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So this is a somewhat hypothetical question. I am possibly partnering with someone who is interested in getting a VO room and Control Room going. We collectively agree on charging a rate in the area of 100-150/hr for VO track and editing. Room soundproofing and treatment is something I have somewhat already figured out for the rooms we will be utilizing.

Equipment is what I am curious about, specifically from those guys that have or do operate in that dollar per hour amount.

I have been slowly building up my equipment as the projects come and I can afford it. I have been asked to make a wish list. Here is the gear I currently have.

A custom Self built PC- Quad Core 3 ghz, win 7, 8 gb ram, SSD, and 3 other internal drives for Programs, Projects, Media. 2 monitors and a 42" plasma for picture viewing. I have another monitor that will be mounted in the VO room to display lines/picture etc. PT9 and Nuendo 5

I/O- M audio Profire 2626 Event 8 Reference monitors. Yamaha 01v Mackie Control RE20

both of my rooms, control and vo are roughly 10'x8' with 7.6' ceilings

The very weird concern I have, is how much do equipment stereotypes come into play in that price range? For what I have paid for my equipment, they have performed great, but I just do not know the next level.

I personally prefer PCs but I understand Mac is a staple, and my partner wants a mac. So which parts would you say were essential to upgrade/replace and which would be allowed to slide for a little bit.

What would your wish list be, within reason, to go for clients in the 100-150/hr price range. I currently charge people 50/hr to design and edit and I am doing this out of my bedroom with the above noted equipment and no special room treatments. If there are any special plugins you would have in mind. I already know I want a better reverb. If my I/O moves up to something that can support TDM then revibe is on the list as well as altiverb. My tracking room will be very dead due to it being too small to be nice live.

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Personally, I don't like M-Audio very much, so my first choice would be to buy a Lynx Aurora as audio interface instead. Can be made to work with both Nuendo and Pro Tools!

I do a lot of both voice-over and ADR, and I try to keep it simple. I have a PC with Lynx-interfaces, a simple but reliable and good sounding pre-amp (Lynx-interfaces are pretty much basically DAC/ADC's and nothing else), both picture and audio monitoring (audio via an old but trusty Soundtracs-console) for both me, the director (if he/she's actually there), and the ADR-victim, and of course a mic that matches the already recorded material if it's ADR. And I use Nuendo.

I'd say, at least from my experiences, that it's not as much a matter of what equipment you have (though it must be professional, of course) as much as what the costumer will leave with. You might very well have the most gnarly equipment ever created, but chances are the director will not have a clue what it is anyway, and will only look at how professional an impression you will give, and how good the material will sound. Probably pretty much in that order. It's never a bad thing to have a lot of cool gear, it sure impresses some people, but the price, I must say, is more a matter of your abilities as a technician and less of equipment.

  • Is your dislike for M-audio apply to certain products or their whole line, and why? Was it a bad experience in the past, etc. – Michael Gilbert Nov 10 '12 at 16:44
  • I dont dislike M-Audio, I'm just not very fond of them as they're way too consumer for my taste. Nowadays, that is. I did however start out with a Microtrack, and had a lot of fun with it! When trying to raise the bar though, the first thing I'd do (and frankly did quite some years ago), would be to make sure the audio interface and monitoring system would be as good as possible and build from there. – Christian van Caine Nov 11 '12 at 0:51
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Before you focus on gear, make sure that the acoustic treatment of your VO booth (and your control room) is exactly how you want it. Racks can be filled, plugins can be downloaded, yadda yadda — but if you have acoustic anomalies or noise leakage in your recording or listening rooms then you will not be able to get the best out of your gear. Knowing that your VO booth is reflection- and background-noise-free will cause fewer headaches and potential client complaints down the road.

I also agree with Christian that the M-audio is a less-than-stellar choice of an A-D converter. Moreover, it's more I/O than you usually need need for a Voiceover session. It might not be a bad idea to keep it around for a situation when you need 8 inputs or outputs, but from the size of your VO booth it sounds like you will typically be recording no more than 1 or 2 people at a time. I would make those two recording chains as pure and reliable as possible:

  1. Clean mic (e.g., Neumann TLM-103, U89)
  2. Clean preamp (e.g., Grace m101, Millenia HV-3C)
  3. High-quality converter (e.g. Apogee interface, Benchmark ADC1)
  4. DAW

Some of these examples are up there in price, but I've always found them to be reliable for getting a clean recording into your DAW... a good, simple starting place to expand upon.

Cheers,
~Matt

  • I agree with the studio treatment. Currently I am planning putting a second layer of drywall 5/8" with Green Glue compound in between on all walls and ceiling. Sealing with Acoustic Caulk, replacing doors with solid wood doors with seals and auto door jams. Putting layers of drywall on the doors with Green glue. Then going to be treating it with rockwool 703 and 705 and some superchunk bass trapping to smooth the room responses. Tomorrow I plan on measuring what the current STC of the walls are and seeing if my plan will get me to a decent area. Not sure how to approach the windows though – Michael Gilbert Nov 10 '12 at 23:39
  • As for equipment, the mic, pre, and a/d converters are what I am unsure about. I need the outputs the profire offers for surround mixing but do not see the need to have that many INs. Talkback and things of that sort can be done with the 01v. It seems apogee is a mac only thing, we are going to be using my system for awhile and see where it goes. – Michael Gilbert Nov 10 '12 at 23:42
  • I do have access to things like Sound devices MM1 pre, A couple of old Nagras and just not roll tape. For commercials and movie trailer style VO would having Nagras or something like an avalon pre be a mistake? My spending priorities currently are Room >Mic>Pre>AD>System and bells and whistles. – Michael Gilbert Nov 11 '12 at 0:00
  • The thing with the converter is that it's easy to want to buy a mustang where you only need a nice Hyundai to get you from A to B. If you have a perfect room with the best talent in the business and a producer with ears like Mozart, then the converter MIGHT make a difference. If any of those elements are lacking, you'll have a thin wallet for no reason. It's really up to you to decide how prepared you want to be for a creative situation where tiny sonic details matter. If most of your work is in YouTube commercials then I wouldn't worry about perfect AD conversion. Definitely shoot for a ... – Matt Glenn Nov 11 '12 at 16:56
  • ... High quality mic and pre collection, though. Those two interact with each other in much more noticeable ways, especially when it comes to noise levels. – Matt Glenn Nov 11 '12 at 16:57
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Would it be better to use the AD conversion in the Profire 2626 or the AD/Pres in the Yamaha 01v?

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I actually like the Mackie Onyx i mixers. Normally I'd use a dedicated i/o but the firewire interface on the Mackie mixer offers good sound and a whole heap of options when connecting gear. 8 or 16 channels with 6 sends and a sub bus, plus the ability to route into the computer or take out on all channels independently.

Best yet, all headphone mixes stay analog and with 8-16 channels your number of live mics can grow very quickly, all with no latency.

Pair that to Pro Tools 10 with video and that TV and you're a nice multi purpose studio.

Oh, and sends can also work well for ISDN or even alt speakers, maybe some TV monitors or small auratones for checking mixes on other such speakers.

scrap the Events, just go with Mackies or KRKs.

  • Going to keep the events for now and going to be upping to Blue Sky or Adams 5.1 system in the somewhat near future – Michael Gilbert Nov 16 '12 at 2:58
  • yeah, those are nicer still – mikevarela Nov 16 '12 at 4:33
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Might be handy to have a radio mic around especially for ADR :) Acoustics / noise floor issues / monitoring as well very important.

  • I have my production sound gear handy, schoeps, senn 416, sankens, and my rf which is lectro with cos 11 or b6. Looking for help with big in your face VO stuff. – Michael Gilbert Nov 16 '12 at 2:57

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