Listen: In Voice Overs And Your
Studio, What Do You Really Hear?
September 9, 2013
Note: The author presents the home studio training session, Choosing Your Voice Over Microphone, at the Voice Over Virtual conference, Sept. 18-20, 2013. For details, please visit www.VoiceOverVirtual.com.
By Dan Friedman
Voice Actor, Producer & Engineer
While out on a hiking trip on a recent weekend, I took the time to simply listen to nature. For several minutes, not a single device of modern technology could be heard. It was truly music to the ears.
ListeningÖ truly listening, seems to be a lost art.
When was the last time you sat down and listened to an album? I donít mean casually, with the music playing in the background as you perform other tasks. I mean sitting down in front of some speakers, or putting on headphones, and simply listening.
WHO LISTENS ANY MORE?
Iíve been around many younger people lately, high school and college age, and they just donít listen. Iím not talking about, "Hey, pick those clothes up off the floor and put them awayĒÖ and they donít do it, kind of listening (although that is certainly an issue as well).
Iím talking about truly using their ears and hearing the world around them.
This isnít limited to young people, of course. When teaching home studio classes (mostly to adults), Iím often asked, "How do you know which (whatever piece of gear) sounds better?Ē
The answer is, you have to listen and compare in order to know.
COMPARE LISTENING MODES
This isnít entirely the fault of todayís typical listener. Tiny and inefficient earbuds, computer and television speakers have become common place. These are all truly terrible devices for critical listening and are barely good enough for enjoyable listening.
Then of course, there is the mp3 format. Listening to an mp3 of a song and then listening to that same song on a record or CD (on decent speakers and in a decent environment) is a truly ear-opening experience.
WHAT DO YOU HEAR?
When it comes to voice overs, Iíve often said that listening is more important than speaking. The best voice over coach is your ears.
But in order for your ears to guide you properly, you must train them - by using them. Take the time to open your ears when listening to commercials, audiobooks and any voice over you hear.
Ask yourself, "What do I hear?Ē
By the way, want to know what your studio sounds like? Record yourself and play the recording in your car.
Mix engineers and musicians have been referencing their mixes in cars for years. It makes perfect sense; the car has traditionally been the place where we do most of our listening. Furthermore, modern cars are well-designed for sound.
Take the time to listen. Notice what you hear. Compare sounds and learn what sounds good to you.
It can be like opening a door to a world you barely knew existed. Youíll be surprised to discover the difference between what you think you hearÖ compared to what you actually hear.
You may even benefit from the experience in ways you never thought possible.
Remember: You have two ears and one mouth to remind you to use your ears twice as much.
Dan Friedman is a voice talent who began as an audio engineer in 1994, working with live sound and then in radio and recording studios. He has been a producer with ProComm Voices for over 10 years, and since 2005, a voice talent with a growing list of of clients including radio and television campaigns. His comprehensive book, Sound Advice - Voiceover From An Audio Engineer's Perspective, provides an excellent foundation for understanding voice over audio and equipment.
Sound Advice book: Click Here
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