Building Your Home Studio. Furniture, DAW's and More!

So you’ve decided you want to give the whole voiceover idea a try, well good for you!  The road to success always begins with that first step.  Hopefully you’ve read the multitude of books available on the subject and maybe even talked with some people in the business, and you keep hearing about a home studio.   So for the next couple of blogs, let’s take a quick look at what’s involved in setting up your first home studio.

First, from all the research you’ve done up to this point, it should have dawned on you that to be successful you have to be a Jack of all Trades.  You’ll need to understand how to actually run your own business, including the planning, budgeting, marketing, time commitments and things like LLC’s and taxes.  Now, once you’ve mastered all that, you need to put your audio engineer hat on and figure out the best way to plan, build and equip your own studio.

Clients expect, and frankly deserve the very best audio quality possible.  It’s incumbent upon you to deliver a professional sound that meets or exceeds established quality audio standards.  So where to begin?  Perhaps the most important first decision will be the placement of your studio.  It has to be quiet and as sound proof as possible.  You don’t want clients hearing your neighbor with his leaf blower, or the baby crying for lunch.  Sounds as insignificant as the fan from your computer, ceiling fan or HVAC have a nasty habit of appearing on your audio track if not dealt with. 

Some people get away with actually recording from a walk-in closet in their home.  But that’s not very practical for the long term.  I’ve even heard of people recording from inside their cars. But again, you’ve got to be careful with unexpected noise.

There are a number of very good sound isolation booths commercially available on the market.  They work great, but they’ll take a big chunk out of your overall budget. And, they can be bulky.  If you’re handy, you can always try to build something yourself using similar techniques.  But a number of us choose to find a quiet place, and build around the work area carefully isolating noise generating devices, and eliminating the likelihood of extraneous noise sources.  I can’t over emphasize enough the value of an experienced sound engineer to help with this process. 

You can’t do much with the fire truck running down the street, so you’ll have to adjust your recording as necessary.  Even with live ISDN sessions, unanticipated noise needs to be dealt with.  ISDN is expensive, and the client won’t have time to wait for your neighbor to finish his yard or the baby to be fed. Remember, their paying good money for professional voice over services.

Once the location is determined, start planning for how you’ll be working.  As I'm recording Voice Spots, I prefer to stand to allow my diaphragm to fully expand during sessions, and I’ve been known to flail my arms about as I emphasize a point.  Others may prefer sitting or a combination of the two.  Remember, you’ll be in this position for not only the recording sessions, but will then be editing your sessions, often for a long time.  You’ll want to find furniture that meets your needs, and helps to reduce long term fatigue.  Again, there are a number of commercial vendors who specialize in audio workstations, or if you’re handy, you can always build it yourself.

Next month we’ll begin to look at the actual hardware you’ll need to build your studio.  So stand by, your budget is about to take a major hit!