Voice Over Microphones

Are you wondering what the best voice over microphone is to get started with? Or are you a seasoned voice over pro looking to reach the next level? Hopefully this blurb can help you help a little bit with what you are trying to figure out. I have been doing voice overs for over 20 years, and have probably bought/tried/sold over 50 microphones over the years to find out what worked best with my voice (and which are the best universal microphones for a range of voices). Granted 15 years ago I didn’t really know what sounded ‘best’ in terms of on the tv/radio/web, but I was focused most on what made my voice sound the best in the studio, big and hi-fi….but when that gets played on a tv with crappy speakers, or a radio in a car that has eq already set, it would just sound like a muddy mess. So after 20 years, I think I have gained some good knowledge of what microphones are good for beginners, or the next step up. Below is a picture of my current arsenal. From left to right, they are 1), Studio Projects C3 with JJ Audio mod, 2) MXL V88, 3) JJ AUdio Greyhound, 4) TechZone Audio Stellar X2, 5) Neumann TLM 103, 6) Mojave 201, 7) Sennheiser MKH 416, and 8 MXL V67 with a cheap capacitor mod.

Mics 1 and 2 I almost never use.     I bought them, had number 1 modded and can never sell it for what I have invested in it.    Mic 2 is good, full bodied and new around $200.  Don’t know if they make them anymore and there are other less cost options that sound as good, if not better.      If you can find an MXL v88 for under $100, could be a good deal.     Mic 3 is pretty cool.  It’s based on the MXL V67 mic (mic on the right), but has a complete upgrade from JJ audio.  It really sounds similar to the original (better sounding) Neumann 87, very mid forward, not high fidelity.  I keep it for jobs that need that kind of low-mid forward sound, such as a long form documentary style read.      Mic 4 is getting a lot of attention right now for being a great budget voice over mic.  They are like $200 new and they do sound really good.   To my ear it’s a mix between the TLM 103 (mic 5) and Sennheiser (mic 7) in terms of over-all frequency response and forward-ness.    I am actually selling it due to not needing it, since I have the TLM and the Sennheiser….but if I was getting started and wanted a really good mic that would cover a lot of bases, the Stellar X2 would be a good voice over mic condenser.    Mic 5 is the one you’ve seen me blog about, buying one like 4 times.    Yes…over the years I have heard that the TLM 103 was a great voice over mic, so I’d buy it, play with it, feel it was too flat, and sell it.     Circle back to my ‘not knowing what sounds good on tv/radio’ comment.     So yes, I am on my 4th TLM 103 and I will have this one till I retire or it dies.     It is a great microphone for narration.   Yes, it is pretty flat sounding, HOWEVER, it is clean enough that you can eq it and the EQ won’t make it sound cheap and crappy.      HIGHLY recommend this microphone if you are looking for a microphone that will be a good main mic for many years and you do a variety of voice over styles, such as narration, commercial, and yes, even promos.     Mic 6 is the one that fills my ‘need to sound hi-fidelity, big and clean’     The Mojave is a great mic.   It doesn’t add any saturation to the sound (which most of the other mics do).  Saturation is basically a nice faint fuzzy sound, in a good way….think ‘warmth’.     That is a good characteristic to have on many mics, but if you plan on doing heavy processing like compression and want to keep the high-fidelity ‘big sound’ like booming lows and clean highs, this is a good mic.       I Don’t use it too much, but it comes in handy when I need to do a screamer and I don’t want the end product to sound too distorted/fuzzy.          Mic 7, the ‘wow’ mic of most voice over guys…the Sennheiser MKH 416.     It is a good mic.  It needs a GOOD preamp to not sound harsh.    I run the Apollo interface and normally use it with either the V76 tube preamp or the Avalon preamp, it adds some smoothness to it.   Then I pair it with the distressor compressor with a little bit of ‘warmth’ dialed in and it provides a nice sound.      The MKH 416 is touted as a great ‘cut through the mix’ type of microphone.  Yes, it does.    However, I wouldn’t use it for reads that really need to be subtle and soft.    I’m going to try to add a video link here.  This was a spot that I first tried to cut with the Sennheiser, but it sounded too aggressive, so I cut it with the TLM103 and client loved it.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7ZFi91suA4

Microphone 8.    If you are just getting started and want a TLM 103 sound for about 1/10 of the cost.  Get this one. The MXL V67g.    I have convinced about 4 other talent to use this mic as either a main mic, or a backup incase their TLM 103 conks out or they need to travel and don’t want to take the $1000 mic on the road.    It has a very similar response as it is new.  HOWEVER, if you spend $15, you can get a capacitor upgrade kit.   Takes about 15 min to do if you have a soldering iron and ‘okay’ skills.    Once you do that, its’ probably 90% as good as the TLM 103 (vs, say, 70% out of the box).     I am actually using the V67 this week, just because.    I have 2 of them, both with the mods.     If you are looking for best bang for the buck, TLM 103 sound alike microphone, the V67g is my recommendation WITH the capacitor mod (ebay it).

All microphones sound different with different preamps/compressors/etc.    It’s really hard to tell you how something is going to sound with your voice over space/studio/equipment.   But over the years, I have found the above to be true to my environment and ears.        Good luck with your voice over microphone hunt!


Want a great Voice Over job? Join a Loop Group!

If you do voice acting or voice-overs; you’re probably gunning for that big break that will turn you into a voice over star and catapult you into the rarefied air of Seth McFarlane, Dan Castellaneta, Nancy Cartwright, Hank Azaria, and Mel Blanc. More often than not, you’re trying to go after the lead roles (or at least the supporting roles). But what if we told you that you could get a good-paying gig doing voice acting work with very little or no scripted dialogue involved? Are you interested now? Well; then, you should start looking to join a Loop Group (also called a Walla Group) if you get the chance.

Loop Group stints are very coveted among voice actors and voice-overs. They are usually made up of a team of five to eight actors who are called upon to record ambient voices that are meant to fill in the audio soundscape of a movie, TV show, or other production. These vocal performers are usually hired to provide crowd or bystander sounds after the scene has been shot, and after the principal actors’ vocal performances have already been recorded. This is because when the actual production is being shot, only the principal actors are actually speaking and delivering their lines. In a crowd scene; for example, all of the other people in the crowd are not really speaking: they are just miming or pretending to talk.

When the footage is edited; the Loop Group comes into play. They are sometimes given the chance to watch the material before recording, to get a feel for the dialogue that their character is saying, and then improvise based on the lip movements. The director may also call upon one or more of the members to record minimal dialogue for an extra (or extras with a speaking part in the scene. The director may also describe to them the type of scene being played before commencing the recording process; or ask members to record lines that were missed, changed, or (either intentionally or inadvertently) left out of the audio recording.

Loop group jobs offer little in the way of fame or prestige, but they pay very handsomely. They may also receive residual payments; which makes Loop Group gigs some of the most sought-after jobs in the vocal performance industry. If you manage to join a group that receives work frequently; then it can become very profitable indeed.

If you need voice-overs and voice talents for your production, TV or radio commercial, IVR recordings, E-learning modules, phone systems messages, and any other vocal work; then ProVoiceUSA can help! Contact us today for all of your inquiries and for more information by calling us up at (877) 865-3459 or by sending us an email at info@provoiceusa.com.

Some surprising things you may not know about Voice Acting

Some surprising things you may not know about Voice Acting

Many people think that they know all that there is to know about the esoteric career known as Voice Acting. They think that it’s a relatively easy and glamorous job where one gets paid for simply talking. However, many Voice-over Talents who provide the voices for Public Service Announcements (PSAs), TV, Radio, and Web Commercials, Interactive Voice Response (IVR) Recordings, Professional Voice-Over and Narration work for Documentaries and E-Learning Software are also occasionally hired to do Voice Acting for Movies and TV. These voice-over talents will tell you that there is so much more to voice acting than simply mouthing your lines for money. In fact, there are many things that you might not know about voice acting that may just surprise you:

Voice Actors can be called upon to work at any time – Many Voice Actors are usually called in to the studio to record when their schedules permit; but sometimes they can actually, literally phone it in: voice actors sometimes do their work at home and even over the phone. Advances in technology and the advent of the Internet have made doing remote vocal work a possibility.

Voice Actors sometimes do vocal work that will never be heard – Many times voice actors will be called upon to do the voices for animated features; but these performances will only be used as “guide vocals” or “reference vocals” whose purpose is to inform the vocal performances of the actual cast. Many times voice actors do vocal work that will never make it to the final cut; but don’t worry, they do get paid for it.

Voice Actors are sometimes paid to do other things besides talking – Sometimes voice actors will be called upon to do grunts, pants, gasps, and other “auxiliary sounds” which are needed for the movie because the original actor who the voice actor is “standing in” for is already busy working on another project. They may also be asked to supply the voices of extras in a crowd scene; such as people talking in a crowded airport or restaurant.

There are even more surprising facts about voice acting: enough to warrant a second installment of this topic. It just goes to show you that Voice Acting is not as simple (or simplistic) a career as it seems.

If you need professional-quality vocal work done, ProVoice USA has an impressive lineup of Voice overs, Voice Talents, and Voice Actors for your project. Give us a call at (877) 865-3459 or email us at info@provoiceusa.com for all of your questions and for more information.

Recording Booth No-no’s to Avoid

Recording Booth No-no’s to Avoid

If you’re a voice actor; working in the recording booth is par for the course. You’ve already made yourself familiar with the equipment, know the proper distance to stand from the microphone, and have perfect diction, intonation, and enunciation. However; all of this preparation and training can be ruined by seemingly simple and obvious mistakes: we at ProVoice USA call them “Recording Booth No-no’s”. Here are a few examples of No-no’s that you need to avoid before you step inside to record your lines:

    • Avoid wearing jewelry (especially nose and tongue jewelry) when doing your lines. They will impair your speech and produce metallic clinking sounds that will be audible on the recording (sometimes called “audio bleed”). Once these sounds are recorded; they will be extremely difficult to remove from your performance during editing and post-production.
    • Avoid bringing and using any smart devices and phones while doing your lines. These will also create unnecessary background noise that will “bleed” into the audio and be hard to edit out later. Furthermore, cell phones may cause signal interference with the booth’s audio equipment. It’s best to leave your devices and phones outside the booth, turned off, or switched to silent mode.
    • Avoid making shuffling noises with the script’s pages. These will create shuffling and rustling sounds which will again “bleed” into the recording. Instead, lay them flat in front of you (probably using a music stand) and read them from there.
  • Avoid making unnecessarily wild or exaggerated movements that might make you bump into mike stands or music stands, and avoid movements that may make you trip over any cables on the floor.

Sometimes even the simplest of mistakes can ruin a really good vocal performance. Be mindful of these “No-no’s” so that you can give your best voice over ever.

If you need help with voiceovers, ProVoice USA offers professional Voice over and Audio Production Services to help you find the right voice talents for your TV, Radio, E-Learning, and Phone message or greeting project. We can also help you with your Interactive Voice Response (IVR) recording needs; as well as with your Power point™ presentation voice over. With over 20 years of experience and a diverse roster of voice talents; we are sure to have the voice that you need. Call us up at (877) 865-3459 or e-mail us at info@provoiceusa.com for all of your inquiries and for more information.

Creating an Audio-Video Presentation (AVP) Voice-over

Creating an Audio-Video Presentation Voice-over

Audio-Video Presentations (AVP) are handy tools for giving information during meetings, exhibits, trade expos, and lectures. They integrate images and sounds to be able to impart your lesson, message, product specs, services, and brand identity to your target audience. However, the success of an AV Presentation relies on a good voice-over narration: whether you are using a timed slideshow or a pre-edited video, your voice-over needs to be not only appropriate to the images, text, and videos being flashed or projected onscreen; it also needs to be read effectively to engage your audience and maximize the AVP’s impact. This is where your skill in voice acting and reading will be put to task. In order to make sure that your narration will hit the mark, your friends at ProVoice USA want to give you a few tips for creating a strong, effective, and engaging voice-over.

It goes without saying that for creating your voice-over; you will need the proper audio equipment: a (preferably unidirectional) microphone, an audio interface (for converting your audio into digital data), proper audio recording and editing software, a laptop or desktop PC, a microphone stand, and a pop filter. Are you ready? Let’s start:

Use a conversational tone and easy-to-read words – If you’re the person coming up with the script, make sure that your script has maximum readability. Use jargon and technical terms only when necessary, and make sure to explain these terms in your script if your audience is likely to be unfamiliar with them. Avoid being verbose and use plain language. When drafting and reading the script, try to evoke a conversational tone with your writing and delivery.

Go over the script and do “practice readings” – Try reading the script aloud in one pass, and see if any of the words trip you over. These may indicate rewrites to improve readability. Then, go over any jargon that needs to be properly pronounced and check for accuracy. Do another reading, this time; recording your performance. Avoid “ad-libs”, just stick to your script. Upon playback; check to see if your narration works within the context of the presentation. Once you are satisfied, it’s time to start recording.

Practice working with the microphone – Learn to keep your distance from the microphone. Ideally, a distance of between 6-12 inches away from the microphone will give you crisp, clean vocals. Also, make sure to mark your takes by leaving a few seconds of silence in between each take and announcing the section to be recorded, like “paragraph 4, page 2 take one”. Record your vocals in a quiet venue; without any distractions or ambient sounds. Be prepared to do multiple takes a section of the script at a time, and stop when you’re content with your performance.

Fine-tune your recording process – When recording, be conscious of your delivery: some voice-over talents have a tendency to read too fast or add unnecessary affectations in their delivery. Decide whether to read from the computer screen or from a printed manuscript: if you’re using a print-out, make sure that the fonts are easy-to-read and big enough to read; and that your text has a proper line and paragraph spacing. It will be much easier to record standing, as it gives you more leeway for gestures and expressions that will inform your delivery; but you can also choose to sit down. Your microphone’s stand and position will be determined by whether you stand or sit during takes. Use a pop filter to eliminate plosives and pops, and use a pair of good headphones for listening to your playback.

Hydrate and keep liquids on-hand – During recording, make sure that you hydrate your vocal cords with clear liquids: water and tea are the top choices. Avoid drinking cold liquids: just leave them at room temperature.

Make the video and images adjust to your voice-over and not the other way around – Lastly, when you find that your voice-over is not syncing up with the images and video, or you tend to get distracted trying to time the voice-over to sync with your slideshow effects and transitions; then tweak them so that they sync up with the voice over instead. Concentrate on having a good voice-over and sync your visuals to it.

Do you need a professional voice-over for your AVP? ProVoice USA offers Audio Production and Voice-over services for various media and applications such as Radio and TV commercials, E-Learning, Phone System, and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) telephone services. With over 20 years of experience and a roster of incredible Voice Talents, we can provide the right voice to go with your script. Get in touch with us at info@provoiceusa.com, or call us up at (877) 865-3459 to learn more about the services we offer and for more information.

Branding Through Voice Over Talent

Branding Through Voice Over Talent

You may quickly recognize a brand by the company’s logo or the visual of a spokesperson holding the product up on TV. The same goes with an effective voice over. If you want to build your brand, you must have a voice that will speak for you.

Familiar Voice Builds Brands

Hearing the same voice for every commercial or radio snippet helps to build branding and familiarity. And having someone who will speak for your brand and sounds trustworthy makes your brand marketing better. Ads with voice-overs score higher on credibility because they appear to convey fresh information, relevance, and persuasion. A professional voice over artist can greatly improve your brand recognition when used effectively.

Leave a Lasting Impression

Your brand’s voice, which you use in your online marketing videos, TV & radio spots, and even your phone prompts, is a key factor in making your brand memorable. Whenever your customers hear that distinct voice, they feel at home. So, if your company wants to leave a lasting impression on consumers, you need to ensure that you have a strong brand voice.

Have the Pros Do It

ProVoiceUSA.com has produced professional voice-overs for more than 10 years, giving us extensive experience to work on each of our new projects. We will work directly with you to quickly produce professional sounding voice-overs that will make your brand memorable. Call us today so we can discuss the details of your project and begin working on it as soon as you are ready.

Why Good Voice Talent is Essential for E-Learning

Why Good Voice Talent is Essential for E-Learning

We always follow the voice we trust. Take the voice-over on the New York subway that says “stay clear of the closing doors.” This is an example of an authoritative voice that subway passengers trust and think credible.

Voice Perception

Our perceptions of a voice could either persuade or dissuade us from making decisions. In e-learning, an authoritative voice makes us believe and trust that the instructional material is valuable and useful in learning the concepts we need for a particular course.

Good Voice, More Listeners

Voice-over artists take on the role of a character, just like any actor. This is also true to e-learning videos. Voice-over actors convey complex concepts and encourage more students to enroll in a course. So it’s best to get a pro-voice-over recorded first, and then you can create an online video to supplement your materials.

Roster of Talent

For your online modules, you can choose from loads of voice-over artists here. We specialize in voiceover for e-learning, such as training videos, tutorials, safety training, technical instruction, and others. We can provide a range of voice styles for your audio training course. Listen to our voice-over demos or contact us now to request a sample of a voice you can trust.

5 Tips on Making a Memorable Commercial

5 Tips on Making a Memorable Commercial

Making a product is one thing, but getting people to see, like, and buy your product is a whole other story. If you want people to buy your product, you must use the power of commercials. But making a commercial takes several elements put together. Here are a few things you’d want to consider if you want your commercial to be memorable.

1. Storyline

Story-telling often focuses on a memorable character. Successful marketing stories have a character people remember such as a family having dinner together, a cat talking to a dog or an office girl with wind-tossed hair taking an elevator. In fact, some characters become so ingrained in U.S. culture that they even develop their own fan base and T-shirts when done right.

2. Representation

Make sure that what your commercial is what you want the consumer to perceive your product. Try to really focus on your product and your brand so that the viewer will know just what they are signing up for.

3. Humor

Having pleasant visuals can really help generate a good audience impact, but there is a point where between being artsy can be synonymous to too all over the place. Adding humor or an emotional factor can help persuade a person but you must remain objective with what you really want to show.

4. Sounds

Commercials are heavily dependent on the sound that consumers will remember. The emotion viewers feel while watching a commercial directly relates to how effectively they remember the product. Different sounds connote different meanings, leading the consumer to associate the commercial and the product it advertises with a variety of corresponding feelings. It’s not enough to see a delicious looking steak to convince a consumer, but by hearing it sizzling on a grill, that triggers craving! This power of sound creates a sense of reality for the viewer.

5. Voice Talent

Many businesses looking to produce television advertisements don’t realize just how convenient and affordable TV voice overs are. ProVoiceUSA is 100% focused on voice talent. Our voice talent has more than a decade of experience producing voice-overs for commercials, as well as radio sweepers and audio files for messaging systems. With our digital recording studio, we can record your message clearly and quickly deliver the audio files to you. To find out more about our commercial voice talent, contact us today!

Becoming Competitive in the Voice Over Market

Becoming Competitive in the Voice Over Market

Becoming a voice over actor in this day and age is about as difficult a field to break into as you’d find. And it’s a common misconception that having a naturally resonating and well-toned voice will automatically find you work in the industry. Some artists may say that becoming a talented and successful voice artist requires a little bit of luck. Perhaps that’s true, but along with talent, practice, and hard work, there are some things you can do now to improve your chances of finding work. Here are a few we at ProVoiceUSA have found.

Find Professional Representation

Finding your way into the industry on your own is nearly impossible these days. If you’re serious about finding work as a voice actor, you need someone who can actively advertise your unique voice and offer quality services to you. This is where ProVoiceUSA can come in handy. With the right demo and a quick turnaround time, you can present yourself as a reliable and high-quality voice actor.

This leads to the second point…

Produce the Best Demo Possible

Like an artist’s or writer’s portfolio, a voice-over demo needs to demonstrate the best and highest-quality work you can produce. If you have the voice over gear at home or in a private studio, you could do it yourself, but a better method would be to save up and splurge on a coaching and recording session at a professional studio. This may set you back on average $1000 or more, but you’ll have the best example of your work possible to show potential agents and clients. It might also pay off to research and pick the right studio to produce the right demo for you: some specialize in commercial work, some in television, and others in video games and interactive media.

Practice Perfect Timing

With voice work, it all comes down to timing. Practice reading different scripts or pieces of writing with different enunciations and inflections, keeping track of yourself with a timer. Remember, it’s about eighty words for thirty seconds. Eventually, this will become instinctual. One of the best skills a voice actor can have is performing lines within the perfect time frame.

If you have what it takes to become a professional voice actor, contact ProVoiceUSA today. We offer only the finest professional voice-over work in the industry with great response times and competitive pricing.