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Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up

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Cannon Lee
Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Sep 29, 2015 at 4:26:45 am

Hi Creative Cow Community,

For the past few weeks, I have developed a voracious appetite to acquire as much knowledge about audio gear as possible, immersing myself for many hours each day with almost all of my current knowledge base being based on various review threads and the forums here on this site (thank you).

The overwhelmingly majority of the VO work that I have done has been at a production house. I must take my VO to the next level considering I accept projects at home... My current set-up is in need of a complete make over as presently it will not get me to where I want to be in my VO journey.

Here is what I am needing to get:

1.) Studio Condensor Microphone $200-1200 price range.
2.) Microphone Pre-amp $100-500 price range.
3.) Additional Audio Chain (eg. EQ, compressor etc) $100 to $500

As for acoustic treatment and sound proofing... That wont be a problem, my room sound is dead as disco.

Below is a list of microphones, pre-amps and additional audio chain gear that are on my feel list:

MICROPHONE

  • AKG C214
  • Sennheiser MK4
  • Studio Projects C1
  • Neumann TLM 102
  • Neumann TLM 103
  • AKG C414



PRE-AMP/Additional Gear

  • ART VLA-2
  • PreSonus Studio Channel
  • DBX 286S
  • DBX 266XS
  • DBX 231 EQ

6.) Symetrix 528E


There definitely is better options for microphones, pre-amps and add-ons to consider that I am not aware of. Yes, there are hundreds of different options out on the market, but I am in an unfortunate spot, I am not able to test out any of this equipment, the country I am residing in doesn't have any supplier or audio store... The sick part is, I know that some mics sound better than others depending on the voice-over talents voice quality and pre-amp uggh... I do not want to make this purchase blind... Please be my seeing eye based on experience and knowledge acquired either owning or using the equipment list mentioned above, or if you have any suggested equipment not on the list, let me know. I'd appreciate it.

Please tell me how to spend my money.


Best regards,
Cannon


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Richard Crowley
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Sep 29, 2015 at 5:10:39 am

I very strongly suggest spending an hour listening to this...

https://archive.org/details/This_Week_in_Radio_Tech_108

"Dead as a Disco" seems like an odd comparison. Discos are not known for being either quiet or dead, the two basic requirements for voice work.


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Peter Groom
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Sep 29, 2015 at 12:58:25 pm

Personally( as a hirer) Id not want you processing or eq' ing at all.

Id say
1) Get a good Neumann mic with a quiet pre (focusrite or similar).
2) Talent.
3) Room acoustics
4) Talent

Im far more likely to hire a sensational vo who has the right voice sound and performance ability, but poorer kit, than someone who has spent a fortune on kit but aint that good at delivering, or whose space sounds too live.
Also how are you connecting to the outside world.?
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Ty Ford
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Sep 29, 2015 at 4:25:04 pm

Hello Cannon and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

You are standing on the edge of a very deep abyss. You have been in studios to get the work done.

All well and good. But presuming that you can take the place of a professional recording engineer and that your den will provide the same acoustics of a recording studio is pure folly.

Simply put, professional audio is not plug and play even if you buy all of the best toys. The Symetrix 528e or DBX 286 are both good boxes, but only for those who know what every knob does and how and when to use it.

Even if you buy one, and a decent mic and the headphones to allow you to hear whether you're getting it done correctly and, further, if your listening brain is attuned appropriately to make proper decisions, then the acoustics of your space may compromise the effort.

If you choose to continue on your path, excellent! But do not be deceived. I regularly show my VO students their progress by playing their earlier efforts. They are usually appalled. We have a nice laugh and they feel better because they can hear the difference. That means their hearing brain has grown to be able to hear and make sense of the difference.

That is your path. For a "starter" mic, i recommend this one. http://tinyurl.com/obb5lje It is a great find and is used by professionals. Headphones: Sony MDR 7506. Begin with Audacity software and after you master that, move on to something else. To get the mic into the computer get one of these. http://tinyurl.com/pk5vxk4.

If you decider to work at home, immediately buy backup software and external hard drives to keep your clients' work safely. I use Carbon Copy Cloner for auto backup avery night.

There is no destination. Hopefully you will enjoy the journey.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Simon Wegman
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Sep 30, 2015 at 2:31:31 am

I would throw in the slightly left field suggestion of a Sennheiser MD421. It's a dynamic mic, but sounds really good on the voice (I used one while my U87 was having its capsule cleaned, and was very pleasantly surprised). The reason I suggest this is it will pick up less background noise and room verb than a condenser. I know you're saying your room isn't a problem, but there may be issues you haven't yet discovered.


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Ty Ford
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Sep 30, 2015 at 2:43:58 am

Hi Simon,

Please allow me to reframe your comment.

Condenser mics usually have an relatively extended high frequency response compared to dynamic mics like the MD421. (I own two of them). As such they may hear some room reflections more readily than dynamic mics.

Dynamic mics are less sensitive at those higher frequencies and less sensitive in general. That means you need ore preamp gain and that may mean more noise. That's part of why some people feel dynamic mics don't hear as much. The background noise is masked by the system noise.

You can eat a 421 with a foam ball to make up for that lack of sensitivity. That's OK for radio or PA work, but not for good VO work.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum leader.

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Simon Wegman
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Sep 30, 2015 at 6:59:45 am

If your pre amp can't drive a high quality dynamic mic like a 421 without adding a significant amount of noise, it's time to buy a new mic pre. Dynamics are indeed less sensitive than condensers, but not to the point where something like a 42, EV RE20 or Shure SM7 could not be used as a VO mic with excellent results. I'd expect any of those to perform better than a sub $100 condenser. If your room is truly free of any problems, an LDC priced towards the top end of your mic budget would probably be a better choice, but if the room has issues, I'd stand by my suggestion of a high end dynamic.


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Craig Alan
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Oct 19, 2015 at 12:56:35 am

Not so sure about that Simon. I use the sound devices mixers . Dynamics need a whole lot more gain. Sound devices don't add a lot of noise but raising the gain that much more does effect the sound. I find what dynamics are good at is hand held uses and background noise relative isolation. Plus they are great bang for the buck.

I actually called sound devices customer support and complained that our mixpre Ds didn't provide enough gain for our dynamics. They agreed and said they were working on giving the unit a more powerful preamp (not sure that's the right description technically).

That said I think the talent is a more important variable than the mike when it comes to voice overs.

I don't know your b.g. And I'm not assuming anything, but I do know that TY and a couple of other forum leads on this site know their stuff.

I'm actually surprised he's recommending such an inexpensive condenser but he's never steered me wrong at each price point.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Simon Wegman
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Oct 19, 2015 at 2:05:29 am
Last Edited By Simon Wegman on Oct 19, 2015 at 2:08:53 am

I'm sure TY knows his stuff, and after more than 10 years as an audio engineer, I feel that I'm pretty cluey as well. I've never at any point said that dynamic mics don't require more preamp gain, my point is that in an untreated room that hasn't been soundproofed, the advantages of a condenser mic may actually prove detrimental to the end product, as reflections and background noise will be picked up more easily. For VO work, you don't want to hear the room, and you definitely don't want to hear anything beyond the room.

My recommendation would be to spend a chunk of the budget on acoustic treatment. Soundproofing is a whole other issue, but if your room is sorted, absolutely go for a condenser. Craig, I'm a recording studio guy, not a field audio guy, I think Sound Devices stuff is for portable recording. Is your unit battery powered? If so that might be why it has less gain available, and if you dial it all the way up for a dynamic, it probably will add noise and/or become less linear. A studio mic pre shouldn't have this issue, as they run on mains power.


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Craig Alan
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Oct 19, 2015 at 2:39:01 am

Thanks Simon. Understood. SD mixers do have the option to use a plug in for power and I do have a couple of studio style mixers I could try instead of the mixpre D though it was designed for computer input and on our level its been fine. We do use dynamics for our voiceovers for much the same reasons you pointed out. But not on the level that this thread was addressing.

Mac Pro, macbook pro, Imacs (i7); Canon 5D Mark III/70D, Panasonic AG-HPX170/AG-HPX250P, Canon HV40, Sony Z7U/VX2000/PD170; FCP 6 certified; FCP X write professionally for a variety of media; teach video production in L.A.


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Bill Davis
Re: Seeking Advice - Voice-Over Studio - Set Up
on Oct 25, 2015 at 9:18:53 pm

While I appreciate your desire to step this up - IMO, you're overthinking your gear.

I've been doing VO work for nearly 40 years. Used to have all the big studio toys too.

Here's a picture of my rig now. (sorry for the rotate issue, no time to fix it.)



I've had the Neumann for 10 years. The H4n for 5. Notice that the space is well-treated - cuz the space is more important than the mic usually.

Here's a small piece of the VO I recorded in it yesterday. (It's a US federal government gig so no rights issues!)

9377_blmvo.wav.zip

I edited and compressed it on my MacBook Pro while on Southwest Airlines flight to Burbank yesterday.
And emailed it to the client from the plane.

It's not really about stuff anymore. It's really more about ability. Thats my 2 cents and I'm sticking too it!

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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