I've been voice acting professionally for the past ten years, but my experience has been less traditional compared to many of my peers. With only a few exceptions, I all but exclusively record myself from home. I buy my own equipment, record in whatever space I have access to, edit my own audio, and work directly with my clients.
Recently, the need for voice actors to record not just their auditions, but a finished product from home has been growing. Newcomers or those with a more traditional background in the field are not sure where to start, and I've been asked what I've done in the past.
Answering that question is a little bit easier said than done. As my career has progressed and my needs changed, I've worked with roughly 3 different individual setups that did different things for me at various milestones. Looking back, I also know that if I invested in expensive equipment early on, I wouldn't have known how to use it and may have been overwhelmed by the challenges I eventually encountered. Because of this, my recommendations tend to vary depending on where a person is in their career, their budget, and their goals.
Before writing up any kind of guide, I wanted to look back at where I came from and why I made the choices I did as I progressed. By writing this out, I hope it helps to provide context as to what my home recording journey looked like and how your's may evolve over time as well, regardless of when you're stepping in.
Before discussing equalization or compression, it's essential to understand what frequency is. Frequency is a fancy physics term that helps us describe what sound is and how it works.
Sound moves in waves, and frequency has to do with what pitch you perceive when a sound wave moves at a specific speed. For example, low pitched sounds move in only a few longer waves, while high pitched sounds require hundreds and even thousands of waves. To describe the number of waves a pitch requires to move, you use the word frequency. A sound with a frequency of 100Hz means that the sound creates 100 waves per second. (Hz stands for "Hertz," the technical unit of measurement for the number of waves per second).
You may know some specific frequencies off hand. For example, if you've ever heard an orchestra tuning their instruments to the same note, that note (A4) creates exactly 440 waves per second (440Hz.) If you were to sing that same note, your voice would also create a sound wave that moved at 440Hz.
Most of the time, the sounds you hear are actually made up of multiple frequencies stacked up on top of each other. Depending on how an instrument, or even a person's body is shaped, a 440Hz sound will resonate through those shapes in unique and different ways, generating some extra sounds at different frequencies along the way. This is why every instrument that produces a 440Hz note won't sound the same - they resonate differently.
Editing audio is my bread and butter as an engineer, and vastly important to my job as a freelance voice actor. For as much time as I spend recording, I will spend much more time editing my audio afterwards. Many clients may expect to have fully edited audio delivered to them, and edited audio is all but required for auditions
There are tons of options available to you when it comes to editing your audio and everyone eventually finds their own workflow. Below, you can find my old personal workflow from before I switched to a much more complicated process in ProTools. I used this workflow to record for a number of clients, including games like Heroes of Newerth and Deus Ex: The Fall. If you're just getting started, I'm sure it can help you start to book as well!
Here is a rundown of the basic tools and techniques you should know offhand.