Good VO (Voice Over) quality is without question one of the best ways to separate yourself from the crowd and get more views on your channel, so it’s definitely what I wanted to tackle in the first installment of TGN Focus.
Think about all of your favourite eSports casters and Let’s Play commentators – how many of them sound like they’re recording from laptop microphones? Yeah, not too many. Think of it like boots in a MOBA, or a mount in an MMORPG – it’s not just an investment that’s nice to have, it’s a necessary element to be competitive.
So I took it upon myself to ask around, here at TGN, grilling the team about their preferences and set-ups. We all have our ideas about VO equipment, but I was looking for some similarities and we came to some pretty solid conclusions about starter gear, and ideal gear. Best of all, it’s a pretty small investment to get the right equipment.
“A good microphone is your best friend as a YouTuber,
and the friendship will last a long time.”
Why, The Audacity!
Audacity was our unanimous choice for audio editing software. Seriously, go get it. It’s FREE. If any noise makes its way onto your recording, you can pretty easily cut it out with this super simple program. Play with it. Experiment. It’s worth it. Did I mention it’s free?
Have you met my friend, Mic?
Dumb jokes aside, a good microphone is your best friend as a YouTuber – and the friendship will last a long time. Seriously, most mics will last for years. If you’re making the decision between a cheaply made mic for $80 and a good mic for $100, don’t be shy to shell out the extra cash for quality if you can. You won’t regret it. Remember though, a high price doesn’t always add up to high quality. Here are a couple of our recommended options:
This little gem is a common choice for starting Podcasters and YouTubers. Rounding out at a pretty affordable $70 from most retailers, it’s a great combination of quality, versatility and affordability that we can all appreciate.
The Ideal Mic
Blue Microphones Yeti USB Microphone – ~$115-$150
Across the board, this guy is pretty much the BOSS when it comes to recording – unless your name is Hengest. Flexible to your style of recording, and containing some pretty snazzy extra features like a gain control button, mute button, and a zero-latency headphone output (to hear yourself in real time), the Yeti can be your sherpa up the mountain of YouTube success.
Audio Technica AT2020USB Studio Condenser Microphone $149 without add-ons.
Mainly for its numerous add-ons like a mic-stand, shock mount and pop filter.
“…there’s a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) alternative
to panels that costs almost nothing”.
Padded Walls: Not So Crazy After All
Ever thought about your recording space (i.e., your studio)? It matters more than you think it does. Recording in a big room can make your voice sound echoed and hollow, causing your recordings to sound cheap no matter what kind of microphone you use. Try recording in a small room. Radio broadcasters, for example, usually work in rooms no larger than 12×12 feet (144 sq. feet).
Broadcasters are also surrounded by a ton of noise-cancelling panels and devices. We just don’t have that kind of equipment – but there’s a Do-It-Yourself (DIY) alternative to panels that costs almost nothing:
Towels or egg cartons!
It may sound crazy, but you can mount towels or opened-up egg cartons on your walls to cancel the echo in your ‘recording studio.’ The most important wall is the one that you face when you record, so be sure to cover it up at the very least. The rest of the walls are just gravy for extra cancellation. More importantly, you can take them down after you’re done for the day!
“It’s that little extra step that makes all
the difference in perfect sound…”
Those are the basics. If you’re looking to totally max yourself out with the extras and knick-knacks, here are some recommendations:
- Pop filter – Does your microphone make an odd popping sound when you say the letter “p,” or static up when you breathe into it? “Pea Popping” can be avoided with a pop filter, something that you can add to your mic for a mere $10. Be careful though, it’s usually gear-specific so make sure it fits your mic model!
- Shock Mount – Keep your recordings safe from microphone bumps and surrounding vibrations. This is also gear-specific, so make sure it fits your mic model! These usually run for $60 depending on the mic.
As a final note, it’s crucial to tweak your microphone’s settings to suit your needs. Do you shout like a madman/madwoman in your videos? Adjust the maximum volume levels for your mic accordingly. It’s that little extra step that makes all the difference in perfect sound, and keeps your viewers locked onto your content instead of cringing at loud vocals. Play with your settings. Test them out. Play again. Test again. Get it right, and stick with it for a consistent tone on all your videos.
Well, that’s it for this week. Be sure to hit our [forums] to let us know what you think about the article, and stop by next week where I’ll cover TGN’s choices for video editing software.