During last week's seemingly days-long snowstorm, the snow made for heavy trees laden with ice and snow which lead to massive limb breakage. Some of those limbs hung over power lines, and when they snapped and fell on the lines the power went out. There was a prolonged power outage. But there was also work to be done. Professional voice work. What to do? Once again, the portable audio recording setup shines! This time in a vocal booth with some nice equipment upgrades.
We had power for an hour or two in the morning and then it went out again. The word from our Power District was that the large transmission line from Central Maine Power was down again and therefore no estimate was possible for the return of our electric feed. This was at about 10:30 AM on a Tuesday. There was work to be done on the 3rd Episode of Show Me Your Setup, but there wasn't any electricity. Lucky for us, the 3rd episode was going to be a tour of the vocal booth.
Normally fueled by a desktop PC, large Dell Monitor, and a full size wireless keyboard and mouse, this rig wouldn't run on hopes and need alone. It requires electricity from the wall outlet that was nowhere to be found. But wait. What about that 2-in-1 notebook that Dan used to record in his minivan? Could that replace so much gear, so readily, as to make it the obvious solution? Yes indeed.
By taking the USB feed from the Scarlett 2i2 and connecting it directly to the 2-in-1 everything required to record was in place. Dan just had to move the wireless keyboard aside, replace it with the notebook PC, and open Adobe Audition. Focusrite has engineered their product line so well that no additional drivers needed to be installed. The notebook powered the 2i2 just like it does the Solo. The booth features a really nice mic too, the Advanced Audio CM-87, which is a large-diaphragm, condenser microphone with adjustable pickup patterns.
With all of the snowfall outside, you'd think it was quiet and peaceful as well. Funny thing though, construction sites operate without electricity just fine. And the lot next door is under construction. It was foundation pouring day. That meant that metal forms were trucked in early, and the setup, replete with loads of banging and clanging, commenced. This was followed by load after load of cement being delivered by heavy mixing trucks. Big engines idling and churning, heavy loads thumping and bumping, all during the recording window.
And this is where a professional vocal booth earns it's keep. Nestled within a building with double insulated exterior walls, the booth was made to keep such noises out. It has a spacious interior, designed such that a 6 foot 5 inch voice talent has room to spare while standing at the boom mounted microphone. The window was custom fabricated on site using two thick layers of safety glass which are mounted in a non-parallel way to avoid any sympathetic vibration patterns. Visibility is good while noise transmission is minimized.
The recordings were flawless. The portable audio recording solution worked like a charm as a stand-in PC for the vocal booth. The battery still had plenty of charge when all was said and saved. Dan would have done the editing on it too, but as fate would have it, the power came back on at noon and has remained on ever since.
It's nice to have a backup system, especially one that works when the grid goes down.
Microphone – Advanced Audio CM-87
This large-diaphragm condenser microphone was set to a cardioid pickup pattern. This mic works wonderfully for Dan. It accurately captures the tone of his voice.
Headphones – Audio Technica ATH-M50
Our favorite headphones. One of the features that makes them really good for what we do—critical listening—is they have a closed back which helps to reject some of the outside noise. They are very comfortable for hours on end.
USB Audio Interface – Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
Dan's Scarlett 2i2 connects the microphone and headphones to the computer. It has 48V phantom power for the condenser microphone while being a compact unit that runs off of USB power.
PC – Gateway 11.6” 2-in-1 ConvertibleNotebook
This tiny Windows PC has enough oomph under the hood to record using Adobe Audition for hours on end. You can record a lot before needing a recharge, even while powering the Scarlett Solo or 2i2.
Voice recording is mono, not stereo, so a small PC can do quite a lot. Dan wouldn’t use it for multitrack audio recording, nor for recording video, but for voiceover, this little unit is just the right fit. It’s super light, super quiet, and it gets the job done every time.
Mic Boom Stand – Heil Sound Boom Mic Stand
Holding a microphone in your hand gets tedious. Mounting a boom stand to the wall of the booth allows for perfect mic placement for talents of any height. This stand is so popular that three out of four ModPod agents use them.
Vocal Booth - Custom Built
Dan's vocal booth was custom built by Dan. It's big and quiet, just like Dan.
If you have any feedback on Dan’s portable audio recording setup, or you'd like to show us your set up, please get in touch with us via our Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, or contact us via our web site. Our goal is to not only showcase our own setups but to also talk to you about yours!