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VOICE OVER HOME STUDIO
When Your VO Performance Is Spot On,
Sound Quality Doesn't Matter So Much?

By Ilja Rosendahl
Producer, Actor, Songwriter, Musician, Voice Actor  

Technology advances have come a long way in changing the world we live in, and this is also true for the voice over industry.

What was once a restricted business for a few who recorded in external recording studios is now open to all professional talent with a home studio and online capabilities.

But in contrast to the ever-improving technical quality of other media, the majority of modern voice overs is delivered below industry standards. 

Why?

In the past, it was the studio engineer's responsibility to arrange the recording setup and the voice actor focused solely on the performance. Now, both tasks must be tackled by those who have a home studio.

With recording equipment becoming more and more affordable, it is tempting to think that a top voice over can be recorded on a shoestring budget. But is the result really professional?  

CLIENTS MIGHT HEAR DIFFERENTLY

The way a product is presented is a major factor in deciding if people think it's good and like it or not, even if they can't explain why. And the ability to pick an original versus similar products is often underestimated.

Same with your product, voice over recordings.

While you might feel satisfied with the sound quality, maybe your client thinks differently, and you don't notice it because instead of receiving the necessary feedback from the client, you are simply not chosen after auditioning or not booked again, left without a clue.

But if your recordings sound pure and clear, there is a better chance to succeed.  

For example, a tennis pro can play with a frying pan better than most of us would with a professional racket. But how many tennis players have you seen lately with a frying pan on the court?

So, why would you care less about your sound quality? It can be a reason why you make it or break it in the voice over industry, since recording issues can overshadow an otherwise solid performance. 

EASY WAY EXCUSES
"Nah, they won't hear the difference. My mic sounds very similar to the fancy ones, and some foam panels will do it as acoustic treatment for now."
Really? After your recordings are mastered and used as finished audio, even small sound issues in your recording space and chain will become quite obvious to any listener. So, you can't really hide it.  
"There is a plugin to emulate/solve everything: mics, preamps, reverb, sibilance, clicks, breaths, pops, noise you name it."
True, a lot can be done with software tools. However, as with cameras, the better the raw picture, the better the result after editing will be.

So, plugins should be left to polish what's already there. And studio engineers know that it's always better to avoid the problem at the source instead of getting rid of it after recording.  

THE RIGHT WAY ...

Managing the recording sound is vital for your voice over business.

Experiment with professional tools and actively seek feedback on your sound quality to present yourself in the best way possible.

The following exercise can help you as a starting point for a general soundcheck of your recording room:  
  • Clap your hands. Not right in front of your microphone, OK?
  • Listen carefully. Do you hear any room reflections, or is the room too dry?
  • Talk with a soft and then a loud voice.
  • Listen carefully. Does it sound boomy or boxy? Does the room have too much reverb or does it suck the life out of your voice?  
If you detect any issues, make the necessary improvements and then proceed to further elements of your recording setup.
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ABOUT ILJA
Ilja Rosendahl is a producer, actor, songwriter, musician and voice over artist. Since 1997 he has starred in feature films and TV series and voiced media projects for blue chip companies all over the world. In 2001 he started the Electronic Alternative Rock solo music project Latent Anxiety, which has released 7 studio albums and garnered several awards. Ilja holds a PhD in Natural Sciences and is a member of various associations in the entertainment industry. In 2020 he launched VOTIPS with technical and training resources for voice over talent. 


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Comments (1)
James Conlan
2/5/2020 at 10:22 AM
This is good advice, Ilja, and too often overlooked or misunderstood. I particularly appreciate your concern about "sucking the life out of your voice." But I would hope people are also paying attention to two hardware issues. First, many people go cheap on the microphone, often choosing a USB mic to save a few bucks on an interface. I'm not that acute a listener, but I can usually hear it when someone is using a Yeti. And second, one needs to invest in a good pair of headphones and put them on, both when recording and when editing. Sloppy edits aren't as apparent when listening with speakers, but pretty clear with headphones. These issues will also negate a good performance.
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