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Is Your Recorded Voice-Over Sound Competitive?

voice-over processing Apr 19, 2024

If you are a voice-over artist, how do you know if your voice-over recording quality sound is professional? You might think, how do I know if my voice-over sound is competitive? How do I know if my voice-over recording quality prevents me from winning auditions? In this video, I answer that question for a New York Voice-Over artist named John Carhart.

Here’s what I look for. A good raw recording is critical. A great raw recorded voice-over sound can be optimized with processing. A poor raw recording sound can only be partially “fixed” with processing, which offers a less-than-optimal sound. A poor raw recording sound is usually due to the microphone capturing reflected voice sounds in addition to pure voice. This causes frequency imbalances. A great raw recorded voice-over sound is “reflectionless, from the microphone’s perspective, in all frequency spaces.” How do you resolve a reflection problem? You can usually improve a poor raw recording by adding acoustic treatment, re-configuring the mic position in the room (rotation and/or distance from any walls or hard surfaces), or increasing the room size (smaller spaces are often the biggest offenders). While some level of imbalance is acceptable and often expected, most recordings can benefit from 2-5 dB of EQ in certain frequency spaces. However, when I raw recording has a thin sound, a hollow sound, a bassless sound, a boomy sound, or an overly sibilant sound, that’s usually a sign of some reflection issues in the recording space. Other common problems I look for include poor equipment quality, connections, sample rate inconsistencies, gain-staging issues, and poor recording levels. As you’ll learn, John had none of these issues in his raw recording.

I describe the factors I feel make a voice-over recording sound professional, competitive, and effective. This can be subjective. However, the following is my opinion, and I find it helps boost a voice-over artist’s confidence. The most important job of any voice-over is to translate emotion to the intended listener. If a voice-over recording doesn’t “move” the listener (e.g., drive them to act, feel a certain way, or do something), it won’t be effective. The best way to get a voice-over recording to translate emotion (as an audio engineer) is to capture pure voice (no reflections) and use processing (like EQ and Compression) to emphasize that emotion from the storyteller. Processing should be mostly transparent. It should be used to amplify, sharpen, and detail the emotion of the audio. This doesn’t apply when processing is used as an “effect.”  So, when I feel that a raw recording is pure enough to allow processing to do its job, I can safely say that a voice-over recording can be considered professional, competitive, and effective. It’s less about “sounding” a certain way. It’s more about the ability of the sound to transfer emotion. I should also add that a significant contributor is when you, as a voice-over artist, like the recorded voice sound. When you love the sound of your voice recorded, you’ll perform better. This, in turn, amplifies the emotion in your recording.

Finally, I walk you through my custom processing setting for John on his Rode NT1 microphone with a Focusrite Scarlet Solo (4th Generation). I use the Waves F6 Floating-Band Dynamic EQ to balance his audio. Then I used the Waves Scheps Omni Channel to lower his noise floor with the expander, lightly add some even harmonic saturation, balance the dynamics with a VCA compressor, gently sweeten the tone with EQ, reduce some sibilance around the 5600hz band with a DeEsser, and finally warm up the tone with an Opto compressor. Then, we compare John’s before and after processing sound. 

What Is A Custom Preset And Why Do I Need One?

A custom processing preset for your voice-over is a series of plugins explicitly tuned for your voice, in your room, and on your microphone. If you want to compete in today's voice-over world, you must ensure that your demos and auditions are extraordinary. Voice-over artists at every experience level from all over the world are fighting to win work. However, if you don't have a professional sound, you will lose out to someone who does.

Custom voice-over processing presets can take your audio presentation quality to the level necessary to compete with the pros. Instead of taking it upon yourself to tweak the parameters like EQ, compression, DeEssing, and saturation to name a few, you can hire a professional voice-over audio engineer to create it for you. Once you have the custom preset on your system, you have "The Sound" every time you press the record button. The investment pays for itself with the money and time saved. Here are the top reasons why they are so popular:

  1. A custom processing preset lets you focus on your strengths, leaving more time for pitching your voice-over and less time stumbling with engineering.
  2. A custom processing preset gives you the confidence necessary to help you perform your best.
  3. A custom processing preset allows you to outshine the competition, win more auditions, and get more work.


Demo Your Custom Voice-Over Preset Sound Free!

Once you submit your voice for processing, you will be notified if your audio recording quality needs improvement or if it's ready for prime time. If your production quality needs improvement, you will be offered suggestions to help identify and resolve any issues before being asked to resubmit audio. On the other hand, if your audio recording quality is up to par, you will receive a sample of your custom-tuned processed sound to review for free. 

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