Here at Such A Voice, we bring together some pretty incredible professionals from all different parts of the world to provide our students with a top voice-over education. Our staff members have such a wide variety of backgrounds and unique personalities. From working VO actors starring in movies, video games, and national TV commercial campaigns, to producers spending their days working on voice-over demos as well as broadcast voice-over work, to copywriters, casting directors and many other industry skills in between! We genuinely love bringing our expertise and our experiences together to create the best programs for our students.
For this week’s staff spotlight, we’d like to introduce you to our Home Studio Advisory Coach, Ben Marney!
SAV: Hi Ben! We wanted to congratulate you on your new gig at Sirius XM! Can you tell us more about what you’re doing for the station?
Marney: I was originally hired to do about ten pages of Channel ID’s, intros for the Skynyrd band members shows, and promotion spots for the new Free Bird: Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern Rock Channel, Sirius XM channel 30 Those responsibilities were quickly expanded. So far, I’ve done 18 pages with more coming. They have also asked me to do an audition to be the voice of another existing Sirius XM channel, but I can’t talk about that one yet.
SAV: What’s your favorite part about working in voice-over?
Marney: Without question, it’s being able to jump out of bed and walk 50 feet to my business– my home studio. I don’t even have to comb my hair or put on pants to go to work! Ha. It’s also the long-term friendships I’ve developed with my clients. For example, I’ve been the brand voice for Home Federal Bank for ten years now. The producer and I have become great friends over the years. And I have several other long-term clients/friends.
SAV: What does your role of Home Studio Support Specialist consist of on a day-to-day basis?
Marney: I believe what I do for SAV is a critical part of a student’s success. Without a quality home studio and a good understanding of the recording software, they will not be able compete in this industry, even if they have a golden voice. I have sessions in the evening from 5:00PM To 10:30PM EST, Monday through Thursday. In my sessions, I make sure their equipment is hooked up and working properly. I suggest ways in which they can create a “sound bounce proof” studio with a low noise floor and I teach them how to use the Audacity software to create quality auditions.
SAV: What kind of equipment do you use for your own home studio?
Marney: I also produce music, so I have a little more equipment than is really necessary to just produce voice-over. I work with on a 27” iMac with a second 30” Vizio video monitor, about five feet of screens in front of me.
I have several studio microphones, but my prefered recording chain for voice-over is my Blue (baby bottle) microphone, going through a Focusrite ISA one processor, on to my Scarlett 2i2 interface.
I use ProTools recording software, mixed through a small Mackie board connected to two Advent Tuned Reference 10” studio monitors. In my vocal booth, I record with Sony MDR 7506 headphones.
I actually own several much more expensive microphones, but I like my voice the best on my Blue baby bottle.
SAV: Do you have any tips for someone who wants to soundproof their studio?
Marney: First of all, unless you bury a concrete bunker in your backyard, you’ll never get a “soundproof” home studio. All you need is a “bounce” proof studio and that’s easy to accomplish. My first recommendation is to always put the microphone in a closet, if possible. It doesn’t have to be a walk-in closet, just a closet big enough so they can put their microphone and head in. I know a lot of very successful VO talents in New York City that only have a small coat closet to work with in their tiny apartments. They cover the back wall with either Auralex foam or blankets, quilts, carpet, really anything non reflective and dense enough to absorb sound. They then spread their coats apart a foot or so, stick the microphone and mic stand in as far back as possible, put their head in between the coats, and there you have it. It’s just that simple.
When I’m on the road working out of a hotel, I make a pillow fort around my microphone and stick my head in. I actually did three episodes of Hillbilly Blood for the Discovery Channel that way.
This is what we talk about in my sessions. Everyone has a different situation to work with. I also stress the importance of having a comfortable desk and chair for their computer. They’ll spend much more time there editing than they will in the booth recording.
SAV: What has been your favorite niche to work in so far?
Marney: I’m definitely Americana. I’m from Texas and I have a southern accent, so I concentrate on that kind of work. I don’t do many auditions for New York or Chicago. I’m more of an Alabama, Mississippi, Texas kind of guy.
SAV: What is your favorite song to listen to on the radio nowadays?
Marney: Of course I have to say Free Bird. By the way, you can hear that song on Sirius XM channel 30, Free Bird: Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern Rock Channel. Again, sorry I just can’t stop myself.
SAV: Who do you look up to in the voice-over industry?
Marney: I’d have to say Sam Elliott. I love his voice and delivery. I’ve met him a few times and he’s a great guy. Very down to earth for a big star. And of course, our own Heather Costa. She’s amazing!
SAV: If you could be a member of any TV-sitcom family, which would it be?
Marney: No question about that one! Modern Family. I’d work for free to be able to see Sofía Vergara every day.
SAV: Do you have a quote that you live by?
Marney: It’s something my father said to me the day I left for college. He said, “Son, there are a lot of stupid people out there in the world… try not to be one of them.”