The 2023 Voice Actor Gift Guide!
A collection of the best deals for all stages of your VO career.
It's no secret that Black Friday is the best time to gather your audio gear and peripherals, so I have once again scouted Amazon to see what deals are on offer- and once again, it didn't dissapoint!
BIG BANG FOR NOT SO MANY BUCKS!
Out of the gate, based on Black Friday sales happening RIGHT NOW, I would say that if you are serious about VO and just starting out, this is a worthy bundle that will serve you well for years... for $541!
Rode NT1, 5th Generation: $246.90
It's not an exageration to say that there is an interface for every budget. With the release of Focusrite's new line of smaller interfaces (4th Generation), the 3rd Generation prices have dropped. The Scarlett Solo 3rd Gen is basic unit and a proven winner among voice actors working from home. It's currently $89!
Universal Audio is an audio gear leader with a long history. While you may graduate up over time to their more robust interface offerings, the Volt series is a fantastic place to start. The Volt 1 is functionally identical to the Scarlett Solo, but with a more powerful headphone output, a tighter form factor and a very solid build. Currently at $119, it's a great place to start- or even stay!
Universal Audio's Apollo Solo puts you into the next level of their ecosystem, allowing for pre-DAW routing and processing. There is a learning curve on these systems, and one of the biggest benefits is also one of the most frowned upon for many commercial and other sessions: processing. Universal Audio offers incredible emulations of their own and other hardware mic pres, compressors, EQ and more.
MOTU (Mark of the Unicorn) makes fantastic hardware and sofware that is somehow overlooked by the VO community. Their smallest interface is the M2- a beautiful 2 input unit with easy to read and interpret color input level meters in a no-nonsense form factor.
If you're planning on hitting the road a lot, and want to have the ability to record quickly and easily, most smaller interfaces will connect to your IPad Pro (the UA Volt 1 includes a seperate power cable to make sure it has enough to run when connecting on the go!). But there are some even smaller units out there that pack a punch without having to pack another suitcase!
IK Multimedia's IRig Pro is a palm-sized powerhouse, giving you all the features of the smaller interfaces above- but in a tiny form. It's built to work with phones and tablets as well as Macs and PCs. It's also perfect for voice actors on social media. Why stand in front of your nice microphone only to record with your phone's mic? This let's you record from your XLR mic straight to your device, and includes a headphone output with direct monitoring.
The PreSonus AudioBox 96 is another full-featured device made for both studo AND travel use. Currently at $99.99, they even throw in their Studio One Artist software, which is a powerful DAW! It's worth noting that pretty much all of these interfaces include software bundles so that you can be up and running and ready to rock in no time!
The financial barrier to entry has never been lower to get a decent sound on a budget. We tend to see the same key players over and over again going on sale, but if you have the money and need to level-up, then you're probably ready for the Sennheiser 416 for the Neumann TLM 103, You'll find both of these in most major studios. While those mics rarely seem to go on sale, they are often bundled with other items as an incetive. It's also worth noting that they hold their value well over time!
Currently, the Sennheiser 416 is being bundled with a stand and an XLR cable for the same $999 that it sells for with just the mic. I've previously written about the benefits of a shotgun mic. I prefer them over larger diaphragm condenser mics in smaller booths, as they are more forgiving of the inherent boxiness of tight spaces.
For a similar profile microphone at a fraction of the price, the Synco D2 is once again on sale. Whereas the 416 tends to sound great on most everyone, the D2 is hit or miss. I've heard it sound great- and I've heard it sound mediocre. It seems to really depend on the voice. For $149, it's worth a shot- and you can always return it or exchange.
Th Neumann TLM 103 is also what I like to call a "forever mic", with a profile similar to the standard U87 but for a third of the price. It does better when there is more space around the mic in a larger, well treated booth. If you're in a tighter pre-fab booth, then it's important to stay up on it! It's currently discounted 20 perfecnt at just $1,195 (usually $1,499).
Izotope is running their usual deep discounts for the holidays. Of interest to voice actors is RX Elements, a core set of plugins and their standalone app for just $39.60. If you're on my mailing list, you've seen that I'm running a class on this coming soon!
If you also happen to be a vocalist and are mixing your voice with music, or even doing voiceover work that requires you to do some processing, WAVES is having a MASSIVE sale on some great plugins for just $19.99 each- and the more you get, the lower the prices drop! Among my favorites is the Waves WLM Loudness meter, which is a big part of every session I do! It's very handy as a way to set consistent levels, in addition to making sure my mixes hit the required specs.
And while we're talking about softeware, I'll be posting a specific article soon about just how killer Pro Tools Intro is from Avid- and it's FREE! I'll be running a class on it in the new year- so grab it now and be ready!
Anyone who knows me knows that my "mantra" is booth first, then the gear. There are some solid discounts currently on acoustic materials- so if you're trying to deaden a room with 2" thick foam and some bass wedges- now is the time! As always, if you need help planning a space- feel free to hit the VO HELP tab and schedule a booth consult. Otherwise, here are some materials to consider.
A 24 pack of JBER 12 X 12 X 2" thick tiles is just $37.99. They give a clean, finished look while soaking up sound.
If you need to block a door or window to dim the outside world, consider the Audimute Isole sound barrier. This dense and heavy "blanket" has a layer of mass loaded vinyl to help. They cost $99, but there is a 10 perfect off coupon at checkout. Every little bit helps!
We often refer to corner wedges as bass traps, but most of us human folk aren't making sounds in those deep frequencies. Instead, most smaller bass traps for booths serve to break the shape and further absorbe sound in corners. Dekiru 12 X 12 X 7" bass wedges are 18 percent off at $22.94 per 8 pack.
While making your booth acousticly cozy, if you have the space- you might consider a nice ergonomic laptop cart. The Techni Mobili Sit-to-Stand Mobile Medical Laptop Cart is currently on sale for $57! It's a great way to hold your copy, laptop, and interface while giving you a convenient way to tuck it all away when you're done working.
If you're setting a mood in the booth, you might want to check out Govee LED strip lights. For $20 (with coupond at checkout), you get 16.4 feeet of ready-to-stick lights that can be controlled by your phone or Alexa.
Speaking of lighting- if you need a light to read your printed copy or better see your desk, check out the Kootek music stand light. I use them in my home studio, and the battery lasts a long time! It's dimable with two different light settings.
If you're saving your laptop screen for your DAW and Source Connect, you might consider using an IPad to read copy. The 10th Generation Ipad is $100 off at $349 ($229 if you go with the 9th Gen model) or save some money and get the Kindle Fire HD10, which I've previously posted about in 2021 (although it's been updated for 2023).
When it comes to connectivity, you're going to need that ethernet port, extra USB ports for your devices and more! For Mac users, the Mokin 19 in 1 adaptor has been excellent. It's on sale for $28.78.
This device also give you an HDMI output, which is helpful if you're computer has a fan that kicks in and forces you to keep it outside the booth. Lots of LED displays are on sale for Black Friday- like the Samsung 27" T35F for $119.99 ($100 off!).
To control your computer from the booth, there are so many bluetooth mouses and keyboards to choose from.
Apple's Magic Keyboard is on sale for $79.99. However, Macally is offering their premim bluetooth keyboard with mouse for just $55.99
If you're recording and editing on-the-go and need more screen space, you can either enable sidecar on your Mac to use your Ipad- or add two additional side screens with the APILDELLA 14’’ Triple Laptop Screen Extender, turning your Macbook into a wrap around workstation.
If I find any other deals worth sharing here, I will add them- so check back. Also feel free to share this or bookmark it for future reference.
And don't forget- I have 4 new classes posted under the EVENTS tab: Home Studio Primer, Source Connect and Connectivity, RX Elements and Pro Tools Intro! These classes run into the new yea, but start in December. Signup now and spread the word!
I hope you've found this helpful or it has given you food for thought. Let me know!