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Advice / Feedback on mic pre amp and audio interface selection for animated show

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Emmet Blake
Advice / Feedback on mic pre amp and audio interface selection for animated show
on Nov 30, 2015 at 5:35:28 pm

Ok, so I am working on an animated comedy show. I have been researching my audio options for a mic pre amp, audio interface and mic. The key for me is quality V.O. so the show does not sound amateur, while also not increasing work load through complexity. I am working on PC BTW .

We will record reference audio, and later record adr in a home made booth, (advice on some home made booth options appreciated).

Audio interfaces
I have some experience with protools, so that leans me closer to the apogee duet 2 protools bundle and bringing the cost down a bit.

There are tons of options as your all aware. The ones that stand out to me are:
Apollo Twin USB
Reviews are all solid
Appogee Duet 2 Protools bundle
I get a protools subscription
Sound Devices USB pre2
Excellent reviews but would need to throw down for a DAW

Mic Preamp
The show is animated and we have a number of different accents for the different characters so any additional creative control we could benefit from in terms of tuning the V.O. to get it to sound good and distinctive the better.

I have looked at the avalon 737 which a ton of ppl rave about, its expensive. I am an audio newb, so this could be overkill? The benefit from my untrained ears is the level of control I have over the sound. Some questions I have around a mic pre amp...

Would I get away with a good mic and excellent audio interface?
Would I be able to emulate the additional control of an avalon 737 through software?
Would a mic preamp give me creative freedom to tune the V.O.'s and give them a unique sound? Or could this be achieved through software?

From what I have read it seems mics are more subjective than an audio interface and to a lesser degree the pre amp selection.
I will likely test mics as per my audio interface and preamp selection to get one that suits the V.O. style.

Some of the ones Im looking at for now are Neumann TLM 103, 193
Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3 Super-Cardioid Shotgun Tube Condenser Microphone.

Are the highend mics worth the money? will I truly get the benefit? Remember the key for my audio is quality, while also not adding to much complexity to my workflow.

I have watched reviews that say Blue usb mics are very good even compared to some expensive mics... does any one have an opinion on these lower end mics?

Any advice greatly appreciated!

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Richard Crowley
Re: Advice / Feedback on mic pre amp and audio interface selection for animated show
on Nov 30, 2015 at 6:32:19 pm

Recording a scratch track for animation and then going back and doing ADR for animation just seems insane. Why not simply record the final dialog tracks to begin with and be done with it? Is there some piece of the puzzle missing here?

Far and away the top three factors in getting good dialog recording are:
1) Good voice talent
2) Suitable recording environment
3) Microphone suitable for the talent, environment, style.

If you have voice talent that can produce in a professional manner, and a suitably quiet and non-reverberant environment, and a decent microphone for what you are trying to do, then the mic preamp, and processing, etc. are distant, almost minor factors.

All the processing in on the planet can't make up for bad talent and/or a bad environment. If you get the very front end right, you will have little to worry about in subsequent production steps.

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Emmet Blake
Re: Advice / Feedback on mic pre amp and audio interface selection for animated show
on Nov 30, 2015 at 7:37:33 pm


Thank you for your reply. I understand the point your making about recording the final audio tracks and skipping scratch. The main reason I am factoring in re-recording audio is to allow for some iteration on the dialog. Often times my dialog looks good on paper and then through rehearsal it might not be working out as intended. I will be doing the voice acting myself... Your point still stands to a degree, If I run through the dialog a few times and get closer to final dialog with high quality recording it minimizes the amount of ADR needed. And gives me a more solid footing to get some animation against it.

I also think its important within reason to allow for dialog and animation changes based on how they both gel together, often times when reviewing animation and dialog together its clearer to see how improvements can be made to both.

I understand this might sound like I could get caught in a repetitive cycle of iteration... But I am anxious to get it done to a high quality.

Your additional points are really good and I think it brings me back to reality in terms of the best equipment doesn't guarantee quality... As I said earlier in the post I will be doing the v.o. myself, I am a bit of a man of a thousand accents, I am relatively confident in my ability to get good takes. But it is part of the challenge I am setting for myself.

I have researched acoustic foam solution and I am not 100% decided on whether to treat the production space or build a small booth..


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Richard Crowley
Re: Advice / Feedback on mic pre amp and audio interface selection for animated show
on Dec 1, 2015 at 2:20:44 am

How big is your production space? How reverberant is it? vs....

How big can you make a vocal booth? What is your budget for treating it so it doesn't sound like you are in a box?

I would carefully consider what it would take to treat your existing production space vs. spending money on a booth which is guaranteed to sound horrible unless you put considerable effort into eliminating near reflections.

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John Fishback
Re: Advice / Feedback on mic pre amp and audio interface selection for animated show
on Dec 30, 2015 at 6:47:01 pm

We've done a bunch of voice recording the ADR for animated shows. Each voice actor was recorded separately and various takes were recorded of each cue. Often, the recording sessions happened in various cities. Production then cut it all together so animation could be done against that track. After the animation was locked we'd do ADR of various lines where intention, emotion, etc. didn't match to another character's performance. Also, efforts (screams, grunts, laughs, etc.) were never recorded until ADR.

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