5 Tips to Set Up a Voiceover Home Studio on a Budget
Setting up a voiceover studio used to be quite an expensive venture. Back in the day, you would need tens of thousands of dollars just to have a decent recording setup.
Today, the story is very much different.
You can start your voice acting career with just a thousand bucks, or even less. If you’re on a budget, you are probably wondering where exactly you should put your money, and how you should spread the funds you have. This article gives you some good advice.
Here are the 5 Tips You Need to set up a Voiceover Home Studio on a Budget
1. Treat Your Room Right
The first step in the recording chain is the recording environment. Although some people might think the mic should be first, I think otherwise. I believe your room should come first.
This is because your immediate recording environment affects your audio even before the mic captures it. This is why you need acoustic treatment.
Acoustic treatment refers to how you set up your recording room such that reflections are more controlled. When you talk to the microphone, whatever you say comes out as sound waves.
These waves hit the walls and floor of your room, bouncing off them, depending on what material they’re made of and the type of finishing they have.
It can get really bad when some of the reflected sounds comes back around and gets into the mic and get recorded with the original vocal.
So, you need to fix up the room to prevent such reflections. Usually, acoustic panels are recommended, alongside a microphone shield that prevents reflection from surfaces in front of the speaker or voice actor.
These can be quite effective when used, but may not be very cost-effective. One method that you can use is to cut foam material into different sizes and use them in place of acoustic panels. Alternatively, you can have a uniform “jacket” material for all of the foam for aesthetics.
The first target for these materials is the wall that faces you directly while you record. Always make sure that no reflections are coming off this wall if you want a clean recording.
The wall behind is also important. You can simply place a bookshelf and arrange the books irregularly. This will help diffuse the sound and prevent it from bouncing back through your mic.
2. Pick a Mic That Fits
When your room is ready, then we can talk about the first gear in the recording chain: the microphone. As important as the price of your microphone is, it’s the last thing to consider when you want to buy a mic.
The first thing to consider is what type of mic will work for you.
There are two major mic classifications that you need to know before buying a mic; the polar patterns and connectivity.
Polar pattern refers to how a particular mic captures sound. There are 3 major patterns; cardioid, omnidirectional and figure-8 patterns.
Cardioid microphones typically pick up sound directly in front of them, while rejecting others. There are other variations of cardioid, like super-cardioid and wide cardioid, but they all work with the same basic principle.
Omnidirectional mics pick up sound equally from all directions, while figure-8 or bidirectional mics capture sound from both the front and rear of the mic.
Generally, if you do your voice acting alone, you should use a mic from the cardioid family. It is also a good choice because it rejects off-axis sound. While choosing the voice-over microphones, there are some other factors you must consider, some of which are peculiar to your budget and needs. This means that there’s no one-size-fits-all for mics.
3. The Computer is Central to All
The computer is the central piece in any recording studio today; home studio or any other studio. That’s where all your recorded material goes and is stored for editing or any other uses.
Before now, recording used to be a hard task for a lot of computers, but thankfully, modern computers mostly handle the process comfortably.
A regular 2GB RAM laptop will record your voiceovers without any issues, while also allowing you to perform some editing. It’s the levels of editing that may necessitate you having a higher performance computer. However, for starters, an average performance system will do the job.
Speaking of computers, the software you use is also important. Here, you have various interesting options, but I would advise that for voiceover, you stick to software or DAWS that are optimized for such work.
Some DAWS are music production packages that pack everything in one, like FL Studio, Logic Pro, and Studio One.
Others focus more on voice recording and editing, like Adobe Audition. Using a DAW that is designed mainly for recording and editing helps speed up your learning curve; you don’t need to spend time learning things you don’t need.
4. How Reliable is Your Playback?
Your monitoring system is also important. This is how you listen to your playbacks. At the very least, you should get decent headphones if you can’t buy studio monitors just yet. Even if your voice acting is top-notch, you need to hear what was captured accurately.
You may think, “But I heard myself while recording, with my own ears.” True, but you need to hear what the mic captured.
Sometimes, possibly because of mic placement or any other mistakes, the recorded material may not capture the voice performance as it should.
Your laptop speakers will probably not give you the playback quality you need to help you decide the good takes from the not-so-good ones. This is why you need at least good headphones or bookshelf speakers.
5. Protect Your Space from Outside Noise
While it’s important to treat the interior of your recording space for good sound, you also need to prevent sound from getting in from outside. This process is known as soundproofing.
In a home studio, it is assumed that your recording space is not so big. You need to block all spaces that external sound can come through.
It can be tricky if you live in a busy area. If your room has concrete walls, that’s a good start. You only need to block the windows and spaces in the doorway.
The thick foam material can help with this process. For aesthetics, you can sew some really nice fabric on the foam. Remember, if you can hear sounds from outside with your own ears, then your mic will probably pick them up.
Like I mentioned earlier, when you want to set up a voiceover home studio, gear prices are important, but they’re not the most important things to know.
It’s most crucial to know exactly what you want to achieve and the options you have. You can always find alternatives if a piece of equipment seems too costly. High-end equipment will make your work easier no doubt, but you don’t have to wait till you can afford them.
Jennifer Webster a passionate singer and audiophile from Detroit, MI. She’s on a mission to help music creators create fine music that helps them position uniquely in the saturated music space.