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Ilkka Aaltonen
Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Jan 31, 2013 at 10:55:24 pm

I could really use some help since I know almost nothing about the subject.

I have plans to start a serious voice over hobby and I am willing to invest some money for this, but all I know is very much limited information. However, I am very interested about the subject and always willing to learn something new.

I know that you need good microphone (I've chosen the Blue Yeti Pro for starters) and a room which is covered up to block the voice from bouncing off the walls. For this, I actually build up a small place for myself and covered it up with acoustic foam that I bought online. But this is where my knowledge ends and I could really use some help to get started.

What other devices do I need to get most out of my mic? I see people talk about amplifiers and digitalising analog signals, but I don't know what they are or what they do.

Any help is much appreciated!


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Ty Ford
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Jan 31, 2013 at 11:33:47 pm

Hello Likka and welcome to the Cow Audio Forum.

I think you need to decide if this will be a hobby or if you will pursue this vigorously. As a hobby, it doesn't really cost you a lot and you have nothing to lose except time and money.

Look a few posts down on this forum and you'll see a link to a webcast I recently was a part of about voiceover.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Peter Groom
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 1, 2013 at 11:06:32 am

Yep exactly.
Profession or hobby?

As a hirer of dozens of VO's per week, Im not interested in keen amateurs. I need people who know the trade, have the right kit, the right commitment, will be there working day after day and deliver the goods.

Questions to consider

Who will your clients be, where are they and how will you be contacted.
How will they get your voice. Are you recording and emailing, using an IP connection, ISDN lines?
What are your specialities. Why should they call you. Are you great at characters, commercials, reading fast, or power reads etc etc.
How will you market yourself to them.

Then the kit, desk, pre amps, isdn codecs, computers, soundcards, software etc etc all becomes a factor of the market you wnat to exist in.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Ty Ford
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 1, 2013 at 1:40:48 pm

Peter,

I have a thought. Can you reach out to me by email or skype?

tyreeford@comcast.net

Skype: tyford

Thanks,

Ty

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Ilkka Aaltonen
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 1, 2013 at 6:44:48 pm

Thank you for the posts!

I checked the video Ty mentioned. It was very interesting.
Haven't gone through the whole thing yet, but will do the rest shortly.

However, I did some Google research and I have one question regarding the audio interface.
If the Blue Yeti Pro can accept audio via XLR in 24bit/192kHz, does that mean that if the audio interface accepts those frequencies that the same data will go through the USB to the PC/Mac, where I use a program (for example Audacity) to record the same audio using the same frequencies? In other words, if the mic and audio interface accepts 24bit/192kHz and the program that records is set to accept those signals, no data is lost even though it goes to the PC/Mac via USB?

This question mostly became to my mind due to the fact that I see people mentioning that "do not buy USB-microphones" very often, but it seems that many audio interfaces have USBs.


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Andrew Rendell
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 2, 2013 at 10:49:15 am

Yes, if the mic/converter makes the signal 24bit/192kHz, then that's what goes down the usb cable and gets recorded. Personally I'm not (yet) convinced that the higher sampling rates have much to offer for the spoken voice over the standard 48kHz, using the higher rates would really depend on what your market requires.

IMO the advice to avoid USB mics is because the first USB mics were budget devices that were somewhat compromised in quality. That is changing and there are now some very good USB mics around so it's no longer a hard and fast rule.

A couple of other comments - when deadening the room don't forget the desk. A hard surface can cause reflections that interfere with the recorded sound, even just placing a cloth under your script can make a difference (it might be subtle but pro results = attention to every detail, even the minor ones). The other thing is that however good/ well set up your equipment is, the performance is critical and for me a big part of getting a decent performance is posture. I usually get my less experienced speakers to stand rather than sit for the recording and you might be surprised at how much difference it makes.


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Ty Ford
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 2, 2013 at 12:59:32 pm

Andrew, et al,

While the sample rate of the USB device may be 192, or 96, the actual sample rate of the recording is determined by the recorder. So it it's set at 48 or 44.1, that's what you get.

And, yes, for vo work (and many other things) 24-bit, 44.1 kHz and 48 kHz are fine.

As a beginner, with some skin in the game, you want to have enough quality to never have that be an issue. That begins with mic, and goes right on through preamp, acoustics, and deliverables.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Ilkka Aaltonen
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 2, 2013 at 1:54:11 pm

Thank you for the messages, awesome information!

I still have a question: Do I need a preamp if I buy external audio interface?
Also, what are the pros/cons of having both or just having one?

I'm probably going to get myself Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, if you need to know.


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Ty Ford
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 2, 2013 at 5:12:21 pm

Hello Likka,

You need a preamp. Whether or not the interface you select has one remains to be seen.

I would suggest getting one that does.

As regards the Scarlet 2i2 and preamps, what do you think?
http://us.focusrite.com/usb-audio-interfaces/scarlett-2i2/specifications

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Ilkka Aaltonen
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 2, 2013 at 6:54:48 pm

Looking at the specifications in the link you provided, it says that it has 2 microphone preamps.
Are they good? I have no idea.

Also, I've seen mixed opinions about whether or not to buy separate preamp. Some say that a separate preamp will lose some quality and therefore preamp within an audio interface would be better.
But as I am completely new to the voice recording, I can't really say 'yes' or 'no' to anything.


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Peter Groom
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 2, 2013 at 8:03:23 pm

Might I suggest a little caution in buying a lot of kit. As you are starting out, only time will tell if this is the right industry for you, both from a personal position and wether financially its a success. You can always buy more later if necessary, but maybe a more cautious approach might be better??

In the UK there are hundreds and hundreds of voice overs, only a small maount of whom really make a good living at it. Ive known quite a few bail out as it just isnt a money spinner for them! You might be the best ever and make a real fortune but might not also?

What are you doing to allow connectivity between you and your clients?
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Ilkka Aaltonen
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 2, 2013 at 10:35:22 pm

Peter,

Yes, you are correct and I agree with you.
However, as I said before, I am taking this as a serious hobby more than a try to get through as a professional voice over artist.

In other words, doing it for my own enjoyment, but if there's something that comes out of it then it's always bonus.

However, all that I currently am planning to get is preamp and/or audio interface but I don't know which is more needed. I presume that the audio interface, since so far, I believe you can do the voice editing with PC/Mac OR with the preamp.


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Ty Ford
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 3, 2013 at 4:30:08 am

Likka,

Some of my VO students use this and it sounds OK.

http://tyfordaudiovideo.blogspot.com/2012/12/centrance-micport-pro-2496-aud...

Regards,

Ty Ford

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Ilkka Aaltonen
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 4, 2013 at 12:58:21 pm

Ty,

Thank you for the suggestion!
Could please tell me, that is there a huge difference between XLR cables? Because I have this obsessional thought about analog cables/signal that the more high quality the cable is, the better the outcome will be.


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Ty Ford
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 4, 2013 at 2:01:04 pm

Likka,

The differences can be subtle. I like Gotham GAC-3 or Starquad.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Bill Davis
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 6, 2013 at 12:52:01 am

My advice as always is that the equipment matters much, MUCH less than the ability and talent you develop.

I've been doing professional VO work for 30 years.

So I did a modest little test for you to help you understand this...

5380_voexample.mp3.zip

One read is from spots that I delivered two days ago for a radio campaign. I did it in my studio using a very expensive professional large diaphragm condenser mic worth $1000 plus. The other I just did using the same script and the same modest audio chain - but using an old SM-57 I had laying around that has a street value of less than $100.

If you listen REALLY closely, you can tell the difference. (well, maybe. but I'm NOT telling you which is which!)

The point is how much more would you pay for one "take" over the other? Is one worth comparatively more or less? Would the client be happier with one over the other?

My contention is that what my clients pay for is my talent and my experience and my voice and my interpretive skills. NOT my equipment. The equipment is nearly totally incidental. Equipment won't make a poor announcer better.

So stop worrying about equipment. Practice. Relentlessly. Then practice more. Record and listen back over and over and over and work to get better. \Do that for a few years and perhaps your voice and your experience may start to mature into making you a safe bet to do VO work when somebody elses' money is being risked.

But sorry, "success in VO" is something that buying any particular brand of equipment will simply NEVER provide, IMO.

My 2 cents.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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Ilkka Aaltonen
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Feb 7, 2013 at 6:06:15 pm

Bill,

Thank you for the example.
Indeed, not that much of of a difference. Personally I enjoyed the first sample more. Seemed to be a little more deeper. I have no idea which might have been the more expensive microphone...

I guess I'll just get myself somewhat decent epquipment to start with and then later, if needed, upgrade to better.

Thank you all for the help!


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Shady Manaa
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 3:35:56 am

Greetings Everyone,

I happened to come across this forum as I was searching about the exact same topic that our friend here was asking about, after reading through the whole thread I still would like someone to clarify something to me if you don't mind.
I really hope I'm not bothering or annoying anyone with my questions though..

Here the whole story: -
I've always been into presenting ever since I was a university student, I've graduated in 2013 from the faculty of Informatics and Computer sciences, so in the context of pursuing my dream of becoming a Voice Over Talent/Radio Presenter, I started building a mini home-studio that is not yet done..

I've bought a blue yeti pro USB/XLR condenser microphone that goes by the quality of 24 bit/192Khz (Studio Quality), I've self-studied the DAW I'm going to be using for my recordings (Adobe Audition Cs6) from Lynda.com.
I've also bought a Blue Radius II shock-mount and a microphone stand, in addition to a pop filter and a foam microphone head-cover, I've not yet built a vocal booth, but I'm about to contact a carpenter to make me a wooden vocal booth of about 2 x 2.5 Meters that will be treated with acoustic foam from the inside all the way, and I'll use a thick carpet on the floor under the stand. Moreover I've bought Audio Technica's M50X Headset for studio quality monitoring.

However, I'm still confused about the quality of my productions, I've heard from so many sources on the internet that USB microphones are not of the quality that professional studios expect, so I've decided to use the XLR side of the Blue Yeti Pro, However I really have no idea which USB pre-amp should I be using for the utmost quality, I'm looking for a 24 bit/192Khz USB preamp that would take my voice overs from just "fine" to "excellent" in terms of quality.

I'd be greatly thankful if you could point me to what I should do to bring the best quality out of my set-up.
Should I use the Microphone in USB?
Should I use it in XLR? What Preamp should I get for utmost quality (of course on a budget)?
Is there any item of advice that you'd give me for the Vocal booth I'm going to build?
What settings should I be applying on my DAW and Windows' Microphone Settings?
Please also provide me with any tips and tricks that you guys have discovered from your long experience that I could apply to have the best quality recordings in my Mini home studio..

If any of you would be able to help me via Skype I'm available at: -
Valiantshady (display name: Shady Manaa)

Thanks a lot!
Awaiting your response.


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 6:40:56 am

Why are you wanting to use 24 bit 192Khz?
This will only cause problems in post production with conversion rates.
What will your end product end up on this will determine the settings that you should choose?


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Shady Manaa
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 6:44:02 am

Hey Brian,

Well, I thought that the higher the quality the better the recording should sound, isn't that right?
I've been comparing a sample of my recording to some Demos that I've found on the internet, and there is a huge major quality difference, I thought it's because of my recording quality..

I'm pretty much confused, I have the blue yeti pro USB/XLR condenser microphone, currently using it in USB, and I wanna maximise the quality produced by it..

What do you suggest?


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Brian Reynolds
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 7:10:44 am
Last Edited By Brian Reynolds on Aug 11, 2015 at 7:16:14 am

Cd's and broadcasting TV / Radio mostly is 16bit 44.1Khz ,Mastering and production normally occurs at 24bit 48Khz.

The human voice range is actually quite small, you don't need high sampling rates. An approx guide is half the digital sampling rate is the maximum audio frequency that can be recorded. i.e. 32Khz digital = 16Kz (audio), 44.1 Khz digital = 22khz (audio), 48Khz digital = 24Khz (audio).

Its often best to stay at the one level of sampling for any production rather than up and down converting, so if you are using a reasonable amount of CD then let that dictate the sample rate of 44.1Khz.
If you are going into high sample rate FX recording for feature films then go to 48Khz.
If you are producing material for internet consumption 32Khz will be more than enough.

Up and down conversions take up data space, time and processor power, why do it if you don't need to do it.

Here is a chart to give you some indication.... Male / Female voice are the top 2 graphs.
http://ssivegas.com/site/wp-content/uploads/2012/06/freq-chart.jpg


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Peter Groom
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 7:19:16 am

Ive not heard and samples to hear what exactly it is you're not happy with but what are you doing to control your acoustic space?
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Shady Manaa
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 7:37:05 am

Well, I've been recording (for practice purposes) some commercials that I made up, I started off by recording this simple ad for an "imaginary" hotel..

I used my Blue Yeti Pro connected on my laptop via USB, monitoring happened via Audio Technica's M50X..

My acoustic space set-up happened to be as follows:
I have not yet built a home vocal booth, but I've been researching the topic and I'd really be thankful if you have any recommendation or suggestion in that context..

But the current set-up I used to record that is placing the microphone in a wardrobe cubicle (not a walking wardrobe) and surrounding it from all sides by pillows and clothes.. then wrapping up the wardrobe with a huge blanket/duvet thus I would go inside when I'm about to record and leave when I'm done.. (of course it feels like an oven inside there)..

However, I did not like the produced quality..
Here's a link: -
http://1drv.ms/1DF5o2J

I compared my work to this professional recording demo from a site that I found on the internet, I really like the voice quality on this demo! I would really love to reach such a quality with my Microphone..
http://arabicvoiceovertalent.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/eng_british_mal...

Please provide me with all the items of advice you could give me, I'mma be taking every single one of them into consideration and act upon em'


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Peter Groom
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 7:54:58 am

Ok comparing the 2.
1) I dont think theres any issue with your recording as such in a quality way.

2) your recording is a bit over bright (HF) , but not excessively. Any studio would fix that in a moment.

3) Please dont take this personally but comparing your recording to the other English sample that you like, your voice lacks the depth and re assurance / tonal quality of the sample voice over. His has a chocolate depth and yours is thinner and more brittle. Yours has nothing in the lower frequencies / register.
As someone who hires a LOT of voice overs, it is this that I pick up on most from a sound perspective.

4) Lastly, you have some very odd pronunciations / ways of saying certain words ie mountain,possible, think so, belive so, come, nature, freind, dot etc. Of course I dont know where you are marketing yourself to accent wise, but as an English presentation, it differs vastly to a normal English read.

Acoustic is fine. Mic is fine.
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Shady Manaa
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 8:46:52 am

Peter you've been of extremely great help!

I read all your feedback points and I am not offended by any of them, I'm extremely thankful for each and every single point that you've mentioned, I was wondering if you could provide me with some item of advise on how I should enhance the flaws you noticed in my recordings..

Is it my voice that requires enhancement?
Is it my performance? my distance from the microphone?
You've also mentioned something regarding the accent as in odd pronunciation, well this recording has been made for practice not being marketed as a project or as a demo yet.. However regarding my Accent, I'm speaking fluent British English accent ever since I've been 13 years old. Not sure if the way I performed the words gave the odd feeling or if you're referring to the accent itself..

How can I reach the depth that the other sample had?
Finally, about the Mic would I reach a better quality if I implemented my Microphone along with XLR-> preamp?

Thanks a lot for your feedback and honesty!


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Peter Groom
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 11:03:21 am

re
Is it my voice that requires enhancement?

Dont think so. Just your voice sounds thin overall and compared to the sample.
Everyones voice sounds different, and not all of us have "Red Peppers" delivery tone. Mine included, but then i stay firmly on my side of the studio glass.

Is it my performance? my distance from the microphone?
Your mic distance is not an issue. Its more performance / diction / accent.

Not sure if the way I performed the words gave the odd feeling or if you're referring to the accent itself..

You speak some words in the sample provided very oddly compared to a profesional English Voice over.

Are you English?
ie. A French person speaking english will always sound like a French person speaking English. Therefore they would ONLY ever get hired as that. Thats fine as long as that is what you need. I, nor any of the clients i know would hire a non english native to speak in English UNLESS they were after a particular sound.

How can I reach the depth that the other sample had?

I dare say some vocal exercises / coaching might help at little, but we sound the way we sound. ie No amount of coaching or physio could make me 6ft tall when im actually 5 ft 9. IF you have put some lo filtering in then that will roll out some of the lower tone that Im missing, but I think your voice doesnt sound like a film trailer!

Finally, about the Mic would I reach a better quality if I implemented my Microphone along with XLR-> preamp?

I very much doubt if your signal path is the reason. A better mic MIGHT help but Im not personally familiar with what youre using so dont presume that it will be better. Why not take youreslf to a pro studio and make a recording and compare the 2? Or get someone with a really rich deep tone to record on your mic, then you record, and compare?
BUT in conclusion, I dont believe you have a rich, deep voice like the sample. Just my opinion.
But I have worked with thousands of voice overs over my 30 years in studio sound.

Peter

Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Shady Manaa
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 11, 2015 at 10:12:19 pm

Hey Peter!

Thank you so much for all your answers you're extremely helpful mate!
As for my nationality, no I'm not English, however I've been raised amongst the English and British Accent speakers ever since I was 13 years old, so I consider British English to be my 2nd Native language, I'm pretty much fluent at it till the degree that many of my British friends thought I'm actually British myself.

As for the voice over coaching, I'm not really sure if I've ever ran into any coaches around my country, yet if I found any I'm not hesitating for a second, I'll join their classes for sure!

My experience in the field of presenting is quite fine, I've worked on face-to-face presentations with a crowd, I've also recording mini-university projects as a voice over talent for videos' production, however I wanna move on to the professional grid rather than just the amateur students' activities.

That's exactly why I'm trying my best to build a convenient well-equipped home studio that could be massively used for self-improvement via training and moving on to professionalism in this field! ^_^

Thank you so much for your feedback mate!


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Ty Ford
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 12, 2015 at 1:48:07 am

Hello Shady,

I have no idea if my way would work in a foreign country, but here's what I do.

http://www.tyford.com/Ty_Ford_Voiceover_Curriculum.html

Regards,

Ty Ford
Cow Audio Forum Leader

Want better production audio?: Ty Ford's Audio Bootcamp Field Guide
Ty Ford Blog: Ty Ford's Blog


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Ilkka Aaltonen
Re: Voice Over Beginner needs advice
on Aug 12, 2015 at 11:44:37 am

Wow, it's been long time since I started this thread asking as a complete novice. Now with more knowledge (please note: hobbyist, not a professional):

I would advice not to worry about the 24-bit/192kHz option. You need more HDD space for the recording and the gain is so small compared to what you need to benefit from it (everything has to match those settings; software, interface, speakers and whatever else) that in my opinion it's simply not worth it. It just eats bandwith with minimal benefit. As far as I'm concerned if you use USB with this microphone, it's going to be downsampled to 16-bit/48kHz anyway. I like the studio thing you have planned. I build one in my closet with foams. It improves quality enormously if you have quiet place without any noise or echo around you. Acoustic foam works, but you could also get the same benefit from blankets, pillows and towels; basically anything fluffy and soft that absorbs noise. Here is one place to get you started https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acoustics. Also Googling around "How to get rich voice", "-- deep voice", "-- manly voice" or checking videos on YouTube won't hurt.

I would have to agree with people here that don't pay so much attention on numbers. It's nice to have them, but they alone don't make you good. But look at the bright side, at least you don't need to buy new microphone for the next 10 years! The more knowledge you gain, you can always bump up the numbers to next level if you really need it.

I have a little quest for you. After I did this, I figured out that I'd rather go with 16-bit/48kHz. It's closer to what I actually need. You look for DAW, speakers and interface which all support 24-bit/192kHz (I'd say at least finding one of these will fail). Calculate how much money you need to get the benefit and then think that many professionals use 24-bit/96kHz anyway. Is this all really worth it to get those highest numbers?

Don't take this personally but I must point this out. It might end up that you simply suck. No numbers are going to improve that. Practice and knowledge of your tools and surroundings does.

I hope you will find your own way of doing things which you are most comfortable with. All the best with you in the future!


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Bill Davis
Top 5 things that improve a VO.
on Aug 26, 2015 at 11:03:41 pm

The Top 5 things that improve a VO?
From 30 years of experience...

IN ORDER- MOST IMPORTANT TO LAST
1. A quality script.
2. A quality talent.
3. A quality director.
4. A quality recording environment.
5. Pro level equipment.

Note please that gear is LAST in my estimation.

This doesn't mean gear is totally unimportant - just that it's effect on the actual quality of your results typically pales in comparison to the other 4 items.

Yeah, I know that in modern times, Item 3 is usually the first thing cut out. But that's sad. I can't tell you how many times I've stood on the other side of the double glass and a quality director or producer has enhanced the results I've achieved by pointing out subtleties that can be improved.

And so it goes.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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