5 Tips on How To Record Pro Voice Overs
January 23, 2024 | Anton Berner
Whether it's the narration in a podcast, the dialogue in a video, the persuasive announcements in radio, or the character voices in films, voice-over is everywhere.
It's the unseen, powerful force that breathes life into written words, transforming them into an auditory experience. It can inform, entertain, persuade, or educate an audience.
So, you might be wondering how to record a voice-over.
Today we're going over some essential tips on how to record pro voiceovers, so you can get started in this exciting career.
Keep reading to find out more!
When you’re ready to hit record, Soundtrap has the perfect tools for voice-over recordings and vocal mixing in its online studio. Read more about recording vocals in Soundtrap here.
1. Understanding Voice Overs
At its core, a voice over is a production technique where a voice that is not part of the narrative is used in a radio, television production, filmmaking, theater, or other presentations.
The voice over may be spoken by someone who appears elsewhere in the production or by a specialist voice actor.
It's the unseen, powerful force that breathes life into written words.
When preparing to record a voice over, especially for mediums like podcasting, videos, radio, and film, you have to think about several things.
The script, for example, is the foundation of your voice over. It's not just about what you say when it comes to voice acting, but also how you say it.
The tone, pacing, and emotion have to align with the message and the audience's expectations.
For a podcast, a conversational and engaging tone usually works best, while voice overs for videos might require a more informative or expressive style depending on the content.
The purpose of the voice over also plays a significant role in how you approach the recording.
A voice over for an educational video demands clarity and a steady pace to ensure the audience comprehends the information. At the same time, a voice over for a radio advertisement might require a more dynamic and persuasive tone to capture the listener's attention and encourage action.
It's essential to consider the audience you're trying to reach.
A younger audience might engage more with a lively and upbeat voice, while a more mature audience might prefer a slower, more measured delivery.
2. Choosing the Right Equipment
Firstly, the microphone is your primary tool. There are various types of microphones, but for voice overs, you generally want to look for a condenser microphone.
These microphones are highly sensitive and capable of capturing the full range of your voice, from the subtle nuances to the powerful tones.
They're preferred in studio settings for their clarity and detail. However, it's important to note that they can pick up background noise, so a quiet recording space is vital.
Another essential piece of equipment is a good pair of headphones.
Closed-back headphones are ideal for voice over recording because they prevent sound from leaking out and being picked up by the microphone.
This ensures that what you hear is exactly what's being recorded, allowing for more accurate monitoring and adjustments during the recording process.
The audio interface is another key component.
It connects your microphone to your computer and plays a big role in the quality of your recording. A good audio interface will have clean, low-noise preamps and high-quality digital converters. This ensures that the sound captured by your microphone is accurately converted into digital signals for your computer.
Don't forget about the additional accessories that can enhance your recording experience! A pop filter is a simple screen that sits between you and the microphone.
It helps to reduce or eliminate popping sounds caused by the fast-moving air when pronouncing words that start with letters like 'P' or 'B'.
A shock mount is also useful, helping to isolate the microphone from vibrations and handling noise.
3. Setting Up the Ideal Recording Space
The first step is to find a quiet space. This might seem obvious, but it's crucial to minimize background noise, like traffic, air conditioning, or household sounds.
Once you have a quiet space, the next step is to focus on soundproofing. You don't need a professional studio to achieve this.
Hanging heavy curtains, using rugs or carpets, and placing foam panels or acoustic tiles on walls can help absorb sound and reduce echo.
The size and shape of the room also matter.
A smaller room is generally easier to control in terms of acoustics, but be wary of very small, boxy spaces as they can create a 'boomy' sound.
A room with some irregularities, like alcoves or non-parallel walls, can actually help in reducing the sound reflections that can distort your recording.
Another aspect to consider is ambient noise control. For instance, if you're recording in a room with a window, make sure it's well-sealed. Simple steps like turning off fans, air conditioners, or any other appliances that make noise during recording sessions can also make a significant difference.
4. Preparing the Computer and Software
You don't need the latest or most expensive computer model, but it should be reliable and fast enough to handle audio recording and editing without glitches.
Ideally, it should have a decent processor, enough RAM to ensure smooth operation and ample storage space for your audio files. The benefit of using Soundtrap for vocal recording is that you don’t need any hard drive space to record and save your audio files. Everything is safely stored in the cloud on your Soundtrap account so that you can access your files from anywhere without carrying around your computer or external hard drive.
Regular maintenance, like updating the operating system and keeping the hard drive clean, also helps in keeping the computer running efficiently.
When it comes to software for voice overs, the heart of your digital recording setup is a Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW.
This software is where you'll do all your recording, editing, and mixing. There are many DAWs available, ranging from free or low-cost options to professional-grade software. While professional DAWs offer more features, many affordable ones are quite capable for voice over work.
The key is to choose one that feels intuitive to you and meets your specific needs. It's worth spending some time getting to know your DAW well. Understanding its features, shortcuts, and how to quickly navigate it can save you a lot of time in the long run. Check out some of the features offered in Soundtrap’s online DAW here.
Templates are another time-saving feature you should consider.
Most DAWs allow you to create templates for your projects. This means you can set up a project with your preferred settings, like input levels, track names, and common effects, and then save it as a template.
The next time you start a new project, you can start with this template, saving you from having to set everything up from scratch.
Finally, it's essential to have a good system for file management and backups.
Voice over projects can generate a lot of files, and keeping them organized is key. Create a logical system for naming and storing your files, and stick to it.
Regular backups are also crucial. Whether it's to an external hard drive, a cloud service, or both, make sure you have a reliable backup system in place to protect your work from hardware failures, accidental deletions, or other unforeseen issues. If you use Soundtrap’s online studio, we take care of all this for you. No need to worry about backups or storage, just focus on the creation of your next project.
5. The Performer: Voice and Delivery
No matter how advanced your equipment or perfect your recording environment, the success of your voice over largely hinges on the performance.
A key aspect of this preparation is vocal health and technique. Your voice is your instrument, so taking care of it is vital.
This includes staying hydrated, avoiding excessive caffeine or alcohol, and not straining your voice. Vocal warm-ups are also important. Just like a musician tunes their instrument, you need to warm up your voice before recording.
This can involve breathing exercises, humming, or practicing scales. These exercises not only prepare your vocal cords but also help you find the right pitch and tone for your recording.
Once you're vocally warmed up, focus on the delivery of your script - a.k.a. the point when you add voice over.
Clarity is paramount in voice overs. You need to articulate every word, but without sounding unnatural or forced. This requires practice and sometimes slow, deliberate speaking.
Pay attention to your pacing; it's easy to rush through a script, but taking your time can make your recording more engaging and easier to understand.
Emotion and expression are also critical.
Your voice needs to convey the right emotions to connect with the audience. This might mean changing your inflection, varying your pitch, or altering your pace to match the mood of the script.
Remember, you're not just reading words; you're telling a story or conveying a message, and how you do that can make all the difference.
Lastly, don't underestimate the power of practice and feedback. The more you record and listen back to your work, the more you'll learn about your voice and how to improve.
Wrapping things up…
Now you have the most important info when it comes to how to record a voice over, from the technical aspects, to the best ways to approach your performance. These voice over tips for beginners will definitely get you on your way!
At Soundtrap, we operate as a cloud-based DAW. Soundtrap runs in a web browser, which allows you to create voice overs (or music, or any other kind of recording!) whenever, wherever.
You can also add collaborators directly to your session and work together in real-time. It's a truly modern way to create audio.
So sign up today and get started!
About the author
Anton Berner is a music producer, audio engineer, and songwriter from Stockholm, Sweden. He's produced hip-hop & rap music since the early 2000s and his expertise is in vocal mixing and sample-based beat production. Anton is also the SEO & Content Manager @ Soundtrap and manages the blog and newsroom.