Voice Acting

How Do You Amplify Your Voice?

There are many ways to make your voice sound louder whether it be through vocal acrobatics and projection or use of technology.

What’s your favorite way to get loud?
Be sure to comment with your signal chain and projection tips!

Leveraging Your Pipes

In the film “Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves,” two sets of parents shrink to the size of Tom Thumbs and Thumbelinas. During the course of their adventures as pint-sized people, Rick Moranis’ character entertains ways to make their voices return to full size so that they can communicate with the children. When you’re that tiny, you can at least try to sound bigger!
In basic terms where audio is concerned, particularly with voice, the word amplify means to increase the volume of sound or how loud your voice is heard.

Aside from popping yourself into a speaker system, which worked for one of the characters in the film (and I don’t recommend!), you can amplify your voice using natural techniques such as projecting from your diaphragm or relying on technical solutions as such elements of the signal chain.
Typically a microphone serves as the primary element that captures your voice but that’s not the only piece of audio recording equipment or gear you can use let alone software accommodations.

How Do You Amplify Your Voice?

No doubt you do so in many ways and employ different amplification techniques for varying situations. Whatever you do and however you do it, let me know!
Add a comment and join the conversation.
Best wishes,

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  • Avatar for Dan Lenard
    Dan Lenard
    June 30, 2011, 8:32 am

    Understanding modulation and setting proper levels is the key.

  • Avatar for Howard Ellison
    Howard Ellison
    June 30, 2011, 9:41 am

    Coaching required! Moving studio soon, and will get some.
    My voice is most comfortable when relatively quiet. In itself that’s not bad, but it does mean that mouth noises, esses and consonants become comparatively prominent.
    Technically (when appropriate to the read) I choose to use an analogue compressor which has programme-adaptive peak-ride. This means it can follow from word to word, raising the too-quiet bits without creating ‘holes’, and easing up when the going does at last get loud. It also provides de-essing, i.e. stronger reduction of esses only. On narration (using mild compression for natural sound) I use a BBC-type ribbon mike which I find gives more energy, a fullness, in the middle register. Ultimately, I admit, it’s about acting skill.

  • Avatar for Joe J Thomas
    Joe J Thomas
    June 30, 2011, 9:53 am

    Good topic – there are a lot of issues to be addressed…
    First, when recording, I try to keep my levels between -6dB and -3dB.
    Not always possible, but that’s the goal.
    Best to avoid any clipping at all costs.
    Once recorded, I may use a normalize function just to bring it up to -3dB.
    As for my voice, there is no substitute for knowing your instrument.
    Singing and working on a stage are both great ways to learn how to use your diaphragm, lungs, throat and vocal chords. Getting training will help to avoid any potential damage when performing.
    It’s also crucial to produce the right volume with your voice, based on the presented copy.
    You cannot simply amplify a whisper to get it to sound like you’re shouting from 150 yards away. Each delivery requires a different technique. Believe it or not, you can injure yourself just as easily by whispering as by shouting – try it for a four hour session and you’ll see what I mean!
    Finally, your knowledge of the recording equipment and room treatment come into play. When you whisper, how close do you get to the mike? If you shout, how far away? And how much room noise gets picked up?
    Three cents from uncle Joe – cheers!

  • Avatar for John K. Keen
    John K. Keen
    June 30, 2011, 10:23 am

    I’ve made the discovery that many people do not understand the concept of speaking or projecting “from the diaphragm,” in order to amplify their voice. Trying to teach someone exactly how to speak from the diaphragm can be a frustrating endeavor (i.e. I suppose it’s similar to teaching someone how to burp:-)! Nevertheless, a simple exercise I’ve found to be highly effective is to lay down on the floor (on your back) and practice speaking from this position. This horizontal position makes it easier to practice speaking from the diaphragm (or the abdomen), and it also serves to enhance tone, pitch, and intonation for the voice over artist. You may also discover a greater voice range (e.g. sometimes a tenor may realize that he is capable of a bass sound, with some particular scripts). Anyway, the “flat on your back” method is a sure and certain way for most everyone to experience the thrust and greater degree of voice amplification associated with speaking “from the diaphragm.”

  • Avatar for Dan Friedman
    Dan Friedman
    June 30, 2011, 12:39 pm

    Using proper mic technique and setting proper levels while speaking into a clean and noise free signal chain. That is the way to do it. No processing required until post production.
    Dan Friedman

  • Avatar for Thomas Buxton
    Thomas Buxton
    July 5, 2011, 4:19 pm

    Anchoring Breaths!

  • Avatar for Ben
    July 5, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Breathing exercises are a good idea. Also, adding aerobic workouts help strengthen your use of your diaphragm. I amplify using a homemade PA system. I consists of a $30 portable amplifier and some old home stereo speakers that I painted Matte Black so that they are more suitable for stage use.

  • Avatar for Jim Hull
    Jim Hull
    July 5, 2011, 4:20 pm

    Vocal technique.

  • Avatar for Kevin Johnson
    Kevin Johnson
    July 5, 2011, 4:20 pm

    I’m thinking that since I get to use my voice for singing gigs that must be a way of being ahead on some use of this amplification.

  • Avatar for Joseph Loewinsohn
    Joseph Loewinsohn
    July 5, 2011, 4:21 pm

    I was born loud, I actually have to REALLY reign it in for VO work, or I’ll split a mic diaphragm when the script calls for volume, I ALWAYS step back, and go slightly off mic, the booth keeps the sound and it works. But it has definitely been a learning curve.

  • Avatar for Melissa Sargent
    Melissa Sargent
    July 5, 2011, 9:15 pm

    After watching too many people in the past yell rather than speak, which made for a very poor presentation and even loss of a sale for that person. I was determined to not be that kind of presenter/sales rep.
    I did not get professional coaching, but practiced on my own in area’s where I could project my voice in different enviroments until I got it right. Little did I know I was actually projecting from my diaphram until I joined a performance troupe that worked in all kinds of enviroments, open parking lots, theaters, hotel covention centers, etc.
    People were amazed when our audio system would go out that I could continue and be heard, in most cases, without my wireless mic.
    But, I would get a vocal coach, save time, and they can help you learn voice skills that I still do not have,and protect your voice.

  • Avatar for Dan Popp
    Dan Popp
    July 6, 2011, 11:22 am

    The fundamental principle to understand in the effort to make a recorded voice sound “louder” is that the ear perceives loudness by the *average* intensity of a sound; whereas electronic equipment is constrained by *peak* energy.
    If you’ve ever noticed commercials that are really loud despite the fact that the voiceoverist is almost whispering, you’ve encountered this phenomenon. Counterintuitively, yelling louder may make your voice-energy more peaky – higher peak-to-average ratio – and therefore not as “loud” as if you spoke with a more restricted dynamic range.
    When we’re talking about recording, your diaphragm really has nothing to do with it. It’s all about dynamics (loud to soft), and you can speak with greater or lesser dynamics whether breathing properly or improperly.
    Since the early days of recording, devices have been employed to restrict dynamics, therefore allowing a higher average sound level. These things are called compressors and limiters, and AFAIK there is no substitute for what they can do.
    In a competitive environment, I suggest that every recordist become familiar with these basic tools.

  • Avatar for Nick Montague
    Nick Montague
    July 14, 2011, 4:12 pm

    I project from the diaphragm and speak with proper diction that usually adds projection.