Do you have a shopping list of everything I need for my home studio?
Voice Actor's Guide to Recording atHome and on the Road
Porta-Booth Pro or Porta-Booth Plus
VO: 1A Voiceover microphone
Centrance MicPort Pro 2 w/limiter
VO: 1-A Pop Filter
Harlan Hogan Universal Desktop Microphone Stand
Harlan Hogan Voice Over Headphones
Mac orWindows PC Tablet, Laptop or Cell Phone
Audacity(free https://www.audacityteam.org/) or Adobe Audition software
LEDMulti-Color Voice Over Recording Sign w/ Remote remoteswitch
Skype for “PhonePatch” directed Sessions
Source Connect or SessionLinkPRO for “Web Based” directedSessions
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. These 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 studio microphones: side address and end (or top) address. A small icon showingthe pickup pattern of a side address microphone like the VO: 1-A indicates where you should speak. On an end address microphone like the Sennheiser 416 you speak in to the ‘top’ of the opposite end of the mic cable connector.
What is a shockmount? Do I need one?
Shockmounts physically de-coupleor "separate" the microphone from the mic stand and the recordingenvironment. The shockmount will help minimize room noise and should be part ofyour standard equipment when recording.
What is Phantom Power?
Professional 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 USB computer interface with abuilt-in preamp, usually provides Phantom Power.
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. One disadvantage is the much larger size of the mic to accommodate those electronics and that you are paying for those electronics every time you buy another USB mic. The biggest disadvantage is that very few USB microphone’s have the audio quality 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. It’s smart to download trial versions of 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 three times the size of the Plus and handles much larger microphones, longer scripts and rivals 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 a Pro used at home and on location.
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.
For traveling what microphone stand do you recommend?
Our adjustable HH VODS microphone desk stand gives you infinite height adjustment from 5 & 1/2 to 8 & 3/4 inches. It also includes an adapter to fit mics with International or US Standard threads.
How can I reduce the noise when recording in a hotel room?
Some simple things such as turning off the heating or air conditioning, closing doors and drapes, unplugging mini-bar refrigerators and setting your laptop, tablet or phone 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
Not uncommon at first! 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 and have a huge grin on your face.
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 there 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 jack so audio is usually brought in using an USB A/D converter like the MicPort Pro 2 or Focusrite Scarlett.
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, auditions are usually recorded as MP3 files. These are smaller files and easy to send via e-mail. Professional quality recordings are much larger Wav or AIF files and transferred via shrives like Dropbox or a FTP program built into your website.
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 the tracks.
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 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 device that takes the Analogue sound from your microphone and converts it into Digital information your computer can understand. Your computer comes 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 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 i.e. 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 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 don’t cover your ears completely (on-the-ear vs. over-the-ear ‘cans’) 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 LED Voice Over Recording sign has 20 different colors and a remote control….rather than having the sign in your recording space place it in the living area of your location so everyone will know they need to be quiet for a few minutes.
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. After all, 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 let you change that setting to Mono
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 its 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 very 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 the "I hear a radio station very faintly in my headphones FAQ).
If I plug my MicPort Pro 2 into the end of my microphone I can't adjust the controls and it's too tall for my booth!
We recommend plugging this device 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 2 even though it lights up.
That's because your mic requires phantom power which can be turned on and off on the device. On the bottom of the Mic Port is a small switch accessed through a cutout using a paperclip.
How can I keep my microphone stand's boom arm from drooping?
This is a common problem even on good quality stands. Without a counter-weight all that holds the boom is a ten-cent fiber washer. Our solution is the ABS, Adjustable Boom Stop. This simple strap system ensures the boom arm won't fall down potentially damaging your expensive microphone and also allows you to mark your favorite height settings.
Is there room for a script in the Porta-Booth Plus?
Yes, both models accommodate paper and scripts read on 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, is there a way to square it up?
There are four black half-inch hook and loop straps at the front corners of both our Porta-Booths set at a diagonal to adjust the shape and bring your booth 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 StatesPost Office Priority Mail. We've found it to be fast and reliable and rarelydelayed by customs.
What bit rate should I be recording my reads at? Should it be 16, 24, or 32?
24 bit is ideal.
I didn't see the answer to my question. Can I contact you?
If you did not find your answer above for quickest response you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or you can leave a message at (312) 945-6550 and we will respond as soon as we can.