Audio / Buying Guide

A Guide to Voice-Over Equipment


Voice-overs are an essential ingredient in the creation of dynamic media. They can be an unseen character in a story, or just a friendly voice persuading you to buy pet food. Voice-overs are found in every form of media, from news reporting to experimental filmmaking. Even photo slideshows can benefit from a well-executed voice-over.

Creating a voice-over isn’t difficult to do, and the basic hardware required is fairly inexpensive. However, the quality of your voice-overs will only be as good as the methods you use to capture and control the sound. This guide will help you understand the different options for voice-over equipment, and help you understand how to use the gear properly. This guide assumes that you’re creating a voice-over for a video (or a photo slideshow), and that you’re using a computer with video editing software as your primary tools. The same information can be applied to create voice-overs for audio podcasting, audio book production, recording ADR (additional dialog recording) and other kinds of multi-media projects.

What equipment do I need to record voice-overs?

The essential components of a voice-over studio are:

  • Microphone: A microphone is required to capture the sound of the talent’s voice. The quality of your microphone will have a large impact on the overall quality of your recordings.
  • Headphones: The talent needs to be able to hear the material, so headphones are essential.
  • Microphone Stand: The talent shouldn’t physically handle the mic. When the mic stays in a fixed position on a mic stand, your recordings will be more consistent and even-sounding.
  • Shock Mount: A shock mount suspends the microphone and helps reduce unwanted vibrations and rumbling. 
  • Pop filters: Sometimes mics pick up too much of the plosive and sibilant sounds that the mouth makes (“P” sounds pop and “S” sounds hiss). A pop filter is a screen that diffuses these sounds.
  • Acoustic Treatment: Being able to hear the ambience of a room can be very distracting in a voice-over, so it must be controlled if you aim to achieve professional results.

What kind of microphone should I use to record voice-overs?

There are a few different kinds of microphones that people use to create voice-overs.

  • USB Microphone: This kind of mic plugs directly into a computer’s USB port and captures above-average sound. It’s ideal for low-budget podcasting and entry level voice-over work.
  • Dynamic Broadcast Microphone: Generally used in radio broadcasting, Dynamic Broadcast Microphones have a forgiving and warm sound, with slightly less detailed sounding upper frequencies. These mics are often installed in radio stations for multi-person setups.
  • Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone: These mics are often used in music studios to record singers and instruments because they have very detailed and lively sounding middle and upper frequencies. They’re also used to create rich and textured sounding voice-overs. 

What are the pros and cons of USB Microphones?


  • A USB microphone connects to a computer through a standard USB port.
  • You can record directly into a computer without the need for additional equipment.
  • They’re relatively affordable.


  • While it's possible for a computer to recognize more than one USB microphone at time, setting it up can be potentially difficult.
  • Most USB microphones are dependent on a computer for operation, so they’re not as versatile as regular microphones.
  • If your ultimate goal is to record the best-sounding voice-over possible, you’re going to need to use a different kind of microphone.

What are the pros and cons of Dynamic Broadcast Mics?


  • Dynamic Broadcast Microphones are more forgiving when it comes to plosive sounds (the “P” sounds that pop and the “S” sounds that hiss), and thus are a little easier to work with, compared to Large Diaphragm Condenser mics.
  • They don’t require phantom power to operate (phantom power is explained later in the guide).


  • Even though they have a nice warm sound, Dynamic Broadcast Mics lack a little detail in the upper mids and high frequencies.
  • Additional equipment is required to use them with a computer.

What are the pros and cons of Large Diaphragm Condenser Mics?


  • Large diaphragm condenser mics have a very detailed response, with lively sounding upper frequencies.
  • If you control room ambience and use proper recording technique, you can capture the highest quality of sound using one of these mics.


  • The ultra-sensitive capsule in a Large Diaphragm Condenser mic is more susceptible to capturing unwanted plosive and vibration noises.
  • Additional equipment is required to use them with a computer.
  • They require phantom power to operate.

What is phantom power?

Some mics require a little flow of electricity in order to operate. This little flow of electricity is called “phantom power.” It’s a feature that’s commonly found on computer audio interfaces. Using phantom power isn’t complicated, and you shouldn’t be intimidated by it.

How do you plug non-USB microphones into a computer?

The best way to connect a professional 3-pin XLR microphone to a computer is to use an audio interface. An audio interface is an external piece of hardware that connects to a computer via USB, FireWire, PCI or Expresscard. Many audio interfaces feature dedicated XLR microphone inputs, headphone outputs and other jacks and controls that come in handy for recording voice-overs. You can learn everything you need to know about computer-audio interfaces in this B&H Buyer’s Guide.

Do audio interfaces deliver the best possible sound quality?

Plugging a microphone directly into a computer audio interface will get you a clean, flat sound, but if your goal is to create broadcast-quality voice-overs, we recommend plugging your mic into “outboard gear” before you connect it to a computer audio interface. Outboard gear is external hardware that enhances the overall sound of a microphone. USB microphones cannot be used with outboard gear.

What is the best kind of outboard gear to use on voice-overs?

There are many different varieties of outboard gear available, but for recording voice-overs you’ll mainly be using microphone preamps, dynamics processors and channel strips. A high-quality microphone preamp will have a much cleaner sound and the ability to bring out appealing sonic characteristics of a microphone. Dynamics processors (compressors, expanders and limiters) help smooth out an audio signal so it sits nicely in a mix. A channel strip combines a microphone preamp and dynamics processors into one box. Some channel strips are designed specifically for vocals, and include special tools for voices, such as “De-essers,” which make them ideal tools for creating voice-overs.

What is a De-esser and why would I need one?

A De-esser is designed to suppress harsh sounding sibilant sounds. When an “S,” “Z,” or “Sh” sound gets too loud in an audio signal and passes a set threshold, a De-esser singles out the problematic frequencies and makes them quieter so they’re not disruptive and unpleasant sounding.

What is a pop filter and why do I need one?

Voice-over microphones are very detailed sounding and do an outstanding job of bringing out the rich textures and nuances of a voice. However, one downside to using such sensitive microphones is that they also pick up unpleasant-sounding sibilant and plosive sounds. Words with the letter “P” sometimes make a popping sound that can overwhelm the microphone capsule. Words with the letter “S” sometimes create a short, yet strident, harsh hissing sound. The easiest and most effective way to eliminate these problems is to avoid recording them in the first place by using a pop filter.

A pop filter is a small screen that attaches to a microphone stand with a clamp. A short gooseneck runs from the clamp to the screen, so you can position it a couple inches in front of the microphone capsule. The screen diffuses rushing air created by these problematic plosive and sibilant sounds. The screens themselves can be made of a metal, or a foam-like fabric which is often mistaken for pantyhose.

What kind of microphone stand do I need for recording voice-overs?

If your voice talent is going to be sitting at a desk or at a table during the recordings, then your best choice may be a desk stand or a studio arm. A desk stand is a compact, table-top version of a microphone stand. A studio arm is a balanced, articulated boom arm that can mount to a desk or a table with either a removable clamp or a permanent stud. Studio arms make it easy to quickly reposition a microphone without creating noise.

If your voice talent prefers to stand while they work, there are numerous microphone floor stands available. Taller floor stands with boom arms are recommended. The boom arm will give you more options for positioning the microphone.

What is a shockmount and why do I need one?

A shockmount is a small suspension system that prevents a microphone from picking up unwanted handling, vibration and rumbling noises. It mounts on the end of a microphone stand and holds the mic. A shockmount suspends a microphone with rubber or elastic bands (or utilizes similar kinds of suspension systems), which eliminates most of the vibration and handling noise the mic would otherwise pick up. The kind of shockmount you need depends entirely on what kind of microphone you’re using. Sometimes shockmounts come as included accessories when you purchase a microphone.

Why do I have to worry about room ambience, and how do I control it?

Professional recording studios usually have a specially designed vocal booth that enables the engineers to record neutral sounding vocal tracks that are free of room ambience. Hard surfaces (such as desktops, walls, floors, and ceilings) tend to reflect sound and send it bouncing around a room. Rooms with long corridors and odd shapes only compound the problem. You probably don’t notice sounds bouncing around your room in normal everyday life, but when a sensitive microphone is used to record a voice, and that voice is taken out of the context of the room and placed over video footage, suddenly the ambience of the room sticks out like a distracting, sore thumb.

The best way to control room ambience is to use sound-absorption material and baffling while you record. One of the most cost-effective ways to cut down on room ambience is to use an Isolation Filter. An Isolation Filter is a curved baffle that surrounds the back and sides of a microphone with acoustic absorption material. It prevents sound from reflecting into the back and sides of the mic, which reduces unwanted ambience dramatically. The best Isolation Filters are somewhat heavy, so purchasing a more robust microphone stand is recommended.

Another way to cut down on room ambience is to place acoustic paneling in key points around the room in which you’re recording. There are different-sized acoustic panel kits available (some of which include bass traps and adhesives) for various-sized rooms. These products are designed solely to control room ambiance. They won’t make your studio any more soundproof than it already is, nor will they prevent exterior noise from leaking into your workspace.   

Why do I need to use headphones?

It’s necessary to wear headphones when recording voice-overs because you don’t want the microphone to pick up sound from your speakers. It’s important to record in a quiet room, and headphones make it possible to listen to the video playback without speakers. If you record voice-overs with speakers on, the sound quality will decrease dramatically, and you run the risk of creating a feedback loop and damaging your hearing and equipment.

What kind of headphones should I use when recording voice-overs?

The best headphones to use for recording voice-overs are Closed-Back, Circumaural headphones. As the name implies, the back of the ear cups on closed-back headphones are solid, which prevents sound from leaking (and thus less unwanted noise will be picked up by the microphone).

Is it possible to provide headphones for more than one person?

Yes, it’s possible to provide a headphone feed for more than one person, and there’s a much better way to do it than using an inexpensive splitter cable. You can set up for multiple users with a headphone amplifier, which enables you to turn a single headphone jack from an audio interface or a computer into several headphone feeds. One of the advantages of using a headphone amplifier is that you can lower or raise the volume independently in each set of headphones. This way, if you have an engineer and three voice talents working together, each person can have a different volume level that’s comfortable for them.

How should I monitor the sound when not using headphones?

Instead of plugging your computer into regular computer speakers or a home stereo system, you’re far better off using studio monitors. A good pair of studio monitors will give you an accurate idea of what your recordings and overall audio mix sound like. Consumer speakers (like the ones found on iPod docks and stereo systems) tend to hype certain frequencies to make them sound more appealing. Studio monitors provide a flat frequency response with equal representation given to all frequencies (no frequencies are hyped). This way you can hear exactly what’s been recorded, and make informed decisions on how to properly balance your sound mix.

What kind of software should I use to produce voice-overs?

This depends on what kind of software you’re most comfortable working with. Many video-editing programs have dedicated voice-over tools that enable you to record sound directly into your video projects. There are also many audio-production programs with video capabilities that enable you to import video files so you can create elaborate sound mixes and sync them with the moving images.

If you prefer using audio software and you don’t mind creating a sound mix that’s entirely separate from the video edit, then you should use the audio program you’re most familiar with. If you’re more comfortable using video-editing software and aren’t interested in creating a complex sound mix, you should stick with the video-editing program with which you’re most familiar. 

How do software plug-ins help you make better sounding voice-overs?

Audio software plug-ins are useful for blending a recorded voice-over into a mix. Think of plug-ins as software versions of outboard hardware. It’s common for professionals to use outboard hardware to control the dynamics of a voice-over when recording, and then to use virtual processor plug-ins in post production to dial in the sound exactly the way they want it. The nice thing about applying these tools in post production is that you can experiment with them until you achieve the desired result.

There’s a lot more you can do with plug-ins besides simply adjusting the EQ and dynamics. There are lots of incredible-sounding effects that you can add to a voice in post production with plug-ins. Some of the more obvious effects are reverbs and echoes (which are useful for dream sequences and disembodied voices), but there are many less obvious effects that are useful, like telephone emulators and pitch correction

Why would I add sound effects and music to a voice-over?

Adding music, sound effects and atmospheric sounds to the mix with your voice-overs can really give your work a professional luster, especially if you’re completing the project yourself (and not sending it to a professional sound editor to create a custom sound mix). If you’re using commercial music in your project, you have to be mindful of licensing issues. Using commercial music without obtaining permission can be problematic, especially if your project is going to be shared on the Web or made public through other means. The best way to avoid these licensing issues is to only use royalty-free music. Sound effects can be used to punctuate your voice-overs, and to help illustrate a point you’re trying to make. There are vast libraries of sound effects CDs and DVDs available at B&H. Many of those collections also include longer environmental sound samples, enabling you to create the aural ambience of locations ranging from the beach to farms to cities, etc. Any sound effect or environmental ambience you need is likely already available at B&H.

Is there any other way to record a voice-over?

It’s certainly possible to record a voice-over without having to be tethered to a computer. You can use a handheld portable digital recorder and create voice-overs anywhere you travel. You are giving up some of the power that you have when recording directly into a computer. For example, it will be more difficult to watch the playback of a video clip and record a voice-over for it with a portable digital recorder, because you will need a separate device to play the video clip. But, the fact that you can make excellent-quality vocal recordings anywhere you go is a huge plus. You can also use your pocket recorder to capture your own collection of sound effects and ambient recordings. For more on portable digital recorders, check out this B&H Buying Guide.

The Takeaway

  • A microphone isn’t the only piece of equipment you need to create voice-overs.
  • Headphones are necessary to monitor audio tracks as you record voice-overs.
  • Microphone stands will help you record cleaner, more even sounding voice-overs.
  • Room ambience is very distracting for the audience to hear in a voice-over.
  • You may need sound-absorption material to deaden the reflections of the room in which you’re recording.
  • A pop filter helps to cut down on the plosive and sibilant sounds that the mouth creates.
  • Plug-ins and sound effects help sounds sit properly in a mix and relate more to the on-screen imagery.
  • Two kinds of mics are used for creating voice-overs: USB microphones and analog microphones.
  • A USB microphone connects directly to a computer and is capable of capturing excellent-quality sound.
  • Condenser microphones have a very detailed response, with lively sounding upper frequencies.
  • Dynamic microphones have a warm and detailed, yet slightly more forgiving sound.
  • The best way to connect analog mics to a computer is to use an audio interface.
  • Audio interfaces are pieces of external hardware that connect to computers through USB, FireWire, and other ports.
  • You should use the video or audio production program you’re most familiar with to make voice-overs.
  • If you’re going to be sitting at a desk or a table, the best mic stand to use is a desk stand or a studio arm.
  • A studio arm is an articulated boom arm that mounts with either a removable clamp or a permanent stud.
  • A shockmount is a suspension system that prevents a mic from picking up vibration and rumbling noises.
  • One of the most effective ways to cut down on room ambience is to use an Isolation Filter.
  • An Isolation Filter is a curved baffle that surrounds the back and sides of a mic with acoustic absorption material.
  • The best kind of headphones to use when recording voice-overs are Closed-Back Circumaural.
  • Headphone amplifiers enable you to turn a single headphone jack into several headphone feeds.
  • Studio Monitors give you an accurate idea of what your recordings and overall audio mix sounds like.
  • Outboard gear is external hardware that is used to enhance and control the sound of a mic or an audio signal.
  • Microphone preamps are amplifiers that boost the signal from a mic so it can be properly recorded.
  • Compressors make the softer parts of an audio signal louder and the louder parts of an audio signal softer.
  • A channel strip is a piece of outboard gear that combines a mic preamp, dynamics and EQ.
  • A De-esser suppresses harsh sounding sibilant sounds.
  • You can use a handheld portable digital recorder to create voice-overs anywhere you go.


Would you recommend the Rode VideoMic pro for both out in the field audio as well as voiceover work while at home? In my head it would assure a very similar sound in both environments? 

Hi Dennis - 

The RODE VideoMic Pro is not designed for VO work. It's best used is a as a shotgun mic for a DSLR or camcorder. 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:    

I just started getting into voice acting, singing and recording stuff in general. i also have a really old-fashioned Toshiba laptop....are there any microphones, stands and pop filters than are compatible with my laptop that can also be cheap at the same time? I know this is pretty dumb to me...!

Also, is there a specific laptop i can use that can make recording a whole lot easier and maybe cheaper?

Hi Ria - 

USB microphones do not require a special computer or a particularly sophisticated or powerful computer at all.  I am not sure what you are using now, but this  one would pair well with my microphone recommendation above:

The 15.6" Ideapad 310 Series Notebook from Lenovo is built for users who need a laptop that can handle everyday tasks such as browsing the Internet, creating and editing word documents, as well as watching HD videos and movies. Powered by a 2.3 GHz Intel Core i3-6100U Dual-Core processor and 6GB of 2133 MHz DDR4 RAM, the Ideapad 310 lets you efficiently multitask and quickly access frequently use files and programs. Its 15.6" display, driven by integrated Intel HD graphics, has a 1366 x 768 HD resolution for crisp and clear HD content. You'll also be able to connect additional monitors via its VGA and HDMI ports.

Hi Ria - 

The Yeti Studio from Blue is a professional recording system which includes the Yeti USB microphone, PreSonus Studio One Artist: Blue Microphone Edition recording software, iZotope Nectar Elements studio effects, and custom template presets for voice-overs, podcasts and music. The Yeti USB microphone employs a tri-capsule design that provides you with a variety of selectable polar patterns for flexibility in recording, while capturing your audio in up to 16-bit, 48 kHz resolution. Depending on your sound source, you can select between stereo, cardioid, omnidirectional, or bi-directional polar patterns for optimal results.

The mic has an integrated headphone amp with an independent gain control for latency-free monitoring. Microphone gain control as well as an instant mute function are available right on the device itself, while the included stand allows for pivoting in a variety of angles for ideal placement, with the added functionality of folding the mic down for storage and transport. The Yeti is Mac and Windows compatible, and includes a USB cable.

I am taking the recomendation of the Schoeps HSC 4VP Integrated Headset. I do a lot of moving around and have lots of notes hanging on my walls,  Yes crazy I know.  What I would like to know... Is there some high quality Wireless system I can use with the Schoeps to take full advantage of the technology of the Schoeps Headset?  I realize that going wireless does effect the quality. But today there must be some quality Wireless system I can integrate.  I don't want to buy a $2400 Headset and waste it with a subpar wireless system.  Movement is integral to how I work. Please help. 

Hi Shane - 

We are not familiar with a suitable wireless solution for this headset.

What sort of professional level solutions exist for recording voice over while simultaneously moving around and working on a computer? I'm looking for a recommendation for a pro-level headset microphone/headphone combo with XLR that I can use to record my voice over while I'm recording screen capture videos and demonstrations where my head may turn a lot. I have a Rode NT1-A on a boom arm but it's always in the way of me seeing my screen clearly, and I turn my head a lot as I have multiple screens and other hardware I adjust while recording my screencasts so the stationary mic doesn't work well. Would love a head-mounted microphone that doesn't sacrifice on quality.

Hello Rick -

This version of the Schoeps HSC 4VP Integrated Headset with Ultrasone 680 Headphones and B5 Popscreen features a moderate compensation of the proximity effect. The headset features a gooseneck cardioid microphone capsule suppresses noise from the surrounding environment while providing protection from "vocal" popping sounds" with the B5 popscreen.

The set includes the Ultrasone 680 closed-back stereo headphones for clear stereo audio. The headset was developed in cooperation with the sound engineers of a TV station who sought the highest possible quality of sound even under the extreme conditions of Formula 1 motor races.

A single cable splits to provide the microphone output is via an XLR-3M (+48V) and the headphone output via a 1/4" TRS connector. The earpiece opposite of the side of the gooseneck microphone can be folded out of the way of the ear.


The black eH6 Omnidirectional Microphone Headset with an XLR Connector for Hardwired Systems with Phantom Power from Countryman fatures an E6D capsule and a lightweight, 0.23 ounce dual ear-loop head frame headset. It is set to Countryman's W5 Band sensitivity for general speaking. The H6 can be used for miking broadcasters, actors in a theater environment, or presenters in houses of worship.

A stainless steel tubing and wire design allows for durability while keeping the head frame lightweight. The H6 has an adjustable boom arm to allow for placement of the mic close to your mouth. The adjustable ear-loops provide a secure fit that can be customized between multiple users.

Countryman includes changeable caps for adjusting the high frequency response, allowing you to select a flat response, a four decibel high end boost, or an eight decibel high end boost. This H6 Omnidirectional Microphone Headset has a male XLR termination and is designed to work with hardwired systems with phantom power.

Lightweight 0.23 ounce adjustable head frame

Field replaceable detachable cables

Sealed moisture-resistant connector

The 1.2 mm diameter cable uses Aramid strength members and engineered alloys for a 44 pound cable break strength

Great article. Thanks.

Setting up a video recording/editing studio with seperate voice over room. For voice overs.. What are the differences between using xlr mics, and recording directly into a camera, then editing?  I plan to use Final Cut Pro.  Thanks so much.

First Time Home Recorder, here!

What type of processor and memory in a new laptop should I look for when shopping for one to do home recording? Does the laptop even matter? I am a PC Gal and hope to stay in that realm. I am also hoping to stay within a pretty tight budget, for now. Any recommendations? 

Thanks in advance!

Hi Leah -

If thye budget allows, look for a laptop with at least an Intel i5 processor with no less than 8GB of RAM.  Have at least 256 GB of on-board storage space available as well as a 2 TB back-up external drive.

The Lenovo 15.6" ThinkPad P50 Mobile Workstation is a notebook that is suited for CAD and design workflows while you are on the road. It comes packed with an Intel Core i7-6700HQ processor along with a dedicated NVIDIA Quadro M1000M graphics card, which outputs 1920 x 1080 visuals to the 15.6" screen. To handle multiple applications at the same time, 8GB of DDR4 RAM is installed. There's also a 500GB hard drive that spins at a rate of 7200 rpm and comes with ample space to store your images, videos, and data.

The 15.6" display is equipped an IPS panel that offers a 160° viewing angle as well as accurate colors. Lenovo has designed this screen with a brightness level of 250 cd/m2, a 600:1 contrast ratio, and a color gamut of 45%. You can also expand the on-screen workspace by connecting your external monitors to the notebook's HDMI and mini DisplayPort.

I am a newbie voice actor trying to use Focusrite Scartlett Solo with the DAW -- CubeBase 8 on a Windows PC. This DAW (CubeBase 8) is too hard for me to grasp from manuals and even with a 30 minute instruction class. There seems to always be some setting I miss each time I attempt to record. I am using Sends tracks, reverb and delay for voice so I can record podcasts, voice to add to video presentations and video commercials. Is there some really simple DAW operating system you can recommend? How about an iOS App made for iPad/iPhone or Windows 10 PC? Any constructive information from your readers would be helpful in making this purchase decision. Thank you very much folks.

Hi Orin -

Be sure to "SAVE AS" and create a new name.  You are probably recording over the template.  You could also go ultra simple and use GarageBand on your Mac.

Hey guys! I'm new in the microphone business and am struggling to pick the right mic and set up for me. I was planning to get the fleureon bm-800 condenser mic and then buy a 48v phantom power preamp. The problem is I have heard mixed reviews of both. I am planning to use it for podcasting and voice acting work the latter being the reason for me wanting a condenser mic since not many voice directors recommend usb mics. My budget is below €100 yet another reason for my above mic choices. If you have any advice if be extremely grateful!

Hi Elmear -

This is a fairly low quality product , not offered at B&H. You will get what you pay for and I recommend saving for a better quality microphone.  Here's my minimum recommendation for any professional VO or VA work:

     The AT2020 Cardioid Condenser Microphone from Audio-Technica is designed for vocal and general instrument capturing in project and professional studio environments. The capsule features a low-mass, side-address diaphragm with a cardioid polar pattern for rejecting ambiance and noise at the off-axis sections of the microphone capsule. A linear frequency response of 20 Hz to 20 kHz enables the flexibility to accurately reproduce signals from a wide variety of sources. High SPL handling and wide dynamic range allow the AT2020 to capture loud signals with minimal noise and distortion. The microphone includes a pivoting, threaded stand mount for accurate positioning.

Suitable for project/home-studio applications

High SPL handling and wide dynamic range provide maximum versatility

Custom-engineered low-mass diaphragm provides extended frequency response and superior transient response

Cardioid polar pattern reduces pickup of sounds from the sides and rear, improving isolation of desired sound source

Pivoting, threaded stand mount attaches securely for easy and precise placement of the microphone

You will also need an audio interface if you plan on connecting to a compuyter:

     The Second-Generation Scarlett Solo from Focusrite is a portable USB 2.0 digital audio interface, featuring a single Scarlett microphone preamp with phantom power, and a dedicated instrument/line input. You can monitor your signal either through an independent 1/4" output or via rear-mounted, unbalanced RCA jacks. Perfect for the travelling troubadour, this unit is fully compatible with Mac and Windows computers, and includes a plethora of recording, instrument, and sample content software.

An included Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative pack is enhanced by a suite of Focusrite Scarlett plug-ins—a set of tools including compression, EQ, gating, and reverb. The Novation Bass Station software synthesizer can be used to add bass or melody, and a sample pack from Loopmasters contains drum loops and sound effects. Ableton Live is included to boot. 

Focusrite's Red Plug-In Suite (AAX, Audio Units, and VST) delivers modules based on the classic Focusrite Red 2 EQ and Red 3 Compressor hardware. Also included in this bundle is the Softube Time and Tone Pack for further sonic exploration within your chosen DAW.   

Notable Features

  • One Scarlett mic preamp with high headroom and minimal distortion 
  • One line/instrument input, designed to handle high-level pick-ups
  • Conversion and sample rates up to 24-bit/192 kHz  
  • Low latency for using your plug-ins in real time without the need for DSP
  • One headphone output with gain control
  • Stereo RCA outputs for connecting to home speakers
  • Compact and portable at 1.3 lb
  • Powered by USB
  • Includes Pro Tools | First Focusrite Creative Pack and Ableton Live Lite
  • Includes additional software and loops

Hey guys. Super article. I'm a photographer that is starting to fold in video and would like to start engaging in personal documentary projects. In doing so, I would like to setup a good workflow at home. 

Currently I shoot with the D810 and straight video with the Sony FS5 which has XLR outputs. I have a Zoom H5 for field recording but use the onboard mics right now. My headphones are Sony MDR7506 and I have Cubase LE software on my workstation.

In terms of mic to the software is where I need to get some input. For the field I think one of the shotgun mics may be good like the Audio-Technica AT875R or the Sennheiser MKE 600. For for the home studio voiceover work I thought maybe the Rode NT1Kit. Where I'm a little stuck is the next chunk of gear. Do I need a traditional mixer with an audio interface, just the interface, use the Zoom with one or the other or both?

I think my budget would like to be under $1,000 to get going but am open to suggestions. 

Thanks for your assistance!

Hi Mark -

Your microphone choices are fine and will work well with a USB interface.  Going with a channel strip, etc.may be over-kill for you at this time  A mixer with USB output is fine for live work but not generally recommended for home-studio/VO projects. 

Focusrite's second-generation Scarlett 2i2 is a portable audio interface designed specifically for use in a portable computer environment. Lightweight at 1.3 lb, the device sports two inputs, two outputs, instrument/line switches, 48V Phantom power, direct monitoring, a discrete headphone output, and the ability to draw power via USB. It's designed to operate handily at resolutions and sample rates of up to 24-bit/192 kHz, and its combination front-panel inputs render it suitable for tracking instruments with much in the way of headroom and little in the way of distortion.


I have room which is about 5x4 meters and its height is  about 3 meters.

I have some acoustic foam on the wall. but there is somm noise from outside occasionally. Would you please recommend me what kind of microphone I should buy for narration and audiobook recording? my budget is about 1200 dollars and i was thinking about TLM 103 and MKH 416. I would be grateful if you could help me here. if there is any other options you  recommend, i am more than happy to hear. since I am going to record many tuturials also, I want to invest ptoperrly. so, if your recommended mic is even a bit more expensive, i don't mind.

thank you.

Hi Sajjad -

Both great mics, but the Sennheiser is not well suited for small spaces indoors and requires alot of experience to obtain acceptable results.  The TLM-103 is certainly not a bad choice at all, but sounds a bit on the thin side for my tastes.  In this budtget range, I like the CU-29 Copperhead Tube Condenser Microphone from Telefunken.   It's a part of their R-F-T line of coveted tube condenser microphones, and is a viable option for crucial recording of vocals and instruments. The CU-29 features a single-membrane version of the large diaphragm capsule used in the AR-51 and AK-47 Mk II microphones. The capsule reproduces audio with presence and detail. The Telefunken EF-95 vacuum tube output stage adds warmth and a wide frequency response. The microphone's cardioid polar pattern controls off-axis feedback and noise.

Thank you for your prompt response. 

Are music recording studio programs good enough to record ALL audio (Voices, fx, original music, ect.) for a complete animated episode before the animation even starts? That is how I would like to do it if possible. I want to do it all one hundred percent original.

Professional music editing software would be for all types of audio recording applications, whether it be voice recording or musical engineering.  So, you should be able to use the same professional studio software to add all sound required/desired in an animated episode. 

I have two questions:

Are regular earbuds okay in place of headphones? I have a pair of Skullcandy earbuds that I use for general listening to music and videos.

What's the best budget microphone? I'm interested in making YouTube videos for fun, and I don't want to spend a lot of money on something if something cheaper will do the trick. I currently record my audio with my iPod Touch's Voice Memos app while sitting in my closet because the clothes should absorb the sound.

Thanks and have a nice day!

Hi Chris -

If you are on a budget then use your Skullcandy earbuds.  Full, circumaural headphones are recommended for comfort and isolation and accuracy. If you are looking for a decent USB microphone on a budget, consider:

The Go Mic USB Microphone from Samson is a compact, plug-and-play solution that requires no drivers and is completely Mac and Windows compatible. The Go Mic features a USB audio output and a 1/8" (3.5mm) headphone output. A folding clip allows for laptop screen mounting.

Switchable polar patterns provide cardioid and omnidirectional pick up patterns for added flexibility and control. A wide frequency response and 44.1 kHz / 16-bit resolution make the Go Mic a viable microphone for Podcasts, voice recognition software, music recording, general speech, etc.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:

I am shoping / browsing to build my very first(?) Voiceover lab in my home.

Planning for this to be an "adding-components-as-I-go" (price / availability-focused) endeavor, which components (microphone, headset, etc.) should be my starting-points for my lab?

Look at the around the forum I moderated, Voice123 forums in Tech Tips, and you will find that many types of sound equipment used.



Editing software


Mic Stand

Windscreen/pop filter

Mixing board

Thanks for the comprehensive information.

I'm building a home recording studio and need some advice. If I go with something like the Rode NT1-A Complete Vocal Recording Solution, what kind of outboard gear would you recommend for the best value? Thanks in advance for any info.


Hi Heather -

You may need a stand, a reflexion filter, and an audio interface.  Here are a few options listed below:

PreSonus AudioBox USB - Audio Recording Interface

Auray - MS-5230T Tripod Microphone Stand with Telescoping Boom

Auray RF-CPB-18 Reflection Filter

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:


I am looking to start my youtube channel and need a decent mic. As I go along I will invest more and get better equipement. I would be doing a voice over topics I would be talking about on youtube. This is something I want to do in my free time as a hobby and after about 6 months to a year see how I do and go from there. I am looking for a bacis USB mic. I already have a decent computer and am very good with working with windows. The two mic. I came across are Blue Yeti and Senal UB-440. Both look nice with decent reviews. Which of those would you guys recommend? Or would you recommend something else in same price range or cheaper? Thanks.

Hi F Khan -

Those looking for an all-in-one package for recording vocals, instruments, or podcasts should check out the Senal UB-400 USB Mic Desktop Recording Kit from B&H. It includes the Senal UB-400 large diaphragm condenser USB mic, a 6-inch pop filter with gooseneck, and a nearfield absorber.

The UB-400 has a cardioid polar pattern and is capable of recording your audio in up to 16-bit/48kHz resolution. It features a built-in preamplifier as well as a headphone amp with a 1/8" stereo output that allows you to monitor both input and playback from your computer.

To reduce plosives and other vocal noises, a pop filter is included. It has a 13.5-inch gooseneck that allows you to position it as needed. The nearfield absorber further reduces noise your mic will pick up by providing isolation from the natural sound of your room while reducing reflections.

This Kit Includes:

Thanks for the education on this gadgets.It very intresting will get back at u.

Hello, Im a sound mixer and sound designer  from Brazil and  want to record a voice over with the same that the Sound mixers record in the hollywood studios. I need to know what kind of mis they record to compare.

I want presence and bass...  could u help me?


Hi Georges -

The VOXBOX Combo Tube Channel Strip from Manley Labs is a signal processor with mic preamp, compressor, EQ, and De-Esser/Limiter. While the unit can be used as a single input channel strip, it can also process 2 independent audio signals; one through the mic preamp/compressor and the other through EQ/De-Esser/Limiter. The original design idea was intended for vocal processing. However, the VOXBOX also excels at processing drums, guitar, bass, and stereo mixes.

The AKG C 12 VR Microphone is a studio condenser microphone that's a favorite among some of the most sought after recording engineers in the industry. Modeled directly after the classic AKG C 12, the C 12 VR (vintage restoration) maintains it's popularity since it's inception in the late 1940's. Like the C 12, the C 12 VR features a 1" diaphragm and unique condenser tube (6072) design, providing warmth and presence characteristics unique to the microphone.

In addition to the classic sound, the C 12 VR is a versatile microphone featuring 9 switchable pickup patterns including omnidirectional, cardioid and figure-eight, with variations of each. Also provided is switchable attenuation between -10 or -20dB, and a boost of +10db to accommodate all studio recording requirements.  An aluminum case is included, and the C 12 VR is backed by a 3-year warranty.

In TV, film, and news production, the Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun microphone is a good example of a product that has become so popular, that the name of the manufacturer was organically supplanted for the type of the microphone by its users. In production circles, it's not uncommon to be asked "Do you have a Sennheiser?" It's truly the "Kleenex®," or "Xerox®" of shotgun microphones. Here's the story of how and why this particular microphone became known as "...the sound of the movies."

The Sennheiser MKH-416: From Brand Name to Industry Standard

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:

Is there some equipment that I don't necessarily need?

Hi Alyssa -

The simplest method is using a USB microphone.  This method will eliminate the need for a separate USB audio interface.  The recommendations we have detailed offer the best solutions for the most professional voice-over results.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:

I need to lay new audio tracks over computer training videos created with Camtasia. I would like to have:

   • Headphone mic for when I work alone
   • Table mic for interviewing a person
   • Some kind of mixer/tone/de-esser/power controller that can plug into the computer via USB
   • Budget under $1000

Can anyone make package recomendations?

Thank you.

very good

I want to buy condenser mic

I am a voiceover and I would like to buy equipment for a home studio in my house. What equipment would you suggest? I would an inexpensive equipment. I already tried a mic with a USB and the quality is not good enough so I would like to get a mic with an XLR wire. I will be using it near my computer so I would like it to be accessible to my desk.

Hi Rebecca -

PreSonus AudioBox USB - Audio Recording Interface - The AudioBox from Presonus is a two-channel USB computer audio interface. It utilizes high-grade components to ensure optimum performance and features 24-bit converters that sample at 44.1 or 48kHz, two high-quality PreSonus microphone preamps with switchable 48V phantom power, MIDI I/O and solid drivers.

Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Side-Address Microphone - The Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone is a well suited solution for home studios, project recording and live sound reinforcement alike. The side-address condenser microphone features a cardioid polar pattern for minimal feedback and off-axis noise. The element and output stage combine to produce a smooth yet natural audio quality with low noise.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:

We would like to record our own hold messages for our phone system with music in the background of the message.  What would be a good kit for us to purchase to produce professional sounding messages.


Hi Leeanna -

Those looking for an all-in-one package for recording vocals, instruments, or podcasts should check out the Senal UB-400 USB Mic Desktop Recording Kit from B&H. It includes the Senal UB-400 large diaphragm condenser USB mic, a 6-inch pop filter with gooseneck, and a nearfield absorber.

The UB-400 has a cardioid polar pattern and is capable of recording your audio in up to 16-bit/48kHz resolution. It features a built-in preamplifier as well as a headphone amp with a 1/8" stereo output that allows you to monitor both input and playback from your computer.

To reduce plosives and other vocal noises, a pop filter is included. It has a 13.5-inch gooseneck that allows you to position it as needed. The nearfield absorber further reduces noise your mic will pick up by providing isolation from the natural sound of your room while reducing reflections.

This Kit Includes:

voice over setup


To begin with, thank you for the detailed and informative article.  Like others have already mentioned, I found it to be more helpful than any other single article on the web.  

I am in the process of purchasing equipment for voice over work.  Before I submit my order to B&H I would like to confirm that I have an understanding of what I'll need (meaning what will provide professional results).  From all the reviews I have seen, I have settled on purchasing the RE20 microphone.  Through your article I believe that I should also be purchasing a channel strip as well as an audio interface.  For the channel strip, I am leaning towards the dbx 286s and for the audio interface possibly the focusrite scarlett 2i2.  My questions are:  Am I correct in understanding that if purchasing the RE20, a channel strip and audio interface are necessary?  Also, will the equipment I mentioned provide professional results (assuming all else being equal) or do you suggest looking at something different?  Finally, I recently had someone tell me that I should buy only cables that have gold connections yet I am almost certain that years ago I read somewhere that cables with gold connections have no measurable functional value over other cables.  

Thank you again not just for the excellent article, but also the comment section that B&H continues to answer.

Hi Brendan -

The gear you are considering will yield professional results.  Although the channel strip is not required, per se - most VO pros would agree that it is essential to ensure the very best recording. The USB interface is absolutely necessary to route the audio signal to your computer for recording and editing.  Gold connectors may deliver a slight edge (measurable but not easily heard) in transferring of the audio signal, as they afford better conductivity.  I feel their best feature is that gold anodized contacts resist oxidation (rust) which will degrade a signal and may damage the equipment that they are connected to. 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:

Hi there,

One of the most comprehensive well written articles that I have come across on podcasting equipment- well done!

Can I please ask - I have a Rode Procaster XLR mic, a DBX286s and a Mackie 802 mixer along with a Tascam DR07 digital recorder. Is there anything in that set up for podcasting that you would regard as a weak link or is there anything else I could slot in to further improve recording quality especislly in terms of de-essing?

Many thanks


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