White kitten performing on the stage with a microphoneAs I’ve heard it said, the microphone is so sensitive that it can hear your nose hair grow!

Vicki Amorose gives us a different perspective on how your microphone picks up the subtle nuances of your voice, emotion and personal qualities.
How does your mic pick the real you up? Find out in today’s VOX Daily.

What the Microphone Picks Up: The Real You

By Vicki Amorose
This is not a discussion of how the mic picks up sounds like a leaf blower down the street or the rumbling of your stomach. I’d like to discuss the moods, emotions, and personal qualities of the voiceover actor and how dependably the microphone picks them up.
Let’s start with the obvious. The mic picks up your gender, general age, health, regional dialect, and how well you are performing.

It can also pick up quite accurately how much you are or are not enjoying yourself. Fatigue, anxiety, boredom, distraction, joy, energy, and living in the moment–it’s all there. As voice actors, our job is to adjust our personal mood and connect with the listener. Some days are better than others. That’s life, that’s acting.

But let’s talk about authentic character traits, the qualities you just can’t fake. For example, the funniest voice actors are genuinely funny people. The best sportscasters genuinely love the sport. Have you ever been listening to some voiceover guy and decided you don’t like him? It may have nothing to do with the quality of his voice or what he’s talking about. It’s just an instinctive reaction to ‘a certain something’ the mic picked up.

Isn’t it fascinating how much the human voice can convey? I once asked a voice coach to listen to my demo and give me career guidance. In my voice, he said, he heard ‘kindness.’ I was so shocked I repeated it back, “Kindness?” I knew my demo backward and forward and never considered any of the clips to be particularly ‘kind’. He identified a quality behind the acting. His comment started me thinking about everything that comes across, both obvious and subtle, in voiceover performance.

The mic doesn’t lie. That’s a provocative idea, and it can be a little intimidating. (I admit I have qualities less flattering than ‘kindness’.)

What Qualities Of Yours Does Your Microphone Pick Up?

Examining who you are as a unique individual may be the best way to determine your specialties in voiceover.
What’s the mic picking up when you voice?
Vicki Amorose
©iStockphoto.com/Mehmet Salih Guler


  1. Yes that little gold capsule is a mirror, daily offering the unexpected. My perceptive daughter said my first endeavours sounded like pre-war BBC radio. Shock! Horror! Back to the coach!
    But I do admire those classic voices… Alvar Liddell, Bruce Belfrage, Frank Philips. They lived elegance and gravitas, they exuded natural confidence. They became a brand, without ever using the word.
    Of course, as we now know from bootleg recordings, they had a wicked sense of humour. Maybe that’s the subtext that drove their appeal. As actors, everything the mike is willing to reveal to us we can use.

  2. Vicki,
    You brings up an often overlooked facet of voiceover…just what are all those qualities our voices are imbued with? What are the qualities that we take for granted, that we never hear but that are so obvious to others?
    Your question, “Have you ever been listening to some voiceover guy and decided you don’t like him?” prompted an immediate reaction from me, an emphatic “YES”! Why? because they sound like they’re lying, they sound like they’re not invested in what they are saying, or they sound annoying.
    Certainly this subject is about a personal quality that we can control if we are aware of it. I think that’s what separates good acting from bad acting and in many cases good copy and script writing from bad. I am also reminded of the statement (and I don’t know to whom this should be attributed) “as long as you can fake that genuine enthusiasm you’ve got it made”.
    Thanks for a thought-provoking article,
    Mike Forrester

  3. Excellent observation and reminder Vicki!
    I had a similar feeling when a very experienced Casting Director said she associated “spirituality” with my voice! I was shocked because like your demo, none of the reads had anything to do with what she but in reality, I make a great effort to focus on spirituality in my personal life.
    She too was able to identify a quality behind the acting.
    Thanks for sharing!
    Kamran R. Khan
    Trilingual Voice Actor

  4. I truly appreciate your thoughtful comments. I’m a great believer in individuality. So let’s not discount our own unique qualities and what those bring to any voiceover performance!

  5. You always hear “chose the mic that’s best for your voice,” or “you’ll know it’s the right mic because it will sound better than others do.” But what if you really don’t have an ear for those subtleties? Should you order a bunch of different mics and call on an audio engineer to rate them? Just buy the one/s you can afford and hope for the best?

  6. Great insight Vickie. I must admit when I started out in voiceovers I did not consider what the mic was picking up. I pretty much applied for all types and styles of work. Then I started hearing from clients that they liked my personable, guy next door type of voice. Something frankly I hadn’t even considered. Guess how I market myself now?


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