Before you begin to consider issues such as the recording environment and equipment requirements, it is important that you have an accurate understanding of exactly what types of voiceover segments you intend to record, how they will be used, and who will perform the voiceover readings.
The type of voiceover you intend to record will impact a range of issues, such as required sound quality, size of the recording space, soundproofing, equipment needs, and other factors that define your recording activities, selection of equipment and budget, and production processes.
Consider the following issues to help better identify your recording needs:
Will your voiceover files be part of a program that is broadcast on radio or television? Broadcast voiceover typically demands a higher quality recording environment and higher level equipment to ensure that the resulting audio segments meet broadcast standards and broadcast audience expectations.
Audiences for broadcast programs often listen to the audio over higher quality loudspeakers that will tend to make any quality issues more noticeable, such as an audible low level background sound of a truck passing by the building during the recording session, or a dull sounding recording resulting from using a lower quality microphone.
Recording for broadcast will usually require that you devote more effort and budget to selecting a proper location or room with better acoustic qualities (e.g., a dedicated room with soundproof walls and ceilings, less sound reflectivity), and for you to use higher quality professional audio recording equipment that will enable you to achieve a sound quality that meets professional standards.
Will your voiceover be used within digital web-delivered products, such as podcasts or elearning? Web-based audio is compressed, with a corresponding reduction in the overall sound quality. It is typically played over the lower-quality loudspeakers built into computers or through lower-quality add-on computer speakers. This can reduce the necessity for achieving “broadcast quality” audio for the source voiceover files that you produce, reducing the overall requirements for your equipment and recording space, lowering your overall budget needs.
Will you be recording novices’ voiceover performers, in-house talent, clients, or interviews with the public, or professional narrators? You can likely record in-house performers or yourself in an ad hoc environment such as a standard office used for a variety of purposes, or a home office or spare bedroom. In many cases, such as a corporate or home production environment, the person performing the voiceover is also controlling the recording of the performance, so two separate rooms are not necessary.
The performer sits in front of a computer screen, and reads the script from that screen while operating the software recording their segments onto the same computer. So a standard office or home recording setup will generally work fine for this purpose (after taking some steps to control PC fan noise).
Persons with little or no experience as voiceover performers may benefit from a non-intimidating recording environment in which they will feel comfortable. This can sometimes be done by using portable equipment that you take to their location, or by setting up a room that minimizes the technical aspects of the process.
Recording clients may require that you devote more budget to creating a visually attractive and professional looking dedicated space that will inspire confidence in your production services.
Recording off-the-cuff interviews with members of the public will require a portable recording device, such as a professional digital audio field recorder with integrated microphones. Any many of these devices include professional microphone inputs, allowing you to add external high quality microphones to enhance the sound quality of the portable recording solution.
Many professional narrators have their own in-house recording setup, or will expect a more traditional professional studio environment. The extra cost of procuring outside professional voice talent may also prompt you to use a higher quality recording approach. So in these cases you may need to budget a higher amount to configure your space and equipment needs.
Will you record one person at a time, or groups of people? This will impact the size of the room necessary and the type of furniture. If you will be recording groups of people at events that take place off-site, you will need to select recording equipment that is portable and is able to handle multiple microphone inputs.
It is relatively simple to configure a portable system that can record one person or many simultaneous speakers (such as a seminar or interview panel). And if you do not need to set up a dedicated in-house recording environment, this may simplify many of your options and reduce your overall budget.
Defining these types of issues up front will help you to determine the size and type of room you need, how the room is finished and soundproofed, the appearance of the room, the portability of your audio equipment, and a range of other issues. It is therefore an important first step to identify exactly what you plan to record so that you will make well-informed decisions when setting up your recording capabilities.