Studio

The Voice Actor's Studio

My studio’s foundation is an iMac running Pro-Tools. I’ve been a Digidesign (now Avid Audio) guy since about 1994. I was acting as studio engineer for Dallas C. Dort & Company, an ad agency. Although we were using Tascam reel-to-reel machines, Dallas was a musician and kept talking about things like Sound Designer and Sound Tools, which he used at home. I’d nod and smile while grease-penciling and razor-blading on a splice block, but had no earthly clue what he was talking about.

Recording Software

I first purchased Digidesign's Session-8 for WCRZ's new production studio around '94. Then went with their simple Session software for my own in '98. I'm guessing I moved to Pro-Tools around 2001, and I see no reason to change.

Vocal Booth

I record inside a 5' x 4' Platinum Series Vocal Booth with double walls and a floating floor. I had a lot of luck for years, living in reasonably quiet neighborhoods, but as my business really began to grow I had to find a way to eliminate those occasional barking dogs and distant lawnmowers. I researched the home booths and decided to go with VocalBooth.com. Guy Coleman has always been very helpful anytime I've needed something—or even when I lost my installation instructions on the move to Mexico.

Microphones

For some time now my primary microphone has been the Sennheiser MKH-416 short shotgun. I'd heard it called the Desert Island Mic for years, and now I know why. To me it sounds rich, boomy and crisp all at the same time. My first mic was the CAD Equitek E200, which I don't think they make anymore. Don't know why; it was a beautiful combination of warmth and clarity. Then I moved to the Studio Projects C1, which many people thought was almost as good as the Neumann U87 at a tiny fraction of the price. But nothing works for me like the 416.

Pro-Tools Plugins

As the quality of my microphone and recording environment has increased, so the need to clean up my voice tracks. Those mouth clicks, pops and squishes. Sure, many clients don't even notice them, but many do. And I do. So after much research I went with the iZotope RX 5 editor. It features native plugins for Pro-Tools, which is good because I really don't want to spend 15 minutes laboring over a click that's smack dab in the middle of a word. Believe me, you can get way forensic with this beast. So the plugins allow me to eliminate sounds very easily right from within Pro-Tools.

Don Baarnes runs the Audio Rescue Facebook page, and I paid him for a Skype session in which he was able to give me a pretty thorough tutorial on RX 5. And since some of the actions required repetitive keystrokes, I've also begun to use Keyboard Maestro to create hotkeys that save me a lot of time. For help with this puppy I turned to Mike Verbruggen, a Mac productivity expert from the Netherlands, who also showed me how to make it work over Skype. His English is excellent, by the way.

What's next? Who knows? But rest assured if there's a way to improve my voice tracks, I'll be spending wayyyy too much time obsessively investigating it online past 2am. :-/