• Angus Brennan

Best Equipment for Freelance Voice Over (2022)

Updated: Mar 15



There's never been a better time to get into the Voice Over industry.

The multi-billion dollar market is expected to grow by 56% between 2021 and 2026. Voice Overs are used widely in the entertainment industry with animation voice overs making up 50% of all voice over jobs.


Whether you're interested in starting your career as a freelance voice over artist, or want a fun new hobby, you will need some recording equipment to get started.


Bookmark this blog - It's your ultimate guide to the best equipment to invest in for voice overs. We've covered all bases - whether you've just started VO coaching, or you're wanting to spoil yourself with some new gear for your Birthday. Below is a list of recommended gear, including microphones, audio interfaces and all of the bits and pieces you'll need to get started.


We've grouped these into 3 tiers:

- Beginner (low budget)

- Intermediate (if you have a little more to spend)

- and Advanced - the gear we use every day in the ABVO studios.


For transparency; None of these products are sponsored, and we only recommend products that we have used. The links on this blog are Amazon Affiliate links.



Microphones


The microphone is arguably the most important tool in your setup.

As a blanket rule, we DO NOT recommend USB microphones of any type.

USB microphones are not as powerful as XLR microphones, and thus don't capture the full spectrum of sound.



Best Beginner Microphone - SE X1A Condenser Microphone ($152)


This is our pick for newbies. It's a really easy to use condenser XLR microphone. It doesn't take batteries, so it requires phantom power to run - see audio interfaces for more info on that.


For its price, the sound this mic captures is comparable to a microphone twice its price.


From SE's website:

"With a newly-developed condenser capsule and an exterior based on the rugged metal chassis of the X1, the X1 A offers first-class sound & specifications at an even better "home studio" cost, featuring an extremely natural frequency response, massive SPL-handling capabilities (150dB!), switchable attenuation and low-cut filters, and a perfectly balanced sensitivity level - so it's at home on absolutely any source."


You can also get this microphone in red and white via Amazon: https://amzn.to/3Cdincv




Best Intermediate Microphone - RØDE NT-1A Cardioid Condenser Microphone ($249)


For those prepared to spend a little more on a microphone, you won't be disappointed by the performance of the RØDE NT-1A Cardioid Condenser microphone.


This microphone is famous for its warmth and extended dynamic range, capturing frequencies from 20Hz to 20kHz.


From RØDE's website:

"With a self-noise level of only 5dBA, the NT-1A it is widely recognised as one the world's quietest studio microphones. This low noise makes it an ideal vocal microphone as well as perfect for recording guitars and percussion."


This microphone comes with an included shock-mount, pop filter and XLR cable via Amazon: https://amzn.to/3hyC45b




Best Advanced Microphone (what we use) - Sennheiser MKH416 Shotgun Microphone ($1,000+)



What do we use? Only the best.

The Sennheiser MKH416 is widely known as the world's best voice over microphone, and for its price - you'd hope so.


This microphone is super directional, and captures the voice with excellent clarity and precision.


We love that it only captures what's directly in front of it, making it great for use in imperfect recording environments. It picks up EVERYTHING in front of it, so make sure you've had enough water and done your warm ups.


From Sennheiser's website:

"Its excellent directivity and compact design, high consonant articulation and feedback rejection make the MKH 416 a superb all-round microphone for film, radio and television, especially for outside broadcast applications."


Buy this microphone on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3pEn1Ly


This microphone also benefits from an awesome pop filter called the Octo-842s. Check it out here: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1181606-REG/the_hook_studios_thpf842s_front_address_pop_filter.html




Audio Interfaces


Audio Interfaces allow a powerful XLR microphone to connect with your computer, to input audio and also supply power to the microphone. They have external gain control dials and allow you to tweak your sound on the fly.



Best Beginner Audio Interface - Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 ($75)


The Behringer U-PHORIA UM2 is our pick for the top interface for beginners. It's compact, SUPER easy to use and does everything it says on the packet.


For a really great price, you get 1 XLR input, 1 quarter-inch instrument input, headphone output and L&R output at the back for studio monitors. It can also supply phantom power to microphones that require it.


From Behringer's website:

"We’re kicking it up a notch with the amazing UM2, an ultra-compact 2 x 2, 48 kHz USB interface with a studio-grade XENYX Mic Preamp, combination XLR/ TRS input for your vocal or line input and an additional ¼" Instrument Input (no DI box required)."


Buy it now on Amazon: https://amzn.to/37jULrl



Best Intermediate Audio Interface - Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 ($272)


The Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 is a brilliant piece of hardware that we recommend to any voice over artists, podcasters and musicians.


This model comes with 2 dual mic/instrument inputs and can supply phantom power to both simultaneously, perfect for podcasting!


From Focusrite's website:

"Scarlett’s best-selling interface – millions of musicians use 2i2 to write and record every day. Featuring natural sounding 3rd Gen mic preamps, and Air, emulating our original ISA preamps, 2i2 is getting musicians the most from their mics everywhere, all the time. It’s like writing in a studio."


The Focusrite Scarlett comes in 3 versions, 'Solo' with 1 mic input, '2i2' with 2 mic inputs and the '4i4' with 4. Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3hUFRd7



Best Advanced Audio Interface (what we use) - Zoom H6 ($494)


What do we use to power our microphones? This brilliant piece of Japanese hardware.


The Zoom H6 works as multiple devices at the same time. It can be used as a USB Interface, recording up to 6 microphones at once and also as a portable multi-track recorder.

That essentially means that it's a hand-held recording studio!


We never leave the house without this piece of gear, because it can record over 20 hours of audio onto it's SD card.


On Zoom's website:

"The H6 is the ultimate portable recorder. With its advanced preamps and interchangeable capsules, the H6 delivers unmatched versatility and award-winning quality."


Buy the slick 'all black' 2020 model on Amazon: https://amzn.to/35OwSaR



Accessories


To go along with your shiny new microphone and interface, you're going to need a couple of bits and pieces to connect everything up.


XLR Micorphone cable (approx $12)



XLR Cables are the only way to connect your microphone to your audio interface. They provide balanced sound and can transmit power to your microphone as well.


The price depends on the length of cable you need. If in doubt, longer is better than shorter.


Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/34twwFZ




Headphones - Sennheiser HD280 Pro ($230)



When it comes to monitoring yourself as you record voice overs, we highly recommend getting a pair of Sennheiser HD280 Pro headphones.

The pair we use in the studio every day have lasted us 7 years and are still going strong.


They sound great, have great noise-cancellation and they're really comfortable too.


Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3I5JUOA



Microphone stand - On-Stage Tripod Boom Stand ($55)



The mic stand you buy will depend on the space you have available. If you have the space, we highly recommend a boom stand like this one, so you can stand and record.


Standing to record voice overs makes it easier to take full, diaphragm breaths


Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/34t6hPY




Microphone clamp - Neewer Microphone Arm Stand ($41)


If you don't have the space for a tripod microphone stand, Neewer sell a fantastic clamp stand which screws onto any desk.

This is a great idea for podcasters, gamers too, as it can be maneuvered easily and positioned in front of a computer screen.


Note: make sure your microphone doesn't exceed the weight limit of the arm.


Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3vVijgr



Studio Monitors - Yamaha HS5 Pair ($749)



When listening back to recordings and productions, it's important to hear the sound as clearly as possible. Good studio monitors are the best way to do that.


The Yamaha HS5s are a pair of brilliant studio monitors which are created specifically to deliver a 'flat' playback. That means that what comes out is exactly what went in.


These are the smallest in the HS line of speakers, but you wouldn't guess that from their output.


Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3sWuGXx

These speakers also benefit from sitting on acoustic isolation pads, to reduce table noise: https://amzn.to/3IYSxM4



Acoustic Treatment - Ohuhu Foam Acoustic Treatment ($38/6 panels)

Acoustic treatment can be tricky in the beginning, but here are the basics:

Try to record in as small of a room as possible, and covering as many hard, flat surfaces as you can.


For those on a budget, a walk in wardrobe is ideal as you can surround yourself with clothes and soft material.


The clap test will soon tell you if your space is ideal to record in.


If you're still having echo issues, we recommend investing in some foam panels to stick on your walls. These will stop any echo and make the space 'dead' meaning sound will only be coming from you, not the room.

Buy on Amazon: https://amzn.to/3I0Dhg6




To hear the quality you can expect from making a few of these investments, check out the portfolio page on the ABVO website.


Blog written by Angus Brennan, director of ABVO Brisbane


About Angus:

Angus Brennan is one of Australia's top voice over artists. Beginning in community radio at age 12, he worked hard to independently produce a radio show featuring local talent from the area. ​He has a background in podcast editing and completed the Advanced Diploma in Radio course from AFTRS in 2015. ​It's Angus's goal to connect with clients, their customers and listeners through audio and voice.
Read more about Angus and ABVO here.


34 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All