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  • Emilie Modaff

Voiceover Studio On a Budget


The voiceover industry is bustling and luckily for us, it’s easy to find auditions online. Whether you're trying to make this your career or just looking for some extra income, voiceover work is a great gig to dig your teeth into.


My main concern when going into voiceover was my ability to record quality auditions on a budget. For over a year I used a small Shure microphone that plugged right into my iPhone and worked great with the Motiv audio app. (I highly recommend this microphone for on the go recordings). 2019 is the year of the glow up so I decided it was time to invest in a VO studio upgrade. I want to share my secrets for a voiceover set up for those of us on a budget. I spent less than $450 on a set-up I am very satisfied with. You can easily do it for less than that if you are a better bargain hunter than I am! With my current set up I am more confident in the submissions I send in and have a much easier time recording on my own. Here’s how you can improve your voiceover game without breaking your wallet.


My Items:

A space to record

Microphone $200

Cable(s) $15

Microphone stand $25

Shock mount (included with purchase of microphone)

Pop filter $25

Pre-amp $85

Sound cancelling headphones $60

Soundproofing materials $20

Lighting $0

Bulletin board $10

Editing software $0


Space

My favorite place to record is in my closet. I live in Chicago where the noise from the street is pretty constant. My closet is a walk in, which is ideal, but you have to work with what you’ve got. You don't need much room. Many professional voiceover booths are smaller than my closet. With a little extra money you can build your own booth with found materials if your closet is unbearably small.


Microphone

A great microphone makes all the difference. I use the Blue Spark SL which cost me $200. There are certainly better condenser microphones out there but for $200 this one is a total dream. Background noise is kept at a minimum. I found the set up extremely simple and self-explanatory. Also it’s adorable.


Features:

  • High-pass filter and -20dB pad for ultimate versatility

  • Works great with home studio USB audio interfaces

  • Diameter: 1.75 in / Length: 7.75 in / Weight: 1.25 lb.

  • Comes with a shock mount (huge plus)

User reviews are overall positive. Most of the complaints were that it’s difficult to keep the shock mount in place. Use pliers to tighten the bolts on the shock mount and you should have no problem.


Cables

Make sure you have the correct cable running from your microphone to your pre-amp. My mic/pre-amp combo requires an XLR 3-pin male to 3-pin male (gender doesn’t exist) cable which I got for $15 at my local music shop.


Mic stand

I went for an affordable fixed boom microphone. I like a good boom mic because I can have complete control over over the position of my microphone. I chose a round base because the amount of accessories I have adds a bit of weight to the top of the stand.


Shock Mount

Luckily the Blue Spark SL comes with a great shock mount. If your microphone doesn’t include a shock mount I recommend


Pop filter

Death by plosives. It’s an easy fix and one of the easiest ways to up your VO game. I recommend the K&M Pop Killer. I will say that some of my hard plosives still come through but for $25 I really can’t complain.


Pre-amp

I went with the ART USB Dual Pre Project Series 2CH pre-amp because of it’s simplicity. I tried this pre-amp at a friend’s DIY recording studio and was super pleased with the sound quality it produced. I can get loud or super quiet and this pre-amp handles it all. It is uber user friendly and can even be used for remote field recording!


Features:

  • No special drivers are needed

  • Compact

  • Built-in low noise +48 Volt phantom powerUSB or battery powered

  • Inputs can be either XLR balanced or 1/4-inch TRS

Sound cancelling headphones

You don't have to have fancy headphones for your studio. I splurged because I find that I work better when I have no background noise and my voice sharp and up close in my ears. I went with these Shure SRH240A closed-back headphones. I love the quality and price of Shure products and always recommend them.


Sound proofing materials

There are so many options for every budget! I chose 12x12 soundproof squares from Amazon.com. If you’re working out of a closet like I am, the mess of clothes you’ve acquired will also help with soundproofing. You can also hang a packing blanket or two on the walls or lay a mattress up against a wall.


Bulletin board

This is a great addition to your studio if you don’t have room for a music stand. You can pin your copy to the board and feel secure in the fact that you won’t have any paper shuffling to deal with. Office Depot has the hookup on cheap bulletin boards. I mounted mine to the wall with my favorite accessory - the illustrious Command Strips.


Editing software

Listen. I’m not super savvy when it comes to editing. I have experience with Logic and GarageBand but I prefer to use Audacity. It’s FREE and easy to use on Mac, Windows and Linux. Since I don’t layer effects onto my voiceover submissions and rarely even compress my audio, Audacity is all I need. It’s the Planet Fitness of editing software.


Other options:

  • Adobe Audition CC (Mac, Windows): $20.99/mo

  • Ocenaudio (Mac, Windows, Linux): FREE

  • Amadeus Pro (Mac): $59.99

  • WaveLab Elements 9.5 (Mac, Windows): $99.99

  • Sound Forge Audio Studio 12 (Windows): $59.99

  • Fission (Mac): $28.99

Extras

  • Good lighting: please don’t go out and buy an expensive lamp for your studio. I mean, do you, but I would recommend finding a cheap one from a thrift store or asking your friends if anyone has a lamp they’re trying to get rid of. A small reading light might also be helpful if you’re using a music stand.

  • Plenty of writing utensils. Pencils, highlighters, gel pens (jk but why not?)

Don’t doubt the power of crowdsourcing your materials. You’d be surprised how many of your friends have cables, lights, mic stands lying around. In addition, all of these items can be bought used!


Have fun and happy booking

E

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