Gear Up for the Holidays: Part 2- the smaller Items
In a previous post, (Part 1), I itemized mics, interfaces and some other considerations for voice actors looking to up their home studio game. This post will focus on important incidentals and comfort while working. My next Home Studio Primer covers a lot of this in more detail, but if you need specific help one-on-one with selecting gear based on space considerations- or need help with a booth treatment, click here for help!
Headphones. You’re going to wearing them for a long time, whether you’re sitting in a commercial recording session or working on an audio book or other project from home. No matter which headphones you buy, it’s really important that they fit snuggly and comfortably to prevent sound from bleeding into your mic. Earbuds like the ones that come with your phone are likely not going to be comfortable or cut it for recording.
My absolute favorite headphones, which seem to have become an industry standard, are the Beyerdynamic DT770 Pro. Their plush, velour ear pads are incredibly comfortable, and their sound is smooth and non-fatiguing.
Here are my recommendations listed from most to least expensive:
And don’t forget- whichever headphones you use with a professional interface, you’ll likely need a 1/4” adaptor to plug them in. Your existing Beats or Bose can work just fine- buy you’ll need this (if they didn’t already come with one).
The right stand for a home studio depends on the mic you’re using and the space you have. While most people get the tripod style boom arm stand, they can be a challenge for people in cramped recording spaces. The span of the legs alone come fill a small closet, let alone having room to position the boom! It’s important to know how you’ll be working when picking the right stand.
If you’re space is large enough, and you want the traditional boom arm option- consider the On-Stage MS7701B Tripod Microphone Boom Stand.
If you need something with a smaller footprint, a solid base stand can help, like this one from On-Stage.
Without a boom arm, it might get tricky to position your mic forward enough to go over your music stand to read copy and still be close. I’ve found that people using lighter mics (particularly the Senheiser 416 or Synco D2) can use a gooseneck to do the job- and still have the space they need.
If you’re going to be sitting at a desk doing audiobook work most of the time, then perhaps a swing-arm stand that clamps to the desk is what you need. There are expensive versions out there, but I rolled the dice on a really reasonable one, and I’ve been happy with it for years. . It has held my Nt1A, Stellar X2 and U87 in place easily, without drooping. If you’re looking to keep it super slick, you can consider something like the Gator Frameworks option, where the mic cable is integrated into the stand for a cleaner look and more robust arm. Remember, the swing arm is not bran dependent. For example, Rode makes a nice one- but just because you have a Rode mic, doesn't mean you need to get their stand. They are universal.
While there are lots of other desktop mic stands, I find that they don’t generally give you the height you need. You’ll have to measure. For on-the-go podcast recording at a table, I tend to put up a bunch of On-Stage DS7200B stands. They’re great because they’re small. I like them best with shotgun mics, which can be angled up and give you more distance (less needing to lean in when you speak). They may not work as well for you with larger mics- and certainly not going to work if you're standing up.
Make reading the copy a breeze!
You’ve seen the traditional Manhasset music stand in nearly every booth everywhere. They’re great! Amazon sells them for $42, but makes their OWN version (which I use at home) for a little less.. There are lots of smaller, collapsible music stands for sheet music, but you’ll find they generally don’t go tall enough or hold enough. If you’re sitting at a desk and want something to prop up copy, I have been loving the KLOUD City Bookstand iPad/Cookbook/Music/Document Holder, which sells for $12.99. I also enjoy this handy cell phone stand for my phone or iPad. It puts it at a nice reading angle on my desk, with a nice lift. Paird with a slim bluetooth keyboard, it turns my phone into a mini desktop computer.
Reading copy in a dark closet can be a challenge. I’ve been using the Kootek music stand light to brighten things up for a while. It’s got two brightness settings and a rechargeable battery (or leave it plugged in). It’s flexible neck makes for easy positioning.
If you want to jazz up your space to suit your personality or set the vibe, consider Phillips Cue Smart Lightstrips. I used them around the back of my desk for ambient light- but they’re a little on the pricey side for what they are, weighing in at $79.97. For additional lighting. I opted for the Govee Smart Wifi LED strip lights. Like the Phillips lights, they’re controllable by Alexa or their own phone app. They cost a fraction of the price, at $21.99 .
Timing is everything.
One of the best things I bought for myself was a solid stop watch. There are lots of options in lots of shapes, sizes and prices. I have been loving my Laopao metal stopwatch. It’s got a weight and solid feel, and fits my hand perfectly. I have used many cheaper options made of plastic that work fine- but I wanted something a little cooler. At $22, this has been excellent. You can turn the beep off so you’re not accidentally adding sound effects to your takes.
With winter coming, and a seemingly endless stream of storms heading up the coast, it makes good sense to have an APC UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply). If your’e working off a laptop, you might be in good shape for battery power in a sudden power outage. If you’re on a desktop, you could lose your work, lose your connections and be dead in the water! At the start of lockdown, I added the APC 1500VA UPS Battery Backup and Surge Protector (BX1500M). I have it connected to my mac, speakers, router, interface and USB hubs. It’’s designed to give you enough time to properly shutdown your computer and peripherals in a power failure. It will also give you enough time to let your clients know what’s happening if power goes out mid session! This will also help protect your gear from power surges!
I hope this handy and important list helps inform your decisions as you create or improve your home studio. How you want to drop subtle hints about some of the stocking stuffers listed here is up to you! As always, reach out if you have questions. And if you're a member of the site and want to share YOUR must-have items, head over to the forum or comment below! I value your input.