What Are Standard Audio File Formats in Voice Overs - Quote 1If you’re starting a voice acting or voice-over career, you’ll need to put your “VO technician” hat on, and get familiar with the standard audio file formats you’ll be working with.

The VO industry needs high-quality audio. As audio creators, it’s our responsibility to make sure our audio files meet industry standards. In this case, the industry standard for audio in VO is broadcast TV. If you record everything so that it’s good enough for TV, your recordings will be mint.

Save Your Work in WAV Format

Always record and save all your work in WAV format (WAV is a type of audio file whose name ends in the extension “.wav”). When saving, select these specifications:

  • Sample rate (48,000 Hertz or 48 kHz)
  • Bit depth (24 bits)
  • Channels (mono)

In the voice acting and voice-over industry, we always work with mono audio files.

Send Auditions in MP3 Format

When you’re recording auditions, record a high-quality WAV file, but save the file as an MP3 for your audition. MP3 is like a stripped-down version of the WAV; it takes up less space but sounds just as good. Because it’s small, the MP3 is easy to email or upload to the internet.

When saving, select these specifications:

  • Sample rate (48,000 Hertz or 48 kHz)
  • Bit depth (24 bits)
  • Channels (mono)
  • Bit rate (320 kbps or 256 kbps)

What Are Standard Audio File Formats in Voice Overs - Quote 2WAV vs MP3

If MP3s are smaller, why do we need to save WAV files?

The reason for that is simple: an MP3 takes up less space because it’s a simplified, compressed version of your audio that sounds OK to the ears but isn’t a perfect record of the sound (unlike the WAV file). This compression starts to become a problem when you edit the sound—for example, if you try to add effects like EQ (short for Equalizer). The more you edit an MP3 file, the more you’ll hear unnatural artifacts in the sound. As you can imagine, engineers will always prefer to deal with a WAV file.

If you have a very big audition, and you know the client really loves your work, save the WAV file just in case they want to use your audition for production. But normally, just send an MP3 for auditions.

To learn more about the technicalities of recording voice overs, read my second e-book called Get Clever About Voice Acting & Announcing Part 2.

My name is Lili Wexu. I’m an actress, a voice talent and an author.