The Voice Actor's Studio

My studio’s foundation is an iMac running Pro-Tools. I’ve been a Digidesign (now Avid Audio) guy since about 1994. I was acting as studio engineer for Dallas C. Dort & Company, an ad agency. Although we were using Tascam reel-to-reel machines, Dallas was a musician and kept talking about things like Sound Designer and Sound Tools, which he used at home. I’d nod and smile while grease-penciling and razor-blading on a splice block, but had no earthly clue what he was talking about.

Recording Software

I first purchased Digidesign's Session-8 for WCRZ's new production studio around '94. Then went with their simple Session software for my own in '98. I'm guessing I moved to Pro-Tools around 2001, and I see no reason to change.

The Space

In January 2018 I moved into my dream studio, which we built at the far end of our new home. I worked with George Whittam on this. The outer shell is 6 inches of poured concrete. There is a nice, big 21 inch air gap. Then two layers of drywall with a generous slathering of Green Glue noiseproofing compound in between them. George also recommended (and we created) a vaulted ceiling. The entire space is 20' by 16'. I have my office in one half and the recording space in the other. It's one of the quietest studios I've ever been in.

My Studio

The Acoustic Treatment

I've considered acoustic panels made with mineral wool to be some of the best treatment available, previously having those made by ATS Acoustics in my vocal booth. But BOY was it going to be expensive to have the panels necessary for this large a space shipped in to Mexico. I was incredibly lucky to have found Constantin Diekkamp, a remarkably skilled German acoustical engineer, living an hour away in Queretaro.

Although I thought it might be overkill, Constantin insisted on 6 inch thick wall panels, moveable GOBOs and ceiling clouds. All first rate mineral wool and all wrapped in a beautiful navy blue upholstery. For the savings I was getting working with him locally, it was just an amazing value--especially considering everything was custom designed for my space. We experimented with treating the office area of the space, first adding a nice, symmetrical array of Auralex foam panels. Since I was still getting a little "slap" from that part of the space, we then hung 4 large foam baffles from the ceiling back there, which did the trick.


For some time now my primary microphone has been the Sennheiser MKH-416 shotgun. I'd heard it called the Desert Island Mic for years, and now I know why. To me it sounds rich, boomy and crisp all at the same time. But I've also added the Neumann TLM 103, which some clients find more appropriate for their projects. They are each on their own boom at my recording lectern, so I can swing one in and the other out easily.

Pro-Tools Plugins

As the quality of my microphone and recording environment has increased, so the need to clean up my voice tracks. Those mouth clicks, pops and squishes. Sure, many clients don't even notice them, but many do. And I do. So after much research I went with the iZotope RX 6 editor. It features native plugins for Pro-Tools, which is good because I really don't want to spend 15 minutes laboring over a click that's smack dab in the middle of a word. Believe me, you can get way forensic with this beast. So the plugins allow me to eliminate sounds very easily right from within Pro-Tools.

Don Baarnes runs the Audio Rescue Facebook page, and I paid him for a Skype session in which he was able to give me a pretty thorough tutorial on RX 5. And since some of the actions required repetitive keystrokes, I've also begun to use Keyboard Maestro to create hotkeys that save me a lot of time. For help with this puppy I turned to Mike Verbruggen, a Mac productivity expert from the Netherlands, who also showed me how to make it work over Skype. His English is excellent, by the way.

What's next? Who knows? But rest assured if there's a way to improve my voice tracks, I'll be spending wayyyy too much time obsessively investigating it online past 2am. :-/