Raw Voice Over Samples: Truth in Advertising
When I check out voice over demos from my colleagues, the first thing I listen to is their E Learning or IVR demos. Why? Because there isn’t all kinds of music and sound effects as one hears in commercial or promo demos. You hear the full quality of their voice, and the true quality of their studio. You can hear if their room is tubby/heavy on bass or has too many early reflections. If their preamps and mic sparkle and have that extra special sauce, you can hear it. In short, you hear their raw voice over samples without much post-production, and what quality of files they send to their clients. I regularly check the quality of my colleagues’ work to make sure my clients are getting unprocessed audio files of the highest standard.
An increasing number of production houses and talent rosters, especially in Europe, are asking for raw voice over samples as well as finished demos. This is what my most recent raw voice over sample sounds like. I deliberately chose some slower paced copy so you can accurately here the noise floor level and the reflections.
Starting with Quality Studio Acoustics
My studio has acoustic panels and bass traps from GIK Acoustic. Instead of recording in a tubby booth, I record in my 20′ x 15′ studio. To tame some of the larger wall areas I have several hanging double-thick acoustic blankets from Vocal Booth to Go. And I have covered my desk’s top with deep shag carpet, avoiding the bad effects of large reflective desks. Professionally produced demos are great for showing off a voice over talent’s chops. But there is a question of Truth in Advertising. Can you really deliver high quality sounding audio files, or does all the sizzle in your reel come from the demo producer’s post-production skills? Sometimes a well produced demo can mask the ugly truth about a voice over studio.
The Voice Over Signal Chain
For clean, clear voice over audio, I keep a clean, clear voice over signal chain. Let’s trace that chain from my voice to the digitized audio. First, there is my voice. Next, the sound waves from my voice pass through an Octo – 824S pop filter from The Hook Studios. From there, the sound enters the front end of my Rode NTG3 shotgun microphone. The Rode is just like a Sennheiser MKH 416 but with better bass response and the same self noise level but hotter output.
From the microphone, the analogue signal flows down my Mogami Gold XLR cables into my GAP Pre -73 Mk III microphone preamplifier. The preamp is set to 30 dB gain and 70% Output, HPF at 40 Hz -6 dB per octave, and Air Channel + 3 dB at 30 kHz. The analog signal then goes line out to my Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 Second Generation Audio Interface for digital conversion. The Scarlett is line input with the gain turned down to zero so as to minimize the effect of the Scarlett preamps to negligible since they cannot be bypassed. Finally, the digital signal goes to my REAPER DAW, which captures the Raw Voice Over Sample you heard above.