voice demo equipment

Let’s get techy

Over the past month or so, we’ve gone over what voice acting is, the styles of voice acting, and how to practice. Now it’s time to put you to the test. This means we are going to begin work on your first voice demo!

You’ll need some equipment:

  • Computer
  • Audio editing software
  • Microphone
  • Audio Interface (not needed if using a USB microphone)
  • Somewhere quiet

Pretty much any PC or Mac will run basic audio editing software. The go-to free solution is Audacity. It’s pretty straightforward but it will still come with a bit of a learning curve if you’ve never worked with a DAW (digital audio workstation). Also if you intend on doing voice work from home, you will probably want something a little more powerful, such as Adobe Audition. I can tell you the industry standard is Pro Tools, but it isn’t exactly cheap. The good news is all the DAWs do pretty much the same stuff and should do whatever you need if it’s simple voice recording and editing. Here is a good tutorial for Audacity that should get you started.

Microphones are kind of like cars in a recording studio. Each one has it’s own handling, performance, and of course, cost. I would recommend a USB microphone for beginners, the taxis of of microphones. They’re cost effective, simple to set up, and there are some great options out there. I would recommend either of the most popular microphones from a company called Blue. The Blue Snowball for about $100 will get you in the door, you can showcase your voice relatively well, but you’d be lucky to be able to use it for anything more than IVR or PA announcement styles of recordings. The Blue Yeti up near $180 can definitely be useful for lots of simple freelancing work. It sounds much better, and has a direct headphone output, so you can listen to the microphone directly without any latency (think delay, or echo). Latency is a concern if you are using headphones through your DAW.

USB mics are kind of a double-edged sword in the sense that they contain the microphone, preamp, and interface, all in one unit. So you can’t just upgrade one part. If you want to upgrade your setup, I’d recommend a good condenser mic, and an audio interface/preamp combo. This is most like owning a car, as the entry price is higher, you’ll need to know how to drive (install) it, and you aren’t going to find any taxi rides that cost thousands of dollars. These setups can range from an AT-2020 and Micport Pro ($350), to an E100s and RME Babyface Pro ($1500), to a U87 and Avalon 737 (the price of an actual new-ish car). At least you can upgrade one or the other on your journey, and I’d say that even the AT-2020 is a better sound than a Blue Yeti, but not by much.

Now, in my mind, the most important and most overlooked aspect: the room. Get into a closet, or set up some hangars and surround yourself with heavy jackets, because as the microphones get better, they start picking up more detail, and this will include reverb. This is basically hearing the echo of your voice off your room. For singing, reverb is a great thing (why singing in the shower sounds great). When recording a voice over, it’s offensive. If you can find a closet to either bring your laptop into, or run a long mic cable from your desktop, you’re off to a good start. Maybe invest in some Auralex foam, or a reflection filter. It doesn’t matter how good a recording is if it’s accompanied with an annoying echo.

Of course, if you just want to just record your demo, you can always book an hour of studio time at your favorite local recording studio. Just make sure they aren’t used solely for bands, and have a small vocal booth. It will be cheaper this time, but in the long run, if you plan on having to incorporate studio fees in your proposals, it will end up more expensive.

Next week we will talk about what you should include in your voice demo, and what to do with it once it’s done.

All the best,

-Jesse