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I want to make a series of tutorials for use on the web, including extensive recordings of my voice. I'd like to try to keep the recording quality high. I'm willing to spend some money, though I'm not going to go nuts. A budget in the neighborhood of a thousand dollars sum total seems reasonable to me. If there are books on the topic written by professionals for amateurs, akin to the NPR guide to story writing in journalism, they would be greatly valued.

Some constraints:

1) My space is not super quiet, and there isn't a lot I can do about that.

2) I'm not going to spend six years in post, or learning to do post

3) This will be exclusively indoors in the same room

4) I will not be on video, so there is no concern about syncing with video

5) I will not be singing

It seems like, from my quick reading around, I need a quality mic, low noise pre-amps, a stand so that I'm not holding things, a portable sound booth (no room for the real thing, sorry,) a pop shield, and maybe a wind shield. I probably need a lot of other stuff too, but I don't really know what.

The Zoom H6 looks pretty cool, and makes it look like I can avoid most of the other gear in one fell swoop. But then when I see shootouts with it on YouTube, people have it hooked to like $25 lavalier mics, and I don't really get what's going on there.

Could someone maybe help me understand? I'd like a voice recording setup which will produce high quality voice results for a man with a deep voice, given little or no expertise, and I don't know where to look. What is my best low-sophistication strategy between, say, $500 and $1000 total? :)

  • Don't get an H6. It makes no sense for your situation. The reason to get an H6 is portability. If you don't need the portability, a good mic and an ASIO audio interface for your computer will a) sound better and b) be cheaper. I say that as an H4n owner who is seriously considering upgrading to the H6, but I do remote shoots. – AJ Henderson Oct 19 '14 at 1:30
  • Okay, so what do I get instead? – John Haugeland Oct 19 '14 at 1:34
  • If it matters, I'm a large man with a deep voice. – John Haugeland Oct 19 '14 at 1:37
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    You'll want an ASIO interface for the computer and probably a stage mic (SM58 is a good cheap option). It isn't the best sound quality, but it will work fairly well in a noisy environment, but I do more live stuff, so someone else may have better recommendations. – AJ Henderson Oct 19 '14 at 6:41
  • Not to knock anything said before, but with a grand to spend, you could go all out for a DPA 4060 lav mic, or a reasonable condenser with stand, pop- & sound-shield , any half decent USB mic pre interface & still have money left over. My only real concern would be "1) My space is not super quiet..." – Tetsujin Oct 19 '14 at 18:12
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For that application, and unwillingness to learn on a deeper scale, I'd say - A Zoom H4n with a Shure SM7b.

Unless you have a real bastard of a studio-computer, or have placed a lot of money on quiet parts for your regular computer, than one of those would just up he problem you already mentioned about noisy environment, and an H4n is real easy to set up too.

To edit it, you can virtually use absolutely any wave-editor you will find, just make sure to use cross-fade between edits to smooth them out, and avoid editing in-between words if possible. Don't get me wrong, I for one does that all the time when editing movie dialogue, but it will require a deeper understanding of what you're doing, and for something like this it shouldn't be needed either.

As long as you speak directly into the mic, never change the level, and have made sure to begin with that the sound doesn't clip, you shouldn't need to balance it. But you might need to raise the volume. To do that, use a brick-wall limiter, and listen carefully while raising it.

  • Great point about the H4n not making noise from fans. A long XLR cable might be a cheaper solution, but having something portable so he can go somewhere quiet might make it worth it despite my earlier objections (assuming of course he has someplace quiet he can go that lacks a computer). – AJ Henderson Oct 20 '14 at 14:20
  • I already have an H4n. Its noise floor is unacceptably high. That's why I was looking into an H6, but other people told me that that was inappropriate. – John Haugeland Oct 20 '14 at 15:26
  • My question is about the full recording setup, besides. – John Haugeland Oct 20 '14 at 15:27
  • I've decided to take a blend of your and Tetsujin's advice - a new Zoom device (the H6) and a DPA 4060. Thanks :D – John Haugeland Oct 24 '14 at 23:10

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