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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting The Right Equipment for Recording

About a month ago, I made the decision to build a small home recording studio. I had set aside the money from my various local voice-over jobs, and this seemed to be the next logical step in my journey.

Making the decision was a critical first step - and probably the easiest step as it turns out. If you're not computer savvy (I'm not), it's important to reach out to experienced professionals to help you in selecting the proper equipment for your studio. It's true that you don't need a lot of gadgets to record your voice, but getting the right gadgets for what you want to do, will make all the difference in the world.

I worked with a company called Sweetwater,, out of Fort Wayne Indiana. They are arguably the top company when it comes to recording equipment. They have a home recording package that provides everything you need to get started. It's not inexpensive, but it's also not terribly unreasonable. After all, this is a business you're starting, and most businesses have start up costs, right?

I can tell you that it's very important to make sure you select a computer that is compatible with the recording software you're using. I purchased a pc, only to find out that the software (Protools) is much more compatible with a Mac. I ended up purchasing a refurbished Macbook and the software runs perfectly.

The essential equipment you will need to get started is:

1. A computer (make sure it's compatible with your software)
2. Recording software (I use Protools)
3. An external hard drive (Voice recordings can take up a lot of space)
4. A microphone (I use a Bluebird)
5. A device to connect your mic to your computer (I use an M-Box mini)

You can purchase all of the necessary equipment separately online. E-Bay or Craigs List are two places to check out. I have a producer friend who did this. He had his engineer check all the specs and make sure everything was compatible. He was able to save quite a bit of money by buying the equipment individually.

If you're like me though, using a company like Sweetwater will eliminate all the worry of making sure the various components work together properly. They've figured all that out for you ahead of time. All you have to do is take the equipment out of the boxes and plug them in, download the software, and you're ready to start recording!

In my next post, I'll talk more about the physical layout of the studio. Please let me know if you have any questions or comments.

Keep talking!



  1. Michael - sounds like I had much the same experience...I'm interested to hear how yours turns out. I worked with the Sweetwater folks as well, and started out with an Mbox mini. A client I was working with at the time was very picky, however, and he recommended to never go with the "all-in-one" solution like that, because you can't switch out components later. I ended up returning the Mbox and getting a separate Grace preamp and RME converter....more expensive but much higher quality. I did like the Mbox, though, and I'd recommend it to someone just starting out.

    P.S. I just linked you on my blog!

  2. Thanks for your comment Adam. The M-Box is the one piece of equipment I'm still trying to get the hang of. I noticed on your blog that you mentioned a recording booth. Do you have an actual booth, and if so, how did you create it? Right now I have a room that I've insulated and made as soundproof as possible, but I'm always looking for suggestions on how to better eliminate sound. I also linked your blog to mine.


  3. Hey Michael - my setup sounds similar to yours, actually. Mine is a a treated room at this point. (about 6x9) I bought 2inch thick pressed fibreglass and spray-glued it to 2inch think foam, then covered it with muslin fabric. I made 6 of these panels, about 2 feet by 8 feet, and propped one in each corner, and the others on the walls. I covered some areas of the wall with pyramidal sound foam, and parts of the ceiling as well. It's somewhat ghetto but gives me a good sound. I'd love to buy a WhisperRoom but just can't justify the cost right now...especially since I'm still paying off all this equipment I bought :)

  4. Really great ideas. I like every example. Just might have to try these... So cute! Thank you!
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  5. Thanks merlie! Let me know how it goes. I really enjoy hearing how other voice actors are doing out there. Sharing experiences and ideas helps all of us.


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