Traveling with your microphone: a voice on the road
Updated: Feb 25, 2018
(This article was originally published at The Buzz Magazine)
The technological revolution, that for years has allowed us to work from our home studios, is still going strong, and it is becoming increasingly easier to record while "on the road"... An internet connection, a mic, editing software, and an array of pillows, duvets, blankets, hotel rooms or cars parked in quiet locations, become our makeshift allies.
Summer is now here, what a delight! Time to enjoy a well-deserved rest, and time to decide if we’re going to disconnect completely, or still be available for our clients. If you choose the latter, all you’ll need is a bit of planning, some creativity and a few doses of good humour!
Recording while away from home allows you to deliver jobs that don’t require a high-spec output, as well as enabling you to take part in castings and auditions. Because of this, for many of us, our professional equipment has become an essential part of our luggage when going on holiday, or attending workshops or conferences.
Bear in mind that taking your equipment with you
will also allow you to exercise your voice
in front of the mic every day,
keeping that talent in good shape.
In my case, I use a micro-Rode NT-USB connected to my laptop. It has everything I need to easily record: a small tripod, volume input, and a headphone connection. A pop shield could also be attached, however I prefer to use the Kaotika Eyeball, a combination of sound reflection with a built-in pop screen filter.
For short trips where you prefer not to check-in baggage, it's a good idea to choose an airline that allows an additional bag, as well as hand luggage.
That extra bag can hold all your technical items, cables and chargers included. I always try to arrive early, because, as sure as night follows day, they will always, always stop your tray to inspect that 'strange item’ inside it: your microphone. It's inevitable, and you should simply accept it, and happily
move on! *
However, the biggest challenge when you record on the road will always be the acoustics: 30-50% of a recording is determined by the acoustics of the room. For this reason, recording when travelling often becomes an exercise in creativity beyond vocal performance: how to place the hotel room pillow, duvet or blankets to sound-treat an area, or how to line the mini bar to turn it into a small booth... Not to mention the location itself, which should be as calm and quiet as possible. There is no quilt in the world that can block car or aeroplane noise, however real the feathers are!
Wherever possible book a room that is far away from places that are likely to cause a problem, such as the pool, the lobby, or a noisy street or road. Of course, double glazed windows are a must.
For longer stays, you may want to consider any of the commercially available portable booths. Bear in mind that taking your equipment with you will also allow you to exercise your voice in front of the mic every day, keeping that talent in good shape.
Prepare a demo as soon as your improvised studio is ready, to send out whenever
you need to
Personally, whenever the location allows it, I choose to go back to that little corner of the world where the magic began: the wardrobe. This July marks 13 years since I left a radio studio and started recording my first demos as a freelancer - inside a wardrobe. It’s a great space that is perfectly suited to your needs.
What's more, you can enjoy the confirmation of a miracle: the possibility that your voice, heard all over the world, could have started life in such a small and humble place. And so, as you learn to accept that going through airport security may take longer than you’d like, you learn to interpret those small inconveniences and difficulties that arise when you want to record away from home, as amusing challenges, in a kind of game of discovery.
(Image courtesy of Manuel Naranjo)
Last summer I built something resembling a teepee in the sitting room of the flat where I spent my holidays, in Cadiz. And this year, when I travelled to the University of Málaga a few days before Easter to attend a conference on Voiceovers and Dubbing, I participated in the casting of an international mega-project. Almost two pages of text recorded for something that, at the time of writing this article, I can't give more details on. Other than that I've been shortlisted, along with seven other voices, from what I imagine were hundreds of participants...
I suppose that by the time this magazine is in your hands, the chosen voice will have been selected. But you know what? I already consider myself a winner. By having been shortlisted for a huge project that I recorded while I was away from home. In a room that was less than ideal. With a great deal of patience. Inside a wardrobe...
How I love my work!
* BREAKING NEWS : I'm on holidays, I've travelled with my microphone... Airport security was fine, no stops, no inspections... Hurray!