Regardless of what level you're at in the voiceover industry, choosing the correct tools for the job is absolutely VITAL for success.
One of the most important tools for any voiceover artist is the microphone they use - and with hundreds out there, it's an incredibly daunting task narrowing down which mic is best suited - not only to your voice, but to your level of technical ability and of course - your budget!
When I first started out in the VO industry 8 years ago, the ability to record great sounding demo reels and auditions from home was reserved for the chosen few.
Not only did you need to have deep pockets, but you also needed an in-depth knowledge of audio equipment - mics needed to run through boxes known as pre-amps and mixers before they could be used with a desktop computer and the cost of these could easily run you into the £thousands.
USB, often known as 'plug and play' mics simply didn't exist - and when they started to emerge, they were awful quality and certainly NOT suited to voice work.
Over the last 2 years things have got better and better on the 'plug and play' market - largely down to one company that I'm a huge fan of - Rode Microphones!
Rode's first 'broadcast quality' USB microphone was called the 'PODCASTER' - a dynamic, end-address USB microphone, designed for podcasting, that allowed recording direct to a computer without the need for an additional digital interface.
After just one test recording with the PODCASTER, I just had to buy one and I now record ALL of our podcasts at Act On This with these amazing mics.
I was so impressed by the quality of the PODCASTER that I actually ended up approaching Rode to work with us directly on all of our audio needs and to this day they have been amazingly supportive!
For those geeks amongst us, the PODCASTER contains an audiophile quality 18-bit resolution, 48kHz sampling A/D converter - and the mic processes all of the analogue-to-digital conversion internally, bypassing your computer's lower quality on-board sound controller altogether.
Simply put - the mic does all the work for you and provides a great quality, rich sound to your voice.
For podcasting and the like - the PODCASTER is unbeatable - but wouldn't necessarily be appropriate for all voice work.
Well a few weeks back, Rode released a brand new USB mic that just might be!
Let me introduce you to the 'NT-USB'
The NT-USB is fully compatible with the Apple iPad*, for use with RODE Rec, GarageBand and other audio apps.
*Apple USB Camera Connection kit required.
The NT-USB features a zero-latency stereo headphone monitoring jack, with both level and mix control, providing studio-level control over your performance.
Pop shield and desktop stand included
Everything you need right out of the box, including all- metal pop shield, stand mount, desktop stand, zip case and extra-long 6m (20') USB cable.
Just like the PODCASTER, the NT-USB is 'plug and play' and allows you to record directly to your Mac or PC - even your iPad - if you buy an Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit.
I saw the mic had been released and bought one from Amazon instantly.
You see, although I don't have a full-blown studio at home, having the ability to record demos and auditions at the drop of a hat puts you in an incredibly powerful position as a voiceover artist.
My agent will often email me a script at 11AM in the morning, asking for a test read to be submitted to a client WITHIN THE HOUR!
Now yes, I could just record this with my iPhone as many artists do, but when a SINGLE JOB can literally be worth £thousands, wouldn't you want to submit something of real quality?
On paper, the NT-USB certainly is quality - the condenser capsule on the mic is the same as that found in many of Rode's studio-grade microphones that are in use by hundreds of thousands of artists and engineers daily.
So how does it sound?
To put the mic through it's paces, I recorded the following samples:
Test 1 - RAW Audio Direct From The Rode NT-USB
In this first test you'll hear the RAW audio direct from the Rode NT-USB.
I haven't tampered with it AT ALL - this is pure audio as it was recorded!
Sounds nice eh?
Test 2 - Original Audio With EQ & Soundtrack
In this second test I simply added what is known as 'compression' to the audio via an editing program and added a simple, upbeat soundtrack.
This honestly took me less than 60 seconds!
Now, I record voiceover daily and record on microphones that cost £3k - £4k in some of the studios I work out of.
The Rode NT-USB is a mere £129.00 from Amazon.co.uk and with compression and music added to that original recording, I would be hard pushed to tell the difference between that recording and pro-studio recordings, recorded on kit costing 20 times that!
Now I'm not saying that the NT-USB could be used for all professional engagements - of course it couldn't.
BUT, it is THE PERFECT mic to record your voice reel on at home!
It's the PERFECT mic for recording VO auditions on - and will certainly be my personal, home recording mic of choice from this point onwards.
As I mentioned earlier, it's 100% compatible with iPad and this means it opens up professional audio recording to SO many actors new to the VO industry.
If you invested in this mic and booked JUST ONE VO job on the back of it, you are more than likely to cover your initial investment, if not top it.
If you want to try your hand at recording VO in the comfort of your own home, without spending £hundreds on professional studio time - THIS IS THE MIC FOR YOU!
It sounds great, is simple to use, is robust, with an all-metal construction and is versatile enough to work with multiple hardware set-ups.
And before this sounds like just one long sales letter for Rode, I want to assure everyone reading that I purchased this mic out of my own pocket - this is in NO WAY an endorsed review.
Here's my invoice from Amazon:
Check out Rode's official NT-USB video and if you have ANY questions on home recording or how I recorded the tests above, please leave a comment in the comments section below!