I recently took the second biggest financial leap of my VO career. The first was the first year or two of lessons and classes, before I’d submitted a single word for an audition. The current leap was buying a pre-made booth, for— let’s just say— four figures.
But I want to be sure you all know that you don’t need an expensive recording booth to have a successful career. In fact, before making the jump to a pre-made booth, I operated in my $100 booth starting in 2012.
It had a “mic creche” made from sound-deadening board and white hard-foam insulation boards, sandwiched together and wrapped in black landscape cloth. This arrangement kept the nearby shelving in my closet from bouncing sound back to the mic. Then, I hung a heavy moving blanket on a PVC pipe behind me to avoid the mic “hearing the room.” I picked up the blanket at a conference in 2012; an exhibitor wanted to head out after the event, and offered me half off if I took the blanket off his hands. Done!
The resulting space had a noise floor of -80 dB, except when passing airplanes, garbage trucks, and those silly leaf blowers all shut me down or otherwise made me pause.
(Or when I had to shut off the air conditioning to keep noisy air out of the closet. That was never a real popular move. My wife could bear it for a while, but then…tick, tick, tick, “Are you done yet?” “When can I flush the toilet?”)
But in the big VO picture here is that these all are small issues compared to building a body of work, finding success and clients, and getting established.
And that’s a key thing with VO gear: spend some money, but not a fortune to get started. There are great mics in the $200-$400 range. Plus, the more expensive your mic, the better your recording space better be. (Don’t park your Mercedes on the weeds in the backyard. It needs a nice, clean garage.)
So, to start with, get a mic that makes you sound like you. Find a quiet place, set up some simple treatments, have an audio engineer listen to what you produce there for a thumbs up or thumbs down, and get started.
On the Vegas Voicers page on Facebook, you’ll find a number of ideas for homemade booths. Use the search box at that page. Ideas range from my simple set up, to Gary Rebstock’s PVC-moving blanket set up and others.
Go to work, earn the experience and the money. You’ve already taken the biggest leap in audio quality you ever will: from closet to recording booth.
Now, as funds allow, buy gear that will improve your audio in what will be smaller increments, or that will improve your productivity. My new booth saves me from airplanes, having to turn off the house AC, and stops the interruptions.
But I didn’t start there. I earned my way there. Keep it simple. Don’t buy gear to earn money; earn money to buy gear.