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!

USB mics: Good enough for VO studios? Part 1 of 2

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

Put five voice actors in a room and they'll soon be exchanging opinions on various mics. The main criteria have been: budget, which mic suits your recording space, and which mic suits your voice type best.

But now, thanks to a number of low-priced USB mics, budget may be less of an issue. They don't need a pre-amp or interface or even expensive cables. But are USB mics really good enough for recording a voice actor at the professional level? We tested a bunch of them, to see.

The short answer is that a USB mic is terrific for beginning a voice-acting career. Roughly speaking, a good USB mic will give 90% of the quality sound you need. They're like an 18-year-old's first car: Something sensible and inexpensive will get the owner safely from point A to point B. In time, you may want to re-invest your profit and buy a more expensive mic. But if it still satisfies you and your clients, an upgrade may not even be necessary.

Many USB mics feature the exact same condenser mic element as their XLR version, so USB models provide a similar high quality sound signature. The primary difference is that the USB mic has its own internal analog-to-digital converter, which affects the quality of the sound being passed along.

When to call yourself a "voice actor," and why. Part 2 of 2.

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

As someone who performs voice-overs, what should you call yourself? In our last episode, we discussed various terms: announcer, voice-over, voice-over talent, voice talent, voice-over performer, voice-over artist, voice actor and others.

There is no standard definition for any of these terms, and no hard lines between them. But you should probably settle on calling yourself one or another. Your decision might be based on marketing, or simply on your frame of mind. It's up to you. In most cases, we prefer "voice-actor." Here's why ...

Did you miss last week's article? Click here to read last week's article — Are you a "voice actor," a "voice talent," a "voiceover" or what?.

To begin with, "actors" are what casting professionals generally seek.

Actors are versatile in role-playing, and skilled at expressing emotion. An actor can react to direction constructively, even artfully, adding unique qualities to the production. And except for voice acting and readings and such, an actor works without holding a script. Being able to read as if you're not voicing a script is, overall, what our profession is about – sounding natural, like you're simply talking. Even in a voice booth, talent often does better by not staring at the page.

One popular definition of acting is, "appearing real in an unreal situation." What is more unreal than being alone in a sound booth?

So, why not call yourself an actor?

Are you a "voice actor," a "voice talent," a "voiceover" or what? Part 1 of 2.

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

Some time ago, we discussed the issue of how to spell "voice-over," and concluded that, except maybe for Search Engine Optimization reasons, it doesn't much matter, as long as you're consistent. And that the SEO reasons are diminishing and secondary.

But what about "voice actor" and these similar descriptions of people at the mic? It's more than a question of spelling. Is there a functional and/or industry distinction between a "voice talent," "voice actor," "voice-over artist" and other variations? Does it matter what you call yourself and what you do?

Yes and no.

There's no hard dividing line between any of these terms. Each is just a slightly different shading of the others. Yet, each has certain connotations, which might be important to you and/or to potential clients. Consider it a matter of "positioning," in a marketing sense, or as your personal mindset. Or both.

Announcer. This is on the list because it's the traditional term, still found on many scripts. But, although a traditional "announcer" style involves certain qualities and skills (and is not necessarily bombastic or stylized), it's not what professional casting people generally want today. They usually want more than a perfect voice and clear speech. They want authenticity (which we'll talk more about, below.) Unless your target is broadcasting or stadium PA work and such, calling yourself simply an "announcer" limits your employment opportunities.

For vocal health, don't let your humidifier turn against you! Part 2 of 2.

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

In Part One, we talked about the benefits a voice actor receives from proper indoor humidity, and discussed various types of humidifiers. Aahhhh! Instead of the raw feeling you get from air that's been overheated or air-conditioned, moist air is so soothing, right?

Right. Except for this unsettling thought:

It can also make you sick.

Although proper humidity promotes health, improper use of a humidifier can be harmful. The device itself can breed and spread microbes and allergens. Some types of humidifiers can also break water-borne minerals into fine particles (possibly appearing as white dust) that can be irritants or transportation for germs. (This has been a concern especially with ultrasonic types.) They might even distribute toxic metals.

You MUST keep a humidifier clean.

To avoid such complications, follow manufacturer instructions, but in general:

Vocal health calls for "Goldilocks" humidity this winter. Part 1 of 2.

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

EdgeStudio.com has a lot of information about vocal health. You'll find links to much of it at the end of this article. One subject we've barely touched on, however, is the matter of indoor humidity. Moisture in the air is important to maintaining good vocal health, but you can also have too much humidity. There are various ways of maintaining humidity, each with certain advantages and dangers.

Important: We are not medical experts and cannot give medical advice. This is not exhaustive information. If you have any question or concern about your health or any symptom, consult your doctor without delay. If anyone has a respiratory difficulty (e.g., asthma, allergy to mites or mold), consult a physician before using a humidifier. Exercise suitable caution when dealing with steam or boiling water. Clean any device as instructed. If infants or young children are present, consult their physician before use, as microbes and particalized mineral deposits can be harmful to their lungs, and additives can also be problematic.

Cold air is dry, and heating dries it further, but humidity's not just a winter issue. Air conditioning dries the air, too. You feel cooler, but your sinuses may become raw. At some point, you may need to turn off the A/C, or open a window, or add humidity, or step outdoors.

So, at any time of year, what amount of humidity is "just right" and how should you maintain it?

Humidity has benefits

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