Home recording may seem confusing for voice actors who are just getting started, but it doesn’t have to be. Here is a guide to get your home studio up and running as quickly and easily as possible.
Computers, Digital Storage, and DAW’s
First thing’s first, you’re going to need a computer. Don’t worry if your computer isn’t brand new -- most desktop or laptop computers made within the last five to ten years will work fine. That said, it is optimal to have at least 8 gigabytes of RAM.
As recordings can quickly consume storage on your computer, consider investing in an external hard drive if you do not already have one. For external hard drives, aim for at least 2 terabytes.
Once you have your computer, enough RAM, and ample storage, you’ll need to select a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), which is a piece of software designed to handle your recordings and facilitate audio editing. Audacity is a free DAW that will get the job done just fine. Be sure that you have the most updated version of the software.
The Audio Equipment
Once you have your computer and your DAW, you will need the following pieces of recording equipment: a microphone, a pop filter, either a soundproofed room or a Kaotica eyeball, an audio interface, and a pair of mixing headphones.
Before we talk about these pieces of equipment individually, let’s talk about where to buy all this stuff. Many audio professionals order their equipment online from a company called Sweetwater because of their superior prices and customer service. As such, we will be quoting their price points often.
Now, let’s go over each one of those pieces of recording equipment in detail.
The microphone is a pretty valuable piece of this puzzle. Most microphones fall into one of two categories: dynamic or condenser (ribbon mics make up a third category, but aren’t as common and are less suited for entry-level recording). Dynamic microphones are sturdy and versatile. They can handle high levels of sound pressure, making them ideal for bass, guitars, and drums. Condenser microphones are a bit more precise, making them ideal for vocals and other high-detail instruments. Note that condenser microphones will require the use of a setting on your audio interface called “phantom power” (more on audio interfaces later). One great first microphone is the Audio-Technica AT2020 Condenser Microphone. Despite its condenser classification, the AT2020 is quite versatile. It is also an affordable choice, weighing in at $100 from Sweetwater.
Your microphone is going to need a pop filter in order to filter out plosives. Plosives, such as the “p” sound, are booming consonant sounds that can tarnish recordings. Luckily, pop filters are inexpensive.
Next, you’ll need to find a quiet room in your living space for recording. A closet works well, because the padding from clothes and linens will absorb sound reflections. For further soundproofing, you can order soundproofing online, and/ or you can purchase the Kaotica eyeball, which is a specialized foam container for your microphone that will filter out unwanted noise in your recordings. Note that if you go the Kaotica route, you will need to check for microphone compatibility on their website, and you will still need a pop filter regardless.
3.The Audio Interface
The audio interface converts the analog signal from your microphone into a digital signal that your DAW can work with. We recommend the Scarlett 2i2, which you can buy on Sweetwater for around $170. Make sure to purchase an XLR cable for your microphone and a quarter inch cable for your electric instruments.
The last piece of equipment you will need is a reliable pair of monitoring headphones. You may wonder why you shouldn’t just repurpose the headphones that you usually use for listening to music recreationally. The reason is that recreational headphones are designed for maximum enjoyment (as defined by their manufacturer). This usually translates to an inflated bass frequency or treble frequency response. Monitoring headphones, on the other hand, are carefully engineered to produce a “flat” frequency response, in order to accurately represent your audio. A great pair of monitoring headphones are the Sennheiser HD 280 PRO’s for $100. Note that, in order to produce a great mix, you will need to use a combination of monitoring headphones, powered studio monitors, and whatever other playback systems you have access to. But mixing is a topic for another day!
We hope that this guide has clarified and simplified the process of setting up your home studio for voice acting! Now that you’ve set up your home studio, why not connect with the voice-acting community and hone your craft at Strawberry Hill Studio’s workshops?