Setting up a voice recording studio at home

Recently I was asked by the wonderful folks over at Makermet Studios to record a voice-over for an animation they made for a new app called MS Unite. I was thrilled as I have been keen to work more with my voice. For your entertainment, here is the video with my voice over then I’ll write a bit more about how I set up a voice recording studio at home. I’ll share you some tricks, tips and suggestions for kit.

I set up my kit on the desk in my office. My kit at the moment is:

  • Zoom H4N Pro
    which I use either as an interface or as a file storage device for the recordings. It has an external mic port which I connect my Rode Videomic to. It is also very easy for checking the audio recording levels to make sure my audio is both not peaking or near inaudible. Previously, I’ve been advised that between -3 and -12 is the safe zone. Around the -6 point seems to be ideal.
  • Rode Videomic
    which is a directional, condenser shotgun microphone. It has a handy screw-on attachment which can connect directly to the top of an SLR camera. I used my SLR to keep it steady. It can also connect via cable directly into the SLR microphone port if I wish to make video recordings with higher quality audio. The video and audio files will be merged to make it even easier for post editing. I have a ‘deadcat’ for the Rode Videomic too, this is a fluffy sheath that can be slid onto the mic over the foam sheath for extra noise reduction. This is particularly useful when recording outdoors.

Handy tip:

Put your hand in this shape.
Put your thumb near your mouth and your little finger to the mic.
This is a good mouth to mic distance for your recording.

When I sent a test recording to Alex over at Makermet, he said they could hear too much of the echo of the little room I was recording in. Their suggestions were putting cushions round the microphone. In my lo-fi setup, I used a vase and a plant pot to hold up the cushions either side of the microphone. We also realised a blanket would be a great idea to reduce echo from behind me. I set up two tripods, with one leg of each on the desk, as well as a mic stand behind me. This tripod of stands created a makeshift triangular den so I could drape a blanket over the stands and create a cushioned, mini studio within a studio. A meta-studio if you will. Here is a photo (sans blanket – just imagine a cosy cover draped over the stands!) of my rickety set up for your enjoyment.

If you seek any advice, wanna chat about your own set up or even have any advice for me, I’d love to hear from you.

My desired future kit:

  • Rode NT1 Condenser Mic Kit
    This mic is not directional so picks up sound from all around it. The pop shield is useful to avoid any popping sounds that would be picked up from fast air movement (mouth to mic). Having a flexi-screen would create a cushioned, studio-esque backdrop to reduce echo from sound deflecting off surrounding walls. Plus it looks super swanky!