It’s Booth Gear, Baby!

When you stand or sit in your recording area (whatever your booth may be), are the tools you need at arm’s-length away? I’m almost positive your copy or music stand has at least one item you use every time you record. Maybe a pencil? A stopwatch? A good luck Beanie Baby? Almost everybody has something. At the very least a script.

The accumulation of booth gear doesn’t necessarily reveal the type of person you’ve become. It’s not a reflection of what makes you, you. Instead, it’s what makes you comfortable so you can do an excellent job recording and impress the heck out of your clients who will shower you with repeat work. It’s all important stuff.

This picture is a snapshot I took of what’s on the music stand in my booth. (click to enlarge)


Big Office Clip
– It’s a simple and efficient headphone hanger. However, since it’s two wires doing the job, the clip has destroyed the padded head cushion covering. There are better choices, like this from Sweetwater- K&M 16080 Headphone and Cable Hook.. (Also check out the K&M 16020 Drink Holder.)

Headphones – I’m using my Sennheiser HD 280 Pros less for self-directed projects but find them necessary for remote booth direction. They spend most of the time on my editing desk.

iPad – Going green is a good choice to reduce printer/paper usage. Printed scripts in the booth are becoming more rare with each passing year. Apple’s iPad (or similar tablet) is the way to go. Mine is an iPad 2, which I bought new in 2011, and with its 9.7-inch display, it’s a good size for reading scripts.

However, while visiting the Apple Store recently, I saw the bigger display of the iPad Pro (12.9-inches), and I think it’d be a sweet upgrade. I would see more of the script on a brighter, crisper display. That’s a win for my eyeballs.

Mighty Bright Light – On those few occasions where I print a script or need to read from an actual book, this light is fantastic for its brightness and adjustability. Since I purchased mine, Mighty Bright has created new, brighter versions that appear to take up less space.

In Your Face iPhone Holder – Phone-patched sessions have become more common and the In Your Face iPhone Holder is a handy place to mount my phone.

Carpet Sample – A music stand is nothing but a flat piece of sheet metal on a pipe. The flat surface can produce unwanted sound artifacts, which are muted with a carpet sample.

Make a trip to your local carpet retailer and ask if they have any samples they’d let you take off their hands. Just make sure it’s clean and a color you can live with. And while you’re there, introduce yourself as the person to call for everything VO.

Pencil – This is a carry over from when I was working with paper scripts. I got in the habit of having it in my hand and feel naked when I don’t. It’s handy for gesticulation. Not so good for marking up copy on an iPad.

Dog Clicker – Marking the waveform with a clearly defined click is indispensable during audio editing. I use it to mark mistakes (1 click), takes (2 clicks), and self-guided booth tantrums (countless).

Cork – For the times when I can’t convince my mouth to cooperate, and articulation seems more like fantasy than reality, I rely on my cork. Pop it in. Read the script. Pop it out. Magically, my mouth takes notice and articulation improves.

Bath Towel – When I slapped my carpet sample on my music stand, I quickly saw it was on the small side. Sooo…  a bath towel covers the entire stand. It’ provides a bit of contrast and color plus keeps the carpet in place. I know it’s a stretch, but it sounds good, doesn’t’ it?

Do I use all the items every time I’m in session? Nope. One or two items come in handy. The rest are on standby waiting for their chance to be helpful.

Do you have things on your stand (or in your booth) that help you get through a session? What’s the one or two items that make what you do easier? I’d like to hear about them, so leave your comments below.

© 2017 J. Christopher Dunn

10 thoughts on “It’s Booth Gear, Baby!

  1. Melba Sibrel King March 29, 2017 / 9:31 pm

    Lozenges for moistening my clicky dry mouth are absolutely necessary for me. And room temp sipping water. Thanks for the cork tip! Can’t wait to try it.

    Liked by 2 people

    • J. Christopher Dunn March 30, 2017 / 11:45 am

      Both are great suggestions. What is your preferred brand of lozenges? Some people mix in fresh lemon with their water. Do you? Thanks for reading my blog and leaving your suggestions!

      Like

  2. DebbieGrattanVoiceovers March 30, 2017 / 7:21 am

    The big one I need and use all the time, that you didn’t mention, is a stopwatch! Mine is tinkered, so the “beep” sound is muted. Indispensable, and easier than checking time on my monitor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • J. Christopher Dunn March 30, 2017 / 11:51 am

      Hey Debbie, thanks for reading my post.

      Oh, yeah! A stopwatch. It slipped my mind because mine is usually hanging from a lanyard around my neck. Going with one that’s silent is a must. Like yours, mine is completely quiet. It’s a 2007 iPod nano.

      Like

  3. Steve Krumlauf April 1, 2017 / 6:42 pm

    Great blog, J.C! Good tips. I see you and I use the exact same moving blankets. Got mine very cheaply from Harbor Freight Tools. I also recently installed a foam mattress pad in the front half to provide additional sound absorption, much like your carpet pad. Nice to see you also discovered the value of those big office clips. All of mine keep the blankets attached to the two, four-panel privacy screens that form the foundation of my booth end-to-end. I fashioned a headphone holder out of a wire coat hanger. Works great. Only use my Sennheiser’s to check play back. Wish I had an I-pad. Still using an ancient Dell flat screen computer monitor attached by a long cord to my laptop. Still trying to track down a very annoying buzz in the noise floor I’ve recently discovered. Not sure if it’s coming from the Focusrite Solo 2i2 interface, a bad USB port, faulty light switch on the gooseneck lamp overhead, or what. If you have any ideas, please share! Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    • J. Christopher Dunn April 3, 2017 / 10:34 am

      Hey Steve- Thank for the compliments about the post. Yup. Harbor Freight Tools sounds right. The one HUGE drawback with them was they smelled of chemicals and I had to air them out for several days (maybe weeks!) before I could use them. My first booth was created using PVC pipe and the blankets. It was functional but rickety. I was set up in a 400 square foot room that was originally suppose to be the theater room. Anyway… dealing with wall reflections in such a huge cavern was a challenge. The blankets helped, but if I really got into a script and projected, the room came to life in the noisiest way possible. And, AND… to add to the crazy early newbie-ness of it all, my first mic was an omnidirectional ribbon. It looked super cool, but clearly, I did not do enough research.

      A buzz in the noise floor could be almost anything. Start with cables first. Switch ports second. Check the hardware. Also, do not use a USB hub for your 2i2, plug directly into your computer. Geroge Whittam is really the go-to guy for tech issues. You can find him at http://www.edgestudiotechnology.com.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Like

      • slkrumlauf2013 April 3, 2017 / 3:18 pm

        Thanks for the update, J.C. on your experience with home studios. I have a few friends who have done very well with PVC-based booths. Until our youngest daughter moved out and we could take over her old bedroom, I had to set my booth up and tear it down every time I had something to record! That added a good hour to the process. Bummer! Thanks for your tips on tracking down extra noise in the noise floor. I’m thinking now it might be the Dell monitor. Not sure. Or, even the fan noise from the laptop. Really not sure where it might be coming from. It couldn’t be any kind of USB hub, as my 2i2 does go directly into the laptop. But, I’m going to try various USB ports on the laptop to see if that makes any difference. If it is my monitor, that means I’m going to have to go back to the hard copy days, printing everything out. Bummer!

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Steve Ryder April 6, 2017 / 10:58 pm

    Thank you for sharing such common sense with us, love the carpet sample and the huge clip.

    I felt that a really good investment was the iPad Pro , and it has been, but the real aid has been the Apple Pencil .

    Whilst it’s initial pricing is extortionate, the daily use has paid it way time and time again. I use it to annotate scripts In PDF form.

    There are a vast array of PDF converting apps on the App Store . (PDF expert is my favourite) the only drawback is that you can’t use it with ‘Magicue’ or the like.

    Kind regards

    Liked by 1 person

    • J. Christopher Dunn April 7, 2017 / 10:45 am

      You’re welcome, Steve. THANK YOU for feeding my lust for an iPad Pro, and Pencil sounds like the way to go. It’d be a nice tax write-off for 2017.

      I like the idea of being able to easily edit in the booth. My current with client provided PDFs is to annotate, or copy and paste the script into a Pages document and then edit either on my Mac or iPad in the booth.

      Do you use Magicue a lot?

      Like

Thanks for stopping by. Please leave a comment!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s