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Hello Guys! I'm trying to make a stop-motion film for You Tube, and I'm new to recording voice over. Do you guys have any recommendations on what kinds of recording equipment i should use? What kind of Mic I should use, what should the specs be? Also, any other equipment I need?

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If your computer is fairly quiet, you can record directly by plugging your mic into the computer.  A cheap microphone costing around $20 might do well enough.

My old PC is very noisy, I didn't want to be near it when recording sound.  So I got an mp3 player/recorder that another animator told me had good sound recording quality, and could record in wav format as well as mp3.  (It's long superceded, an iRiver model.)  It has the advantage of being able to be taken anywhere.  I now have a Mac Pro which is very quiet so I often record directly to it.  I use Audacity, a free sound editing program for both Mac and PC, to record it with.  If I have recorded on the mp3 player, I still use Audacity to edit out the false starts and clean up the file.

I got a Sony ECM-MS907 stereo mic that I can connect to both the mp3 player and the computer. You can still buy them today, for less than the $100 it cost me.  It has two pickup settings, one a 90 degree medium beam and the other wide angle at 120 degrees, which means it picks up sound from a wider area to the left and right.  It has worked very well, giving me good clean sound recordings.

Here's one, but they can also be found on eBay for less:   http://www.amazon.com/Sony-ECMMS907-Digital-Recording-Microphone/dp...

It has a normal analog audio plug.  But there are mics around now that plug into USB instead, so it might depend on what you would want to plug it into, which way you go.

I think most of the time, I might prefer a narrow beam Shotgun Mic that focusses on one direction more.  I don't usually want to pick up ambient sounds, just the one specific sound from one source.

Here's a video review of an Audio-Technica shotgun mic that demonstrates the narrow angle pickup.  It gets more of what it is aimed at, and less of the other sounds off in diffferent directions.  This particular model has mixed reviews, and I haven't used it, so I can't recommend it. At $50 it is a cheap mic, not really for pro recording, but apparently it is good for the price.  For Youtube it should be good enough.  

http://www.amazon.com/Audio-Technica-ATR-6550-Condenser-Shotgun-Mic...

Maybe someone else here can recommend a shotgun mic that performs well and is not too costly.  Or say what sort of mic they prefer.  I do know that I recorded myself talking about an upcoming film project and recorded with the built-in mic on my camcorder and the sound was terrible, picked up echoes in the room, so I wish I had something like this to attach to the video cam to get decent sound.  

Here's a very peculiar tip I picked up a while ago (I forget who/where from!) which sounds odd but it works really well. Whatever your microphone (I've only tried it with fairly cheapish ones that weren't for voiceover recording), the quality bumps up if you get underneath your duvet with it and record your voice in there. It's an alternative to the expensive foam things you can get that go around your microphone... it cancels out any background noise or natural room reverberation which allows for much easier editing. This is a strange request to your actors but so far all my actors have been my mates so it's not too awkward! 

Sorry that's not about equipment but just a tip you might find useful!

Marnik

My comptuer is noisy, but the mic goes through a guitar FX processor with a noise reduction circuit on it (kind of like a noise gate). Try something like that if you want really clean recordings. You can get a multi pedal for less than $100 at pawn shops and on Ebay.

if you don't want to use your computer I've heard the MARANTZ PMD 660 and the TASCAM DR-07 are good (but I've never tried them) and you should be able to get either pretty cheap on ebay.

I had to look those up - they are small portable voice recorders, using flash memory cards instead of the hard drive inside my old iRiver mp3 recorder. I found an article in Wikipedia that said there was a problem with the pre- amplifier in the Marantz PMD 660 causing a hissing sound, but the 661 fixed that problem and is a better choice.

Thanks Nick.  Sorry I should have explained that better, I was tried when I wrote it! The 661 was the recommended one, my mistake.  Useful to know not to get the 660 though.  Cheers.


 
StopmoNick said:

I had to look those up - they are small portable voice recorders, using flash memory cards instead of the hard drive inside my old iRiver mp3 recorder. I found an article in Wikipedia that said there was a problem with the pre- amplifier in the Marantz PMD 660 causing a hissing sound, but the 661 fixed that problem and is a better choice.

Just remembered- for voice recording away from the computer (or even tethered to it), the Zoom H2 will work in a pinch. It has four different mic positions and you can choose between stereo and mono as well as several effects like Compression and EQ presets. It's also an excellent mic for Foley.

I can vouch for the Tascam DR-07.  I bought one last year after weeks of research - that same issue of computer noise was getting me down.  It's not incredibly expensive but it's been worth every penny, producing excellent low-noise recordings with great dynamic range.  In addition to it's on-board stereo pair, it takes both mic and line inputs so you can record direct or through a sound mixer and best of all has it's own phantom power so you can use condenser mics without a separate supply.  I've used it both for studio and location work and couldn't be happier.

Steve Boot said:

if you don't want to use your computer I've heard the MARANTZ PMD 660 and the TASCAM DR-07 are good (but I've never tried them) and you should be able to get either pretty cheap on ebay.

Meanwhile, I've used the Audio Technica 6550 a couple of times, the pick up is good and it's a very practical mic particularly for use with camcorders - What are camcorder manufacturers thinking when they fit their on-board mics?  I haven't heard a usable one since the Panasonic DP200!

I digress. With the 6550, there are some issues with noise generated from the internal battery and it doesn't give you the response of some other instruments.  If you can power your mics from either a mixer or recorder, I would heartily recommend Behringer C2s. Roughly the same price but much more solid construction - and you get two of them!

I've used an 'old' Panasonic DV tape camcorder to good effect for audio recording. Very inexpensive as I already owned it. It has a conventional 3.5mm external microphone socket which makes connecting your preferred microphone easy (unless it needs phantom power). Small, quiet and easily portable it will run for an hour on one matchbox sized battery. I usually record voiceovers in the bedroom where plenty of soft furnishings produce a good acoustic quality.

As I still have a laptop with a FireWire input I can transfer the digital recordings directly onto the timeline of my video editing software (I use Adobe Premiere Elements v11). If required, the track can be exported as a WAV file for import into a more sophisticated audio editor/mixer.

The biggest problem I've had is all the external background noise any mic (cheap or expensive) seems to pick up (refrigerator, air conditioning, animal noises, etc.). 

Lacking a sound booth I resorted to recording in our walk in clothing closet.  With the door shut, and with all the clothes my wife has managed to pack it there it really cuts the noise down.  (Why does any woman need that many shoes? ... but I digress). 

A foam mic wind sock to cut down pops and clicks helps also.  Just make sure to turn on the lights, or you may trip over all the shoes ;-)

... jbd

Proper audio recording at home should be done either with dynamic mic (for. eg. Shure SM57) with decent external audio interface (planety cheap USB audio interfaces on the market) or - semi pro: condenser mic in quiet room, probably with reflection filter, nice pre-amp and some knowledge about compression and equalization. First option costs about $300, second can cost from $1000 to infinity. But cheap mic and weak sound will always sound poor, I recommend to buy at least dynamic mic and external audio interface for voice overs. If you want to record anything other than a voice, for eg. some quiet sources, you need to invest in condenser mic and proper room treatment (or you will record a lot of bg noise that will ruin your recordings). SE reflection Filter can help to eliminate unwanted room ambience, but it will not help in getting rid of noise of fridge, humming, etc.

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