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Broadcast Quality Audio From a Home Studio?

I'm a professionally trained voiceover artist, broadcaster and copywriter. I have worked as a voiceover artist since 2013 on projects for films, radio & TV.

I love going to a Soho recording studio. I get a buzz from being in a booth where some well-known person might have voiced a commercial, or a documentary (I was once in a booth at Voiceover Soho that only days before, Sir David Attenborough had recorded in). I also like being able to see my director through the glass, and hear the recording engineer in my headphones….it’s a great collaborative experience.

When the lockdown happened many studios temporarily closed their doors, but they still needed to keep on working, and that’s when they had to turn to voiceover artists with home studios.

I imagine their experience has been somewhat mixed. When it comes to home studios there are definitely good ones and not so good ones, and unfortunately those people with less than wonderful recording spaces, give those of us with good quality studios a bad name….

There are a large number of professional voice-over artists who have never needed a home studio before, because they live in London and all their work is in the Soho studios. There are also very many actors whose livelihoods suddenly vanished overnight who have decided that recording voiceovers from home is the best way to earn some money. These two groups of people were scrabbling around at the end of March to set up home studios as quickly as possible to keep themselves in work.

Understandable of course, but when things are done in a rush, they aren’t always done very well. I saw photos of ‘home studios’ on the internet that just made my toes curl. Some people had bought equipment that might be suitable for podcasting, but not for broadcast quality voiceover, others had bought a reasonable mic but just placed it on a desk! Without a properly acoustically treated environment, the best microphone in the world will sound terrible…

Unfortunately there may now be some London studios that believe home studios cannot possibly produce broadcast quality audio, because that has been their experience. This is tragic for voiceover artists like me who DO have a decent set-up at home.

I have managed to work very successfully with studios in London including a project for Coda Post Production where I initially went to their Soho studio to record and because it was a long project and we ran out of time, we finished it remotely using my home studio. The client didn’t notice the difference.

So, if you are going to work with a voice over artist remotely, how can you make sure they can give you the quality you need? Their demo will show you what they are capable of vocally, but this will probably have been recorded and produced in a London studio – and won’t demonstrate the quality of their home recording environment.

Here’s how you can establish whether they can produce what you need:

  1. Ask them what equipment they are using. It should be a good quality condensing mic and audio interface – and NOT a USB microphone that plugs directly into their computer. Personally I use a Neumann TLM103 mic.
  2. Ask for a demo recording from their studio – this should just be their voice, no background music or sound effects.
  3. If you are going to process the audio at your end then you probably want to hear this demo as raw audio, so ask them not to process it in any way.
  4. Ask if they have a method for you to dial in to their studio so that you can direct them during the session. This could be something as simple as Skype or Zoom, or just a phone line.
  5. If you want to record them remotely at your end, they will need to have a paid-for service such as Source Connect Standard, ISDN, or ipDTL – so check if they have this. My studio has Source Connect Standard.
  6. How will they deliver the file to you? My preference is WeTransfer which is free and works well, but DropBox, Hightail and other FTP’s (file transfer protocols) work too.

So, the ten million dollar question is, can broadcast quality audio really be recorded from a home studio? The answer is yes, absolutely, as long as it’s a good quality home studio.

And to prove it, if you click here, you’ll find an international TV advert for Bulgari that I recorded from my home studio….