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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.
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