If you’re getting into voice acting and voice-over work and you’re at the part where you need to build a voice-over booth or create a home studio, you’re probably saying to yourself, “This is such a pain!” Trust me, I feel your pain. I’ve been there many, many times!
The process of choosing a space, as complicated as it may feel, really just comes down to two issues: soundproofing and acoustics. Soundproofing is preventing noise from coming into your space. In other words, it’s isolating your space from the external sources of noise. Acoustics, on the other hand, is the way sound travels around inside your space.
These are the two most important factors that, at the end of the day, determine how good your space is and what you can do with it. I’ll give a very brief overview of them in this article, and then get into the practical details in the separate articles linked below.
Room tone is, quite literally, the sound of the silence in your space. It is affected by your soundproofing and forms the “floor” on which all your recordings “sit”.
Silence comes in different degrees—different flavors. After recording with a client, producer, or engineer, they might request an audio file from you with your room tone. This is a little recording (say, 30 seconds) of the silence in your booth. They like to have this file in case they want to insert pauses in the voice-over you recorded with them. By manually inserting (copy/pasting) the silence from your space, they can make a natural-sounding pause, just as if everything was recorded at the same time and in the same space.
If your room tone is even a little noisy, your recordings won’t be usable, professionally. While you can try to delete the noises in between your speech, you can’t get rid the layer of noise underneath your speech. Noise mixed with speech sounds like there is static in your voice. It may not always be overtly obvious to you, but anyone working with sound will notice it. Soundproofing is vital to producing great-sounding voice-over recordings.
Read more about how to soundproof your space.
Acoustics is how sound travels in your space, how it bounces off various surfaces before reaching your microphone. Sound reflections may cause echoes or reverberations, and you must get rid of them before you can have that “dead”, yet resonant, sound that clients need from their VO talent’s recordings. For clients to be able to use your files, your voice shouldn’t be echoing or reverberating, but it shouldn’t be too muffled either. Every recording space is going to need some acoustic treatment.
Read more about improving the acoustics of your space.
To learn about recording voice overs from home, read Part 2 of the Get Clever Series, called Recording & Editing Voice Overs.