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Equipment Requirements & Recommendations ▼

Computer

Generally speaking any laptop connected to the mains, or quiet PC/iMac will be ideal. If I had to choose I would opt for a laptop without a built in fan (an Apple MacBook Air for example). A noiseless computer means you can keep it close to your microphone and thus saving your audio files requires little or no movement away.

If you plan to use a desktop computer be aware it may have a noisy fan. If so, move it far away as possible or even outside the door as this fan noise will be audible through your microphone. Do not however cover your desktop computer as it may overheat and cut out mid-session.

It is essential to have at least 30gb of free hard disc space on your computer otherwise you may encounter problems whilst recording audio.

 

Microphone

Below are two options for your microphone equipment.

Option 1

Simple cost effective option for light, occasional work.

USB Microphone

USB Microphones are easily set-up, and should ‘just work’ when plugged in. They are generally acceptable for quality but do not have easily accessible dials to control the volume of your recording should you need to be whispering or shouting. This can lead to noisy or distorted recordings.

Budget USB Mic (Approx £70) Fame USB Vocal Kit

Budget Microphone stand (Approx £20): Music Store Mic-8

You do not need a separate audio interface with this option as your USB microphone acts as an audio interface – thus your headphones plug in to the USB microphone.

Option 2

Professional choice for actors. Pick one item from each section:-

i) Microphone with shock-mount

You should be considering a Large Diaphragm Condenser Microphone complete with Shock-Mount and Pop Shield. How much you want to spend is up to you. A £90 microphone can sound remarkable similar to an £950 microphone – until that is you whisper or shout! Whispering requires a sensitive microphone with a good signal-to-noise ratio for clean results in post – and shouting requires a microphone with a high SPL (sound pressure level) so there is less or no distortion on your recording.

Top studio microphone with shock-mount (Approx £950): Neumann TLM-103 and a Pop-Shield

Most popular microphone with shock-mount and pop-shield (Approx £160): Rode NT1-A

Budget microphone with shock-mount and pop-shield (Approx £70): Fame C05

ii) Audio Interface

Your professional microphone will plug into the audio interface, and the audio interface will plug into your computer via USB.

The audio interface has a button called 48v (Phantom Power) which needs to be switched on – but only do this once your condenser microphone is connected.

Your headphones plug into the audio interface.

Popular audio interface (approx £100): Focusrite Scarlett Solo

Budget audio interface (Approx £40): Behringer U-Phoria UMC22

Please do check that your computer USB port matches that of the cable that comes with your audio interface.

iii) Headphones

Do not use walkman style headphones or bluetooth earbuds. You will need a pair of ‘Closed Back’ headphones, meaning little or no sound escapes from them whilst they are on your head – otherwise other actors may draw attention to echo being heard.

More expensive headphones means more comfortable over longer durations.

Top studio headphones (approx £120): Beyerdynamic DT150

Popular headphones (approx £80): Sennheiser HD 280 Pro

Budget headphones (approx £30): Fame HD-10 Pro

iv) Microphone stand

A condenser microphone is heavy, and the chances are you’ll be suspending it upside down so that you can read your script just underneath it. A budget microphone stand can be prone to ‘drooping’. No one likes that!

Sturdy Microphone stand (Approx £40): König & Meyer

Budget Microphone stand (Approx £20): Music Store Mic-8

v) Microphone Cable

An 3 pin XLR to XLR cable will be required to connect your condenser microphone to your Audio Interface.

Always make sure your microphone cable ‘clicks’ reassuringly into place on your condenser microphone. 

Choose a length suitable for your set-up

3 Metre microphone cable

6 metre microphone cable

10 metre microphone cable

 

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Where’s best to record at home? ▼

Suitable recording location

Different rooms have different characteristics in sound which will always be present on your recording.

A soft furnished room (bedroom, lounge) is perfect. Sound reflections are absorbed by beds, sofas, carpet and curtains. Recording in a corner of this room is good if you can hang a duvet or thick blanket on the wall behind your microphone. For the very best results cover the ceiling above the microphone too – perhaps making a temporary false ceiling using a duvet. Sorry but Egg boxes have little effect – but see below about acoustic tiles.

Wooden or tiled floors will add much unwanted echo to your voice recordings and so please avoid these spaces.

Small cupboards (or under the stairs) give a characteristic boxy sound to your voice which is problematic to remove in post. You may not hear it, but we will. You can remove the boxiness by investing in quality acoustic tiles (not the cheap ones sorry) and covering the entire space including the ceiling. 

Acoustic Tiles


Acoustic tiles are worth considering if you can keep your recording set-up in place.

Cheap acoustic tiles (ebay) – use plenty behind, to the sides and above your microphone in carpeted rooms with soft furnishings
Quality acoustic tiles (studiospares.com) – Surround yourself (inc. ceiling) in confined spaces such as cupboards or under the stairs
Electric carving knife (Argos) – perfectly easy to cut acoustic tiles (Stanley knife/scissors just don’t work on thicker tiles)
Carpet spray glue (Amazon) – sticks acoustic tiles to walls and ceilings well without long term damage (don’t quote me on that)

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Set-up your Microphone for use ▼

Standing or sitting?

Choose a standing or sitting position, and adjust your microphone accordingly. Your mouth will need to be 4-8 inches away from the microphone, and also level with it when speaking.

We find it best to first lock the microphone in its shock-mount, and then have it upside down on the mic stand so that the mic lead is coming out of the top. This way you have ample room underneath for your script. You may need to counterweight your microphone stand so that it doesn’t droop with the wight of your microphone fitted.

The pop shield is fitted 1″ to 2″ in front with the microphone grill centred behind – this will stop plosives for the letter p.

Click on the images below for a sitting example. 

Always check your microphone direction

As in the pictures above, you’ll notice the Neumann logo badge facing the front. It’s commonplace to find the logo on the microphone’s body directly below where you need to direct you voice. Having this the wrong way around will make you sound quieter and off-mic, with lower levels of higher frequencies.

Tell your computer about your microphone!

With your new microphone plugged in and then your computer switched on (in that order) go to:-
on a PC visit ‘Settings’ (cogwheel icon), then ‘System’, then the ‘Audio’ tab, or
on a MAC visit ‘System Preferences’ (cogwheel icon),  then click the ‘Sound’ icon
and finally choose your USB microphone or audio interface for both the Input and Output device settings.

Doing this will stop sound eminating from your computer speakers – but Cleanfeed and your headphones will work beautifully!

Protect your microphone investment

If the audio interface is switched on, then make sure 48v is OFF when connecting or disconnecting the microphone. Only once the microphone is connected should 48v be switched on – this powers the microphone and makes it work.

I’d recommend that you only connect your microphone to the audio interface when the audio interface is switched off. 

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What’s the Best Internet Connection? ▼

Use a wired connection

Cleanfeed is all about having a ‘consistent’ connection, but not necessarily a ‘fast’ connection to the internet. Because Cleanfeed produces and uploads linear audio data (better than CD quality), and not variable audio data (such as Zoom or Teams), any instabilities in your internet connection will cause an instantaneous audio drop-out and possible time lag for everyone to hear except yourself. This will result in a re-take for safety.

It only costs between £5 and £35 to have a reliable wired connection and lose the fear of drop-outs that are commonplace when using Wi-Fi or Powerline adapters.

A wired connection is where an Ethernet lead connects from the back of your internet router straight to your computer, negating the need to use Wi-Fi.

What to buy

Firstly, get yourself an Ethernet lead (Amazon Prime). They can be run up to 50 metres (through doors, up stairs, even in and out of windows!). Choose a brightly coloured lead at a comfortable length so that it can run through your property in a safe manner.

if your computer does not have an ethernet port, then match up which ports you do have (USB 2, USB C or Thunderbolt) with an ethernet adapter below.

For any laptop with a spare regular USB 2 port (Amazon Prime)
For any laptop with a spare USB-C Port (Amazon Prime)
For an Apple laptop with a spare Thunderbolt port (Amazon Prime)

You may find Apple Ethernet adapters on eBay more competitively priced.

Once plugged in from the back of your internet router to your computer, test your Ethernet cable is working by turning off the Wi-Fi connection on your computer. You may need to restart your computer for the ethernet connection to be recognised. Leave your Wi-Fi turned off for the duration of the Cleanfeed session.

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Using Cleanfeed ▼

No account needed

We, the studio, host the Cleanfeed session, and each guest simply opens their individual Cleanfeed link to start their connection to our studios.
You DO NOT need to set-up your own Cleanfeed account. 

The Google Chrome browser

The Cleanfeed link is only compatible with the Google Chrome browser

It’s useful to keep your unique Cleanfeed link handy just in-case your connection to our studios goes eerily quiet. If this happens (and it does from time to time), just shut Google Chrome, re-open and use the link again.

Cleanfeed audio settings

Cleanfeed should be set to use your microphone and audio interface.

After opening your Cleanfeed link , click on the cog wheel (settings) icon – you can select your microphone and audio interface with the selection box that most likely will say ‘Use Browser Settings’.

Cleanfeed audio level

The audio level is displayed in Cleanfeed as you talk in to your microphone. It’s a very good indication as to whether your microphone gain is too quiet, a good level (touching the yellow now and then), or too loud (hitting the red). Making the audio level red will cause distortion and will mean reducing your microphone gain control level.

   

The above level pictures where snapped during heightened speech levels from Cleanfeed. Dr Too Loud is clipping the red and thus the recording will be distorted.

Cleanfeed Mute

The green microphone square can be clicked at any time (and preferably when you’re not in a scene) to mute your microphone. The green microphone square turns grey whilst muted. Click once again to un-mute yourself.

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Recording yourself ▼

Download OcenAudio

BIg Finish require back-up audio files from you. You may already be familiar with recording yourself, but if not I recommend OcenAudio.com – it’s free, reliable and simple to use.

Recording audio settings for Big Finish

Here’s a video by me on how to use OcenAudio. It includes information on the correct settings for audio quality and the simplest way of saving your audio files.

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Send me your files ▼

Send me your audio files

At the end of the days session, use the free version of wetransfer.com to send me your audio files. My email is audiosorcerystudios@gmail.com

It may be possible to first Zip (compress) all your audio files together as this will greatly reduced the overal file size which will make uploading quicker. On a mac, simply right click over the folder that contains all of your audio files and click compress. After a few minutes, a file called archive.zip will appear. Rename this with the production and your character name. Thank you!

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V1.5 Updated 2nd March 2021
This page is maintained by

Audio Sorcery Recording Studios

 

 

Questions?

I will try and resolve any queries or questions you may have regarding your recording set-up or connection to Cleanfeed.
Please get in touch with myself and please mention when you’ll be in on a session with the date and title of the script.

 

Contact

Paul Midcalf

Paul Midcalf
audiosorcerystudios@gmail.com
Studio: 01892 752117 Mobile: 07876 313838

Unit 1 Knowle Farm Business Centre • Wadhurst Road, Frant Tunbridge Wells • KENT TN3 9EJ