Setting up a Home recording studio

Concerned that you're not a technician? Don't worry, we don't expect you to be. When it comes to setting up a home studio, it's all about knowing the basics and making them work for you.

Location

A great myth is that you need lots of equipment. This is not the case. The most important thing to do is set up in a place where you can get into the right mindset for work. This will vary on your style. Some people can work out of a cupboard in their bedrooms; others prefer a more specific, studious atmosphere.

It goes without saying that you should choose a part of the house that's quiet. That said, anyone who's ever lived with a grandfather clock will know how quickly we get used to background noise. We recommend you conduct a trial recording to gain an accurate understanding of your surroundings. Start recording, then leave the room for a couple of minutes. Listen back, and you may be surprised at the volume of your radiator.

Equipment

Mixing desks may look impressive, but do you really need one? Most software packages will do all the adjusting on your behalf.

The single most important piece you can invest in is a microphone. Think about the specific kind of work you want to do. Can you make a career out of booming Don LaFontaine-style trailers, or will you be looking for varied character work and special effects? If you can, try out a microphone before you purchase it to work out how it responds to your mic technique. A decent pair of headphones will help you out here.

Once all your equipment is bought, spend time experimenting with the placement of speakers to optimise the sound quality when creating your sound.

Soundproofing

If that grandfather clock just needs to stay, you will have to think hard about soundproofing your home studio. We're hearing more people talking about pre-fab booths or fibreglass panels, which can be assembled in a spare room with relative ease. Alternatively, look towards reducing the sound in your studio temporarily, through wall hangings to absorb the sound.

Sending

So, now you've set the scene for your perfect, interruption-free recording, you need to work out how you can send it to employers. There are two main ways of transporting your work. If you want to take your voice to studios across the world for live recordings, think about installing a Source-Connect, which is fast replacing ISDN. Alternatively, look into saving your work as a high-quality sound file (e.g. MP3) before mailing it to the employer.

It's also worth familiarizing yourself with file transfer services such as Dropbox or We Transfer, which will allow you to send your larger files with relative ease.

Finally, a word from a DIY pioneer...

We've been chatting to Mandy Voices member Emily Wilden, who recently constructed her own home studio:

After buying the mic and all the other equipment that went with it, I found that there was still a big problem with background noise, and using various blankets and pillows was turning out to be too much of an effort. After posting something on Mandy Voices about my home studio, I got some lovely advice from a few members, and one told me that I should get an SE Reflection Filter, which dulls out any background noise. These can normally cost anything from £80 upwards, and after buying all the other equipment I was a bit strapped for cash.

So I thought I would make one of my own, I got a medium sized cardboard box, which I cut and sellotaped bits so I could stand slightly inside it, I then lined it with garden basket liner, which I bought from Wilkinson's (which I think was about 80p a sheet) then attached a coat hanger to the back of the box so it could hang from my wardrobe and it was complete!

I think it needs a little more lining inside, but it work perfectly fine and serves its purpose. It really just goes to show that when you are starting out, you don't need to go spending loads of money, you just need to find a system that works, and if you start making lots of money from it, then you can splash out a bit!

Do you have a tip that you'd like to share with the Mandy Voiceovers community? Please send it to emily@mandy.com.

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