Some years ago I bought a Snowball Blue USB mic and GarageBand software. The idea was to spend some time auditioning from home.
I booked a promo for a Norwegian animation video about trout farming. After sending a couple of takes, I received this message:
Thank you for a swift response. Nice reading! Sadly it is ruined by some kind of humming or feedback noise in the background. Also there is too much echo and reverb from the room. In addition there are some microphone noises, especially in take one, but mostly between sentences…Most importantly we must rid ourselves of the humming and echo.
I listened to the recordings again. There was a hum that I hadn’t noticed before. I moved the mic in every direction and still the sound was not quite right. Every time I recorded, I could hear something not quite right.
I ended up having to record the entire promo in a professional recording studio.
For the next several weeks, I tried to figure out exactly what was wrong with my home studio recordings; how, for instance, I could remove that irritating humming sound–and that slight echo. Was it because my voice was bouncing off the computer screen or the wall? I was, after all, recording in my living-room.
I bought a VoxGuard from the Guitar Center with the promise that it “surrounds your microphone and impedes unwanted sounds from contaminating your recordings. ” It still wasn’t quite right. I bought a pop filter. That certainly removed the popping.
Maybe the mic wasn’t professional enough? I bought an Apogee mic because I had heard it was first-rate for the price, and maybe that would make a difference. It didn’t.
Okay, I thought, I obviously need to spend a lot of money making my studio absolutely soundproof and buying some new, expensive recording software. I started the research. Some companies estimated a minimum of $2,000-3,000 to set up the perfect studio. Others suggested I purchase a portable sound booth, or even create a studio in my closet. Above all, the more I spent on the mic, I was told, the better the quality.
One day my girlfriend suggested I contact David H. Lawrence XVII. She had taken some classes with him, and he knew all about setting up a home studio.
David came to my apartment and spent an hour explaining what I needed to do in incredible detail–and he charged me for 30 minutes. In essence, this is what he suggested:
1. Use Audacity (“It’s free!”) rather than GarageBand.
2. Put a sock on the mic to avoid popping.
3. Place the mic at a 45 degree angle from my mouth.
4. Speak 2-3 inches from the mic.
That simple. He liked the Apogee mic, which I already had.
He demonstrated what was needed, and we recorded some takes. Perfect sound quality. No humming, echo, reverberation, or popping.
Without any doubt, it was the best money I have ever spent on anything relating to voice-over. And it was very little indeed.
The next week I did an audition for my agent from my home studio. It was a soundalike of Viggo Mortensen’s Aragorn in the videogame of The Lord of the Rings. I booked it. And they used my home recording in the game.
Suddenly I was getting the following responses from producers who had heard my home recordings:
“…near perfect demo recordings to me within the very hour of our initial communication.”
“Top quality audio and service…”
“…his sound quality is impeccable.”
“…awesome recording quality.”
“…the highest quality for the budget.”
Bottom line: you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on creating the ultimate sound-recording booth. You can create the same high-quality sound for far less. I strongly recommend you contact David at: http://www.vo2gogo.com/gear/
Of course, perfect sound quality does not guarantee any job.