Business of VO: The Truth of Home Recording

Want a professional home studio? Awesome, that’ll be $10k. What?!? You DON’T have $10k in your wallet? Hmm. Well, I guess we’ll have to get creative…

Seriously, guys – professional sounding booths DON’T have to break the bank! As a matter of fact, both Anne and Gabby have built their own booths!

Pure DIY greatness and here’s the kicker – no one can tell! In this episode, these ladies let you in on their bargain finding secrets, break down how they set up their studios and what they think the BIGGEST truth about home recording is.

Check out Episode 14: The Truth of Home Recording on iTunes, Stitcher or YouTube!


Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:

  1. You don’t have to pay a ton of money to get a great performing booth, there is a ton you can DIY.

  2. You can get used equipment from a pawn shop, just make sure they have a return policy if the mic doesn’t work for you.

  3. You have to invest some money. Get a decent starting mic and upgrade your equipment as you get more money.

  4. The best mic won’t matter unless you have sound dampening.

  5. To have good sound dampening, you need to make sure there are no flat surfaces for the sound to bounce off.

  6. You can google ideas and plans for budget friendly DIY booths that you can make at home with power tools.

Tweet This

Share ideas with your own network ++

You can DIY a good home studio without breaking the bank! #VOBOSS Click To Tweet

The best mic will sound bad in a poorly treated place! #VOBOSS Click To Tweet

You can upgrade to fancier mics as your career progresses! #VOBOSS Click To Tweet

Referenced in this Episode

Direct links to things we brought up ++

  1. Guitar Center Used Gear

  2. The Rode Nt1 is a good starter mic!

  3. Save money on a Mac by going for refurbished

  4. Sam Ash Used Gear

Full Episode Transcript

VO: Today’s voiceover talent is more than just a pretty voice. Today’s voiceover talent has to be a boss. A VO B.O.S.S. Set yourself up with business owners strategies and success, with your host Anne Ganguzza, along with some of the strongest voices in our industry. Rock your business like a boss. A VO B.O.S.S.

Anne: Hey everybody. Welcome to the VO B.O.S.S. Business Owner Strategies & Success podcast. I’m Anne Ganguzza along with my lovely wonderful co-host, Gabby Nistico.

Gabby:   Hello.

Anne: And today’s episode, guess what we’re talking about, Gabby?

Gabby:   Mm.

Anne: It’s going to be the secret. No. The truth.

Gabby:   Oh no!

Anne: The truth abouthome studios.

Gabby:   Home studios. I love it.

Anne: The truth about home studios.

Gabby:   Oh man. Alright.

Anne: Gabby, is there a truth or are there multiple truths?

Gabby:   I’m going to strap in for this one, kiddies. I mean, I do believe there are multiple truths, absolutely.

Anne: But what’s the biggest truth?

Gabby:   The biggest truth. Okay, so…

Anne: If I can say what I think the biggest truth about home studios is…

Gabby:   I… Oh man, go ahead, go ahead.

Anne: You don’t have to pay a ton of money to get a great performing booth.

Gabby:   Amen. Amen to that.

Anne: Acoustic space.

Gabby:   Here’s the deal. And I mean again, we see this a lot. We see the stress and we see the anxiety.

Anne: Tears. Tears. I had tears, Gabby, when I first started.

Gabby:   And also I see a lot of what I call dumbassery. I’m sorry, guys. I mean, here’s, okay…

Anne: As opposed to be badassery, because VO bosses are badass. So let’s make, let’s go from dumbassery to badassery.

Gabby:   Absolutely. That is the goal. So, the truth about home recording really comes down to this. There’s a lot of things that you can DIY, and we’re going to talk about those in this podcast. And there are a lot of things that you can save money on simply by being smart. And also, and this is probably I think the most important, if it works it works, regardless of whatever anyone else has to say or what their viewpoint or other thoughts are. Sound quality is a non-disputable thing. It’s either good or it isn’t. So when we focus on objective information, all the subjective stuff, like aesthetics no longer matters.

Anne: Well, and if I can just populate that a little bit with your equipment is not necessarily what’s going to make you sound better. Better equipment, more money you pay for the equipment may not necessarily make you sound better, I think it’s the treatment.

Gabby:   Yeah. So let’s start with some basics on this. Let’s talk about the actual equipment stuff. I’m not going to get super technical in this episode, because it’s not about that. This is understanding that while, no, you can’t cut major corners here, and you can’t buy cheap crappy equipment and think that good things are going to happen. This is about understanding that there’s decent and the minimum requirement and then there’s extravagant. Okay? And you have to start your studio venture in this process of recording with an understanding of how much you can afford to invest based on what you make in voiceover. If you make nothing in voiceover currently then you cannot justify the extravagant purchases and items. You save those for later. In the course of my voiceover journey I’ve had five different microphones, I have had a half dozen different interfaces. I have had so many computers, I’ve lost count.

Anne: Yeah. I’m about par for the course there with you, Gabby. I’ve got five different mics myself, a few different interfaces. You’re right. Boy, I worked with a really non-expensive, inexpensive microphone and not an extravagant one for about six years and it worked flawlessly for me.

Gabby:   You will slowly but surely evolve and invest in better equipment when you can justify the investment. So, assuming that you are sticking with some basic minimums and understanding that a Rode NT1A microphone or Rode NT1 is a couple hundred bucks and a decent investment–

Anne: That was my mic.

Gabby:   Yeah. A good beginner mic.

Anne: That’s mine, six years.

Gabby:   You can totally do that. The other thing I say about equipment purchases is this. Buying brand new is great because things do come with warranties. However, when we talk about smarts and we talk about what’s necessary for starting out… Let’s be honest, okay. eBay is awesome. You can find some smoking great deals on used audio equipment. Sam Ash and Guitar Center both have used gear departments and their used gear carries a warranty, and you can find smoking good deals that way.

Anne: And I’m going to say not just microphones but all equipment that you’re using. Even computers, like refurbished Apple computers. Because if you buy AppleCare and the warranty, you’re good as gold.

Gabby:   Yeah. I personally I’m a PC girl and that’s part of the reason why, it’s budget consciousness. It’s not…

Anne: And I’m an Apple girl. I just need to say that. Gabby, you’re a PC girl and I’m an Apple girl. We’re both good at each other.

Gabby:   Yeah. It’s totally fine. We live in harmony. See, it’s totally fine. And our recordings both sound great. So, who cares?

Anne: Yes, they do. And we can get good deals on our computer equipment.

Gabby:   Oh my gosh! I’ll tell you guys this. Things like headphones, I almost never buy brand new headphones because I will tell you one of my best secrets for buying really great equipment at awesome prices. And sometimes I get like, I’m waiting for the corkscrew face is what I call it, when people scringe their face up like a corkscrew. Pawnshops. Pawnshops. I am not somebody who on any normal given day drives down the road and sees a pawn store and goes, “Oh, let’s go shopping.” No, that’s not me. But, pawnshops have an incredible amounts of equipment and gear, and where does it come from? Musicians, bands, DJ’s, all kinds of folks from all kinds of walks of life and I’m going to tell you something, everything from fantastic condenser microphones, to headphones, to interfaces, can be found for amazing prices. So pawnshops do at least carry most of them a 30 to 90 day warranty. So you take it home, you hook it up, if it doesn’t work you bring it back.

Anne: I love that. Gabby, but my corkscrew face needs to ask. Do you change the ear… If you’re buying headphones, are you changing out the pads?

Gabby:   I feel like condition is pretty easy thing to assess on something like that. I’m not going to buy like a grody pair of headphones. That being said, okay. When you work in a public radio station and you don’t have your own headphones, you’re constantly sharing, so I’m going to tell you right now there’s not alcohol and Purell can’t kill.

Anne: Excellent point. That’s exactly what I was going for. What would you do… Yeah, alcohol and Purell. I love it.

Gabby:   Totally. Which is really the same thing. Purell is just alcohol in gel form.

Anne: Exactly.

Gabby:   For some reason it makes people more secure, I don’t know.

Anne: Well, and I want to add on too. Like, the pawnshops, I wouldn’t actually not have… You know what, I don’t see many pawnshops near me, but, in my area, but I love the idea that you brought that up, there’s also Facebook forums that people in the industry are selling their old equipment. You can get great deals on that.

Gabby:   Totally.

Anne: You don’t have to buy new.

Gabby:   No. And if you’re not in an area where you see a lot of pawnshops, just look them up. I’m telling you, they’re near you. They’re probably in a part of town you don’t go to or visit very often. Go during the day, but bring a buddy. But I’m telling you, it’s where to find like amazing, amazing stuff. So that’s one or a handful of options and solutions and ways to buy your equipment a little bit smarter than the average bear. Because the thing about equipment that I want you guys to keep in mind is, it is some ways like buying a car. I don’t buy new cars, I buy used cars. Why am I going to take a depreciation hit, let somebody else do it. I would much rather have a certified Honda off the lot. Used Honda from Honda that comes with a certified warranty and I don’t take a depreciation on. So, yeah, I have an easier time getting out of that loan, selling that car later if I want to. Same thing with equipment.

Anne: Well, let’s talk now, now that we’ve talked about equipment. Now let’s just say if you wanted… Well even if you wanted to buy new, let’s say a relatively inexpensive microphone, it’s not horrendous. However, let’s talk about the money that I know people have been spending on these booths should I say. I personally have a DIY booth that I built, which I absolutely love, and I’ve had multiple audio engineers tell me that it is some of the best sound that they’ve heard come out of a booth. And they’ve been all over the place listening to other voice talent’s environments. And so, you can buy these booths for kind of an extravagant amount of money. And I’m going to say that if you don’t want to build it yourself and you’re just going for the convenience, you’re still got to put it together, number one. Usually the shipping on these booths are prohibitive. It’s just out of control.

Gabby:   The whole this is prohibitive. If anybody out there got it.

Anne: Well, I was going to say. And not only are they prohibitive because they’re a big huge monstrosities, or even if they’re the size of a phone booth, they’re still heavy. And your shipping cost are going to be incredible, unless you’re buying a used one of those. You also, for a lot of those booths you have to actually treat the inside. So it’s not unlike, you could go and buy some PVC piping and hang blankets, there’s all sorts of different ideas. I have a very crafty father who went to Home Depot and built my booth, and we did it from scratch, and it’s an amazing thing and it costs a third. Maybe a third of what these other booths costs.

Gabby:   So everybody is going to put their construction hat on and we’re going to talk about how this works, because it’s pretty simple. If you’ve looked at the cost of pre-fabricated or modular studios. Don’t get me wrong, guys. They look amazing.

Anne: They do.

Gabby:   Aesthetically very pleasing, alright? But, you’ve probably seen price tags that range, and this is all inclusive with shipping, with the acoustic treatment, five to 10,000 dollars. It is absurd. Now, here’s the reality, and, Anne, I’m right there with you. My booth is a DIY and I have the same scenario. I have had my booth assessed by some of the most reputable techies in voiceover and have literally been told, “Oh my God, it’s phenomenal. “Whatever you’re doing, keep doing it.” And I kind of giggle quietly in the background, because if they only knew how it was put together. So here’s the thing. If you have some use of power tools, if you know and understand how to use basic power tools and you’re not afraid of Home Depot, then–