Foxes, Leopards, and XLR cables

This post will see another addition to my Aesop’s Fables practice narration series. I can’t stress enough how voiceover, like any activity, requires daily practice. Mastery comes at the cost of repetition. It isn’t glamorous, often it isn’t even what you’d call “fun”. It is however necessary.

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Secondly, I want to take a minute to talk about XLR cables. When you get into voiceover you have your initial costs of microphones, pre-amps, room treatments, vocal booths, or whatever gets you where you need to be to put out quality audio. One area that many try to save a dollar or two on is XLR cables. I just want to say, don’t do it. The XLR cable is the link between your microphone and whatever interface you are using. That link needs to the be the best it can or the most expensive microphone can still sound like it has flies buzzing around inside it. I learned this the hard way and want to spare you the pain.

The first XLR cables I got were good. The second set, not so much, because I tried to save a little cash. Which meant I ended up spending more than I would have than if I’d just bought a premium pair. I won’t mention name brands because I’m not sponsored and your needs might not be my needs. However, the difference between the “good” XLR cables and the new premium ones is substantial. Not to get too technical but substantial means a noise floor reduction of about -10db. I approve.

So don’t overlook any part of your audio chain when trying to produce really clean and great audio. Every link counts, and every little bit helps.

Narration Sample: The Crow & the Pitcher

No dispatch this week. I’m dealing with an instance of “Hurry up, and wait” while my latest production for ACX is taking its own sweet time to go through QA.

Fortunately, I have enough to keep me busy. Not least of which is this very quick narration (under a minute). It’s from Aesop’s Fables; The Fox and the Pitcher.

I enjoy doing these reading from classical literature, but I think the next narration sample will be from something a bit more contemporary.

Voiceover Dispatch No. 2

 

Voiceover Dispatch September 19, 2017

This week I’m finishing up a short novella I’m producing through ACX, the Audiobook Creation Exchange, and as I finished the recording aspects and move into mastering I had a moment when I had my recording setup near my photography setup (I’m also a professional photographer).

What struck me was how both of these professions require specialized gear, that is available at lots of different price points and supposed suitability for professional work, but ultimately it comes down to the ability of the user.

While I’m faced with decisions about camera bodies, lenses, and lighting systems for photography, I’m faced with decisions about microphones, preamps, mixers, DAWs, and room treatments for voiceover. It can be really overwhelming.

The problem is that no matter what gear you use, there is always the nagging suspicion that the Neumann or CAD, or Sennheiser you don’t have is holding you back.

When I made my decision to get it VO work I tested a number of different microphones to find one that best suited my voice. I chose the Sennheiser MKH 416. I haven’t second-guessed the decision…but I’d be a liar if I didn’t admit that I still follow up on forums and YouTube videos about other mics.

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I guess what I want to say is that looking at the grass on the other side might be greener, but if you can get the best gear for you initially. In the long run, you’ll be better off than continuously trying to hit an ever-moving target.

And that is my VO Dispatch. Talk to you soon.

Voiceover Dispatch, September 13th 2017

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Voiceover Dispatch; September 13th, 2017

I’m a few days into the audiobook production of a novella, and that has me thinking about the things I enjoy about long form narration…and some things I don’t.

One thing that anyone who has recorded an audiobook for eventual purchase knows that, pardon the cliche, it’s a marathon, not a race.

Rushing inevitably leads to mistakes that could have been avoided which means recording pickups, which means that time you thought you were saving you really didn’t save at all.

If you can’t find it in you to work efficiently, but still have a little patience, then recording an audiobook is going to be a very frustrating experience for you. The good news is it gets easier with practice like any skill, and that’s heartening.

Because long form narration like audiobooks can be really rewarding. While the author has created a whole world on the written page, it’s up to you to bring it alive vocally. This is one reason that communication between the writer and the vocal talent is so important; the talent provides a performance, but it has to be true to the writer’s vision.

Which is one of the main things I like about it. It’s a chance to inhabit several characters and paint an aural picture with your voice. I know, that sounds lofty, but it’s true as anyone who’s tried to listen to a bad audiobook can tell you.

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When it’s done well, however then you’ve got happiness all around; the writer, the audience, and the voice talent.

Personally, I’m happy whenever I get to be a part of that joy pyramid.

I guess all this is just in aid of saying I love what I do, and really appreciate the people who give me such exciting opportunities. That goes beyond playing with the cool gear and getting paid.

Thanks for listening during this brief indulgence, we’ll talk again soon.

Practice makes…

There’s one aspect to doing voiceover that becomes readily apparent the more you get into the life; practice makes perfect. The idea that your voice is an instrument is not only a hackneyed saying, it’s the complete truth.

Remember that instrument you played in school? You know the one. When you first started you were super excited, then you realized how terrible you were. Adding insult to injury you learned the only way you will ever improve is if you practice. A lot.

Well, performing voiceover is pretty much the same thing, except your voice is the instrument. On the plus side, you always have it with you. On the downside, you still have to practice. A lot.

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One way I’ve started to approach the idea of practice with voiceover involves not only vocal exercises and all the other things to take care of my voice (hydration, exercise, etc.) but short bits of voiceover and narration that can be a help to staying “in shape”.

For this reason, I’ve started reading short bits of classic literature. This works out well because I can find quite a few varied pieces that are short, and have language that requires paying attention and being accurate.

I pick about five or six at random and recorded them all in one go. As an example, here’s a short piece from Aesop’s Fables.

I’d be curious to know what others do to keep themselves ready to go.
A good day to you and success in all you do!

Introduction

Hello World!

If you have found this page you likely have an interest in voiceover work as either a voiceover artist or someone in need of voiceover talent. If the former, welcome fellow travelever! If the later, you are in luck because I am someone who can provide you with exactly what you need.

Hi, my name is Desmond. I am a voiceover artist who can provide you with the highest quality product using the highest quality tools.

There is a FAQ that answers many of the questions to follow, but heck informing is easy.

What Equipment Do You Use?

I record my voiceover work using industry standard equipment: A Sennheiser MK 416 microphone and Scarlett 2i6 pre-amp. There is also a Tascam DR-40 in use with the Sennheiser if I am mobile.

What Is Your Average Turn Around?

Average turnaround is 24hrs. (Often half or less)

What sort of Voiceover Work Do You Do?

Many different genres; audiobooks, explainer videos, documentaries, and much, much more!