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My Gear: Products I Use In My Voice Over Practice

Hey, there!

I’ve not only been asked countless times recommend microphones, editing equipment and other technology, but have also written about the more mundane but really useful things I use (like my chair). One of my amazing Pros, Jonathan, suggested that I compile a list, and keep it updated, of those things I both recommend and use myself.

Not a bad idea.

Here you go: my entire home studio set-up, along with (mostly) Amazon links to get each of the items listed at a nice discount. Items are divided into major categories by tabs below, like hardware, software, adapters and the like. I hope you find what you’re looking for here – if you don’t, leave me a comment below and I’ll post other items I use.

Hardware: Computer

Apple MacBook

This is the first MacBook to be manufactured without a fan – and that means complete silence when recording. Sure, there’s only one port (a USB-C one, requiring the MultiPort Adapter listed below), and it requires a powered hub if you want to plug in all your favorite USB gear, but the size, screen quality, full-size keyboard and, most importantly, absence of fan noise makes this the best choice for performers who are recording audio on a regular basis.

Click here to purchase.

Hardware: Mouse/Trackball

Logitech M570 Wireless Trackball

Quiet, accurate, precise, light, long battery life, programmable buttons and adjustable scrolling speed: this is my go-to pointing and clicking device.

Like many inexpensive items, I have two – one on my desk, and one in my go-bag, so I don’t have to pack and unpack yet another item when I travel.

Click here to purchase.

Hardware: USB-C Hub

Sentey 10-port USB-3 Powered Hub

[Click image to enlarge] If you go with the MacBook I recommend and use, you’re going to need this device to connect printers, mice, microphones, hard drives and the like that are USB-based. This particular hub was tested by an independent engineer who made sure that the claims made about USB-3 compatibility were true. And they are. NOTE: this item is really popular, and often sells out. If it’s not available at Amazon, it will be – and you can always search for “Sentey 10-port USB-3 Powered Hub” to find it elsewhere.

Like many inexpensive items, I have two – one on my desk, and one in my go-bag, so I don’t have to pack and unpack yet another item when I travel.

Click here to purchase.

Hardware: Narration Microphone

Audio-Technica AT-2020 USB Plus

The AT-2020 has been my go-to microphone, both at home and on the road, for over a decade. It’s far less expensive than its quality would dictate, and it’s the only USB microphone with real-time monitoring and a high-end analog-to-digital conversion circuit. I have done nearly all of my audition and production work with this microphone, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.

Like many inexpensive items, I have two – one on my desk, and one in my go-bag, so I don’t have to pack and unpack yet another item when I travel.

Click here to purchase.

Hardware: Pop Filter

The VO2GoGO Mike Sock

I finally found a source for the perfect athletic sock. I’ve been using this as a pop filter on my large-diaphragm microphones for years. 100% cashmere, the Mike Sock fits perfectly over the AT-2020 USB Plus. It’s $9 plus shipping. Click here to purchase.

Like many inexpensive items, I have two – one on my desk (on my AT-2020 USB Plus), and one in my go-bag (already fitted on the AT-2020 USB Plus I have packed), so I don’t have to pack and unpack yet another item when I travel.

Click here to purchase.

Hardware: Earbuds

Sony MDREX10LP Earbuds

Comfortable and incredibly accurate sound reproduction from an inexpensive set of name brand earbuds? I’ll take that any day – and I’ve done so for more than 15 years. I’ve watched these earbuds drop in price from nearly $70 down to where they are now (price may vary from $10). Click here to purchase on Amazon.

Like many inexpensive items, I have two – one on my desk, and one in my go-bag, so I don’t have to pack and unpack yet another item when I travel.

Click here to purchase.

Hardware: Headphones

Sony MDR7506 Professional Headphones

If earbuds aren’t your thing, and you really want the heft and solid feel of actual headphones, then I recommend these. I used these exact headphones when I worked in radio for over 30 years, and although I don’t use them now (in favor of the earbuds above), these are the best bang for your headphone buck.

Click here to purchase.

Hardware: External Storage Hard Drive

Western Digital 2TB My Passport Ultra HD

This is the drive that I use for extra storage (not for backup – that’s below) – the MacBook has a 512 GB internal SSD drive (again, silent), and that’s not enough storage for all that I do – so this drive is where I store all my data. The only thing that I use the internal SSD drive for is to run applications – they run faster than they would on a traditional hard drive.

Click here to purchase.

Hardware: Backup Hard Drive

Western Digital 4TB My Passport Ultra HD

This is the drive that I use for backup (not for external storage – that’s above), and I have four of them, all in different colors. For a full explanation about why you should clone my insanely over-engineered backup system, click here.

Click here to purchase.

Hardware: Video Camera

Apple iPod Touch

I shoot all my videos with the iPod Touch, a device that not only sports two world class cameras, but allows me to transfer the video I’ve shot, via WiFi/Bluetooth, right to my Macintosh for instant editing (in Screenflow, listed below in Software). Sure, I could get a dedicated camera with all kinds of bells and whistles, but this is all I need. I have three of them that I often shoot with, all at the same time, at different angles, to give me editing options. Added bonus: they’re less than half the width of a deck of playing cards. Click here for more information.

Hardware: Lavalier Microphone

Audio-Technica ATR3350iS Lavaliere Microphone

When I want to record anything on video, I use the iPod Touch above, and plug in this very inexpensive (but really good quality) lavalier microphone from the same company that makes my go-to narration microphone (also above). The “iS” at the end of the model number means that it comes with an adapter for iOS devices that lets you simultaneously plug in the microphone and a set of headphones. The output level is a bit low, but easily normalized in your favorite editing software.

Click here to purchase.

Software: Data Backup

Time Machine (Macintosh)

Time Machine is the backup software built into every Macintosh sold, and it’s awesome. Here’s how I use it in my insanely overengineered backup system.

Learn how to use Time Machine here.

Macrium Reflect (Windows)

I don’t use Windows anymore, but I have a long time colleague, and former Microsoft employee, Leo Notenboom, who absolutely adores Macrium Reflect for backup on Windows ($69). Believe me, if it’s good enough for Leo, it’s good enough for me.

Get Macrium here.

Software: Sound Recording/Editing (Single Track)

Audacity

Audacity is free, it’s supported by hundreds of developers around the world, and it’s used by more people than any other open-source sound software ever. Audacity records at the same quality level as any other software, including ProTools and Logic, it’s available for Macintosh, Windows and Linux, it’s got a light footprint on your hard drive, it boots up almost instantly, and it’s constantly getting better and better – I wouldn’t use any other software for recording my dry tracks and audiobook work. I do use ProTools for multi-track production (shown below), but for raw single audio tracks, I’m all about Audacity.

Click here to download Audacity.

Software: Sound Recording/Editing (Multi-track)

Avid Pro Tools with iLok

For decades, I used Pro Tools for everything: multi-track mixes, demos, commercial production, radio humor, sweetening films and even dry voice tracks. I now use Audacity for voice tracks and audiobook work, but Pro Tools gets fired up every time I produce a demo for a voice over client.

Click here to purchase.

Software: Mobile Audition Recording

Rehearsal® Pro

I created Rehearsal® Pro to help me manage my acting career, and while I was at it, I added the ability to record and email VO auditions in a pinch. It’s become the go-to app for actors, and it’s great for those quick and dirty auditions on the go. $20, iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch. Not available for Android.

Click here for instant access to Rehearsal® Pro.

Software: MP3 Exporting

LAME

LAME is a free plugin, required by Audacity, and exports MP3s from Audacity at the same quality level as other MP3 exporting software, and it’s available for Macintosh and Windows.

Click here to download LAME.

Software: Audiobook Mastering

The Levelator

The Levelator is free software, originally created to “level” out the different recorded volumes of participants in podcasts, and just happens to treat raw audio in a way that is completely compliant with Audible’s standards for production for ACX. Drag and drop, baby. It’s available for Macintosh and Windows.

Click here to download The Levelator.

Software: Mileage Tracking

MileIQ

MileIQ helps you automatically record all trips you take, both work and personal. You’d be surprised at how much you might be leaving on the table come tax time, given all the auditions, work, trips to your agent’s office, studios, to get administration done, etc. MileIQ estimates that the average person has $6,900 in mileage/auto deductions each year, and many people let that pass them by. Don’t be that guy (or girl). $6 or less per month, free version available for infrequent drivers.

Click here to download MileIQ.

Software: Password Protection

Dashlane

Strong passwords are essential for staying safe in today’s digital world, but it’s clear that a long, strong password is not so easy to remember. Enter Dashlane, the very best password protection available. There are apps for Macintosh, iOS, Windows and Android – and it’s a snap to use. All of your passwords are both randomly generated, and easily pasted into the password text box of all your login forms. Don’t make the mistake of making your password easy to remember – that usually means it’s easy to crack.

Click here to get Dashlane.

Software: Skype Call Recording

ecamm Call Recorder

Imagine that every time you have a Skype call (with a client, doing an interview, creating content, whatever) your computer will automatically record both parties in the Skype session, and let you export video and audio of that call. It’s how I create reference copies of my coaching sessions to send to the clients for reviews, and how I interview people for the site. It’s great. $29.95 with a free trial.

Click here to get Call Recorder for Skype.

Software: Screen Recording/Video Editing

Telestream Screenflow

Although most Windows users will use Camtasia for screen recording, I absolutely adore Screen from Telestream. This is a company that makes much higher end video editing and broadcast software, and the quality of those products has trickled down to Screenflow, which I use for all of my lessons, presentations and other screen-based production. Here’s the added bonus: the editing features in Screenflow are so easy to use, I haven’t launched Final Cut Pro or iMovie in years. $99.00 with a free trial.

Click here to get Screenflow.

Software: Web Hosting

Dreamhost Web Hosting

More of a basic service than actual packaged or downloadable software, Dreamhost is where all of my sites, business and personal, are hosted. All services have good and bad streaks of support and up-time, but Dreamhost has been more reliable than most, and at a cost that is incredibly affordable. And I’ve made a special deal with them (that varies) to give my clients, students and visitors a discount on WordPress hosting.

Click here to get Dreamhost hosting at a special discount.

Adapter: USB-C Multiport

Apple USB-C Digital AV Multiport Adapter

This allows the single USB-C port on the MacBook to accept power, the USB-3 powered hub, and an HDMI display to all connect to the MacBook simultaneously. No more limitations to what you can attach to your MacBook.

Like many inexpensive items, I have two – one on my desk, and one in my go-bag, so I don’t have to pack and unpack yet another item when I travel.

Click here to purchase.

Adapter: Lightning-to-USB

Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter

Even though this product was originally designed to allow digital cameras to be attached to iPads and iPhones that use the Lightning adapter, it also works perfectly if you want to attach the AT-2020 USB Plus microphone (or any other USB microphone) to your iOS device for recording.

Click here to purchase.

Cable: USB-C Charging

Apple USB-C Charge Cable

Sometimes, you don’t need anything connected to your MacBook but power, and along with the Apple 29w Power Adapter below, you can plug right in. I carry an extra one just in case I need to quickly and easily recharge my MacBook.

Click here to purchase.

Adapter: Power

Apple USB-C 29w Power Adapter

Sometimes, you don’t need anything connected to your MacBook but power, and along with the Apple USB-C Charge Cable above, you can plug right in. I carry an extra one just in case I need to quickly and easily recharge my MacBook.

Click here to purchase.

Cable: Video Capture

Elgato Video Capture

Whenever I perform in a network show, or a studio film, or anything that airs on television, I grab a pristine copy of it using this cable set. Elgato Video Capture can connect and capture video to your Mac or PC from any device that has composite ‘RCA’ or S-Video outputs. It also comes with a SCART adapter, and the files it outputs are in DV format, so they can be imported into and edited with any video editing software. This is how I capture content for and update my on-camera demos.

Click here to purchase.

Accessories: Desktop Microphone Stand

On Stage Desk Microphone Stand

The ultimate in simplicity and utility, this is the classic desktop stand that adjusts in height, is movable to anywhere you need, and is portable for travel. Screw the stalk into the base, and you’re ready to go. Attaching the AT-2020 microphone to this stand (or any other standard stand) might be a mystery, but we solve that mystery here.

Click here to purchase.

Accessories: Floor Microphone Stand

K & M One-Hand Microphone Stand

When I teach classes and workshops, instead of a desktop mic stand, I use one of these adjustable (with just one hand) floor-standing microphone stands. To adjust the height of the microphone, you just squeeze the clutch’s grip and up or down you go. Let go when the height is right. It’s lightweight and has a three-legged fold out base.

Click here to purchase.

Furniture: Chair

Alston Quality AC2700 Aluminum Chair

I’ve called this “the best upgrade I’ve performed all year.” I had a great, comfortable chair – an articulated, fully adjustable, gorgeously designed Aeron-lookalike. $1700. And it was noisy as hell: every joint, every lever, the wheels, the armrests, the back, the seat…everything about it squeaked and clicked and knocked. Then I got this one-piece, welded, all metal chair, and a cushion from the supermarket, and I’ve never looked back. It’s simple. It’s foolproof. It’s absolutely silent. And it was 1/20th the cost of my old chair.

Click here to purchase.

Accessories: Moving Blankets

US Cargo Control Moving Pad (6 Pack)

Here are the exact moving blankets my Pro, Caroline, used to isolate herself in a portion of an open room, with great results. These can form soft walls around you and your gear for recording, and can be placed on reflective surfaces to reduce reverberance in an echo-y room. Note that this is a 6-pack of blankets.

Click here to purchase.

Accessories: Hard Drive Cases

AmazonBasics Carrying Case: My Passport

Cheap, hardy and simple. Mine have been holding up beautifully for over three years, protecting the hard drives in them from dust, heat and wear. Get one for each of your backup drives, and one for your external storage drives.

Click here to purchase.

Accessories: MOO Cards

MOO.com Business cards

I love these cards, and the contacts I give them to love them as well. Although MOO has standard size business cards (which I use for the instruction inserts when I send out The Mike Sock), my classic MOO cards, pictured below, are half the height of a typical business card. You can create 100-card sets of them that are identical (like the VO2GoGO and Rehearsal® Pro cards), or with each individual piece sporting a different image on one side of the card (notice my acting cards in the front row of the stand):

Note: stand not included – you can pick that up at Staples or Office Depot.

Click here to purchase.

Accessories: Occasional Lighting

Ivation Gooseneck LED Dimmable Clip Light

When I’m depositing checks or snapping images of my script pages with Rehearsal® Pro, these handy little lamps are perfect for those fairly infrequent moments. Having the lights on in the room I’m in cast shadows on the paper I’m snapping, but having two of these, one on either side of the object, throwing light from both directions, lights things up just right. They are cheap, battery operated, dimmable and either stand on their own, or clip to the edge of my studio desk.

Click here to purchase.

Books: Secrets of Screen Acting

Secrets of Screen Acting (by Patrick Tucker)

The book that taught me everything I know about the technical side of on-camera acting, and opened my eyes wide to the ways to control vocal levels and quality. I can’t recommend this book highly enough.

Click here to purchase.

Books: Brief

Brief (by Joseph McCormack)

When I started listening to this book, I immediately made plans to re-design all my classes, so that students and clients would get the information they needed faster and easier than before. If you present information, this book is a must-read/listen.

Click here to purchase.

Books: Essentialism

Essentialism (by Greg McKeown)

Greg McKeown could narrate audiobooks if he wanted to, but he’s got an even more important calling in life: helping us all strip out the things we’re doing that are unnecessary, unimportant, and non-essential. His take on life, the focus he has on the things that matter, and the practical methods he outlines to achieve this state are phenomenal.

Click here to purchase.

Books: 10% Happier

10% Happier (by Dan Harris)

Nightline anchor Dan Harris embarks on an unexpected, hilarious, and deeply skeptical odyssey through the strange worlds of spirituality and self-help, and discovers a way to get happier that is truly achievable. After having a nationally televised panic attack on Good Morning America, Dan Harris knew he had to make some changes. And as I listened to the changes he made, I could instantly identify with all the doubt he was feeling – the woo woo he was being asked to accept. This book helped me tremendously.

Click here to purchase.

Supplement: Congestion

Lo Han Quo

I was introduced to Lo Han Quo in the 1990s, when being on the air could be a really tricky thing if I had a cold, the sniffles, congestion and the like. I can’t tolerate zinc, but I love this amazing Chinese fruit “tea.” Drop a cube in hot water, sip, and enjoy. Soothes your throat, eases your breathing and tastes really good.

Click here to purchase.

Device: Neti Pot

The Neti Pot

I know. I know. Sounds gross – sticking the spout of this very basic pottery in one nostril, and letting warm, salty water flow out the other nostril, cleansing your nasal passages as it does. An ancient Ayurvedic treatment and preparation, it works like a charm to fight congestion and stuffiness, despite its image. And, it’s cheap.

Click here to purchase.

So…now that you’ve seen mine, what do you use that I’ve left out? Leave a comment below the article and let me know. I’d love to hear your suggestions!

Hope this helps.

David

4 Responses to My Gear: Products I Use In My Voice Over Practice

  1. Jon Oak December 24, 2016 at 12:27 pm #

    David, I believe that WD has dropped the “Ultra” line from it’s My Passport series. Is there some advantage to that older model?

    • David H. Lawrence XVII December 24, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

      No…other than a lower price perhaps as they get rid of stock. I’ll correct the entries…but where did you see that stated? They are still being promoted on the WD site:

      https://www.wdc.com/products/portable-storage.html

      • khalenda January 7, 2017 at 11:43 am #

        I really wanna see your equipment list! I’ve registered, changed browsers and rebooted and still cannot access the equipment tabs…any ideas?

  2. Jon Oak December 24, 2016 at 12:57 pm #

    Perhaps a jumped conclusion, but Amazon gave me the “newer model” prompt several times to the newer non-ultra labeled lineup (grip-textured and more colors). It occurred to me that their might be some other than cosmetic distinction between the two. Thanks.

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