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The Voice Actor’s Guide
to Professional Home Studio
Revised 2nd Edition
James R. Alburger
This eBook is all about your home studio! My reasons for writing this e-book and teaching a workshop on “How to Build Your Own Home Studio” is quite simple. As a voiceover talent in today’s market, you must know how to use a computer and record on your own equipment. It’s not a matter of wanting to know how, or even thinking it might be a nice idea to know how to do it . . . if you are going to be a successful voice talent in today’s talent marketplace, you need to know how to record high-quality voice tracks on your own equipment.
The development of broadband Internet services combined with the availability of very inexpensive, yet sophisticated and extremely high quality audio equipment has resulted in a major shift in the way voiceover talent get bookings and handle recording sessions. The days of a voice talent driving to a recording studio to record an audition or a booked project are rapidly disappearing. More and more, producers today are requesting the voiceover talent they hire to record on their own equipment – and that means a “home studio.” If you don’t have a computer and the ability to record your voice, you will be tremendously limited in the bookings you can take as a voiceover talent.
There are many reasons why producers are moving toward having their hired talent record at home: faster turn-around and no studio fees are two of the primary reasons. By using the Internet, a producer can email a script to their voice talent and, within minutes, receive a professional quality recording that can be used in the final production.
Now, this doesn’t mean recording studios will be going away anytime soon. On the contrary, a high quality recording studio with qualified recording engineers will remain a requirement for almost all types of production. It’s at the recording studio where all the pieces of a project are assembled – including the voice track that was recorded at the talent’s home studio.
As a voiceover talent in today’s market, you not only need to be an excellent performer, but you also need to know some basic engineering and production techniques. And that’s what this e-book and my workshop will teach you. I’m going to explain in simple English everything you need to know to construct a basic “home studio.” Since most people just starting out in voiceover don’t have the budget for high-end digital equipment, I’ll be focusing on things you can do and equipment that you can buy that are relatively inexpensive, but will get the job done nicely.
If you’ve ever assembled a home stereo system, you’ve taken the first brave steps to building a home studio. OK, it’s not quite that easy, but the concept is the same: One piece of equipment connects to another and that to another. When everything is connected properly to a computer, you’ve got a “home studio” capable of recording your voice or music. If you aren’t comfortable with computers or hooking up electronic equipment, please don’t let that scare you. It’s really not as difficult as you might think. I’ve worked with many people who are afraid they’re going to break something if they plug it in wrong! Don’t worry! It really takes a lot of effort – or incredible carelessness – to damage the equipment. And as for plugging in the equipment . . . it will either work . . . or it won’t. There’s really not anything in between. And if you’ve plugged something in wrong, it’s not going to explode or throw off sparks. Today’s electronic equipment has built-in protection that makes it very difficult to damage the equipment by simply hooking it up incorrectly.
I promise you won’t regret learning how to put together your own “home studio.” You may even find that you gain a new appreciation for the technical marvels of our business.
“So”, I hear you ask, “Just what qualifies you to teach about building a home studio?”
Glad you asked!
In case you haven’t read the introduction to my book “The Art of Voice Acting,” I’ll give you a little bit of my background. When I was a kid, about 12 years old, I started performing as a magician. I was uncomfortable speaking in front of an audience, so I taught myself how to edit music using a grease pencil, a pair of scissors, and scotch tape. I quickly figured out how to build a small “recording set-up” so I could transfer records (anyone remember vinyl?) to tape and edit the music for my magic act. My small “set-up” gradually grew to the point where I had the capability to record my voice and handle complex audio production. In short, I built my own “home studio” from scratch – without the benefit of a course such as this. I made lots of mistakes along the way and learned a lot about how different audio components worked, and – more importantly – how to get the results I wanted from each piece of equipment.
During my 25 year tenure at NBC in San Diego, I designed and specified the equipment for 3 audio control rooms and a custom vehicle for mixing audio on-location for television broadcasts.
From the time I entered high school until today, I have had a “home studio” of one sort or another at my parent’s house, my college dorm room, each apartment I’ve lived in, and every house I’ve owned. Today my “home studio” is a professional-quality recording studio and the center of my production company, The Commercial Clinic.
Let’s just say, I’ve built a “home studio” before and I know what I’m talking about. OK?
So, now it’s your turn to build your own home studio, and I’ll do whatever I can to help you understand what you need to know. Since most of us have limited funds with which to purchase the nifty toys of a home studio, I’ve included some rough prices to help guide you through the process. Any prices you see are based on current retail prices at the time this e-book was written. As with most technology, it’s quite possible that many of the prices will change over time. However, one of the nice things about home recording equipment and computers is that as the technology improves, prices tend to get lower.
Even if you’re technologically challenged . . . if you want to play in the world of professional voiceover, you need to know the stuff in this e-book. You’re about to learn the basics for building a home studio. When (or if) you are ready to take it further, there are literally dozens of books on the subject, most of which are available at VoiceActing.com. You deserve a hearty “Congratulations” for being brave enough to jump in, and I promise you it’s not as difficult as you might think.
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