A Portable Voice Over Studio the Sounds Great!
Can you relate? A while back, I was in Atlanta for a little over 24 hours and three auditions from past clients came in. I was able to put one on hold till I was back in my studio. However, two auditions were very time sensitive and I missed both of those jobs. I’m about 100% convinced I would’ve booked both if I had a voice over studio that was portable. Missing those was slightly painful.
Well, I decided that I wasn’t going to have that happen again. I decided to officially put together a portable voice over studio. Interestingly enough, I found this to be much simpler than I initially thought.
What do you need? (what I use)
There are some great travel mics out there that can plug straight into an iPhone or iPad (Apogee Mic, Blue Spark Digital). However, I think one of the best mics to use on the road is the Sennheiser MKH 416. It’s much more forgiving of “less than perfect” rooms. For example, hotel rooms aren’t exactly setup for studio recordings. I go into this more in depth in my blog post, “What is the Best Voice Over Mic”.
The Audio Interface (USB)
I’m actually pretty pleased with the Shure x2u. It’s a great way to connect a mic to a computer in a very non-cumbersome way. There’s also the added bonus of having monitor control.
The Computer and Software
I went with a MacBook Pro with a 2.5 Ghz processor, 8 GB of RAM and a solid state 500 GB hard drive (Depending on when you read this, these specs may be outdated). While I wouldn’t go any less than that, I don’t think you need to go any more. Although, as time goes on, buying a faster computer is the norm.
As for software, I currently use Adobe Audition, which can be found for both Mac and PC. Twisted Wave has gotten great response in recent years and it’s probably worth looking into. I’ve also heard great things about GarageBand. Some people also use Audacity, which can be downloaded online for both Mac and PC, as well.
Odds and Ends
Headphones are always nice to have. Believe it or not, I now use earbuds and they do all I need for the road. I also have a collapsible, table-top mic stand.
Treating the Room
How do you turn a hotel room into a studio? Taking into account that I use a shotgun mic, which is forgiving of less than perfect rooms, I use a few items provided by the hotel that can turn a hotel room into a pretty decent recording environment. First, find the smallest room with carpet, if there’s more than one room. If there are curtains, close them because it acts similar to an audio panel. When possible, I grab that extra blanket out of the closet that no one uses and find something semi tall to drape it over. Then if possible, for the actual recording location, I sit on the bed. It kills echo pretty well.
I’ve actually talked to many voice talents that use the backseat of a car when traveling. I’ve actually pulled over and recorded a voice over in a parking lot with very good results.
That’s pretty much it!
Besides the mic and headphones, which I already owned, I bought a refurbished laptop and the Shure x2u. I paid under $900 total. It’s already paying off. This past weekend, I got contacted by a client while on a 2 day vacation and booked a voice over. I definitely believe that anyone who does regular voice over work should have a travel option. Why leave money on the table?