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!


Developing On Hold Messages

Top Voice Actors of the 21st Century

Developing On Hold Voiceover Copy

On hold voiceover copy should include elements like branding, product information, current or upcoming promotions, holiday hours and business location. Each element of the on hold voiceover copy should be recorded independently. This allows for separation between messages. In between messages the on hold service can play music or even just broadcast a local radio station. Either way, this approach is preferable to constantly bombarding customers with information–which can feel overdone and intrusive. As a rule of thumb it’s a good idea to leave anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds in between on hold messages.

ProVoice USA provides male and female voice talent to businesses for on hold message systems. With affordable, flat rates and rapid turnaround it’s possible to outfit an entire telephone system in just a few days.

Affordable Phone System Voice Overs

Beginning with a greeting and proceeding through dialing and IVR prompts and on-hold messages, professionally recorded phone system voice overs make a subtle but important impression on callers. Many audio production facilities are able to deliver the final product to clients within the same business day given the straightforward nature of the production process, but it’s also possible to add some creative flair to the project. For an affordable extra charge, the studio producing the work may be able to add background music, if desired, and set the recording levels so that it doesn’t drown out the narration.

Clients should be wary of studios or professionals who insist upon haggling over pricing or show a reluctance to provide demos. Given the competitive nature of the industry, it’s not uncommon to encounter producers who prioritize money ahead of client satisfaction. However, professionals with a solid reputation and nothing to hide will deliver excellent value for the money.

ProVoiceUSA never haggles over prices, instead providing clients with the ability to participate fully in the production process by listening to demos of the script to be recorded and making sure it’s right. Led by longtime industry stalwart Chris Davies, the Southern California-based studio has worked with many prominent clients over the years and delivers promptness and value to customers around the globe.

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.

Tips For Starting A Career In Voice Acting

Blogs | Tips For Starting A Career In Voice Acting

Voice Actors or VAs (sometimes also called Voice overs and Voice talents) are a versatile lot. You hear them virtually everywhere: in TV shows and commercials, on the radio, in Public Service Announcements, on phone-based IVR messages, in instructional and educational software, video games, and even in documentaries. Voice Acting is a fun and challenging job; with its own set of rewards and perks.

If you’ve ever considered becoming a voice actor, the good news is that technology has made it easier for you to set upon that path. The not-so-good-news is that it has become a very competitive field. You’ll need to have not just the skills and talent, but you should also know how to market and promote yourself. To this end; we would like to offer some tips to get you started. Ready? Here we go:

Know your capabilities and strengths – To be successful in Voice Acting, you need to know what you have to offer: you need to be able to showcase your specialties as a VA. Are you good at vocal impressions? Can you speak in different regional and foreign accents? Are you able to change your voice to sound older or younger, male or female? Can you modulate your voice and do dramatic reading? Once you know what you’re good at, you can leverage those skills to your advantage; and work on the areas you need help with.

Know which VA categories you can work in – Once you know what your voice can do; you can then decide which VA category you fit in: dramatic readers can do acting and dubbing, Flawless readers who sound engaging or modulated can do commercial work, and clear standard diction is ideal for narration. The vocal skills you have will determine which particular areas of voice acting you should concentrate on.

Know how to get work – Familiarize yourself with how the VA industry works. Join a professional organization and start networking with industry practitioners and professionals whenever the opportunity presents itself. Find a mentor and try to find an agent as well. Invest in a good voice demo, and make your demo category-specific (i.e., include a character, narration, corporate, and commercial demo).

Know how to market and promote yourself – The Internet has made it possible for you to put your voice work out there. Make sure to build up a portfolio of your work, and post it on popular audio and video streaming sites; as well as on social media. Prepare a good résumé and follow instructions faithfully during auditions. Be professional in appearance and demeanor. If you want to make a career using your voice, the world is ready for you! Follow our tips and make your mark. Good Luck!

ProVoice USA offers a roster of Voice Actors and Talents for a variety of vocal projects and applications. Call
us up at (877) 865-3459, or e-mail us at info@provoiceusa.com for all of your questions and for more

Some tips for creating “Character” voices

Some tips for creating Character voices

Voice talents are accustomed to using their own voice and their own manner of speaking when they work to create narrations and voice-overs for TV, movies, and even for telephone greetings and messages. However; there may be times when a client specifically asks for a certain type of voice to be used, or for a particular set of characteristics to inform your voice-over: the client may want you to portray a person or character different from yourself. Sometimes, they will require a more mature, older-sounding voice for their documentary, or someone with an accent. This may be an intimidating prospect for some voice talents; but it is actually a chance for you to showcase your versatility and step out of your comfort zone. You may already have some quick impersonations you can perform, but it can’t really hurt you to know how to portray other people, or to tweak your voice to make it sound the way the client wants. After all, the most successful voice talents are known to be “chameleons”: people who can portray men, women, children, and even fantasy characters. Here are some tips for trying out different “character” voices:

Look for inspiration in real life – Perhaps you know someone with a distinct voice with certain quirks like lisps or mispronunciations. You can use them as inspiration for a character voice, or as a “vocal template”.  Then, tweak the basic voice by adding your own quirks and unique characteristics (like a drawl or expression).

Try to study and imitate different accents – See if you can do a convincing accent: British, Boston, South American…try a variety of accents to see if they are easy for you to pull off. Watch talk shows and news programs to see how people from different countries talk; and see if you can do the same. Try out different voices to see which one seems more appropriate for the script.

Practice – This is the only way that you will ever get better at doing different voices. Constant practice is the key to nailing authentic accents and characters. Try to stay in character during auditions, and try your accents on native speakers to get their reaction and feedback.

Doing vocal work using a different voice than your own may seem daunting at first; but the more that you do it, the more comfortable of an experience it becomes for you. Vocal versatility will ensure that you’re not just a “one-trick vocal pony”, and that you have more to offer the client than just your well-modulated speaking voice.

ProVoice USA offers Professional Voice-over and Audio Production services. We have extensive experience in creating narrative audio for TV, radio, and online projects with no-haggle pricing. Call us up at (877) 865-3459 or send us an e-mail at info@provoiceusa.com to learn more about our services.

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.