Monday, August 13, 2012

MailBag: More Mics, Demos, and Home Studios

Congratulations for your wonderful review videos!
I have a lot of microphones (neumann KM184, Rode NT4, AKG 451, Oktava's MK12, DPA SMK4061....)but I'm really not satisfied (only Neumann is good -)
So I am looking for avery good matched pair now.
Please what you personally think of the AKG 414 microphones??? Do you think it is the best choice with a Nagra (LB) ? I have the Nagra LB already. I would also like to buy the AKG 414 but I doubt a bit...
Are you perfectly happy with these mics?Are the AKG B-ULS better than he new AKG 414 XLS recording a grand piano???
I think the Rode NT5 matched pair are less good ...I know it is a cheap choice but the reviews are so good for this microphones. But I think the AKG 414 is imcomparable...??? Can you just let me know what your real opinion is?
Many thanks In advance !
Best regards
Well, one of the original use for the 414 was to mic dynamic instruments like pianos, so I don't think you could go wrong with a pair of them. It is a reference mic after all.
Honestly miking a piano is more art than science though. You can easily get stuck in the infinite number of combinations, distances, angles, making tiny tweaks and adjustments until you go crazy. In my head a combination of a pair of 414's on the piano and KM184's as overheads to pick up some of the room should sound pretty great.

It's been a LONG time since I last used a ULS, but if memory serves, I think the XLS is a little brighter and has a slightly lower noise floor.

I'm hesitant to show my "noob"-ness, but I'm still confused about something; how does one go about actually recording a competitive demo? I've read Yuri and Tara's book - should one create/compile everything they want to record themselves and then buy some studio time? Should a director be hired, such as yourself? How can one objectively judge his/her own material before recording it?
There's no right answer. It's part of the journey of becoming a professional. Sure we talk a big game about the feel-good artsy stuff, but we don't always discuss the business concerns as well as we should.
See, you're now starting to deal with marketing. That's what a demo is, a piece of material which promotes you. Before you can make that piece, you have to know what you're promoting. It's easy to say "I'm promoting me", but what does that mean? If you haven't developed a brand for yourself it's very difficult to craft marketing materials to sell that voice of yours.
A lot of the questions you're asking here are some of my warning indicators, that you might not be QUITE ready to jump into a demo just yet.
To answer those questions though, it all comes down to what vibe you want to create for your demo and whether you know any producers you trust to work with on those materials. The answers to all of these questions, including the ability to self-reference, come with time and experience.


Dear Mr. Bagnell, I'm a Seattle based voice over artist just starting to get auditions with major companies in the area. (Microsoft, Boeing) I'm very interested in improving my at-home auditions in terms of equipment, skill with Audacity and my own technical skill. As far as equipment goes, I live in a carpeted apartment off the highway but near a major flightpath.My computer and apartment are pretty noisy, but I do have a room in which to record. At the moment, I'm using my computer's onboard mic and it sounds predictably terrible. My budget runs in about the 300-600 dollar range. I'm not sure what industry standard is for audition quality, so I don't know how nice they should sound. How would you spend 300-600 dollars to create an at-home recording studio? I know I'm not going to get great quality, but I would love to buy decent products so that I can upgrade piece by piece, not by replacing the whole rig at once. Also, if I were to send you a couple samples of my auditions, could you give me a few pointers? I realize you're a very busy man, so no worries if you can't. Your site has been very valuable for me as a voice over artist and I so much appreciate your time. Thanks, -Quinn 
So glad my site has been helpful!
Still kinda tricky to outright recommend gear, but I'd almost want to throw the H4n at you. For $260 you'd have a USB mic which could later become an interface as you started upgrading your chain. Here's my mini-review of the H4n from a while back.

Also, as I record a bit from home too, it would allow you to record with the computer off, then move the files over to edit. It's a touch cumbersome to work that way, but it's what I've taken to doing to eliminate computer noise from my recordings.
I don't know what kind of issues you might be running into, but simple treatments like packing blankets in a corner can often help tame some of the reflections in a room.
Unfortunately there's not really anything you can do about the flight noise short of rebuilding the apartment complex, so you'll have to do the awkward dance of pausing during recording, or recording later at night when traffic dies down.
I'm always available to do a coaching session. If you'd be interested in that we can chat times and rates.

As always, if any of this advice has helped you out, please consider hitting the donation links, or using my Amazon affiliate links on the left hand side. Thanks for supporting my site!

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