It is a super hard decision as to how much to spend on your first set-up. If you are not sure if you are going for it yet, I would recommend just getting something that fits your budget that you can start out with. If you are confident Narration or Voice Over is something you want to try seriously, I recommend buying a good beginner setup straight away so that you don’t have to buy twice.
The first thing you need is a DAW or Digital Audio Workstation. There are lots to choose from, Audacity is a very simple choice that many beginners use but is limited in what you can do with it and so I recommend using software called Reaper from the beginning. That way you only have to learn a new skill only once. It has a free trial (which does roll over from the 60 days but please purchase the software as the price is extremely reasonable for what you get! I don't work for them in anyway I just think they rock!)
It is an extremely powerful workstation, and perfect for Voice Over and Narration work. I recommend getting this as soon as you can to start playing with, as it has quite a steep learning curve, but once you've got it, you've got it! There is a ton of community support and videos with tips and tricks on using the software!
I also have a Reaper config, FX chain and tutorials sheets you can use in the Reference Documents
Microphones - Solid Set-Up
Let's take a look at the set-up I recommend if you would like to take Narration and Voice Over seriously:
Microphone Choice 1
Sennheiser MKE 600
Great for less-than-ideal recording spaces, lovely sound, and engineers and clients seem to love it! Really good for corporate VO as well as animation and audiobooks. I upgraded to this after a few years with my NT1 (see below) and it really is fantastic! My number one choice! Beyond this, we are moving to the high-end pro mics!
Full MKE 600 review - HERE
Buy the MKE 600 - HERE
Microphone Choice 2
Rode NT1 4th Generation (not the nt1-a)
A great entry-level mic, that people use for their whole careers. This was my first pro mic and I recorded many, many projects on it! It is worth noting, that there is now a 5th generation model with XLR and USB connection and a cheaper Signature Series with just the XLR. I haven't tried these yet, I have heard that the Frequency Response is a little different with a touch of a boost on the top end but if it is anything on the original NT1 the added connectivity for the 5th Gen and the cheaper price point for the Sig Series sound fantastic!
Full NT1 review - HERE
Buy the NT1 4th Gen - HERE
Buy the NT1 5th Gen - HERE
Buy the NT1 Signature Series - HERE
Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 - A very standard interface, I see them in studios all the time. They are cheap and reliable, sure you can spend more but this is a great starting point.
Full 2i2 review - HERE
Buy the 2i2 - HERE
Microphones - Super Budget Option
It is worth saying that if you intend to take Voice Over and Narration seriously, you should invest in one of the above options. However, if you are just starting out, and are not quite sure yet if you can commit the money, The Maono PD200X is a really solid entry choice. It plugs straight into the USB of your computer so is everything you need as a super budget option. However, when you want to try and move into the industry you really need a more professional setup to secure work.
Full PD200X Review - HERE
Buy the PD200X - HERE
Once you have the above, you will need a good pair of over-ear headphones, anything will do as you start out, but eventually, you want to look at getting a pair of over-ear headphones. They should be Monitor headphones or Audio Mixing headphones, which are different to headphones you might buy for listening to music. If you think of popular headphones like Beats or something with Noise Cancelling and extra bass, it is very hard to hear the real sound of your recording, the headphones affect the sound. So you need a pair that gives you the true sound so you know how to mix the finished track.
The industry standards are Beyer DT770’s, there are many others, I just love the Beyers and again, see them in studios all the time!
Full DT 770's review - HERE
Buy the DT 770's - HERE
For this, I really recommend a Macbook Air M2. I used to have a PC outside of my booth and would run cables for the monitor and use Bluetooth for the mouse and keyboard because the fans were too loud. Since I have bought the M2 it comes into the booth with me, and I can use it for auditions while I am travelling too! It handles everything I throw at it easily, including audio post-production, video editing and even some gaming believe it or not! (No Man's Sky runs great!)
Buy the Macbook Air M2 - HERE
The last thing is treating your recording space to keep away atmospheric sounds like cars from outside, or air conditioning, and stopping any reflection of your voice so that you don’t get an echo in the recording. An excellent professional Mic can sound awful in a bad space, so this is SUPER important!
You want to choose a space that is pretty quiet, to begin with. And then surround yourself with soft surfaces. Closets can work or of course a dedicated sound booth, or even a blanket fort! This video shows you a pretty solid on-the-fly DIY recording space and teaches you the basics of treating a space.
When you are ready to invest more seriously in your narration or Voice Over career you can look at building or purchasing a proper sound-isolated booth, but this should get you started!
Once you have your setup you are ready to start practising and applying for jobs! It is really worth getting some coaching when you start out, especially if you do not have any experience in performance or are unsure on the tech side! There are a ton of great coaches out there, and it is all about finding the one that works for you! If you would like to get some coaching with me you can check out my coaching page here:
For anything else throw your questions in the comments! Happy narrating!!!!!!