Ask anyone to list the most important things for a successful voiceover artist, and most people will put voice and a professional mic near the top. Clearly these are great assets, but there is one thing that’s even more important – your recording space.
There are indeed some “industry standard” mics, but if your space is crap, you’ll sound crap. In a decent, well treated space, the majority of clients won’t tell the difference between a £250 XLR condenser mic and a £1000 equivalent.
Since March 2020 thousands of locked down actors and voiceover professionals set up home recording areas for the first time. Many had experience of doing voice work in recording studios but had never tried to self-record. The most common question I saw on forums was “What’s the best mic to get?” Very, very rarely did I see anyone ask how best to sound treat their recording area, and a few months later the second hand marketplace was awash with ‘barely used’ / ‘like new’ / ‘still in box’ microphones, as people had invested in top quality mics only to find out that their home recordings just didn’t sound good.
The point is you can have a great voice, perfect delivery, and a top-class mic – you might even plan to record at super quiet times of day when there is no outside noise – but if your space has echo and reverb then unfortunately you’re going to sound like you’re in a box and your recordings won’t be any use to producers. A background hiss or weird noises can be edited out afterwards, but that boxiness is really hard to get rid of. You might be lucky and get a good sound from a large, well-treated wardrobe, but I’m sorry to tell you that throwing a duvet over your head just isn’t going to cut it.
So the number one question that aspiring voiceover artists should ask themselves is: “Can I create a good recording environment?” Seek advice on acoustic treatment from sound engineers and voiceover forums but don’t rush out and buy a mic until you can answer “yes” to that question.