

It’s the same for us, send an audition with poor sound quality and I guarantee you will be over looked and the same goes for a booking that you do from your studio, one mistake and I doubt you’ll see that client again.

Now by saying one mistake and your career is over is a little over the top but the key is to minimise the possibility of them happening in the first place.

Mistakes usually come from hearsay, misinformation and not doing the research first. If anyone assumes being an audio engineer is simply setting levels and pressing the red button, think again.

Have tech support close by and have an audio engineer come set everything up for you.

In previous Blogs Phil Sutfin from ACM has looked at things from an agents point of view and given some great insight, you can see these in previous blogs.

This is about setting up at home to work online which isn’t a cheap exercise and anyone that says it is could be giving you misinformation.

Like everything in life take the initial hit and get the best you can, it will soon pay for itself.

So here is a list of things that I believe are fundamental to delivering your voice in the best possible way.

  1. The space to record.

Build either in an outbuilding or as far away from noise as you can.

The booth has to be as soundproof as possible, acoustically treated and a place you can be in for long periods of time without dying from a lack of oxygen or over heating!

Use various materials as they all transfer different frequencies. You may start with a layer of dense timber, stud work packed with acoustic bats, sheets of rubber, more timber and finish with plaster board. You can also green glue a second layer of plaster if you wish.

Also build the booth on a thick layer of rubber to isolate if from the floor.

  1. The best software.

There are free programs like audacity but I use Wavelab from Steinberg, it’s very simple to use and solid. Samplitude, Sound Forge and others I’m told are also very good. Protools and Nuendo are probably a bit overkill but find the program you feel comfortable with as you will be using it a lot.

  1. Outboard.

Outboard gear is optional as there are lots of plugins available. I, like many of our members, am a bit of a gear nerd, so outboard I like a lot!

  1. Pre amp.

This is important to your sound so you will need to research to find the best for you.

Grace Design M101, it is in a good price bracket and delivers way above what it costs, so worth considering.

Standard industry preamps would be the Avalon 737 or the smaller M5 but these are more expensive. If money wasn’t a consideration look at Neve 1073, Millennia, Universal Audio and even something I recently discovered from right under my nose, Melbourne built Sebatron.

  1. Microphones.

Standard industry kit is the Sennheiser 416 and the Neumann U87.

I have been testing various microphones over the last few months and got some interesting results.

I took 2 of my Microtech Gefell microphones into a few top end studios and AB tested with some very good microphones and the end result was the M930 stood out. One studio has gone out and bought a couple of them and another studio asked me to bring it with me for the next session I do there.

So for around half the cost of a U87 the Microtech Gefell M930 could be a good choice according to the experts.

Alternatives to the 416, once again I did AB testing with a Rode NTG3 and it did the job well and will save a couple of hundred dollars.

  1. Soundcards.

There are many options, so it depends on whether you use Mac or PC and your needs.

If you want a top end soundcard look at Lynx or RME but you may find others that will work well for you.

  1. On the road.

Try to get your road case as close as possible to your studio sound and think about who will ask you to record with short notice.

These clients are usually radio or TV who want quick turn around promos. This will help when putting together a road case.

For me I use the shotgun microphone for all imaging and promos, so that is the one I take on the road.

Maybe a Harlan Hogan Porta Booth Pro to help control the sound in the room.

  1. Connectivity.

In this area things are on the move, now ISDN has some strong competition with Source Connect, ipDTL and others.

This is the last part of the puzzle as there’s no point offering voice overs down the line if your studio sounds bad.

Also make sure you can connect ISDN or you have enough bandwidth.

There are some things to be mindful of with internet connectivity like a static IP.

Do your research here to make sure that none of these will let you down because a mistake can be costly.

  1. Websites.

The key to any website currently is not a mind blowing home page that needs medication to really appreciate it! Keep it simple.

Marketing is where the money goes now like SEO, ad words and social media.

All of this is part of Realtime Casting and other online casting sites, that’s why you pay a membership fee.

I always compare casting websites to business cards and casting websites win hands down as far as value for money and reach.

All of this is just my opinion and information from others. It is purely a guide for those setting up a studio and an online voice over business but may help a few veterans change things around a little.

The other thing to remember is as voice actors online we invest more than ever before, so its important to make sure your fee reflects not just your talent but the extra time spent and investment made.

If you have any ideas or tips we would love to hear from you.

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