Have you ever heard that axiom, absence makes the heart grow fonder? It’s supposed to be related to a loved one, I think. They go on a trip, you realize how much you miss them, and when they come home, you are even more in love than before.
Well as Voice Actors, what do we fall in love with the most. If you are like me, it’s the Mic of course!
As you may know by now, from following my blog, or the podcast I host with Sean Daeley, The VO Meter, I have an incurable case of G.A.S. or Gear Acquisition Syndrome. I buy and sell microphones like some people do with stocks. While usually, I have a good reason at the time, I have, on more than one occasion I must admit, re-purchased the same piece of equipment after realizing I missed it, once it was gone.
So, I recently made a big purchase. At least for me. After months of preaching that cheaper was better, I took the plunge and bought a Sennheiser MKH 415. I found a good price, and after several recent rave reviews from other voiceover artists, I had to buy it. This microphone is a short shotgun that some have described as the forefather of the venerable MKH 416. In most ways, it lives up to the hype. It has a full rich sound, and is excellent at off axis rejection. The main difference between the 415 and the 416 is the Power supply. The 415 runs on 12V or (T) power. So, in order to use it with most modern interfaces or pre-amps you need a 12V to 48V adapter. They are pretty inexpensive. I picked up this little beauty and I was good to go. https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/275819-REG/PSC_FPSC0010A_A4812_48V_to_12T.html
Now, as always, the initial honeymoon wore off. More accurately I got greedy. I have also recently introduced a channel strip into my recording chain. Specifically a DBX 286. The reason for this is to help control the highway rumble issues that have plagued my recording setup since day one. My booth is on the 2nd floor of my house. In order to keep the rest of the family happy, it needs to stay in the back spare bedroom where it is. However, because of this, I cannot add a 2nd layer, because the weight would be too much for my floorboards. Check with your local jurisdiction before putting anything as heavy as even a single walled booth on your 2nd floor. So, the noise from the 4 lane highway that runs through my Baltimore backyard, isn’t going anywhere. Long story short, the channel strip allows me to engage the built in expander and keep out the highway before it gets into the recording. Fellow Voice Actor Alan Taylor suggested this as a fix, and you know what? He was right! Thanks Alan.
But I digress. Anywhoo, once I found the 415 could be used to great effect with the DBX, I thought “hmmm, maybe I could use something like a TLM 103 now!” So, I considered making another Questionable Gear Purchase. Luckily I thought of another solution.
I had met Chris Sharpes, a lovely chap at VO Atlanta. It turns out he lives less than 10 miles from me in Maryland. I started to hatch a plan…heheeee. I asked Chris if he’d like to borrow my 415 in exchange for me borrowing his AT4040. This would allow me to test record a very sensitive large diaphragm condenser with my new setup and see if the rumble was still kept at bay. So, Chris met me on a beautiful sunny day in the Land of Pleasant Living and we traded. I’m happy to report that the setup DOES work with an LDC too.
A funny thing happened while the 415 was with Chris, though. I MISSED it! Chris sent me some test recordings of his voice on the 415 and it sounded wonderful. Smooth and rich with no hint of distortion or plosives. I started to think to myself, “what are you thinking? That mic is gorgeous!”. After a few days, Chris and I traded back. I’m happy to report the 415 is back where it belongs, and I’m loving every recording I make with it.
So, if you have G.A.S. like me, maybe consider a similar arrangement. There are so many people out there in the voice over community. Find them! Since VO Atlanta, I have found a whole group of talent I didn’t know were so close to me. We are actually now going to start a local meetup group. We will talk about strategy, trade battle stories, and work on scripts. Maybe I can even convince another person to let me borrow their mic next time I get the itch. It pays to have friends in VO places!