Resources for the Recording Musician
October 23, 2006

Beginner Questions

This board seems to be a bit over my head. Any words of wisdom/advice on where to go to learn the basics of recording at home?
You may want to start by going to or other big online book sellers and searching for "home recording" to find some books to get you started.Also, subscribe to some magazines, such as "Sound On Sound" and "Electronic Musician" (to name a couple), which often have beginner level articles.The more you can read up, the better.  It's even better if you have some equipment where you can experiment and try out the techniques discussed whenever possible.

You may also consider hiring a recording engineer in your area to give you some private lessons to start with, or calling up some of the  local recording studios and asking if you can come in for an hour or two here and there when they don't have other sessions booked and pay them some reduced rate for some private instruction there.  There's nothing like learning from a real professional at a big studio, even if they are using equipment you may never be able to record.  The techniques you learn will carry over to work at home as well.

A lot of it is a matter of just diving in and messing around with recording with whatever you can get your hands on to get started.  Having someone else give you personal instruction makes the whole process much faster, but dinking around on your own while reading up on it as much as possible will be a good start as well.

The key when you are just starting out is to not waste your money on equipment that you'll soon find isn't that great and you'll end up replacing it with something better later on at a big loss (most recording gear depreciates in value quickly).  Definitely take your time to do the research to get the right equipment for your needs and of good enough quality that you can use it for a long time.  You may wish to consider hiring a trusted engineer in your area to help you put together a system that's right for you, or schedule some personal consulting time with someone like myself (I do phone consultations and have put together many systems for many people on a wide range of budgets).

Thanks so much for your info in both threads.Some background on where I'm coming from & where I'd like to go:I've worked in radio for a couple years now ... on the sales side. I love the industry but hate the sales part. I'm more interested in the creative side. More so, I want to spend more time at home with my kids. I have enough income from a separate business to keep my livelihood going & provide for my family ...

BUT ... I'd love to try and break into the VOICE OVER industry to obtain an extra source of income & to, perhaps someday, be able to do away with the sales part of my life all together.

Having said that, I'm not interested in letting my current employer know about my plans. Which is why I'm choosing to learn this business on my own. I've done some voice work for commercials, voicemail systems, etc ... but it's always been someone coming to me, marching me into a studio, and having me read off of a script.

Doing it at home is a whole new ball game for me.

I would be interested in discussing your consultant fees & seeing if there's room to go forward. In the meantime I'll check out Amazon to see if I can find some literature to get me started.

Thanks so much!

I work with a lot of voice over talent here in the greater Seattle area, and many of them have their own home studio setups as well.The good thing about voice over work is that you don't need a full blown recording studio or really high end DAW computer systems since you won't be doing big multi-track recording projects.  However, you may have to look into things like ISDN lines to do live sessions with producers in other locations, and, of course, high speed internet is a must as well as at least an FTP site of your own to post files for clients.  You'll need a microphone that works well with your voice, and one really good microphone pre-amp and compressor, along with some high quality A/D converters.  If you want to be compatible with a lot of other studios, you'll probably need at least a basic Pro Tools system to be able to open Pro Tools session files that clients send you (although, I personally am not a fan of Pro Tools and don't use it myself).Probably the biggest thing you'll need to invest in is setting up a relatively sound proof booth to record in that's isolated from household noises.  You don't realize how much ambient noise there is in a space until you try to record with a high quality microphone and recording system.  Even the computer you use to record with is going to make a LOT of noise and will require being put in its own ventilated gear closet or isolation box, or you'll definitely have to have a vocal booth to record in that's separate from where the computer is (and then some kind of silent remote system to control the computer from the booth).

It can get complicated fairly quick, but still much easier than trying to put together a full blown studio.  You could probably get started with a modest investment in the $5000 to $10,000 range.  Sure, you could start much cheaper than that, but for high quality gear and everything else you need to really do it right, I think $5000 is the bare minimum.

Don't kid yourself, though.  You are NOT going to get away from doing sales!  In fact, selling and marketing/promoting yourself is going to be probably 80 to 90 percent of your time as you try to build up a client base and get going.  The voice talent people I know here in the Seattle area are constantly marketing themselves through web sites, e-mail newsletters, mail outs, demo reels, and lots of promotion freebies for clients to keep them coming back.  That's not to mention all the direct marketing sales calls and networking they do.

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