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Hit the Road

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One of the great things about being a self-employed voice talent is the flexibility. We really can do our job from anywhere. Have microphone, will travel.

There are a lot great professional development opportunities this year. There’s VO Atlanta, WoVoCon III, and we’re crossing our fingers for another Faffcon. This means travel for most of us and the possibility of needing to record from a hotel room or other less than ideal setting.

My best advice is to try to not have to record when you travel. No portable recording rig is going to sound as good as your home studio. Let your clients know of your availability ahead of time and recommend that they get you anything they need recorded before you leave. This may result in a nice little rush of work and invoicing before your trip!

If you’re attending a voiceover conference, work it out ahead of time with a colleague that is bringing their equipment. That will save you from having to lug yours with you. Better still, room with someone like Uncle Roy Yokelson (like I did at WoVoCon II). He always has an excellent portable rig with him! 🙂

When your travels are not to a voiceover conference, check to see if there are any VO colleagues or studios in the area you are traveling to. (Are you seeing a theme here? I don’t like to travel with recording gear if I can help it!) This is especially important if you do a lot of ISDN work and need to be available while you’re away from your home studio.

Sometimes you can’t help it; you need to bring some recording gear with you. Some sample setups that I have used include:

  • Interface (MicPort Pro, Focusrite2i2, whatever), microphone, and laptop.
  • Apogee MiC and iPad/iPhone with Twisted Wave.
  • Focusrite iTrack Solo interface, microphone, and laptop or iPad/iPhone.
  • Don’t’ forget some headphones. Earbuds are useless for mobile VO recording in my opinion.

For the microphone, I find that a shotgun mic works best. They are very directional, reject a good amount of noise from less than ideal recording environments, and pack well. The 416 and NTG-3 are both excellent choices for travel (and studio) mics.

The other thing you need to consider is where you will record. I’ve had great success recording in clothes closets with the clothes left in. I bought a Harlan Hogan Portabooth Pro when it first came out and honestly, I am less than impressed with it. It sounds too much like a box. To be fair, it’s not the one with Aurlex inside.

Last Fall, I picked up the Vocalboothtogo.com Carry On Vocal Booth and LOVE it. It’s some of the best money I’ve spent on recording gear and I highly recommend it.

When all else fails, ye olde pillow fort can be constructed. Google that one. 

It is CRITICAL that you test your road recording gear before using it. I really can’t stress this enough. Set it up, record with it, and get comfortable using it. Then when you need it, you’ll be ready. This also helps to make sure all the parts are still working before you travel. The last thing you want is for one of those components to die without you knowing it until you get to your destination.

As for me, I got tired of traveling with gear “just in case” and decided to make sure my clients know when I’m traveling. I also connect with colleagues to see if they are bringing recording gear and identify professional studios in the areas I travel to. As a last resort, I bring my mobile recording rig, which I test once a month.

What’s your portable setup look like? Sound off in the comments!

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