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Voice Over - The Lost Art of Listening


While out on a hiking trip this past weekend, I took the time to simply listen to nature. For several minutes, not a single device of modern technology could be heard. It was truly music to the ears. Listening, truly listening, seems to be a lost art. When was the last time you sat down and listened to an album? I don’t mean casually, with the music playing in the background as you perform other tasks. I mean sitting down in front of some speakers, or putting on headphones, and simply listening.

I’ve been around many younger people lately, high school and college age, and they just don’t listen. I’m not talking about, “Hey, pick those clothes up off the floor and put them away”... and they don’t do it, kind of listening (although that is certainly an issue as well). I’m talking about truly using their ears and hearing the world around them.

This isn’t limited to young people. When teaching home studio classes (mostly to adults), I’m often asked, “How do you know which (whatever piece of gear) sounds better?” The answer is, “In order to know, you have to listen and compare.”

This isn’t entirely the fault of today’s typical listener. Tiny and inefficient speakers have become common place, whether they be in earbuds, computers or television. These are all truly terrible devices for critical listening and are barely good enough for simple enjoyment of listening. Then of course, there is the MP3 format. Listening to an MP3 of a song and then listening to that same song on a record or CD (on decent speakers and in a decent environment) is a truly ear-opening experience. Again, if you haven’t listened and compared them, you can’t know.

It’s like the old aphorism: You have two ears and one mouth to remind you to use your ears twice as much.

Three Easy Things You Need to Know About Editing in Your Home Studio by Scott Harlan


Knowing when and how to make basic audio touch-ups can make using your home studio a lot less intimidating, even fun. It also pleases clients. But first, it’s important to understand exactly what your client expects to receive from you (or what they don’t want you to do). They may want you to do nothing, just send them the original recording. Or they might assume that you have deleted all but the good takes, edited out distracting breaths, downtime, coughs, etc. Or they might want you do more. Whatever basic tasks are expected, they’re pretty easy to do, but you must do them in a professional manner.

So let’s discuss 3 topics that are important in self-recording:

  • What "raw" audio means
  • The importance of crossfades
  • How to manage breath noise

1. RAW AUDIO

Technically, “raw” audio means that the sound characteristics of the original recording have not been changed (that is, the audio has not been “processed”). But some people extend its definition to include “unedited.”

(What are examples of processing? One common tool is equalization (a.k.a. EQ). Equalization allows you to add or remove different frequencies to or from a sound, like the bass and treble controls on your home audio system. Another frequently used tool is compression . It evens out the volume levels of a sound by turning down the loudest parts, which usually results in being able to then make the whole thing louder. There are other processing tools too, but the point is that NOT applying an EQ, compressor, or other processor will mean that your file is unprocessed ... or raw.)

Before Building a Voice Over Booth


Determine how large your voice over booth must be, and if possible, make it at least 50% larger. (One day you‘ll thank yourself.) Additionally consider how many people will record simultaneously in the booth (Will you record dialogues? Will you record foley sfx (which takes up a lot of room)? Will you need a video/computer monitor to view while recording? Will you want a table for voice over voice over scripts, water, etc.?). Be sure to account for the microphone and music stands. Will you stand or sit? (Sitting down is common for long recordings, such as audiobook recordings, but takes up more floor space.) Do you have claustrophobia? If so, go with a larger booth. Will you rent out your booth to musicians (who need larger spaces for guitars, keyboards, etc.)? Think about these things before you build.

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