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Battlestation: So you want to be a voice actor

In our maiden segment titled ‘Battlestation,’ we feature podcaster and voice actor Luis Cruz. Battlestation is a detailed and visual dive into workstations of different professions together with the gadgets that power them.

As a voice actor and podcaster, I need a space that allows me to record clean, high-quality audio. I also want this space to look good on camera, and serve as a place in which to focus, and when needed, hunker down and get things done.

I’m Luis Cruz, and this is my studio, my office.

The foundation of all this is the room itself. While it’s not fully soundproof, it blocks out most outside noise, thanks to double-paned windows and weather seals all around the door. Inside, there are almost three dozen wall and ceiling panels from Truwave Acoustics to keep unwanted echoes down to a minimum.

At one end of the space is my standing desk, which allows me to stand or sit, depending on what I need to do, and how much energy I need for my work. I spend most of my time seated, but when I need to record a high energy commercial or character script, I simply press a button to raise the desk, along with all the hardware on it. Then I can stand, flail around, and basically use my whole body to act out my scene.

On the topic of hardware, my workstation is a 2020 Mac Mini M1, with a 2015 MacBook Air serving as a backup. But what’s important here is my audio signal chain. At the heart of it is the SSL 2 audio interface I got from the Facebook Marketplace. For microphones, I’ve got a Rode NT1 condenser mic that I use for most of my recording work. On the second channel, I’ve got a Kable podKaster dynamic mic for when I want a warmer tone. Also on my chain, between the Rode and the SSL, is a DBX 286s that provides a wide range of signal processing options. I don’t want to bore you with details, but let’s just say I use it to give my audio a touch of clarity and crispness. 

Of course, I need to be able to listen to my audio, and for that, I’ve got both monitor speakers and headphones. For speakers, I have a pair of Edifier MR4 powered studio monitors. For cans, I’ve got the beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO. I rely on both for detailed, accurate audio.

Standing DeskP10,999OfixI stay seated for most of my work. But when I need more energy, or if I need to really move around during a read, I just push a button so I can record while standing.
Mac Mini (M1, 2020)
(hidden behind the MacBook)
P60,000iStudioIt’s fast, reliable, and most importantly, dead silent. So it can stay inside my space even while I’m recording.
MacBook Air (13” early 2015)P15,350 It’s old, but it’s still reliable. And it stays quiet… most of the time. That’s why there’s a fan behind it in case I need to cool it down quickly.
LG 27UL550P15,350DatablitzA 27” 4k display at a great price point. It runs at 60Hz, which might turn off some people who go for higher refresh rates, but I’ve got no problems with it.
LG 23MP68VQN/AInherited from sonA 23” 1080p unit that I “borrowed” from my son when he upgraded his computer; this gives me a bit of extra screen real estate when I’m working on a bunch of different things.
Modded Royal Kludge RK100 with Outemu Lime Green switchesP2,574RK 100 from
Datablitz /  modding by Cobs Keebs
I love the feel of mechanical keyboards, but the sound that most of them make doesn’t quite work when I’m in an online meeting, or even when I’m editing. This keyboard is modded so it feels really nice but doesn’t make a racket.
Solid State Logic SSL 2P10,000FB MartketplaceThis is arguably one of the best audio interfaces you can get for a home studio, and I think it sounds fantastic. Plus it has a volume knob that cranks all the way up to 11. Yes, 11.

It’s a little pricier than some of the more popular options, but I got it 2nd hand, so I didn’t need to shell out quite as much.
DBX 286sP17,000AudiozonePHSome people love the 286, while others can’t seem to figure out how to make it work for them. I’m in the former camp. I like it because it gives my audio a crisp, clear sound.
Rode NT1 condenser microphoneP27,995 (kit)
P22,500 (mic only)
AudiozonePHIf you want a “neutral” mic that will work for almost any voice, this is probably it. My wife and I both use this mic with no issues.
Kable podKaster dynamic microphoneP4,500Kable AtbpIt’s based on a “generic” mic that’s widely available, but modded by a local company to sound better than its visual twins.
Edifier MR4 studio monitor speakers  P5,490Cybertech (Lazada)Arguably the best bang-for-buck studio monitor speakers. It’s not designed to give chest-thumping bass. Instead, it gives detailed, accurate audio.
beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO studio headphonesP10,599AudiozonePHThese are some of the most comfortable headphones I’ve ever worn… but they can get warm if you keep them on for too long. They’re also incredibly detailed, albeit a little bright (i.e. skewed towards higher frequencies).
OPOLAR 9” USB desk fanP2,095AudiozonePHThat’s the fan behind the MacBook. The MacBook sometimes heats up, and when I hear its fans spinning, I switch this on to quickly cool things down. And I take a break. When things are all quiet again, I resume recording.
acoustic panelsN/ATruwave AcousticsThese panels help ensure my recordings are clear and free from distortion.

Prices indicated are estimates by the author from the time they were acquired.

Do you want to be a voice actor or have specific questions about Luis’ setup? Check out his website and reels at