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Jenny W. Chan is a professional voice actor and singer in NYC, specializing in children’s entertainment and songs. She is most known for the voice of Jill, Ms. Hannah, and former Baby John in the popular preschool animated series, Little Angel. She's also a kids voiceover coach.
Contact Jenny at: email@example.com
So you’re looking to get your child into voice overs? Microphones, interfaces, XLR cables, and more! Purchasing voiceover gear can be overwhelming, and often expensive. So I’ve done the homework for you. After personally purchasing and experimenting with half a dozen microphones over the years (Snowball, Blue Yeti, Rode NT-USB, Rode NT1-A, Rode NT1, and finally my current mic, Neumann U 87 Ai), here are my recommendations based on your child’s level of experience with voiceover, and also your budget.
Deciding on a voiceover setup is a learning journey, especially with kids. I like to compare this to learning the piano. If you’d like your child to learn the piano, you don’t run out and immediately purchase a Steinway (unless you have the funds, then by all means!). First you’d like to see: Does your child have a natural inclination or passion towards voiceover? If they are showing interest, how long will this last? Or is this merely a phase, like all the others? To avoid spending thousands of unnecessary dollars, you’d want to start out with a 54-key electronic keyboard, and over time, your child may move onto a 61-key electronic keyboard (or not!), 88-key electronic keyboard, baby grand piano...and then finally a grand piano!
Similar to the piano concept, I’ve separated voice over booth setups into 4 levels, from least expensive to most expensive: Beginners, Intermediate, Advanced, and Pro.
I like to keep sound quality as top priority, so although you may find cheaper equipment elsewhere, these are the ones that I believe are the best bang for your buck.
$ Beginners Budget Voice Over Studio (USB Microphone)- Good for Kids!
This DIY voiceover setup is ideal if your child is just getting their feet wet to see if voiceover is something they’d like to pursue. If you have the budget for an XLR microphone, you should go for an XLR microphone because the quality is incomparable, and it can grow with your child for years to come. That being said, USB mics are a great low-budget option for parents who may not want to spend that much money from the get-go. Kids’ interests fluctuate over time and neither you nor your child may be ready to make an overly expensive investment.
Here was my personal starter USB Mic kit. I chose the Rode NT-USB microphone because it sounds amazing, has a great build, plus comes with a stand, pop-filter, and cable included. So for a relatively low investment, you can start recording right away!
Microphone: Rode NT-USB: https://amzn.to/3iYyTYR
Interface: Not required.
Stand: Included with mic.
Pop-Filter: Included with mic.
Headphones (optional at this stage):
Senal SMH-1000 Closed-Back Professional Monitor Headphones: https://amzn.to/3jbiTTb Professional monitoring headphones are essential to accurately monitoring the sounds that your mic is picking up from various frequencies--something “regular” headphones can’t do, so I do recommend purchasing them. That being said, if your budget is low, you may skip the headphones and plug “regular” wired headphones or earphones into the Rode NT-USB.
Cables: Included with mic.
Booth: For an ultra-low budget starter DIY voiceover booth, convert a closet into a booth by hanging moving blankets or comforters that you already have in your home to the walls. Add a carpet to the floor, and nail some fabric to the ceiling. Thick bath towels and foam mattress toppers also work well, as do winter jackets and clothes already in the closet! Make sure to cover hard surfaces where sound may bounce around. The room that you record in is often more important than the microphone itself.
$$ Intermediate Voice Over Studio (XLR Microphone) - Great for Kids Upgrading From a USB Mic
Alright, so it’s been a while and now we’ve determined that your child loves recording voice overs and they simply can’t get enough. You’ve signed them up for coaching, and their passion seems to be sticking. Perhaps they’ve even booked a few gigs where they were able to record at a local studio, and/or are signed with an agent/manager who sends them auditions regularly. Whatever the reason, you’re ready to invest a little more time and money into their home studio, and upgrade to their first XLR mic setup! Woohoo!
Here was my personal setup during this phase in my voiceover career.
Condenser Microphone: Rode NT1: https://amzn.to/3kKf1cc Great all-around mic.
Shotgun Microphone: SYNCO XLR Shotgun Microphone, D2: https://amzn.to/3R7DXH1 I personally don’t use shotgun microphones, but if your environment is noisy, a shotgun microphone might be a good choice for picking up the voice and rejecting external noise coming from the sides of the mic. They’re also great for commercial reads and dubbing.
Interface: Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen USB Audio Interface: https://amzn.to/3DdEVM7 Low price, great performance! Plus, it’s beautiful.
Desktop Microphone Stand: On-Stage DS7200B Adjustable Desktop Microphone Stand: https://amzn.to/3WRP8F3 This is strong and sturdy to support the weight of the Rode NT1.
Boom Arm: Rode PSA1 Pro Studio Boom Arm: https://amzn.to/3Dh9rom I like boom arms because it allows you to position and angle the mic however you want. It also allows you to transition between sitting and standing easily. I’ve personally tried this one, and yes it holds the weight of the Rode NT1. Be careful with purchasing cheaper ones; the mics tend to sag over time and it’s really annoying to have to keep re-adjusting.
Pop-Filter: Included with mic.
Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones: https://amzn.to/3JgQgyQ These have served me well for years. They’re durable and the sound is fantastic. I actually own two of them (one as back up)!
Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone: https://amzn.to/3XZI3TQ These are lower in price, but are quite standard in the industry. Be aware that the fabric on the headband peels over time. It’ll still work, just look bad. If that’s the sort of thing that bothers you, spend the extra money and go for the Audio Technica ATH-M50X instead.
Cables: Amazon Basics XLR Microphone Cables: https://amzn.to/3DdFENl
Increase sound dampening with professional sound blankets: https://amzn.to/4047AwC
Continue upgrading your closet booth by purchasing acoustic foam: https://amzn.to/3H9mcT2
If you’re lacking space in your current closet booth (or would like to reclaim your closet for, well...clothes and other things!!), you can build or purchase a PVC booth similar to this Snap Studio Vocal Booth: https://amzn.to/3WD98el
$$$ Advanced Voice Over Studio
So your child is booking voiceovers left and right. They’re consistently being shortlisted. They have experience doing live sessions with directors and producers both at a local studio, and at their home studio. They have experience recording voice overs in the booth for hours at a time. They have professional demos, taken years of lessons, and take direction well. They know about mic technique and booth etiquette. Most importantly, your child is confident, a strong performer, and makes conscious decisions to practice and level up on their own, without being forced. You can see your child being interested in voiceovers for a long time. You’d like your child to be more comfortable and have more room to move around by expanding their recording space. You’d like to give their studio a little “oomph” to stand out from the crowd. You’d like things to look more “professional,” and do an overall upgrade on the quality of sound, cables, interface, etc.
Sounds like your kid? Here’s the advanced voice over equipment I’d recommend.
Bonus tip: At this stage, you should really have a backup of everything. I had a same-day live directed session, and my interface died earlier that day. That led to me desperately running out to purchase a new one, at a premium price. Never again! I now have a backup mic, interface, headphones, and XLR cable, at all times. Turnaround times tend to be pretty quick for voiceovers, and the last thing you want to be doing is scrambling to find another place to record, or running out to buy equipment...Learn from my mistake!
Condenser Microphone: Neumann TLM-103: https://amzn.to/3WBn7RY Many professional studios use this microphone. This can potentially serve your child for the rest of their voiceover career, and you’ll never have to upgrade again!
Shotgun Microphone: Sennheiser Professional MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone: https://amzn.to/3j87nrN The best shotgun mic out there, also an industry standard, tried and true. Super professional sound.
Solid State Logic 2: https://amzn.to/3JelgPZ
Desktop Microphone Stand: On-Stage DS7200B Adjustable Desktop Microphone Stand: https://amzn.to/3WRP8F3
Boom Arm: Rode PSA1+ Pro Studio Boom Arm: https://amzn.to/3H1L0fA
Pop-Filter: It’s not necessary to upgrade the pop-filter, but if you must, I love the Stedman PS101, both for the looks, performance, and the fact that it’s metal instead of cloth plus plastic: https://amzn.to/3XTLEmb
Headphones: Audio-Technica ATH-M50X Professional Studio Monitor Headphones: https://amzn.to/3JgQgyQ Still my favorite!
Cables: Mogami Gold XLR cables: https://amzn.to/404RhQg. They’re a little more expensive, but I love purchasing cables I know that I can trust.
Booth: If you and your child have made it this far, congrats! It is assumed that you should already have a booth with some great sound. But maybe you’d like a little added comfort? A designated space in the home for a recording sanctuary. You can look into getting a custom booth built for your child, or purchasing a professional booth from Whisper Room, VocalBoothToGo, LA Vocal Booths, or VocalBooth.com, just to name a few. You can save a few thousand dollars by finding them used on Facebook Marketplace, eBay, or Craigslist.
$$$$ Pro Voice Over Studio
Hooray!! Your child (probably now a teen, tween, or closer to a young adult) is ready to go absolutely PRO with voiceover, and you’re both in it for the long run! They record almost on a daily basis, and are a consistent booker. They are making a profit from their voiceover business. As a parent, you want to support them and go all out doing so...or you simply just want the best of the best. Let’s do this!
Condenser Microphone: Neumann U 87 Ai: https://amzn.to/3kCgPnH I own this mic and am obsessed! Be careful with knock-offs, though. If the price is too good to be true, it’s probably fake, or there's something wrong with it.
Shotgun Microphone: Sennheiser Professional MKE 600 Shotgun Microphone: https://amzn.to/3j87nrN
Interface: Universal Audio Apollo Twin X DUO: https://amzn.to/3XTvPfe
Solid State Logic 2+: https://amzn.to/3WElKSv
Pop-Filter: Stedman PS101 Pop Filter: https://amzn.to/3XTLEmb. I’m not sure a better pop filter exists. If it does, let me know!
Headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO 80 Ohm: https://amzn.to/3XVathx A lot of voice actors love these headphones for their comfort and sound, but I personally don’t like the velvety ear cushions because they’re hard to clean and get kind of hot and icky. For that reason, I stick with my trusty Audio-Technica ATH-M50X, which can be wiped clean more easily: https://amzn.to/3JgQgyQ You can buy both and test them out yourself!
Cables: Mogami Gold XLR cables: https://amzn.to/404RhQg
Booth: Studiobricks all the way! For its beauty, function, and portability. Plus, it builds like Lego, how cool is that? The downsides are the weight and price. Make sure you check your floor can handle the weight before bringing it into your home. Wouldn’t want the floor to bend!
Check out this video to see why I love it:
No matter where your child is in their voiceover journey, happy recording and have fun!! Wishing them much success in their VO careers. :)