Mastering Home-Based Voice Over: Lesson 3

The Science Of Voice Over (Part I)

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Leave a comment or question you have below the video thumbnails.


Complete list of lessons in the course

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If you’ve got any VO questions, ask them below, and David will answer them after the next lesson:

Responses

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  1. After you’ve watched the video, please ask questions!

    Have you been told to stay away from USB microphones? What recording and editing software do you use and why?

    How have you tackled lowering your noise floor? Where in your home do you record?

    What else makes you really frustrated when it comes to being a VO talent?

    I’ll read them all, and respond to as many as I can.

  2. I have, in fact, (after getting a good SAG-AFRA Foundation DLF VO Lab recommendation) been told that a USB mic is “no good” (or, well, good enough to “start” with, but…) for audiobooks, at least. Oh well. I have the Rode NT USB mic, the Sony MDR-7506 cans, and Audacity in my HP laptop. Producer’s Choice sound blankets and 3 2’x2′ sound panels surround my PVC frame, in my kitchen/dining area, of all places, because it just happens to be the quietest space in my 1-BR apartment. It’s possible that it’s the quietest space because I’m up between 6 and 7 every morning, so I can record before the rest of the world awakens, once my warm tea has warmed my throat/voice. Some days, my noise floor sits at or below -60 db. MOST days, it lives in the -54 to -60 range, and when I’m really unlucky, I can’t get it below -54 without Noise Reduction.

    My primary frustration is bookings, I think. I have specific authors and genres I’d like to record, and I don’t know how to get my foot in those doors.

    1. btw, if I lived alone in my 1-BR apartment, I’d record in the bedroom, probably (no walk-in closet, but still more sound-dampening than the kitchen table next to the refrigerator and chest freezer! HA!)… but I share my apartment with two cats, who are fairly noisy about being fed and when they’re cleaning, and my husband who is on the late-to-bed/late-to-rise schedule. So the kitchen it is! 😛

  3. I’ve been using drop box to send vocals for a few years with no issues. Is source connect still needed in this case?

  4. Hi David — great 3rd lesson on the Science of VO, thank you! My first (and current) mic is an AT2020 (condenser), which seems to be working well for me. What are the main reasons you recommend the USB+ version? Is there a big difference in quality between the two?

    Best,
    Greg

    1. If you already have the non-USB AT2020, Greg, then I don’t think you need to step DOWN to the USB… David probably recommends and uses the USB AT2020 because it’s the best USB for the money, and you don’t have to step UP to the more expensive mics that need a converter box. It’s just that SO MANY of us are being told by SO MANY other “coaches” that USB mics are crap, and you HAVE to have the other kind, with the additional equipment to get it to talk to your DAW. It feels like David is trying to make a VO career as “easy” and inexpensive as possible, for anyone without the right equipment or skills or practice or training. You’re obviously ahead of that curve. Good on ya! 😀

  5. David,
    Great presentation. I am very happy that you are going over the business aspects of voice over, coming at this from my experience as an Artist I found that the one major missing element of my education in Art School was the Business of Art.. One question on the equipment side. What is the Sock you recommend for the AT2020 usb mic?

  6. Whoa, whoa, WHOA, David! I just went to your AudioCupcake site and discovered a. it’s not yet available, b. it only works on Mac?, and c. there’s something in Audacity called “ACX check”? … I’ve been hitting my 3 numbers painstakingly, by hand, on individual tracks, using Limiter, Noise Reduction, and Normalize (and Analyze:Contrast)… I’m on a PC, and my version of Audacity (latest and greatest, yeah, I think) does NOT have that beauty button called “ACX check”! DAMMIT! I want Want WANT something as quick and easy as AudioCupcake and ACX Check! How do I get THOSE?

  7. Is there a rule of thumb when it comes to balancing EQ between Mic Pre Amp, Interface and Recording Software? How would you set the levels?\

  8. Hi David,
    Thanks for the fantastic info in this course. I currently have a AT2020 XLR, and a Rode NT-1. If I use either of those microphones with a XLR to USB adapter with phantom power, is that an acceptable substitute for a USB Microphone?

  9. Thank you David, you answered my question from the last video!
    From this one – I have been wondering if I should invest in a paid Source Connect subscription. Last week I used CleanFeed for a singing open mic. I was sent a link. However, I have gotten VO auditions recently saying that I had to have Source Connect in order to book the job. I haven’t used it yet. Is it intuitive? Of course there are YouTube videos, but I’m concerned that when I book a job (when, no if!) I’ll be scrambling to figure out Source Connect and not seem professional. Is there a way to practice using Source Connect or Clean Feed?
    Also, I was told to avoid USB mics, but no matter anymore because I bought a condenser mic/interface/headphones last year so it’s already done.

  10. Hi David,
    Thank you so much for these classes. I have learned so much and am excited to start implementing ideas you’ve shared, such as getting ear buds and installing Levelator. I use Audacity and have found it to be pretty user friendly for someone who does not have prior recording experience – ME! One question I have is I’m currently using a Presonus M7 Audio Box 96 Studio mic. How does it compare to the AT2020 USB Plus? I’d appreciate any advice you can offer. Thank you again!

  11. Thanks for answering my question, David! Talk about a “wipe my brow” moment. Thanks for the confidence boost and the info!

    1. And yes, you can take the courses any time in any time zone. And our live workouts take place at all times during the day.

  12. Do you not use an interface because you use a mac? What are the pros and cons?

    1. I’m not sure if you’re asking me that, but no, it would be the same if I was using a Windows PC.

  13. Hi.
    When would you actually use a u-87, since yours is in an oak box, sitting on shelf…collecting dust?
    And, is yours for sale? (That could be a funny…or a serious question…depending on one’s perspective).
    Thanks.

    -Simon

  14. One that I have used it on occasion is “Source Connect Now”… beautiful ANd free!
    “You can’t buy free”…my quote btw…lol.

  15. Hello, Thank you very much for the new session. It is very helpful. I have a question. I have a Rode PodMic (dynamic with build in filter) with a Focusrite Scarlett. I noticed that the sound of the voice is quite soft but very clear. What do you think about that mic? (My house is quiet but high so I need to adjust something in the space)

  16. Is the jump from a 2-year old Macbook AIR up to the M1 Macbook AIR worth buying a new one. I have the air now with REAPER… I think I will wait a while before jumping up… thoughts?

  17. Hi David!
    How wonderful to give such fabulous content away to everyone! I appreciate the effort you have put forth for this, thank you so very much!

    My question is about connecting with the actual copy. I seem to do very well in the “corporate” setting since I’m extremely familiar, but I can’t seem to connect to the copy for everything else and it has been frustrating. Do you have any great ideas that might help? Thanks again!

  18. I am an actor who got in to this business later in life and then on top of acting, I am new at doing Voice Overs (due to my deep voice, my agent kept sending VO auditions so I figure I need to learn it instead of winging it). I was so excited to hear you say that you use the AT-2020 USB Plus mic because this is the mic I purchased after my search on Google. That being said, I use my iPhone 12 for my auditions which have a good mic however, I was wondering if there is a way to use my VO mic for my auditions with my iPhone. I’m old school and not so technology savvy so forgive me if my question is totally ridiculous. Thanks for being such a blessing. These lessons / information are Priceless!!!!

  19. Hi David. My name is AJ Angeles and I’m from the Philippines. I recently graduated college last August 14 and I decided to pursue Voice Over/Voice Acting as an occupation. Is it also necessary to have a soundproof panel/sound-absorbing studio microphone booth whenever we do voice over?

  20. Hello David,
    Thank you so much for these lessons, I find it really useful, much appreciated!
    I have two questions: I am planning to buy a new computer and as I’m recording music as well, I plan to go with a MacBook pro M1. You don’t recommend it because it’s pricey or because it has an internal fan?
    Second question is not related to gear, but here is goes 🙂 I’m based in London but I’m originally from Turkey. I’ve been doing VO work in Turkish, but I want to do work in English as well. I have a neutral English accent and currently working on RP accent, I can also do Turkish accent if needed. What do you think is the lowest hanging fruit for a non native English speaker like me to do VO in English?
    Many thanks!

  21. I see that Source-Connect Now is in beta. Is this an issue with a client who may be a Source-Connect user – but part of the “Now” beta?

    Thanks.
    -Ray

  22. Hey David! I’ve actually been doing “pro-bono” narration work since 1982 (I was in the Army at the time and was narrating ceremonies and such). I’m now a novice VO artist and am interested in your equipment recommendations, like a mobile pre-amp. Which pre-amp would you tout as being the best one for a guy like me? I look forward to your answer!

  23. David, it’s so funny to me how my dislike for USB microphones has gone on for years (it doesn’t help that when I started using a USB microphone, it was a very cheap one with horrible audio quality) and yet, the USB microphone you recommend actually does sound amazing. I laugh at myself for continuing my foolish belief that the more expensive the microphone, the better it will sound. I’m glad you’re here to keep my on the straight and narrow. Great job with the classes!

  24. Hi David,
    Thank you so much for all of your valuable tips from your amassed wisdom and experience in the session with Summer Mastain. Boy, were you in my head with Mindset, ugh! LOL!
    My question was with trying to figure out what connection service to get: ISDN, Source Connect, IpDTL. I’m in the “no feedback is very confusing category” (presently in the Midwest). I know I could always be working to improve my performance, that’s a given. (*Cue lack of feedback upgrading to Sennheiser mic*) But I don’t book VO very often (*Cue Imposter Syndrome*). When I actually do, I go to a local studio that has phone patch. But I also don’t audition as much because I don’t have that connection from home that is often required. Wondering what is the best connection service to invest in – if I SHOULD invest in it or just work on getting better first or finding my VO niche instead?
    Thank you in advance for your response and being so generous with offering our question here!

    Best,
    Heidi

  25. Hi David,
    thanks for this rich and interesting lesson. I’m soaking up your info like a sponge 😉 I also have several questions today. Hope this is ok.
    So: Because I need a new computer anyway I decided to buy a macbook Air with M1 Clip.
    I will use the computer not only as a recording studio, but also for everyday email and office stuff, photo editing, video editing, website maintenance ect. Now I don’t know how much hard disk space I will need at least, because I have no idea how many MB or GB of audio files will accumulate over time.
    1. do you think 512 GB is enough for the beginning or would you recommend 1 TB?
    2. would you configure to 16 GB shared memory?
    3. would you recommend to create a second user to separate “recording studio” and office or private from each other?
    4. i know Audacity, but i am not familiar with it. I bought the software HINDENBURG https://hindenburg.com some time ago and am quite familiar with it. Can you say something about this software? Any experience with it?
    I would be very grateful for your professional opinion.
    Best regards from Germany and thanks again!
    Uwe

  26. David,
    Really enjoying the training. I’ve trained and still train with a company out of NYC. One of their instructors was teaching a class concerning equipment shot down a lot of us who were using good USB mics, calling them bottom of the line mics. I’ve noticed that the “stigma” against USB mics seems to be falling down on it’s own sword. Where are the USB mics heading to, have they reached their peak performance or do you see more improvements in the USB mic field?

  27. Have you been told to stay away from USB microphones? Yes.
    What recording and editing software do you use and why? I use Audacity, it’s user-friendly and priced for my budget 😊.
    How have you tackled lowering your noise floor? Where in your home do you record?
    I record from a closet in my home, away from the front of the house, windows, etc.. I have purchased sound blankets and treated my closet with them. I also adjusted the gain on my Scarlett2si.

    What else makes you really frustrated when it comes to being a VO talent? My tendency to create mouth noise (less than before).

  28. Thank you David for being so generous with your knowledge of voiceover. I have a question about ceiling treatment. I already have sound blankets for 3 of my studio walls with the exception of the wall that I gave. I have carpet on the floor but still have a noise floor around -42. What can I put on the ceiling to help get my noise floor closer to -60?

    1. Again, review the lesson for the difference between soundproofing and sound dampening. No material you put on the ceiling (or the floor, or the walls) is going to necessarily keep sound out. It’s important to understand that those materials will lessen the amount of reverberation and echo in a room.

  29. Hello, What is ISDN replacement exactly? What is it for and how is it used?

    1. As we say in the lesson, it’s for connecting two studios together so one studio (your producer/director) can monitor and record the other’s (your) audio with high quality. Hope that’s clearer!