Setting up a Mac as a dedicated Source-Connect computer
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- Source-Connect Standard 3.9 User Guide
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This article is part of the Source-Connect Standard 3.9 User Guide
This applies mostly to VO actors who need a reliable solution with maximum compatibility; while Windows PCs are as good as the rest for home use and other applications, Windows' management of sound devices makes it a less-than-ideal platform for VO work.
Windows gives sound applications exclusive access to the system sound devices. This results in the impossibility of having Source-Connect open at the same time as, let's say, Audacity to both record your voice locally and connect to your client via Source-Connect so they can record you remotely. Of course, with enough working-around and tricks, one can overcome these limitations; but not everybody has the time or is tech savvy enough to pull it off.
Macs, however, give free access to the system's sound devices. This means that more than one sound application at the same time can, for example, use the microphone to record your voice. As an immediate result, you can have Source-Connect sending your voice to your client at the same time as Pro Tools is recording you; with no audio device error messages, workarounds, or headaches.
In this article, we'll explain what we consider is the best approach to get yourself a dedicated Mac for your VO work with Source-Connect; a hassle-free, relatively cheap, and dependable set-up.
You probably already have most of these, but here is what you will need for your dedicated Source-Connect Mac:
- A Mac
- Audio interface
Source-Connect has conservative system requirements. Any Mac from the past decade will do. But a good balance between cost and performance can be achieved by getting any Mac Mini or MacBook Pro from late 2014 or later. Both have a very small footprint that can fit any home VO booth set-up and can be moved easily to other locations. Mac Minis have plenty of expansion ports, and some models are upgradeable to a certain extent; MacBook Pros can't be upgraded and the newer models have less expansion ports but, sometimes, used MacBook Pros can get very cheap.
New or used? Though you can go ahead and get the base Mac Mini model for $799.00 (which is, by the way, plenty powerful for Source-Connect), we also recommend you look for pre-owned, second-hand, or refurbished Macs. For example, a late 2014 refurbished Mac Mini can be found for less than $400, or a pre-owned MacBook Pro from the same year can be found for around $500.00.
With a Mac Mini, you'll have to get a monitor/screen plus a keyboard+mouse combo; with a MacBook Pro you won't have to, so bear this in mind when planning your budget. Any cheap, wired keyboard+mouse combo will do; they can be found for around $15 on Amazon. Any monitor will suffice as well, but if you plan to buy one new, add another $100-$150 to the bill (pre-owned and refurbished monitors can be found for much less).
Apple itself has a refurbished and pre-owned section in their store. Other places to look for Macs are Ebay, Amazon, or simply google "used macs" and you'll find a lot of reputable pre-owned Mac stores.
If you're reading this, you're probably a VO actor and you can do just fine with Source-Connect Standard; that's $35/month plus a one-time $75 set-up fee (see more details on pricing here https://source-elements.com/products/source-connect/versions). You'll get all the support you need to set it up and we have plenty of documentation and online resources if you're more of a hands-on type.
Source-Connect runs on macOS 10.10 or higher, so if you get yourself a Mac from 2014 or later, it's highly likely it'll ship with a version of macOS supported by Source-Connect (and the iLok License Manager). To activate your Source-Connect license, you'll need an iLok account and follow all the steps in this onboarding guide http://source-elements.com/onboard/standard.
This is completely up to you; what brand or model is a matter of preference. But if you have no idea where to start, these are the most commonly used audio interfaces for home VO booths:
- Focusrite Scarlett 2i2
- Universal Audio Apollo Twin MkII
- Steinberg UR22C
- Apogee Element 46
- Behringer U-Control UCA222
- TASCAM US-2×2
- M-Audio M-Track 2X2
Most can be found in online stores but check the prices in more than one store for the same model to make sure you're paying a fair price.
If you're going for a USB microphone (Blue Yeti, Audio-Technica AT2020 USB, Røde NT-USB, etc.), you can get away with not purchasing an interface. However, USB microphones are considered entry-level options; it's very likely you'll end up getting an XLR microphone in the end.
Again, completely up to you. You may even end up having more than one for different uses. However, there's a couple of microphones that come up over and over when we talk to our users:
- Rode NT1A
- Røde NT-USB (USB)
- Harlan Hogan VO
- Shure SM7B
- Neumann TLM103
- Blue Yeti (USB)
- Audio Technica AT2020 (USB)
- Heil PR-40
- Avantone Pro CV-12
- MXL 770
- Sennheiser MKH416-P48U3
These are must; if you use speakers or studio monitors your party's voice will be blasted at your microphone and will return to them creating a very disruptive "slap-back" or "echo".
Picking a pair of headphones is easier, but bear in mind that some come with a mini-jack (a.k.a. 3.5mm jack; the little one) while others come with a 1/4" jack (the big one). Get a mini-jack to 1/4" adapter regardless of the one you pick; it will come in handy. Bluetooth or wireless headphones should be avoided because they can introduce unwanted latency and drops.
You'll want something that's comfortable for long sessions. Also, they should have decent sound to avoid listener fatigue. In any case, there's plenty of good, budget-friendly options like:
- Audio Technica ATH-M30x
- Sony MDR-7502
- Tascam TH02
- Sennheiser HD202 II
- Shure SE215 (in-ear monitors)
- MEE Audio M6 PRO (in-ear monitors)
- KZ ZS10 (in-ear monitors)
After gathering all your gear, it's time to put it all together and get ready to rock your new dedicated Source-Connect VO Mac!