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Building Your Home Recording Studio? Advice from Sweetwater Sound

By Stephanie Ciccarelli

May 7, 2009

Comments (11)

Bluebird microphoneHaving a home recording studio is a given if you want to be a professional voice talent in today's world.

Even if you do most of your work outside of your home in local studios, you will still need to have a basic setup available to you 24/7 in the comfort and convenience of your own home.

Hear about some new pieces of audio recording equipment that might be an attractive fit for your digital home recording studio via advice from Sweetwater Sound's Mark Magdich courtesy of the Voice Coaches Advanced Marketing Expo.

Great Gear

When you start a voice over business, you'll need to make a modest investment in your equipment, however that being said, you can't just buy anything and expect that it will meet your needs and approval of those in a position to hire you.

Depending on how savvy someone is, they'll know in one look at your profile, or listen, what kind of equipment you are using to record your voice. Perception can make or break your studio because people in the know are going to notice.

Last year, I covered the fundamentals of a home recording studio for voice talent. This article will be shorter and focus on a few items that Mark Magdich of Sweetwater Sound referred during his presentation.

Pro Tools

You may be afraid of Pro Tools, perhaps in part to it's complexity and price, but it is good to know that it provides both a hardware and software solution. Many of you won't have a need for the multi tracking capabilities that Pro Tools provides, however, if you do get into any kind of production work, this is the industry standard.

Mbox Mini

Another product to be aware of is the Mbox 2 Mini. This fits in the palm of your hand, comes with Pro Tools and is integrated as a hardware / software.

Bluebird Microphone

One of the more nifty things mentioned was the Bluebird Microphone, styled upon the 50s bottle mic, similar to what Frank Sinatra used. The beauty of this microphone is that it makes your voice bigger. The closer you get, the louder and more full your voice sounds. This microphone retails at $299.

sE Electronics Reflexion Filter

If you're looking for more noise reduction or need something that will give you the portability of a voice booth, you might want to do a bit of research on the sE Electronics Reflexion Filter. This piece of equipment sits on the mic stand and acts as a portable booth, weighing all of 11 lbs. The Microphone mounts right into the center of it and it can be used in any room to turn it into a studio environment. The sE Electronics Reflexion Filter will also act as if you are standing in a whisper room or recording studio. Obviously, if you have a lot of external noise (road traffic) it won't block it out but is very good otherwise for recording in a quiet room.

A few other elements that were mentioned in the presentation include the Wavelab Essential - Personal Audio Editing System by Steinberg; Peak LE 6 - Essential Audio tools for your digital lifestyle; and Secrets of the Pros - basics and beyond ProTools DVD: Volume 1.

Mark Magdich (Fort Wayne, Indiana)

Home Recording Expert and Sales Engineer Mark Magdich from Sweetwater, America's leading recording equipment retailer, is an accomplished musician, playing nine different instruments and singing the theme songs for numerous animated series, including the New Adventures of Speed Racer.

Do You Use Any of These Products in Your Home Recording Studio?

Looking forward to your reply,

Stephanie

Related Topics: Bluebird mic, booth, home recording studio, industry, Mark Magdich, Pro Tools, Sweetwater Sound, voice talent


Comments


    Hi Stephanie,

    I use Pro Tools and the Mbox Mini. It's not as intimidating as I had heard. They have a great technical support too.

    I also recommend Sweetwater Sound. Very competitive rates and excellent customer service.

    Holly Franklin
    great BIG little voice
    http://www.hollyfranklin.com

    I

    Posted by:

      Good recommendations -- it's amazing what is out there these days. When I started in radio broadcasting 25+ years ago, my first recorder and microphone cost $1000! For field recording and out-of-studio interviews, there's now the Zoom H-2 for a little over $200 and it gets very good sound for the price.

      I do think there are more user-friendly options than ProTools though -- when I taught documentary production last year, I found that most of my students had to spend as much time learning the program as they did producing their documentaries. I think they would have been able to do more complex mixes if they didn't have so much software to learn. Try Amadeus for the Mac. And my favourite, Adobe Audition for PC. They're much, much cheaper and much simpler. And of course, Audacity (both PC and Mac) if you want to get started without spending money on an audio program.

      For mikes, I like the Samson C01U (it's a USB mike). Only $100. Of course, I'd rather have a $2000 Neumann ...

      Posted by:

        The Bluebird certainly looks nifty.... :-)
        I do not use either ProTools or an Mbox. If you never do any serious production work (and most voice talents don't...), ProTools is overkill, even considered a little snobbish. And the reason it has become the industry standard is because you can take your PT projects to any other studio running PT. I think it's great they ship PT with the Mbox hardware. But then again... if you're really serious about production - you wouldn't use an Mbox...

        I use two standard soundcards from M-Audio and Echo, and Steinberg's Wavelab 5. I do some production, but nothing fancy. It works for me.

        I know of many talents using the sE Reflexion filter, however I know many who certainly does not. I've read test about them claiming they can introduce artifacts to the sound like comb filter effects. And it's no magic wand. You'd still need a fairly dead room to get rid of reflections, and personally I'd rather go all the way than stopping halfway.

        Posted by:
        • Jacob Ekström
        • May 7, 2009 3:29 PM

          Hi everyone. I have flirted with getting my act together on Voices for quite a while. After I did an announcing course with The Columbia School Of Broadcasting a few years back, I never really got into anything relating to this choice of work. I have traveled a lot and send audition recordings to various stations local and abroad---made a host of narrations and recordings which were 'talk-radio' style to be used in local community activism involving quality of life issues and the environment. But, that is about it.

          I guess my regular job was doing well. Now I want to get this going again. I have a profile on here but do not have the fancy equipment I have always wanted, like Adobe Audition---which after looking at all it can do, seems daunting. After all, I am wanting to work on the voice part...and now I guess in order to submit the demos and auditions people want, I guess I have to get this sort of thing. I thought I did pretty well without anything fancy, but know the time has come to learn more.

          Anyway, I was wondering if anyone out there could email me and make some suggestions on what basic things I should have at home if I am going to do some voice over recordings, demos, auditions, narratives and short programs. The internet is a sea of information and sometimes too much information is worse than not enough! The budget is not big, but is it possible to get anything done with what I have now...and that is...a pretty good mic...and a standard tape recorder which I can transfer recordings onto the computer and make them into MP3's. Your advice/help is appreciated!

          Signed,
          Technological Caveman
          riverlover33@yahoo.com

          Posted by:

            Hi Robert,

            Thank you for commenting and welcome :)

            What I recommend to do is check out this list of home studio equipment. It may not go into great detail regarding a particular brand or price for every piece of equipment, but you'll get a better idea of what is necessary and also what's out there:

            http://blogs.voices.com/voxdaily/2008/05/sweetwater_sound_mark_magdich.html

            I hope this helps!

            Best wishes,

            Stephanie

            Posted by:

              Hi Stephanie,

              Lot of good advice in there. Personally use the Mbox with Pro Tools. Since I originally sub-let space in a studio when the business really took off, it was a natural selection to be compatible with the rest of the suites.

              One of the bonuses was that as the business grew and I needed editing, I simply transferred whole sessions to the other suites, they edited, and they transferred the completed work back after transferring final audio to clients.

              I've been partial to Neumann since an avid mic collector radio producer introduced me to them (along with almost everything else under the sun). I use a Neumann U67 with an Avalon VT 737 SP pre-amp, all fed into a Mackie Onyx 1640 console. I'm well aware that the "weak" points in the chain are the console and the Mbox. :-)

              That same mic collector friend is a fan of all sorts of "wish-list" gear - but he also really likes those Blue mics - that's all the endorsement I'd need to at least try them and you can't beat the price for value in a lot of cases.

              I use the Reflexion filter on the second mic in my booth (Neumann M149) on the rare occasions that I need to do a multi voice project that benefits from live interaction. It's not a perfect ISO solution, but by sending the mics to separate tracks, that filter does enough of the heavy lifting that the final projects sound terrific and are easy to edit.

              As far as PT being a 'snobbish choice' - there are lots of very good reasons why it's a standard, and I personally love and will defend it to the ends of the earth. Love the workflow, the creative opportunities, the compatibility with nearly every studio on the planet that matters in my career, and on and on. PT 8.0 is fabulous! Having said that I know lots of pros with HUGE careers who, for various reasons (including Beau Weaver's solid, if Digi-hating, biased advice ), use a range of software including freeware and shareware audio software (Audacity comes to mind for the Mac).

              Whatever works for you is the message there.

              Posted by:

                Sometimes simple, low-tech solutions are only a few steps away... literally. I just read an article about one of our colleagues. His name is Bill DeWees and he records all his voice-overs in his walk-in closet. He found that all the clothes and linens around him, create the ideal acoustic environment. To see a picture of Bill recording in his closet, please click:

                http://www.daily-journal.com/archives/dj/display.php?id=439619

                Paul Strikwerda

                Posted by:

                  I use Pro-Tools and an Mbox mini. I am just starting out and still getting used to both items but it is not as intimidating as I thought up front. Just takes practice and shortly I was able to successfully send a friend an MP3 file.

                  Posted by:

                    Just a little trivia. The more expensive Blue Mouse microphone got some screen time in the new Star Trek movie.

                    Posted by:

                      With Pro Tools being the industry standard, keep in mind that a wav file is a wav file whether it is recorded with Pro Tools or any other software. Wav files are transferable to pretty much any audio software. I personally us Adobe Audition because it was way more affordable than even the least expensive Pro Tools rig. The key here, is not what software you use but what soundcard and converters you have available. In the end, A great mic, A clean Preamp and a solid interface is still the best route to take...oh ya...a well tuned ear is kind of important too. Remember...It's great to learn how to talk...but better to learn how to listen!!!

                      Posted by:
                      • John McCann
                      • May 16, 2009 6:15 PM

                        I also use the Mbox 2 mini with Pro Tools 8.0. And I agree, it may seem intimidating but it really isn't. Like anything new, you've got to play around with it. For a mic I have a Rode NT1-A, and Sennheiser headphones.

                        Many people are using Macs, but I have a PC that it working fine with Pro Tols.

                        Posted by:
                        • Larry Murphy
                        • May 17, 2009 10:20 PM

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