By Andrew Peters
Harlan Hogan, a name most people in the US voice industry know as a voice artist, also the owner of Voice Over Essentials dot com and the creator of the Porta Booth® portable studio products
As a voice talent based in Australia, I had no idea who Harlan was until I launched Realtime Casting. It introduced me to the US industry and some amazing talent, Harlan being one of them.
Around the same time I built my first studio at home, with a lot of help and guidance from a musician/audio engineer friend. He taught me so much about soundproofing and acoustic treatment and the difference between the two.
Once the studio was finished I could service clients from home and the demand grew. I was on-call and needed something I could take on the road because vacations are expensive enough without losing clients! It was around 2011 when I discovered Harlan's other business and I bought a Porta-Booth Pro, which turned out to be one of the first to arrive in Australia.
Over the next few years I thought I should try a few other options, each with their own plusses and minuses, but none really matched the Porta-Booth Pro and here's why.
Firstly, I should point out, I'm not an acoustician, I just happen to work with a variety of audio engineers and have used them as a sounding board.
As my regular client base grew and with the addition of becoming the network voice for Channel News Asia, demand became 24/7. At this point I realized I had to stop tinkering and get serious about my road case, so like most people I jumped online and searched for any new alternatives just to make sure I knew what was available.
I read about lots of different products and tried some, but the sound of the alternatives I tried was so different from my home studio that it flagged change to my clients, never a good thing. So it was back to testing the Porta-Booth Pro.
One of the problems you get with a small portable set up is the sound gets boxed in and boomy, which is something you don't want and audio engineers certainly don't like.
I played around with various mics and sent files off to various studio colleagues to get their feedback and eventually it came down to my trusty Microtech Gefell M930art.
Next was the placement, I placed the mic just inside the Porta-Booth Pro sitting on a very short stand; I moved my head back, around 4 to 6 inches and viola! I sent a file to a friend who knows my studio sound and his response was "it sounds like your studio ". I do use a tube Microtech Gefell, the M92.1s in my home studio so there are some similarities in the mic sound.
I recorded in both my booth and the Porta-Booth Pro and laid both files together to see if I could get a match. It was so close that any decent audio engineer would have no issue matching the files.
I took the Porta-Booth-Pro to LA and set up in my apartment. I sent VO files to my clients with no issues at all, in fact one major client had no idea I was away.
When I returned home, I sent Harlan a note to say I had finally mastered the booth and how fantastic it is, I also asked him to be a guest on my Podcast and talk about mic placement and how to get the best results based on my experience.
Since then Harlan has kindly sent me a new version, which is a step up from my original one and now features new materials including an acoustic treatment I am very familiar with, Auralex® Studiofoam.*
The Porta-Booth Pro is far superior to anything else I've tried and does what it claims to do by controlling sound perfectly when used correctly. It can also hold all your recording gear and is the right size for domestic and international flights as overhead luggage.
As someone who has made a living for 40 years using my voice, I appreciate and understand what Harlan has done and his motivation to deliver a quality product that works. Harlan is a respected voice artist and believes in professionalism, quality and consistency and I believe his products are created with the same philosophy.
*The original Porta-Booth Pro was purchased by me and was the Porta-Booth used in the testing. The new version was a gift from Harlan and not as payment for my review.
Andrew Peters long career started as a radio announcer in rural Australia 4 years after arriving in the country from the UK.
By the mid 80's he was not only a popular DJ but was the original host of an iconic music TV series 'Rock Arena'.
After 20 years as a radio and TV presenter he made a move to become a full-time voice over artist and actor. As an actor he has had roles in many Australian TV dramas and on-camera commercials and is one of the top voice artists in SE Asia, Australia and New Zealand heard literally by millions everyday. He's the network voice of Channel News Asia, voice of L'Oreal Paris, network Voice of radio Triple M classic rock and numerous corporate and documentary narrations.
Andrew is also the founder and co owner of Realtime Casting, the first online casting and auditioning platform showcasing the most professional voice actors to businesses and producers. Andrew also co- hosts the VO Radio Show podcast featuring guests from both sides of the studio glass.
He is represented by Kathy Evans Voice Management in Sydney and Atlas Talent. www.andrewpetersvo.com