Does Equipment Really Matter For A Voice Over Artist?
One of the most common questions asked by many up and coming voice over artists is what kind of equipment they need? After all, isn’t the most important piece of equipment that you’re ever going to need your voice? Well, sure, it’s true that taking care of your voice and improving your technique are essential for any voice actor who wants to see any kind of success, but there’s also a whole lot more to it than that. The truth is that the final product is the thing that really matters and if the quality of the final product is poor then it won’t matter how talented you are as a performer. Sound quality might not be something that you’ve given much thought to in the past but it can make a huge amount of difference when it comes to getting hired and rehired. In order to make sure that you’re always doing the very best work possible, here are some ways that your equipment really can make all the difference.
The first and most obvious piece of gear that any voice-over artist needs to have is a microphone. If you’re trying to get work as a voice actor then there’s a good chance that this is an investment you’ve already made. However, it’s essential to understand that not all mics are made equal. If you’re recording into a USB mic like a Blue Yeti then your recordings are never going to be of the kind of quality that’s expected of a professional. However, there’s just as much of a difference in the professional range as well.
Generally speaking, there are two types of microphones: dynamic and condenser. As a voice-over artist, a condenser mic is essential because it has far greater sensitivity and can pick up on the nuances of your voice far more effectively. Dynamic microphones are mostly useful for handling very high volumes so unless you plan on screaming every line through a megaphone, a condenser mic is always the way to go. At Notable Voices, we use the Neumann TLM 103 which is one of the industry standards for voiceover work for its incredible sound fidelity and dynamic range.
Your audio interface
Of course, it would be a serious mistake to assume that your microphone is the only thing that actually impacts the quality of your recordings. You also need to make sure that you have a high-quality audio interface. A lot of people find themselves kind of confused by audio interfaces but the basic concept is actually incredibly simple. To put it in the simplest terms possible, the audio interface is the thing that lets you put the signals from your microphone into your computer’s recording software. Of course, if it were as simple as that all interfaces would be the same and that’s most certainly not the case. As with microphones, different audio interfaces make a big difference to your audio quality. Not only that but different interfaces often come with a host of different features.
One of the most important things to look for when choosing any kind of audio interface is a powerful preamp. When you speak into a microphone, the electrical signal this creates is often very weak and it’s the job of a preamp to amplify that signal. Without a high-quality preamp, the audio that you record is going to be low quality and potentially unusable in a professional setting. For a long time preamps took the form of a channel strip, a standalone preamp device that could often be pretty costly. However, these days a lot of high-quality audio interfaces feature built-in preamps. At Notable Voices, we use the Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface that not only offers incredibly signal fidelity but comes with an amazing library of plugins that allow you to create a channel strip that, if bought or built separately, could well end up costing you upwards of £10,000 or more!
It’s often all too easy to get caught up in the technical specs of the equipment that you need. After all, there’s so much choice and so much to learn that you can get lost in it all for days at a time! However, it’s also incredibly important that you don’t forget about the simple things as well. There have been some truly incredibly strides made in recording technology over the years but one thing that has stayed constant is that you need to make sure that any voiceover work that you do happens in the best possible environment. If you’re working in a room that’s full of echoes and background noise, an amazing recording set up is going to be utterly wasted.
The fundamentals of creating the right acoustic environment for voice acting are the same as they’ve ever been: you need to create a space that is as sonically dead as possible. You can find acoustic foam panels easily to help deal with any echoes or unwanted resonances and there are also soundproof shields for your microphone that serve the same purpose. Simple things like putting in carpets can be incredibly helpful as well. You want to make sure that the only sound that your microphone is picking up is the sound of your voice.
Of course, the other side of this is that you need to remember that great equipment isn’t going to automatically turn you into a voice over artist that people are going to want to hire and work with. Sure, demo reels recorded with high-quality equipment are always going be more professional and you’re going to need that quality when you actually start working. However, if your vocal technique isn’t up to standard or you’re not professional in the way that you work, all of that amazing sound quality isn’t going to count for much. The reality of being a voice-over artist, or any professional for that matter, is that you have to be aware of every aspect of your craft and make sure that you’re constantly working to improve in every way you can.