Home Studio Basics

GET A HOME STUDIO & WEBSITE

🎧 START RECORDING TODAY

Download the free Audacity software to get started. Then learn a bit about it here, or watch some videos (onetwothree). To learn more about demos, go here. And if you want to get really geeky, check this out.

KEY TIP: Get your computer and your mic power from the same power strip to avoid hum from your power source.

🎤 MIC AND MIXER

The condenser microphone we recommend is the under-$100 MXL 2008 or  2006 from Marshall Electronics (MXL), the company that builds many popular mics for other companies. This is a mic designed for voiceover—it sounds awesome: deep tones without heaviness and a silky, never harsh top end. Listen to amazing audio comparisons of it (click here and choose the “Downloads/Videos” tab) with other mics that cost up to $2300 (if you can’t tell the difference—and you won’t—buy this mic!)

Condenser mics are generally best for voiceover, and they need some power (called “phantom power” since one cable carries both audio and power). You can either buy a phantom power box, or a mixer. Both provide power to the condenser mic. I haven’t had much luck testing phantom power boxes. MXL is so awesome, they’re easy to recommend. Mixers are tougher.

True phantom power (full 48V) is not available on most inexpensive mixers, no matter what their spec sheets say! Something around 15V is more common, even if the device and the spec sheet say otherwise. I would say this is scandalous, except that most cheap mics aren’t much affected by the lower voltage.

However, lower voltage can make a mic less sensitive, or even not work much at all (especially many older mics). This mixer provides true full 48V phantom power the job without costing too much ► Amazon.com/Behringer-MIC500USB-BEHRINGER-TUBE-ULTRAGAIN/dp/B01MR6NBJN “Specifically designed for studio-grade condenser mics”. It also provides some settings you can play with to get the right sound for your voice.

A more flexible (two XLR channels) mixer that works with many newer mics is Amazon.com/Professional-4-Channel-Phantom-Recording-Application/dp/B06XCY3XZL though I would be very surprised if it provides full 48V power.

For new talent, headphones make it harder to sound authentic, but here are some tips on headphones.

🔊 ACOUSTIC BARGAINS

Walk-in closets with plenty of clothes work great for voiceover.

Another popular bargain approach is buying towels from a Goodwill or other used/charity store turn out to be one of the most inexpensive AND effective materials. Here’s a video of some acoustic tests and how to add the towels into sound panels.

A folded towel at least four layers thick absorbs the most sound from all frequency ranges compared to many other inexpensive materials. You can do this and ignore all other info!

However, for spaces that need a lot of insulation, Rockwool Safe ‘n’ Sound has effective sound absorption (pdf data sheet, NRC=1.05, FAQ) and is inexpensive (60 sq feet for under $50!), but keep it out mostly of your eyes when opening, and make sure you always have it covered / wrapped in your space. Source for this info: http://www.voiceresults.com/#equipment (Also look for an announcement from us later this month about another good budget option.)

🌐 SET UP YOUR WEBSITE

Here’s a sample of a voiceover website you can create by yourself in just a few minutes. This video covers the first steps to creating your website. If you want to try WordPress instead, click the links in the left column at this website to go step-by-step.