Do you have a shopping list of everything I need for my home studio?
Any recent vintage Apple Mac or Windows PC with either USB, Firewire or Thunderbolt connectivity.
Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio Software
JK Audio Telephone Patch
What type of microphone is recommended for voice over work?
Almost all voice work is recorded using a studio-quality condenser microphone with a cardioid (heart-shaped) pick up pattern. The mics require auxiliary power (phantom power) but provide a more subtly, nuanced and detailed reproduction of the voice vs. dynamic (self powered) microphones.
Do I talk into the top or side of a microphone?
There are two common types of microphones side address and end (or top) address. A small icon showing the pickup pattern of a side address microphone (VO: 1-A, TLM 103) indicates where you speak. On an end address microphone (Sennheiser 416, RE-20) the front of the microphone is located at the opposite end of the XLR connector.
What is a shockmount? Do I need one?
Shockmounts de-couple or "separate" the microphone from the mic stand and the environment. The shockmount will minimize floor noise as well as any noise induced by people handling the microphone stand. Shockmounts should be part of your "standard equipment" when recording.
What is Phantom Power?
Condenser microphones require 48 volts of DC power called - who knows why - phantom power. Either a dedicated preamplifier, a preamplifier built into an audio mixer's input channel, or a computer interface with a built-in preamp, usually provides this.
What is a USB Microphone, are they professional sounding?
A USB microphone's advantage is that it provides an all-in-one recording solution. All of the necessary preamps and A/D converters have been built into the microphone. The disadvantage is the much larger size of the mic to accommodate those electronics and there very few USB microphone who's sound rivals that of a component solution i.e. the best sounding mic on your voice and a free-standing audio converter that can be used on any microphone you buy now or in the future.
Which recording software sounds better?
None of them actually! Software doesn't have a sound it merely manipulates digital ones and zeros. However every software has an interface that an individual may find easy and intuitive or confusing and frustrating. You can download trial versions of most recording software to see what feels right for you. Also consider the support the company gives and though there are several free recording programs available remember that you will get no support!
Which Porta-Booth should I buy?
For travel and auditioning at home the Porta-Booth Plus is a lightweight solution that easily travels in carry-on luggage. Our Porta-Booth Pro is more than twice the size of the Plus and handles much larger microphones, longer scripts and provides the acoustic sound of a human size sound booth while still being easy to travel with. A large percentage of Porta-Booth Pro owners use their booth as their home and on-the-road studio, and more and more Porta-Booth fans own both booths : the Plus for short trips and Pro at home and on long vacations.
How do I use my Porta-Booth Pro standing up?
You can perch the booth on a copy stand and use a desktop, floor or boom arm mic stand. Using the rear wall zipper of the booth you can also hang the booth on a boom arm style microphone stand. We recommend using our ABS Strap to hold the boom arm and booth firmly & safely in place.
The most practical and elegant stand up or sit down solution is our Porta-Sound Stand that holds the booth, your computer and accessories in one easy to store device.
Where can I get training to do voice over work?
Our founder, Harlan Hogan maintains a list of voice coaches and other career resources on his personal website.
Will your products work for Podcasters?
Of course. Podcasters and Broadcasters worldwide have embraced our products and in particular the Porta-Booth Pro.
What is a pop filter? Why do I need one?
A pop filter not only helps minimize loud 'plosives' from being recorded it keeps moisture (all right, spit) from getting on the diaphragm of your microphone and denigrating its sensitivity and performance. Pop screens are a reasonable and very worth-while accessory.
For the VO: 1-A we recommend the custom fit MXL metal wrap around filter.
Click for more info on the VO-1A-PF Pop Filter
For traveling what microphone stand do you recommend?
Our 3-way adjustable HH VODS microphone desk stand gives you infinite height adjustment from 5 & 1/2 to 8 & 3/4 inches. You can also increase it's weight by close to a half pound!
Harlan Hogan Universal Desktop Microphone Stand
How can I reduce the noise in a hotel room?
Some simple thing such as turning off the heating or air conditioning, closing doors and drapes, unplugging mini-bar refrigerators and setting your laptop on a soft surface can work wonders. Asking (tipping is a possibility) the housekeeping staff to clean and vacuum a room away from your room is a good idea as well.
I hear a tunnel-like sound with my Porta-Booth
Definitely! The most common mistake with any Porta-Booth product is 'sticking your head in the oven'. The booth and mic need some room to breath so put the mic approximately 25% of the way back into the booth, lean your forehead against the top front edge and then move back about six inches. A little experimentation and you'll definitely hear the sweet spot in your headphones.
I hear a tunnel-like sound when speaking into my VO: 1-A microphone. Am I doing something wrong?
Yep. You are talking into the wrong part of the mic. A VO: 1-A is a side-address mic. That means we speak into the side of the microphone not the top. There is a heart-shaped icon on the correct side to speak into and Harlan's signature as well.
Why can't I plug my new microphone directly in to my computer?
Professional condenser microphones come with a connector called an XLR (sometimes referred to as a Cannon or balanced connector). There are 3 connection points, one of which carries power to the mic. Computers do not have an xlr connector so audio is usually brought in using an USB A/D converter such as the MicPort Pro or Apogee one.
Can the noise reduction feature in my software eliminate the boomy sound in my recordings?
No. Noise reduction used carefully can remove some background noise but the sound of the space you are recording in can't be altered after the fact. It is one of those garbage in garbage out scenarios. That's why sound booths were created; to shape the sound the microphone hears. With a Porta-Booth product we trick the microphone into hearing the sound of an acoustically correct full size room.
How do I send my audio to others?
Most audio is sent via the Internet today although CD's are still burned and sent via snail mail.
What does DB mean?
DB is the acronym for decibel a unit of measurement of sound, the more decibels the louder the sound.
My agent said my audition was distorted, what does that mean?
Your audio was recorded at such a loud level that it became distorted. In a digital recording environment any sound louder than zero DB becomes distorted.
My client asked for dry tracks, what did they mean?
Simply put it means just your voice recorded with no effects, music or processing such as EQ, Compression etc. (see the next FAQ) this is the norm for most voice over recordings being sent to an engineer who will mix & finish.
What is Compression, EQ and NR?
These and many other (often confusing) acronyms and abbreviations refer to processing techniques recording engineers use to shape and change recorded sound. Compression 'squeezes' a recording lowering the highest audio levels and amplifying the softest to achieve a sound that is perceived by the ear as consistently louder. EQ equalization, is a fancy term for adjusting the bass and treble of a sound and NR is noise reduction a useful tool if used with great restraint on a noisy audio track. Generally speaking, voice talent doesn't need to use any processing options in their recording software, that job is left to the audio engineer who will master the project.
What is An A/D converter? A soundboard?
Pretty much the same thing. These are devices that take the analogue sound from your microphone and convert it into digital information your computer can understand. Your computer did come with an internal soundboard but without exception the soundboards installed in commercially available computers are not capable of air-quality audio conversion.
What's the difference between a dynamic and condenser mic?
A dynamic mic is "self-powered" your voice causes vibrations (sound waves) and these make the diaphragm in the microphone to vibrate as well. Broadcasters use dynamic mikes because they are sturdy and inexpensive. Most voice work uses condenser mics that are more fragile, require outside power and pre-amplification but capture a richer, more accurate sound
My recording software says to adjust my gain what is that?
Gain is simply another term for volume how loud or soft you want the recording level to be. It is important to NEVER exceed zero db in digital recording.
How close to a microphone should I be?
Approximately 12 inches away for most voice work
I hear a constant hum in my recording setup how can I get rid of that?
This can be a bad cable but more often it is 60 cycle hum generated in the power lines of your location. The culprit is usually a 'ground loop' where multiple audio devices are plugged into the same power lines. Often plugging all your gear into a single power strip will solve the problem.
I was doing a phone patch session and the producer complained about leakage- what did she mean?
If your headphones do not fit tightly enough or you have the gain turned too loud audio can leak out and be heard by the microphone.
How do I get my family to be quiet while I'm recording?
Rather than yell, scream and stamp your foot we recommend making or buying a recording warning sign. Our illuminate version can be remote controlled to turn on when you start recording and the sign can be up to 400 feet away.
What's the difference between a speaker and a monitor?
Nothing. It's just another term for the same device.
I was told I should record my voice in mono but doesn't stereo sound better?
Always record your voice in mono you only have one mouth so two tracks of the exact same audio won't sound any better! And you'll use twice your computer resources to record in stereo. Most recording software does default to stereo when recording because the programs are designed for musicians. Usually simply un-checking an option in the program's preferences or set up menu will change that.
A producer asked if I had ISDN or Source Connect™ what are they?
Hardware and software solutions that allow recording air-quality audio in real time. Both require an investment in additional equipment.
I hear a radio station very faintly in my headphones, is my microphone defective?
No. You are hearing RF (Radio Frequency) from a nearby AM station. Your gear is acting like an antenna and picking up the sound. Oftentimes the audio is only heard in the headphones and not recorded but if you hear the sounds in your recordings you may have move your recording area or speak with a consultant to install filters.
Should I record in WAV, AIF, or MP3 format?
It's best to record first in the highest quality uncompressed format first which is .WAV for PC's and .AIF for Macs's. If you need to email the file then reduce it's size by saving again as an MP3. The file will be much smaller but it is a 'lossy' format; some of the audio quality is "lost in translation".
What is Proximity Effect?
Proximity effect is the increase of bass frequencies as you move closer to a directional microphone. Sometimes this extra bass sound is unwanted, particularly when recording the female voice. Backing away slightly from the microphone will usually help. We designed the VO: 1-A voiceover mic to have less proximity effect since many performers want to 'work' the microphone closely.
Is a premium microphone cable worth the extra money?
Absolutely! Even the highest- quality microphone's sound will suffer if sent through less-than quality cabling. Mogami® cables are among the best available.
Is a premium USB cable worth the extra cost?
Generally speaking, no. However, if your audio device shipped with a USB cable it's wise to use the cable provided. Some manufacturers use a specially shielded cable to prevent extraneous noise such as RF. (see "I hear a radio station very faintly in my headphones....)
If I plug my MicPort Pro or MicMate Pro directly into the end of my microphone I can't adjust the controls and it's too tall for my booth!
We recommend plugging either of these devices into a short microphone cable (we include one with the VO: 1-A microphone) and then plugging the included USB cord into your computer. Now you can get to the controls and get further away from the computer and fan & hard drive noise.
I have no sound from my MicPort Pro even though it lights up.
That's because your mic requires phantom power which can be turned on and off on the Mic Port (and important feature if you ever use a ribbon microphone having phantom power on will destroy the ribbon!) On the bottom of the MicPort Pro next to the headphone jack is a small push on/off switch, when on it will glow orange and voila' you'll have sound.
How can I keep my microphone stand's boom arm from drooping?
This is a common problem even on good quality stands. With out a counter-weight all that holds the boom is a ten-cent fiber washer. Wordsworth has released a new solution the ABS, Adjustable Boom Stop. This simple strap system ensures the boom arm won't fall down potentially damaging your expensive microphone and let's you mark your favorite settings.
How far away will my remote control work to turn on my Voice Over Recording sign?
Roughly 400 feet depending on the construction of your home or office.
Can you recommend an agent or on line casting site?
No, but we do have a wealth of industry information in the books found in our Other Recommended Products page. Just click on link on the menu at the top of the page.
Is there room for a script in the Porta-Booth Plus?
Yes, both models accommodate paper and scripts read off electronic devices. The Pro is a better choice for long form narrative work because of it's much larger size.
Can I use my smart phone, tablet or laptop to read scripts in the Porta-Booth Pro or Porta-Booth Plus?
Sure, and it's a great way to work no page turn noise or trying to find a printer when on the road. Be aware of laptop hard drive and fan noise if you do not have a solid-state model such as the MacBook Air.
My Porta-Booth leans slightly to the right, is there a way to square it up?
There are four black half-inch hook and loop straps at the front corners of the Porta-Booth 2.0 and above and the Porta-Booth Plus set at a diagonal to adjust the shape and bring it into a nice solid rectangle.
How does the VO: 1-A voice-over microphone compare to the Neumann U-87.
It's all about how any microphone sounds on you and we feel the only way to know that is to try out a variety of microphones. Unfortunately, 99.9% of the mic manufacturers and re-sellers will not let you do that. We do.
Specifically, the Neumann U-87 is a long-time favorite of professional studios and if your budget allows you won't go wrong. Many reviewers compare the VO: 1-A's sound to the U-87 and find them remarkably similar in sound especially considering the VO: 1-A is one-tenth the cost! So we'd suggest auditioning a VO: 1-A and if it's not the mic for you just send it back, no harm, no loss.
What shipping method do you use internationally?
We usually use United States Post Office Priority Mail. We've found it to be fast and reliable and rarely delayed by customs.
What is two-day domestic shipping & when will my order arrive?
For an additional fee we can ship products in the United States with two-business day delivery. Please understand that we need one day for packaging and shipping your items so if you ordered on a Monday your package would ship on Tuesday and arrive on Thursday.
Can you overnight products?
We will be happy to overnight deliveries using your delivery service account. Email Customer Service to arrange delivery
Can you ship to an international location using our preferred delivery service & broker?
Absolutely, Email Customer.service@VoiceOverEssentials.com to arrange delivery
I'm frustrated setting up my home studio is there a service that can help me?
Yes! There are two great consultants we highly recommend George Whittam and Dan Lenard who can guide you step-by-step in setting up, fine tuning and troubleshooting home studio setup. They are also the hosts of the popular East/West Audio Body Shop Podcast
What bit rate should I be recording my reads at? Should it be 16, 24, or 32?
24 bit is ideal.