Voice Over Education Blog

Welcome to the Voice Over Blog

Welcome to the blog designed for anyone investigating, starting, and building their voice over career.

Here you'll find practical articles written to help you skip the "trial and error" often associated with pursuing and building a career, and instead gain a candid look into the voice over industry, where the work is, why some people get it, why some don't, and tips and techniques to help you reach your goals.

Remember that your voice, interests, and potential are unique. For this reason, our articles provide multiple ideas and scenarios so that you can make the right decision for your career.

Feel welcome to share any experiences and comments by posting them below each post. We're always glad to listen to you. After all, listening is what we do best!

What is a "clean break" and how long should it be?

In our December 2017 Monthly Audition Contest, the Director's Notes asked for a "clean break" at punctuation. The direction didn't say how long a break, just that the producer will add time between phrases, in order to match up the video. When a client or director says to pause for "a second" or whatever amount of time, it's clear enough how long a break to give them. But if no interval is specified, what then? How "clean" should a clean break be?

Note: Sometimes a Director will just say "a break." You can assume they mean a clean break. Now, what do they mean by that?

See for yourself.

The best way to grasp this situation is to do a bit of editing in your workstation software. Record a sentence that consists of multiple clauses, and pause at a comma, or wherever a tiny pause is logical. Before or after the sentence, leave the mic open for a few seconds but remain silent. This will give you a sample of your space's ambient (background) noise. (Almost every home studio, and even many commercial studios, have a slight bit of background "presence.") We'll call this your "silence."

After recording, look at the sound image in your audio software, and see where the volume level goes down to zero. (Or, if your space is not totally silent, this will look like the silent part you recorded.) Ideally, you'll see a flat line. That's a clean break.

Hear for yourself.

On Edge Studio's 30th anniversary, an interview with David Goldberg

This year, Edge Studio celebrates its 30th birthday. Thirty is the pearl anniversary, so to celebrate we asked Edge Studio founder David Goldberg for some "pearls" of wisdom. David's ears are considered among the best in the industry, and he is one of the country's most active voice-over producers, instructors, and speakers. Since founding Edge Studio in 1988, he has directed thousands of voice-over productions nationally and internationally. He's also learned a few things in this time, and is always eager to pass along his knowledge to the students and clients of Edge Studio.

Edge Studio: Edge Studio wasn't always a voice-over facility, was it?

David Goldberg: No. Edge Studio began in my college dorm, where I recorded music. And music was the focus in my first "real" recording studio. Before long, I was producing, mixing and engineering the likes of Mel Tormé, Deep Purple, and Jose Feliciano. But almost immediately, my business began evolving.

Edge Studio: What was the impetus for that?

DG: Well, when I insisted that musicians not bring drugs into the studio, we immediately lost half our customers. Then we lost the other half when I also banned cigarettes! Okay, we picked up a few free-spirited hippie bands along the way, but that didn't cut it.

Edge Studio: So you switched to spoken-voice?

DG: Not yet. We became very big in the Gospel sector, working with many Gospel choirs. An interesting perspective in a studio led by someone named Goldberg. But it taught me early on the importance of diversity.

Edge Studio: How so?

Missing Dick Orkin. He was everywhere, everywhere.

Among the voices lost in 2017 – except as recordings – were June Foray and Dick Orkin. Foray was known to the entire animation and voice industry. And to the multitude of people who didn't know her name, she was known as the voice of as Rocket J. Squirrel, Granny, and countless other characters.

Fewer knew the name Dick Orkin, but the listeners of 1,500 radio stations worldwide knew his voice as that of Chickenman. In addition to creating that and other hilarious radio spoofs, Orkin brought his brand of absurdly silly humor to all sorts of radio advertisers. The hall-of-famer's client list notably included otherwise serious concerns like Time Magazine and "more banks than you can imagine" – companies that until then weren't known to air funny spots. For all his listeners, he was as entertaining as Stan Freberg and Bob and Ray had been, and within our industry he was surely as influential.

Orkin died of a stroke on Christmas Eve at age 84. He had been powering down, but he was still writing and voicing occasional commercials at the tail end of his 69-year career.

Actually, the length of his career depends on when we start counting. Orkin began as a young announcer and News Director in Pennsylvania, but was trained as an actor early on, having attended Yale Drama School. The transitional moment was when he moved to KWY in Cleveland. (Cleveland was an especially funny town in those days, spawning also the likes of Tim Conway and Ernie Anderson) There, Orkin's work included voicing a character named "Amazon Ace" (apparently now lost in history). But it was when his Cleveland boss, Ken Draper, transformed Chicago's WCFL that we can really start counting.

Having brought Orkin to Chicago as Production Director, in 1966 Draper asked him to produce a spoof of the popular Batman TV series. The result instantly became history. (We mean to say, it was an instant hit and enjoys a wide cult following to this day.)

Why wait for VO work?

Say "NO!" to New Year's resolutions. Instead make positive changes when you come across them. Why wait???? It makes no sense. Some examples from daily life:

  • You realize you need to pee. We don't mean to be indelicate, but didn't your parents once tell you, "You should have thought of that before we left"? They were right. Go now, rather than at some more awkward moment.
  • You have a good idea? Write it down. Or make a song of it that you can remember. Or send yourself a phone message. Anything but waiting till later. Odds are, you'll forget.
  • You come across a way to get more VO work. Why wait? Make it a "self-fulfilling" resolution by getting your rear end in gear now!

Let's look closer at that last one ...

How will you come across ways to get more voice work? The range of possibilities is virtually infinite. We can't predict which one of the countless ways you might encounter in the coming year. But we can help you seek and recognize opportunities that are suited to you, and expand the germ of an idea, and help you match yourself precisely to the opportunity.

There are lots of ways to get more VO work now:

How do these 7 USB mics sound vs. popular non-USB mics? Part 2 of 2.

NOTE: This is the second post in a 2-part article. Click here to read part 1!

We always say, learning never ends. That's true of what we know about USB mics. They've gotten better. But are they ready yet for daily use in a professional VO recording studio? As we noted in Part One, in some circumstances, yes -- especially if the owner is just starting on a VO career. With the money you might save, you can invest in things that will have greater benefit to your sound.

But how do they stack up against each other? And can an expert really hear the difference between USB and conventional XLR?

Dan Friedman, one of Edge Studio's home studio consultants, oversaw a USB mic shootout, in which he evaluated USB mics' design and performance, and compared them to some non-USB mics.

Our friends at Sweetwater (a terrific microphone and voice-over equipment retailer) lent us five USB mics for testing (AudioTechnica 2020USBi, Sennheiser MK4 digital, Shure MV51, Blue Raspberry and Miktek ProCast System). In addition, Dan added two more USB mics (Apogee MiC and the Blue Yeti Pro). And for comparison, we also tested three comparably priced XLR (non-USB) Large Diaphragm Condenser (LDC) microphones (XLR BLUE Spark, Rode NT2A, and Studio Projects C1), along with a Sennheiser 416 short shotgun XLR, an industry standard. That's a total of 11 mics. We have 12 audio clips because two of the samples are from the same microphone with different vocal presets.

The XLR mics require an interface, so with them we used the Centrance MicPortPro preamp/interface. We chose the MicPortPro because USB mics are often preferred for travel, and this interface is compact enough for that.

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