Recording your voice: Professional studio or do it yourself?

Excerpts from the ebook "How to Create Professional Hypnosis & Meditation Recordings" by Christopher Lloyd Clarke.


When the time comes to record your voice you will have one particularly important decision to make up front. Will you utilize the services of a professional recording studio or will you record yourself using your own equipment?

20 years ago the answer would have been a simple one. You’d go to a recording studio. There really wasn’t much of an alternative. But in this modern digital age, recording technology has become available to the masses on a scale never seen before. This technology is extremely powerful, cheaper and easier to use than ever. It is now possible to bypass recording studios altogether and, provided that you have the right equipment and the right skills, record professional quality voiceovers in your own home.

More and more artists are purchasing their own equipment to record, publish and promote themselves, bypassing the traditional route of studio recordings and the painfully discouraging experience of competing with thousands of other artists in the hope of being signed up to a major record label.

The availability of cheap recording technology and the independence that the internet provides makes self-publication so much more immediate, so much more affordable and so much more satisfying. The same holds true for those of us who aren’t in bands – those of us who want to create relaxing spoken word recordings.  

Having said all that, there are some real benefits to recording at a professional studio, so to help you in your decision let’s look at some of the pros and cons of each approach.


Recording at a studio – The benefits

Time saving
There is no need for you to spend any time learning anything about recording technology and audio production techniques. You can relax and let the experts at the studio take care of all that for you.

Zero equipment costs
You wont spend any money at all on recording equipment like microphones.

Access to high quality facilities
The equipment and facilities that you will have access to at a professional recording studio will most likely be of a very high quality – much higher than the average home studio setup.

Quality is guaranteed
You are guaranteed to get an absolutely top notch recording. You’ll have access to great quality microphones, the assistance of professional audio engineers and most importantly, a soundproofed recording room. You certainly won’t have to worry about that barking dog next door spoiling your recording.


Recording at a studio – The downsides

Hourly rates
You’ll pay an hourly rate to use a recording studio. So every time you want to do a new recording you’ll have studio rates to pay.
Tip – consider bundling multiple recordings into one session. If you have a few recordings to create and you have the scrips ready to go, then you might like to try recording more than one of them in your studio visit.

Out of your comfort zone
For some people (I stress "some"), recording at a studio may be less relaxing than recording in the privacy and comfort of their own home.

When a recording studio is a good idea…
If you are not already equipped with the technology and the skills to record yourself, and if you only intend to create one or two recordings, then choosing to record your voiceover in a professional studio is a fantastic option. The money you will save on equipment and the time you will save coming to grips with the recording process will be better spent on studio time.


When a recording studio is a good idea…

If you are not already equipped with the technology and the skills to record yourself, and if you only intend to create one or two recordings, then choosing to record your voiceover in a professional studio is a fantastic option. The money you will save on equipment and the time you will save coming to grips with the recording process will be better spent on studio time.

Additional tips for saving time and money in a recording studio are available in the free ebook "How to Create Professional Hypnosis & Meditation Recordings".


Recording yourself with your own equipment – The benefits

No hourly rates
Once you have your own recording equipment, there are no studio fees or hourly rates to pay. This means that you are free to create an unlimited number of recordings with no ongoing production costs. Over time you could produce a large and valuable collection of recordings that, when calculated on a "per recording basis" would cost very little to create.

No rush
You can take your time with your recordings. Hey, there are no studio rates to pay so what’s the rush? Coffee break anyone?

Working in your comfort zone
You can enjoy creating your recordings in your own way, in your own time, in your own home.  

Immediate access
Having your own recording equipment means that you can record when you feel like it. You don’t need to make a studio booking in advance. Having your own recording equipment at hand also opens up the possibility of creating "spontaneous recordings". If the mood strikes you and recording project leaps to mind, you can fire up your computer, plug in your microphone and you’re away! Inspiration captured!

Enhanced client services
Some therapists use their recording equipment on a regular basis as a way to enhance the treatment that they provide to their patients. For example, some hypnotherapists will create ad hoc recordings for their clients, customizing them to their client’s needs at any particular time.

If you are a creative person, or someone who is enthusiastic about creating audio or video productions, then having some basic recording equipment on hand will give you the opportunity to freely express yourself in these media formats and have a lot of fun doing so. Hey, having fun is just as valid a reason to own recording equipment as any other in this list!


Recording yourself with your own equipment – The downsides

Equipment costs
If you do not already own any recording equipment then there will be some up-front costs when you purchase the equipment you need.

The learning curve
Learning to use recording equipment properly can be a bit of a technical hurdle for people who are unfamiliar with computers or basic day to day technology. Some people take to recording like a duck to water, but if you are someone who is so averse to technology that you can’t use a digital camera or program your alarm clock to go off at the right time, then coming to grips with recording technology may cause you some frustration.

A quiet recording space is a must
In order to record yourself you will need a quiet place to record. For some people, especially those living in built up areas, this can be difficult to achieve at home. You won’t need a soundproofed studio quality room, but you will need a room that is reasonably quiet for at least part of the day.

When recording yourself is a good idea
It’s reasonably quiet at your home. You don’t live beside a highway, your next door neighbour is not a chainsaw addict and your children actually listen when you say, “quite please”.
You like the idea of producing more than one or two recordings.
You are not a complete technophobe, and you are willing to learn a few new skills.


A Third Option – Project Studios & “Mates Rates”.

I’ve talked more than once in this book about how common it’s becoming for everyday people to own their own recording equipment. Chances are you already know a competent someone who has a home recording studio, or at least a spare room with a good quality microphone on standby. If you have a friend or family member who fits this description then it might be possible for you to take the simplest and most cost effective recording route of all – recording in a private residence with the help of a friend.

The beauty of approach is that you will probably have a lot of fun together, whilst still achieving a high quality result. You’re bound to pay a lot less to use your friend’s recording equipment than you would pay to use a professional studio too. If your friend is someone you are close to then you can probably bribe them with hugs and / or cake. (That always works on me).  

I highly recommend this approach if you can wangle it. You will completely avoid the financial cost of purchasing any recording equipment and the mental cost of learning how to use it. But you will need to make sure that the person you are working with has a suitable level of technical ability and their project studio includes some decent quality recording equipment before you dive in. If you are a newcomer to recording then this can be a little hard to asses, but as a rough guideline your friend should be able to answer all the following questions in the affirmative:

1. Do they have a quiet recording space (or at least one that is reasonably quiet at certain times of the day)?
2. Do they have a good quality microphone that’s suited to recording speech?
3. Do they know how to use their equipment and record you properly?
4. Do they know how to mix your vocals with your music?
5. Do they know how to produce a finished audio file that is of a high enough standard for you to sell it to customers?

If your friend can tick all these boxes, then you may well be able to conduct your recording in the familiar comfort of their home studio.