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Old June 12th, 2009, 02:53 PM   #1
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Equipment for VO recording

Hi,

I've read through a lot of posts, including the ones in the 'sticky' at the top of this forum. I'm no further forward to making a clear decision making a choice.

I've a little project that I want to record voices over for it. I've no sound equipment what so ever, I can't hire it because I'll be doing the work as and when I've got time.

so, can anyone point me in the direction of what's the 'best' equipment for voice over recordings for micro budget.

I've been looking at a DAT, SHURE MIXER, and a NT2A RODE?

Am I looking in the right direction? Or is there better options I can go for?

Thank you
Andrew
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Old June 12th, 2009, 04:58 PM   #2
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You might look into recording directly into your computer, be it desktop or laptop, instead of buying a recorder dedicated to that role. A good audio interface is needed for a variety of post-production tasks so if you need one in order to record into the 'puter, it would be a better place to put your money than a dedicated recorder. DAT is yesterday's technology and opens up further issues in your workflow as you ultimately have to bring its recordings into the computer and convert them into audio files for editing and marrying to the video anyway. If you do prefer to use a stand-alone audio recorder, look to a modern file-based unit rather than DAT.
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Old June 12th, 2009, 05:33 PM   #3
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I agree with everything Steve says. I'll just add the rest to be "complete":

-DAT makes sense if you've been asked to SUPPLY on DAT.
-DAT also makes sense if you need an immediate archive and know that you yourself are either too busy, too forgetful or too lazy to back up computer files to removable media.
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Old June 13th, 2009, 06:47 AM   #4
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Thank you both for the advice. I'll rule DAT out.

I'll do a search for a stand alone audio recorder.

Thanks.
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Old June 13th, 2009, 07:35 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andrew Carter View Post
Thank you both for the advice. I'll rule DAT out.

I'll do a search for a stand alone audio recorder.

Thanks.
I use a Samson C01U USB Microphone and Sony Sound Forge. The mic sounds great, is sturdily built, is inexpensive, and works like a charm.
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Old June 13th, 2009, 09:14 AM   #6
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Thank you both for the advice. I'll rule DAT out.

I'll do a search for a stand alone audio recorder.

Thanks.
Why not directly to your PC? If you're thinking the quality wouldn't be any good, that's not necessarily true. Most OEM soundcards and on-board sound systems are less than stunning, it's true, and when coupled with a typical cheap "multimedia" computer microphone sound awful. But that's not what I'm recommending. A good pro-grade audio interface, a small desktop mixer, and good quality microphones recording someone who knows how to speak can produce results that are 100% professional sounding. In fact, a home-studio recording directly to computer has become an industry norm for voiceover work these days and a high proportion of the commercials you hear on radio and TV, voiceovers you hear on network broadcast documentaries, movie trailers you hear in the theatre, etc, are recorded in exactly that manner. Not on the kitchen table, mind you, you still need a decent space to record in, but you'll need that whether your recording device is a PC or a dedicated audio recorder. For that matter, dedicated audio recorders these days are really nothing more than purpose-built miniature computers themselves.
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Old June 13th, 2009, 02:29 PM   #7
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There are also several devices that accept a standard XLR connector and can provide phantom puwer to the mic, and have a USB connection on the other end.

I have a Micro Port Pro and really like it. With one of these gadgets you can use regular XLR equipped mics and record to computer or XLR stand-alone recorders. It has a headphone port as well so you can monitor without any delay that might be caused by going via the computer.

Personally, I prefer the flexibility of using standard XLR mics to limiting myself to what's available with USB.
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Old June 20th, 2009, 10:31 PM   #8
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Hey Steve, what would you look for in a good desktop mixer? Currently we are building a sound recording room and our recording system is simply a desktop computer. My friend has a mixer but i'm not sure if its what we need. He records guitar and vocals but has never worked with voice overs.
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Old June 21st, 2009, 01:32 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Terry Lee View Post
Hey Steve, what would you look for in a good desktop mixer? Currently we are building a sound recording room and our recording system is simply a desktop computer. My friend has a mixer but i'm not sure if its what we need. He records guitar and vocals but has never worked with voice overs.
Terry,

As someone who'd down a couple of thousand paid VOs I can speak with some authority on this.

Recording the human voice is not particularly challenging. It's in a pretty narrow range of frequencies, unlike for example, a symphony orchestra.

So you don't need anything particularly exotic. Just a few channel strips or rotary pots - with at least one containing a reasonably quiet mic preamp.

Probably the most popular are the Mackie small mixers. There are cheaper, off-shore knockoffs, some OK, some crap. But the Mackie stuff is solid. They'll let you not only record your primary VO but patch in a source for mixing the voice against background music - and provide a simple way to feed multiple sources into a primary feed to your sound card or recording device.

Feed this with a reasonable large diaphragm dynamic mic or more sensitive condenser. (A sensitive mic may or may NOT be good depending on the training and voice of the talent - a very sensitive mic on a reader with a sibilance or breath control problem is NOT a good thing.)

And remember, the recipe for a good VO is always going to be 10% mic and hardware - 90% performance and voice.

Good luck.
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Old June 21st, 2009, 12:29 PM   #10
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Hey Bill, thanks for the reply.

I'll have to get the specs for the mixer he already owns and post them here. I am just questioning its ability to achieve what we are trying to do. He mainly records music but most of his equipment is sort of old. He says he has a decent mixer but I think he just has a mixer and not an interface for recording to the computer itself. I've never really done any of this before so I really don't know what all is required to set up a home recording studio. I watched a tutorial last night about setting up a home recording studio and they said you need a recording interface (USB or Firewire). That (I guess) plugs into the computer and to the mixer? the guitar, vocals, drums etc can then plug into the mixer?


Terry.
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Old June 21st, 2009, 01:03 PM   #11
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There is nothing wrong with old quality equipment used by somebody who knows what they are doing. a Friend of mine - ex-BBC old school with one of those radio voices, removes as much equipment as he can carry when old studios get upgraded. He simply uses what give the best results. He has a huge library of old material on reel to reel tape, and his programmes contain a mix of modern recorded media, recorded digitally, and old archive material, and since the late seventies, the material is very hard to spot. Recorded well, with decent kit (analogue or digital) = good sound.

Your friend may well have decent kit far above the standard you can record on your desktop PC. As a rule of thumb, the kind of audio interface fitted to modern computers is designed to replay audio tracks with commonly acceptable quality - but few are what we'd call high quality. A music grade internal soundcard, or one of the external ones easily available can record and replay in high quality, and have microphone and line level inputs, useful headphone outputs and usually digital in and out too.

If you are building a room for voice, then the difficult areas are sound treatment in terms of what it sounds like. Voice needs a deader acoustic than for instruments, but you also need to consider how good it is at keeping outside sounds out!

Get the room right, then spend 75-200 on a decent A/D. One thing real mixers can do is routing - so monitoring and talkback can be easily done. This is more tricky with a computer based system, unless you have multiple ins and outs, and is sometimes so much simpler on a real desk. Just push a button and speak!
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Old June 21st, 2009, 08:08 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Terry Lee View Post
Hey Bill, thanks for the reply.

I'll have to get the specs for the mixer he already owns and post them here. I am just questioning its ability to achieve what we are trying to do. He mainly records music but most of his equipment is sort of old. He says he has a decent mixer but I think he just has a mixer and not an interface for recording to the computer itself. I've never really done any of this before so I really don't know what all is required to set up a home recording studio. I watched a tutorial last night about setting up a home recording studio and they said you need a recording interface (USB or Firewire). That (I guess) plugs into the computer and to the mixer? the guitar, vocals, drums etc can then plug into the mixer?


Terry.

Terry,

Yes, the mixer is essentially the traffic cop. It's outputs need to feed the computer if that's where you're recording your audio master. There are USB audio interfaces from less than $100 that do a fine job of taking audio inputs (typically RCA unbalanced lines) and translating those into a USB port that can feed your laptop directly. Edirol makes the UA-EX1 (i think that's the number) that does fine for about 80 bucks.

Again, mono, stereo, or even multitrack audio is NOT a particularly difficult signal for a computer to ingest and handle.

Good luck.
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Old June 21st, 2009, 09:08 PM   #13
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Recording from your computer is the easiest because in this line of work you need lots of takes to get it right. The biggest issue will be screening out all the background noise. Everything from traffic, birds chirping, refrigerator, computer fan etc... Then because hard walls yield bad sound you'll need to build a mini sound booth, to isolate and enhance your voice.

The equipment you need isn't that expensive and is as follows:
1) mini sound booth
2) large diaphragm mic
3) pop filter
4) mic pre amp (Art Tube)

You could also use your car as a recording studio and get a portable digital recorder such as a Zoom H4N. Biggest advantage of a portable recorder is you can go anywhere you need to get away from the noise.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 01:04 AM   #14
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I will add my suggestions, having had to learn this from the beginning and having watched several other people learn to do their own projects.

I second the idea of using a Centrance MicPort Pro:
CEntrance Inc. | MicPort Pro USB Microphone Preamp | CE1801
(read the review at the B&H link, and read the review at the link below)
REVIEW: CENTRANCE'S MICPORT PRO | Articles | Post Magazine

The MicPort will allow high quality recording into any computer or laptop using virtually any professional XLR microphone.

I'm not sure why you need a mixer. You can record your voice, then mix it with anything else you want inside the computer. A low-cost mixer will only degrade the quality of the recording. I don't see the need for recording two live sources at once from your description.

Another option is a portable recorder, then copy the files to the computer. They can be used anywhere and most have at least two channels. I use two MicroTracks, though there are others.

But if you are recording narration to video, it makes sense to record directly into the computer as you watch the video.

Noise is a big problem when recording into a desktop. Condenser mics usually are problematic in makeshift situations.

However, a good quality cardioid dynamic mic works well in computer recording situations. A favorite of mine are the Heil microphones. They have the PR20 UT that is only $99. (Same mic, with all the packaging, that sells for twice that and is used in many radio stations.):
Microphones, Booms, Bases, Mounts and Hardware | Heil Sound

Heil also makes the PR40, which is more expensive, but is popular with some top radio people.

Another standard mic that would work is the Shure SM-58.

I have a couple of Audio-Technica dynamic works that work great for recording voice-over in uncontrolled situations. I don't have this particular one, but some people like the Audio-Technica ATM41HE:
Audio Technica ATM41HE Artist Series Dynamic Microphone, just $ 1.10354e+09

I'm not recommending any particular mic (except maybe the Heil) except to say if recording into a computer and you don't have a perfectly controlled environment, the directional dynamic mics are worth considering.

An excellent free program for audio recording and multitrack mixing is Audacity:
Audacity: Free Audio Editor and Recorder

***********************************************
So bottom line, for the needs you specify, and the level of skill you have, and so you won't be wasting money on equipment that is unsuitable or you will quickly outgrow, I suggest the following:

MicPort Pro ($150)
Heil PR20 UT dynamic microphone ($99)
Audacity Multitrack audio program (free)

Both the MicPort and the Heil will continue to be of use, no matter what other equipment you may end up with in the future.
************************************************
One final note, there are some excellent audio interfaces for computers, and I use several. However, they are not needed for what you describe, are complicated to use at first, and are difficult to select until you get some experience and know what your needs are.
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Old June 22nd, 2009, 04:27 AM   #15
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Saw this in the latest catalogue and at 23 its as cheap as chips for a quick way to plug your mic into a PC or Mac:THE T.BONE MICPLUG USB - U.K. International Cyberstore
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