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Home Studio

The Voquent Shopping List: Essential Home Recording Studio Equipment for Any Budget


By Dylan de Koning | 28th January 2022

So, you need a home studio – but where do you start?

Previously Voquent has answered some of your questions on which home recording studio equipment is the best, but today we are bringing you a one-stop-shop in creating your home studio from scratch. We’ll let you know exactly what home recording studio equipment you’ll need, what products are out there for various prices, and we’ll even show you where to get them – handy huh?

As this is an equipment list, we have left out the necessary software for recording voice-over. To get up to speed on everything software, check out this blog from Alex, our incredible audio engineer.

You can thank me later but for now, let’s get started.

(Click the product images to see prices)


Microphones

A quality microphone is the best place to start on your home recording studio equipment list. You wouldn’t have a very good recording studio without one, would you?

First things first, avoid USB microphones. Whilst they are almost always the cheaper option, professional voice actors know that XLR mics are the only way to go when buying home recording studio equipment. They offer higher quality sound with less background noise. They will also perform better when it comes to picking up quieter sounds in your audio which could be completely missed by a cheaper USB alternative. Additionally, most pre-amps will use XLR input connections and *spoilers* pre-amps come later in this list.


Similarly, avoid dynamic microphones. Whilst these are great for stage performances due to less background noise, this exact quality will hinder your performance as a professional voice actor. Condenser mics are the only option for your home recording studio equipment as they are much more sensitive. They will pick up the parts of your voice which make it YOUR voice – whether that’s bassy qualities, high frequencies, or subtle nuances.

Just as with other pieces of equipment on this list, a higher price tag may take you further in the quest for audio quality perfection, however, quality audio can be achieved without breaking the bank. Often the higher price tag items offer better specs than necessary so refer to the following list to buy a great quality product, more than capable of doing the job, at a price point that’s right for you.


Beginner:

On the lower end of the price scale, this AKG entry is a great place to start for a clear sound. Investing in a reliable brand like AKG will be an investment in products you can count on, including their cheaper options – Tip: cheaper microphones like this often require A LOT of acoustic treatment to the room you’re recording in.





Intermediate:

This cardioid condenser mic has an XLR connection and ultra-low noise. With pro quality and a relatively low price, this mic is the perfect middle ground between starting out and a fully-fledged voice-over master. The package also comes with a shock-resistant mount and a pop shield – more bang for your buck!




Professional:

Exceptional quality audio, compact size for its ability and high maximum sound pressure. This condenser mic is a professional voice actor’s best friend and is perfect for your home recording studio equipment. Yes, some microphones do boast better specs and they do get even more expensive than this, but the benefits begin to be too subtle with even larger price tags from this point on. Realistically, the Neumann TLM 102 MT microphone packs all the punch you need for voice-over. 




Microphone Stand

This may seem like an unnecessary accessory, but a simple and even cheap microphone stand can offer more benefits than you might think. Firstly, it will reduce the vibrations from your other home studio recording equipment affecting the quality of your sound. Also, A floor-mounted stand will be further away from your hardware than one on your desk and additionally, a stand with an arm will further reduce the vibrations than a stand made of one solid piece – something this simple can make all the difference.



Pop Filter/ Pop Shield

Pop filters are essential. They might have a very basic purpose in blocking your plosive sounds, but this will exponentially increase the quality of your audio. The difference between the cheaper and more expensive ends of the pop filter spectrum don’t however offer many variations. If you’ve got one, any one, then you’re on your way to voice-over stardom – it’s a fact!




Headphones

Good headphones for music aren’t necessarily good headphones for voice-over. As our talented engineer Alex describes in detail, there is a lot to specifically avoid when it comes to headphones.


Earphones have a small driver size, so bass frequencies are less accurate. Headphones advertised for great music quality (e.g., Beats) often use a lot of tricks to sound good, like artificially boosted frequencies and noise cancellation through playing contrasting noises to those you are trying to avoid. Open-backed headphones allow bleed, where your sound isn’t isolated, and you could receive feedback or echoes. Wireless/Bluetooth headphones have two problems, the potential of what you’re listening to swapping with what someone else is listening to, and internal batteries mean frequent charging time – imagine your embarrassment when recording a professional voice-over gig on a call with your client, when the battery in your headphones dries-up because you forgot to charge them.

So, what should you use?

The sound you hear through your headphones isn’t the exact same as the sound you have recorded. Your aim when buying headphones for your home studio recording equipment is to get ones that will reproduce the sound you have recorded most accurately, not enhance the audio to sound as good as possible.


Beginner:

Sennheiser is a trusted brand when it comes to headphones. They also have other options in other price ranges that would be perfect for voice-over, but for beginners, the HD280PRO model is a great place to start. With adjustable cups for comfort and a closed-back design, they include everything you need to get started as a voice actor. 





Intermediate:

The Sennheiser HD25s offer a variety of uses. They are great not only for voice-over but editing and mixing too, should you happen to need these functions. They also offer exceptionally clear sound whilst remaining lightweight for comfort. 




Professional:

The SRH1540s are the perfect headphones for any professional voice actor. Shure are also a well-established brand with superior acoustic performance, exceptional comfort and durable materials. They offer clear audio and great sound isolation so you can hear an accurate representation of your audio. 





Studio Monitors

Selecting a studio monitor is one of the most important decisions to make in terms of home recording studio equipment. They may look like your bog-standard home computer speakers but there is a key difference: regular speakers provide different frequencies while studio monitors don’t. This means that they don’t reduce or boost frequencies which is essential for voice-over work. Just like previously mentioned when buying headphones, you want an accurate representation of your audio, not one that makes it sound perfect when it’s not.


Beginner:

There isn’t much choice for cheap home recording studio monitors. Or at least, there isn’t much competition in the low-price range after you’ve been introduced to the KRK Rokit 5 G3. Many voice actors before you have realised that these are the best pick on a budget whilst also offering quality sound. For this reason, they are also one of the most popular and highest reviewed studio monitors on the market. 





Intermediate:

Our medium-range entry from Yamaha includes a clear and flat sound, excellent build quality and is perfect for both voice-over and mixing. When looking at online reviews of the HS7s you will notice the only frequently listed con being the lack of low-end bass. This makes sense when listening to music or watching action movies to achieve that dramatic rumble, but this is not needed for voice-over recording. 




Professional:

Looking for audio perfection? Look no further. If you’ve got the budget, you won’t find much better than the KEF LS50s. Hailed for their accuracy, they provide flat unaltered audio and tonal accuracy too which is perfect for voice-over. They reproduce recordings so accurately that you’ll hear every detail, including mistakes, which makes them an excellent choice for your home recording studio equipment. 




Pre-amps

To create quality sound, Pre-amps are a must. Preamplifiers convert weak electrical signals into strong output signals allowing further processing as well as preventing background noise and distortion. External pre-amps create a better-quality sound than those built into your audio interface. They also offer more gain, lower noise, and additional features however a combination of both can save you money.


What’s the best pre-amp out there?

The answer to this question could be argued with tiny details. Tech-heads will break this down by comparing the specs of each model of pre-amp directly with the closest competition but there are so many models out there and other questions that you need to ask yourself first: Is your studio portable? How many XLR inputs do you need? What’s your budget?

With a higher price tag comes quality durable products but there is no reason to go overboard if you don’t require it. Discover the options below in price order to find the best pre-amp for you and tick off one more item on your home recording studio equipment shopping list.


Beginner:

With variable input and output gain controls, the Art Tube MP V3 is the perfect place to start for any aspiring Voice actor. This item is also cheaper than the standard pre-amp but not by a dramatic difference. Some more expensive pre-amps will offer further control options and less noise - worth it if your budget is flexible. 




Intermediate:

Get studio-quality vocals. Focusrite is a go-to for preamplifiers and many voice actors stand by them as brand-loyal fans. This contender from the Scarlett range is the professional standard, offering you quality audio at an affordable price and 2 XLR inputs. 




Professional:

The main benefit of expensive pre-amps is to increase the number of inputs. Behringer’s pre-amp in this range has 8 XLR inputs whilst remaining a slightly lower price than other brands offering the same. 





Audio Cables

As I’ve suggested both microphones that have an XLR connection and pre-amps with an XLR connection too, shockingly, you’re going to need an XLR cable.

Some voice-over professionals will say the cable doesn’t matter, whilst some believe it can make all the difference. High-end options will offer a small jump in performance but a big jump on price and the cheaper variations often aren’t durable, needing to be replaced frequently. The truth is that mid-range cables will offer you the quality that you need combined with an affordable price tag. For this reason, I won’t be breaking down the fine differences in cable performance but instead, I’ll bring you the standard you can rely on.

3 meters/ foot: 




10 meters/ foot: 





Acoustic treatment

Acoustic treatment is vital. Especially when using cheaper microphones but always essential, acoustically treating the room you record in will dramatically increase the quality of your audio.

When you make a sound, some of that sound will go straight to the mic while the reflected sound will bounce around the room. These reflected sounds will then make it to your microphone and affect the audio you’ve recorded. To avoid this, you need acoustic panelling and bass traps.

The panels will absorb the mid-high frequencies while the bass traps will absorb the lower ones so only your direct voice will reach the mic.

This step in your home recording studio equipment list is often overlooked by newbies but truly is one of the most important – you don’t want to splash the cash on an incredible microphone only to have your sound ruined because of something so simple.




Computers

If you are just starting out as a voice actor and already have a computer at home, there is no need to upgrade just to get started – we have no intention of steering you in the wrong direction. Sure, more powerful computers might make the process a lot smoother and give you more software options to work with. But you won’t miss out on the voice acting opportunity with something less fancy.


Should you use a desktop or laptop?

There are some specific pros to using a desktop. Customisation is the key benefit. A desktop will allow you to add more RAM (Random Access Memory), storage space and give you the option to keep your computer tower away from your equipment, reducing noisy fans and cooling systems. As the hardware is larger, there is more room to store higher processing power. This means that the desktop will perform at a faster speed. They will usually include more ports too, allowing you to use all the attachments that you need without adapters and extensions.

A laptop has only 1 pro: portability. Think about how you work or plan to work as a voice actor. Are you trying to build a home studio or a portable studio to move with you? A laptop won’t prevent you from finding voice acting success, but it does offer less than a desktop will.


Mac or PC?

Most hardcore professionals in any creative industry will prefer to use a Mac. Mac Pros are specifically built with the creative professional in mind, offering lots of power to run software. A PC won’t hinder your options, however. PCs can offer radical price differences and it’s worth spending the same on a new PC as an outdated version of a Mac.

Power is primary. You can always upgrade your storage size or use an external hard drive but the most important spec to look out for is RAM. We advise a minimum of 8GB -16GB RAM to handle all the multitasking required in voice acting.





Monitors (screens)

Recording software, video calls with clients and scripts. There can be a lot to look at in one moment of voice acting and when it comes to monitors, size matters.

Large monitors are a piece of home recording studio equipment that will improve your experience, whether you have a laptop or desktop. When recording, you want to focus on your voice. It’s a common problem for voice actors to get too caught up in trying to read their script, talk to their client and hit record whilst constantly flicking between windows. Using a large monitor will allow you to display all of this at the same time. Some voice actors will even use two monitors to maximise this effect. Using a large monitor will allow you to display all of this at the same time. Some voice actors will even use two monitors to maximise this effect.

Thankfully, monitors can be found at a variety of price points and will make the voice acting process run as smooth as possible. Not having a huge monitor will not prevent you from being a voice actor but it will make the job easier.





So, there we have it, from an empty room to every piece of home recording studio equipment you could possibly need as a voice actor.

Setting up your at-home workspace might seem like a daunting task and it can also be pretty pricey. Hopefully, this shopping list has helped you find everything to need to become a professional voice actor and where to source the home recording studio equipment.


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Dylan de Koning

Dylan de Koning

Dylan de Koning is a narrative writer, script reader and film buff from Scotland.

About Author

Dylan de Koning

Dylan de Koning

Dylan de Koning is a narrative writer, script reader and film buff from Scotland.