Okay children, sit down and listen. Grandma’s gonna tell you a story, and when I’m done, I’m going to give you a quarter.
Back in the olden days, my voiceover agent would let me know I had an audition. Usually this was done by calling me on the phone. YES. Calling me on the phone! There was no email in my inbox! There was no alert from a 3rd party casting website! Why, in even OLDER olden days, I would get a message on MY BEEPER with my agent’s number on it, and if I wasn’t home next to my phone, I ran around trying to find a PAYPHONE to call them back on! (And FYI even SPELL CHECK is giving me the red line of death under the word PAYPHONE. Et tu, spell check?) I would schedule a time with the office to come in, and drive there at said appointed time to record my auditions in the booth.
Around the year 2007 (or so, I’m really fuzzy on the date, and if I were really your grandmother, this is where I would spend an agonizing [to you] ten minutes trying to figure it out), my agents over at VoX sent out a missive to all clients letting them know that from now on, we would all have to set up our own home studios and have the capability to email our auditions to them in a timely manner. They told us, “the business is moving faster than ever!” The new drill was: They’d email us our audition sides with a deadline marked on the top of the page, and we’d have to record them and email the files back to them by the time indicated.
Some voice actors have super amazing Fortress of Solitude-esque studios in their homes – some have tiny ones. There are some who’ve taken a small closet, sound proofed it, and put a mic in there. Me? I plugged a Blue Snowball microphone into my computer, and when I record auditions, close the windows & pocket doors in my office, turn off the fan, put this weird box thing over/around my head, and record.
Not the best situation, but hey, it worked.
The Blue Snowball is a good directional microphone – but it’s big and not great for traveling. Basically, what I’ve been doing when I travel is to just “book out” with my agent for the dates I’ll be gone, so they don’t send me any auditions. It’s easier than dragging that microphone across the country/world. (Plus, I need that suitcase space for indigenous candies.)
Then I saw a review on GeekDad for the Apogee MiC, with the focus on being a mobile musician. So I wondered how the Apogee MiC would fare with a GeekMom who needs and uses a studio quality microphone nearly every evening, and who was looking for something portable to boot. I’m not looking to lay down different tracks, or layer sounds. I just need a professional sounding, simple, clean recording of my voice that I can quickly email over to my agent.
First of all – the Apogee MiC is really light, compact, and very handsome looking. I know there might be a little bit of, “who cares about nice looking!” – but remember, I record nearly every night. So, I set this up on my desk, and it stays there as part of my landscape. I don’t want something glaringly ugly there. After I set it up, I gave it a test run on my Mac, and the quality of the recording was really satisfying – crisp and clean. And that’s saying a lot – because, keep in mind, when I’m in my office recording, I’m not in a soundproofed room. Yes, I’ve closed the windows and doors, shut off the ceiling fan, and told my family to keep to the back of the house, but there’s still going to be some ambient noise. A car might go by, or a jet. The dog next door barks. But the MiC has a polar pattern that is cardioid. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN IN TERMS OF SOUND? It means that it’s meant to catch sounds coming from right in front of it, and not sounds around it. Perfect for people who do voiceover. It’s also super easy to set up and start working with. Which I really appreciate. I don’t have a lot of time to sit and read instruction manuals. Did I mention that I do voiceover? Oh, well, did I mention that I do a really good impression of Elmo? Well, I do. It’s the current tragedy of my life because it’s the current thrill of my 3 year old daughter’s imaginary play life. So I am VERY BUSY for MOST OF THE HOURS OF THE DAY doing that impression. I prefer pretending to be Vidia. She’s the.. uh… sassy fairy. Yes, sassy, that’s the word I am going with.
But here’s the best part of the Apogee MiC: it comes with an iOS Dock Cable, so you can plug it directly into an iPhone or an iPad and use your app of choice to record. I’ve been traveling quite a bit lately, and so this was when I really got a chance to test drive this tiny microphone. I dragged it to San Diego Comic-Con, I dragged it back to the east coast to visit family, I dragged it down to Orlando, Florida for Celebration VI, and can finally say that I no longer have to book out with my agent just because I am going out of town. The quality of sound on my recordings is that good. So much so, that lately I’ve been… I can’t believe I am putting this in writing and out into the world… but I have been plugging it into my iPad, going into my clothes closet, closing the door, and recording in there! The clothes make it a naturally soundproofed room, and the recordings sound even more amazing. DON’T TELL ANYONE, OK? OK.
A note, not about the MiC, but about using it with Garage Band: I found Garage Band to be a super big pain in the butt to work with on a mobile device. It takes up a massive amount of space, and is just way too clunky and not intuitive at all for the kind of quick stuff I record. I love working with it on my desktop, but grew very frustrated with it while traveling. I’m sure I could have figured out a more streamlined way to use it, but when I am away from home, I have even less time to noodle around with something. I need it to be smash and grab. Friends of mine in the industry recommended an app called Twisted Wave, which I really love. But again, I’m not laying down multi-tracks or putting together a podcast. I’m just trying to get a clean, high quality recording of my voice. You may feel differently. Give Garage Band a try to start with.
And speaking of podcasts, the Apogee MiC is a great tool for a podcaster looking for a good sounding recording that eliminates a lot of external noise. If your podcast is the type where you interview people, then you’ll need two of them. I also highly recommend it for anyone who does a lot of video chats, Google Hangouts, iChats – really anything where you park yourself in front of a computer and talk. It eliminates so much extraneous noise and makes conversations easier. I’m really pleased.
Here’s your quarter. Go play.