Simple! For the last five years I was looking into Home Studios. Do I do a have a make shift one under the stairs? What about a pro one specifically made for me out in a shed? Or do I buy the one you make like lego – A StudioBricks?
I went for tier 3 and have never looked back. Here is more info on my studio and some voiceovers that I’m delighted to have recorded in my studio recently.
When we were all locked down, voiceover artists that already had home studios were in a seriously good situation. Suddenly, oh I’ll have a guess at 70% (and probably more) of us voiceover artists in the UK were out the mix for casting and delivering work. We couldn’t get to studios…because they were shut! The world was shut. I’m sure those voiceover artists worked like crazy making hay while the sun was shining. And good for them. Their forward thinking and investment in themselves and their career paid off. We all deserve those moments.
I’ve been doing voiceovers for…oooh well over ten years with my agents in London and Australia. If I got voiceovers through online casting websites I would go to Cheap As Chips in London which is a fantastic studio. It’s part of The Sound Company so proper profesh, but affordable for individuals. There I’d work with an engineer and we’d have my clients on the phone or in person and we’d do our thing.
Then a funny thing happened. I was nominated by The One Voice Awards for a radio commercial I did for an app called Go Out London. A lifestyle app telling you cool places to go that I recorded with a regular client Global Media. This was quite a surprise and one of those emails you read with half an eye open in the morning…that really wakes you up. Was it spam? Was my first thought. No, a real life nomination for “Radio – Commercials Best Performance – Female.” Crumbs. I didn’t know much about One Voice or their company Gravy For The Brain but I saw they had a One Voice Conference on and I thought sure let’s roll the dice. I’d done lots of things like this for acting, writing but never a conference, workshops in voiceovers and god forbit meeting another voiceover artist! We just passed each other by in Soho, undercover like secret agents, secret noise at the ready.
I have spent my voiceover career in the TV, Radio, Online commercials space and of course kept the lights on with Corporates. I’d also really enjoyed Radio Drama. I really didn’t know much about E Learning or Audiobooks and I was just getting into Gaming and Animation. So my eyes were out on stalks at the conference!
I guess the industry has changed a lot in the last 10 years but I’ve been happy in my commercial and corporate bubble that has helped me to fund and tour my one person shows. Here’s a link to my shows and my press should you be interested!
So I was fascinated finding out about these other areas of voiceovers and the industry – you had to brand yourself?! Plus I loved hearing stories, techniques and practical how to guides from wonderful, inspirational performers, agents, directors and producers in the industry. After the conference that was it – I was getting a studio. I dug out my research and rang the studios I worked in: Jungle, Grand Central, Cheap As Chips, Scramble – all were so helpful about equipment they had and liked. I had a list. It looked expensive.
Then I rang some producers / sound engineers I worked with for the main questions – do I make a studio of my own or do I buy a ready-made one? Apparently if you’re going to build a box within a box and get the sound right, you could be looking up to about £15-20K BUT it wouldn’t be able to be moved…if you moved house type thing. The ready-made ones could be dismantled and rebuilt elsewhere….and were nearer £10,000. If it’s an investment into my career and future I thought, it might as well last as long as possible. Alice at Black Cat and Acousti Cabins is so helpful about StudioBricks. Basically she changed my life by helping me buy mine (through a loan from my parents and I’m due to be paying them back 25% of what I earn…which I must start soon…after the website is launched!)
What you wouldn’t think about is, if you’re not having your studio on the ground floor – you might need a structural engineer to check that your floor will take the weight. I was quoted a £700 to a grand!! In the end I didn’t need it The Universe weirdly send a structural engineer to my house for some other thing I was investigating and he gave me the OK. After you’ve worked out you’re not going to collapse your house, you’re good to go!
Here is the list of what I needed and now I’m cooking with gas… Oh, you need someone to help you build it – my amazing removal men helped me from Brighton’s Love Removals and Rob Bee helped me set it up inside.
StudioBricks Fan Ventilator
StudioBricks VO Addition – Full VO kit
Neuman TLM 103 Mic
Pop shield or Mic Wind protector.
Beyerdynamic DT770 headphones
Audient interface ID14Macbook Pro ( had already)
Stool to sit on inside the booth that won’t make a noise and is material and wood preferably.
Monitor for inside the booth to run the sessions / edit as you don’t want your computer in the studio as when they get hot the fan makes a sound. That will ALWAYS happen when you have a job. Never when you don’t…you know the drill!Editing chair outside the booth – something comfortable!
Wireless keyboard – to talk to your computer outside the studio
Wireless mouse – ditto
Monitor – editing desk
Broadband powerline adaptor – run broadband to studio room through electric sockets from router
Adobe Audition (or Pro Tools – if you want to record to video)
Source Connect Standard account and set up feeSource Connect Now accountZoom Skype
Loopback – playback software
Studio install external
Studio install internal PLUS VAT!
Once it’s all working you need to know how to frigging work it!! Cue Rob Bee at B Double E who helped me set mine up. We had an initial editing lesson and he was always there for those “HELP!” moments at the beginning…and a bit in the middle….where you realise you haven’t switched something on or turned it up or something embarrassing!
Then there are things you pick up along the way, like:
1.Restart your computer before every job just to be on the safe side.
2.Close Adobe Audition when you plug the studio in again to your laptop, unplug the interface, wait, re plug it in, then open Adobe and hey presto – in your Adobe Preferences it will find your interface again.
3.If you can’t hear audio, open the interface dashboard and check the headphones dial is up, mine always turns off when I haven’t used it and I used to have a mild heart attack until I worked this out / Rob told me. Or check your audio icon in your menu bar is set to your interface not internal speakers. Had a couple of those Faceplant moments…
4.I have a troubleshooting list of things to check – like how your playback software should be set up and the settings for all the different connection options. Because when you’re in the middle of a job and the client’s internet goes down and they drop off the call, you will have the biggest anxiety rush and you’ll know: that’s it you, it’s your fault and your studio is broken and they’ll never book you again, you probably won’t ever work again, EVER. So when something happens, and it will, I just breathe, and go through my checks that I wrote when I was sane and I know it’s not me.
5.Even if a client says it is you, you can calmly go through your checks and say things are all good your side and help them trouble shoot. For example- why they have an echo ( coz they aren’t wearing earphones and there’s two of them on the call in the room) or it’s best you have the same setting on Source Connect Now – either all have Best or whatever is OK for their internet. And as we all know from the IT Crowd – have you tried switching it on and switching it off again. A reboot of your laptop sometimes sorts things.
That’s my top 5! I know Rob does a great webinar on Gravy For The Brain about how to use a studio so I’ll hand the baton over I’m holding weirdly!
Don’t get me wrong, I had a couple of times when I sat on the floor and cried becuase I was knackered and couldn’t work something and all this investment and I couldn’t do it…blah blah blah… but it is a new skill – being an audio engineer and an editor for voiceover artists. So I try to be patient with myself and if I’m stuck I call Rob!
What is amazing about having a home studio is I’m learning and finessing how to give my clients ( and me!) the best possible experience.