Guilty as charged.
In the past few years I’ve become more and more of a gearhead. I like to look at new audio equipment; I like to read about it and I like listening to sound samples.
On any given day, I have to spend at least a few minutes studying reviews, gazing at pictures and drooling over obscure objects with buttons, switches, cables and meters.
Dear Abby: Is this weird and should I be worried?
I mean, my equipment is fine. There’s nothing wrong with my microphone and I don’t need another preamp. For a voice-over like myself, a simple studio setup will suffice, so why am I staring at all this stuff?
I know I’m not alone.
My photographer friends are always looking for the latest cameras, the best lenses or software that will revolutionize the industry. Musicians wonder what they would sound like on a new instrument. Professional chefs can’t wait to get their hands on a new set of sharp-looking knives. Even quilters go gaga over new gadgets. Why is that?
Matt Forrest says
Good points, Paul. Whenever I see a newbie asking ‘what type of mic should I use?’ or ‘how can I reduce noise in my bedroom-studio?’ I almost don’t know where to start!
Ted Mcaleer says
You are right on Matt… And I’ve been there too. I researched a new mic for almost 7 months before making up my mind and pulling the trigger. But like Paul points out, it’s the entire chain. This mic is near silent, but my cheap preamp is making noise. Didn’t matter so much with the other mic I used. So signal chain is important. Paul also mentioned a “Tune up” with the guys from EWABS… After I get settled in with my new gear that is up to the specs I’ve researched, I’m going to do just that.
Another thing I wanted to mention is that as a VO, our mic needs and preamp are different than that of a rock singer. So if it works well for one does that translate into a WIN for A VO? Well, Paul here will tell you. That’s why the blog is so important to me. Solid, unbiased reviews of stuff that works for me in what I do.
Now if this darn money printer would just work!!!
Dan Friedman says
I believe that it is important to try before you buy and compare all options to the industry standards. Does a $1000 microphone sound $700 better than a $300 microphone? If not, than maybe the $300 microphone is enough. In voiceover, buy the best sounding gear you can afford at the time and when your ready to upgrade, only do so if it truly is an upgrade in sound… not just expense.
BTW – I will also be happy to listen and help you evaluate your mic choices, or anything else in your studio.
As always… great article Paul!
Paul, you knocked it outta da park, as usual! Thanks for this timely post, as I’m heading over to a friend’s house today to help her set up her recording chain and environment. Of course I’m turning her over to Dan and George when it’s all set up, so she can get the fine-tuning perfect. But your points are all salient and well-said. Thanks.
Marc Scott says
One of my goals for 2013 is to purchase a new microphone, and to be honest, I find the prospects of this overwhelming.
If I ask 10 colleagues for their opinion I know I will get 10 different responses. If I read 10 different web site reviews of the same microphone, I know I’ll get 10 entirely different perspectives.
Frankly, it’s one of the reasons why I haven’t upgraded my microphone yet. I just get so frustrated with the over-abundance of info that I “put it off until next year.”
Thanks for your wisdom Paul, as always. I’ll be referring back to this post again when I’m ready to do some shopping.
Dan Lenard says
Thank you for the plug! Despite what people think, I’m anything but a gear head. I always tell people to keep it simple and not to over think it. Bottom line? Great gear is nice, and reliable. However, great gear doesn’t get you work. Work gets you great gear. Investing in higher end gear doesn’t help your reads. Investing in your skills does. Learning on value gear teaches you how to use the better stuff. But consider this… If you had a u87 and you were competing with Jim Tasker or Or Beau Weaver, or Bill Ratner or Scott Brick all using a Snowball, (Properly) guess who would probably win the gig?
Paul Strikwerda says
@Dan F. I’ve added you to my list of experts in the article, Dan. You’re always a great resource, and tons of fun to work with too! @Ann: Tell us about the recording chain you’re setting up. As a gearhead, I need to know! @Mark: You probably know I love the CAD E100S microphone. It has consistently had great reviews and I know a handful of VO-artists who agree with me.
@Dan L. Forget the U87. My angelic voice can make a snowball melt, and of course I’d win the gig if I had one 😉 I get your point, though, and I agree to a certain degree. An expensive microphone is not going to make a crappy audition sound any better. It will probably bring out the best of the worst. However, a great read that’s recorded in an amateurish way doesn’t get any points either. In a time where home studios have become the norm, we have to be able to deliver clean and clear audio, as well as an artistic performance…. but why am I telling this to the Home Studio Master….
Helen Lloyd says
Oh Paul …. Paul, Paul, you are such a bad influence! Just when I think I am satisfied (ish) with my set up … I read this and I am already surfing to see what I need/can afford/can justify. Get thee behind me ………….. ! I need to earn more money in 2013.
Oh Happy New Year by the way!
Paul Strikwerda says
Let’s gear up for a great New Year, Helen! Wishing you all the best for a prosperous 2013.
George Whittam says
Yeah, thanks for the plug, Paul! You save me from having to write this stuff. Swap in a Shure pg42usb for the snowball in Dans example, and it’s right on the money.
Paul Strikwerda says
@George: You’re welcome. I’m enjoying the EWABS show very much, every Sunday night, this was the least I could for you and Dan.
@Philip: That was a SEE…REE…US…LEE funny comment. My neighbors are two of those “noise boys”. They have every kind of power tool invented by mankind. Until I finally built my home studio, these guys pretty much determined my work schedule, as well as my sleep pattern.
Philip Banks says
It’s about the “signal chain”, the chain of signals a VO sends out to potential clients. Note that I am not talking about the things you record but the signals you send.
Go to any VO chatter web site and search for “leaf blower”. Every VO I know records from a sound proof accousitcallallly kreckt digital booth. 99% of the VOs I know have complained about noise from outside gittin’ in.
Every VO I know swears by the Hulk Hogan WWF V1 mic …It’s as good as a Neumann U87ai GTI Turbo cabriolet. If that’s true why do they change it when they’ve made a few dollars?
Gear junkiness! Leave it for the nerds but make sure that the signals you send out say that you are a …..(sorry leaf blower) SAY….THAT…YOU…..ARE…….A…PRO…WHO..TAKES …(for goodness sake Dave turn the ****ing thing off!)…SORRY WHERE WAS I? …WHO TAKES ….EVERY… PART …OF…WHAT…THEY…DO …..SEE …REEE..US…LEE!
I’ve got a sore throat now!
Rick Lance says
Oh, just go ahead and spoil it for us, Paul!
I can’t help it. Over the years I’ve become a bit of a mic collector. Although, not as bad as many I know here in Nashville. At least I keep track of what each mic’s sound is that I like. And sometimes try them out on other voices. Fact is, there are so many great mics out there now that a single voice can sound great on many of them. Bringing it down to personal choices.
Just yesterday, when I upgraded my DSL to Uverse, the AT&T installer asked me what mics would work best in his friend’s new music recording studio. I gave him a quick run down of what I have, told him to go to one of the great music stores we have here and test a few side by side. Then basically do what I used to tell people when I had my commercial photo studio and was asked about which 35mm camera to buy. I’d say, “The one that feels the most comfortable in your hands. That one will take the best pictures.” Same goes for mics and ears!