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Recording Your Own Voice Overs: What You'll Need

Perhaps you are a budding voice over artist, or perhaps you just don't have the budget to hire a professional. Either way, there are some steps you can take to ensure you get the best recording possible. Today, we'll explore a few items needed for better voice over recording.

Before we start, make sure you check out our article on affordable voice over resources just in case you want to outsource.


Microphones

It all starts with the microphone, and your iPhone doesn't count! This can be tempting for some people for its convenience factor, but you'll never get the quality audio recording that you will get with a professional microphone.

USB microphones can be a good choice for those on a budget. They plug directly into the computer without the need for a dedicated hardware audio interface. However, these microphones will not produce the highest quality audio. They will be fine for smaller jobs or for getting started, but if you do a lot of recording, consider a different type of microphone.

On the lower end of the USB spectrum is the Blue Snowball for around $70. Or you could try the more versatile Blue Yeti for about $130. Both will get you started recording quickly.

If you are looking for something with more dynamic range and better overall recording capabilities, try a condenser microphone which is more commonly used in studios for voice recording. Note, you will need an audio interface to record into your computer. More on that later.

Condenser mics can cost thousands of dollars, but some solid less expensive options are the Rode NT1-A at around $230 and the AKG C 214 at around $400. These microphones are more sensitive and will pick-up a better range of the full voice.

Dynamic microphones are generally good for live audio, but not as sensitive for in studio recording. However, one dynamic mic that is very popular for in studio recording, especially for things like podcasts and talk radio is the Shure SM7B Vocal Dynamic Microphone at around $350.


Hardware Interfaces

If you use a USB microphone, there is not a need for a dedicated hardware interface, but if you use a dynamic or condenser mic, you'll need to run it through an interface. Also, if you are using a condenser microphone, you'll need an interface with "phantom power." The active electronics in condenser mics need this to operate.

The quality of audio interface you use will also affect how your voice over sounds. However, for most voice over recording, a basic set-up should work.

Audio interfaces will normally connect to your computer via USB. A few options to take a look at are the Focusrite iTrack Solo which you can pick up for under $100. The iTrack can be plugged into a Mac or PC via USB or directly into an iPad for recording. It can only handle 1 recording input at a time which is fine for voice over, but don't expect to record a whole band with this one.

The Presonus AudioBox 22VSL is another solid choice at just around $100 and boasting dual inputs. Both of the above devices have phantom power as needed for condenser mics.


Software

When you get your microphone set up and plugged into your interface, you'll need a good way to capture the audio on your computer. Both the Focusrite iTrack Solo and the Presonus AudioBox 22VSL come with their own software for recording your tracks.

Additionally, there are several free programs for Mac and PC that you can download and try. We covered them in our previous article 3 Great Free Audio Editing Tools.

If you want to get serious with your audio software features, Logic Pro X for Mac and Avid Pro Tools for Mac and PC are industry standards and both come with great professional features.

Furthermore, you can use the built in EQ and compressor tools to capture your voice over takes to your liking or you can purchase plug-ins that will work across most of the software sets. For instance, the McDSP Channel G Compact is available as an AAX Native, AU, and VST plug-in for $129. It features a compressor/limiter and EQ built into one plug-in.


Accessories

One of the most important things you need for a good voice over recording is silence. Start by making sure you record in the quietest space available, but also consider sound baffling to help quiet the space as well as cut down on room reverberation.

A good starting point would be a microphone isolation shield which mounts behind your microphone on your mic stand and blocks out reverberation.

It should be noted that you'll want a microphone stand regardless of the shield. Holding the microphone while recording could result in sounds from your hands moving the mic around while recording.

It could also be useful to purchase a pop filter to put in front of the mic and help reduce the hard "p" sounds that we make when we say things like "pizza" and "pepperoni." Those sounds will cause a spike in the recording, so reducing them will help even out your takes.

With the right set of tools and a nice quiet environment, you'll be well on your way to recording professional sounding voice overs on your own.

Have you tried recording voice overs in your home or studio? Let us know how it's worked out in the comments.

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