Female voice over talent behind microphoneIf you had the chance to shape the future of how audio recording engineers worked with voice over professionals, would you take advantage of it?

What if you were to receive that opportunity today?
Make a difference in your future and in the futures of countless voice over professionals and audio recording engineers by commenting now!

A New Line of Communication Opening Up

I have an opportunity to speak before a class at OIART (Ontario Institute of Audio Recording Technology) and was wondering if you had any tips or insights you’d like to share with them via my presentation.
Part of my lecture will address working with voice over professionals in the context of a recording session.

What Does an Ideal Studio Session Look Like to You?

By sharing your thoughts as comments on this article, we’ll be able to set the stage for how present and future audio engineers interact with voice over talent.
You may not realize it but the recording engineer can be your greatest ally in the booth. In the absence of a voice director the audio engineer is responsible for leading you through a session and ensuring that the best performance possible is achieved.
When things go well, working together can be a satisfying experience for both the engineer and talent.

On the flip side, sessions can be excruciating if you and the engineer do not see eye to eye or are unaware of what your expectations are of each other. We covered this a bit last month when I published some audio recording engineer pet peeves.

Opportunity Knocking!

This is your opportunity to help shape the minds of the next generation of people you’ll be working with in recording studio sessions.
Do you have anything you’d like these people to know, be sensitive to (or think that they’d find useful) about working with voice talent BEFORE they start their careers?
Looking forward to hearing from you,
Best wishes,
©iStockphoto.com/Wolfgang Amri


  1. I think future audio engineers should know two things:
    1) Set the audio levels and the placement of the mic BEFORE the recording session. To do that during the session is a big NO NO and may cause the VO talent to loose concentration.
    2) They should not give feedback on VO talent’s performance unless there is no director or the have enough experience working in the voice-over industry.

  2. I agree with your second point, but the engineer can only approximate the placement and levels until the talent gets there. Making adjustments is part of their job. It should be possible to do that with out disturbing the talent.

  3. Having been on both sides of the glass, everyone needs to remember to stay positive and pleasant while committing to the task at hand. The project and the relationships it spawns can only benefit.

  4. Here’s a technical issue I’ve experienced that can come back to bite you after the session and force you have to bring the talent back in to re-do everything…. Turn OFF your phones… and get all the producers and talent on both sides of the glass to do the same… don’t just put them on mute, turn them OFF. The pulses they send out when they’re on will sometimes show up as ‘noise’ in the mix, even though you don’t hear it while you’re working.

  5. I certainly agree that everyone needs to turn off their cell phones. However, I have been working as a voice talent for years, and I *know* I have to turn off my phone, no need to tell me. Recently, I had a relatively green engineer recording me, and I felt offended by him very formally telling me to turn off my phone (which was, of course, already off), as if I was the green one.
    Furthermore, Pablo, I agree with you: no feedback needed, unless there is no director present or the engineer has enough experience. In these cases, feedback can be very valuable indeed.
    Finally, yes, I know I should eat enough before the session, so as to avoid stomach rumblings. However, when there’s a 3-4 hour session, the food eventually evaporates, and regretfully, a dread stomach rumble may occur. I once had an engineer play back a stomach rumble at full volume for the client to hear, and it was humiliating. I’m not sure why he did this. Possibly he found it amusing. While I’m happy to joke around, the client’s presence made it embarrassing.
    Now, with that off my chest, let me say that a good audio engineer who greets me with a smile and a “How are you doing?” and treats me with respect makes all the difference to me. With a good, friendly engineer, I feel I can do my best work and finish the session tired, but relaxed and happy. The engineer makes a difference!

  6. I echo what Sean said. I, too, spend time on both sides of the glass. So an encouraging attitude contributes a ton to the state of mind of the VO artist. I would also suggest budding engineers take a beginning VO class…not that they might want to pursue that profession, but so they know what it’s like to walk a mile in those shoes.

  7. I’m not sure what courses the audio engineers take but I would suggest that they take a training course for voice talking and as part of the course two engineers team up with one running the recording session and the other doing the voicing and then change roles.
    As a voice actress I’ve asked various times if I can sit with the director and engineer while another voice actor is recording. I’ve only asked this of directors I’ve previously worked with. They know that I have a home studio and that I’m interested in learning more about production.
    Another point is that we all need to be aware of business ethics.
    I would also like to encourage more women to go into audio engineering.

  8. I’ve loved it when an a/e shares helpful tips with me– once, I had a lot of mouth clicking going on, and the a/e offered to get me an apple, which he brought me cut up in slices for easy eating! It was so sweet of him– for so many reasons! At that time I didn’t know that eating an apple (or drinking apple juice) was a good antidote for mouth clicking, but I learned it that day!
    Debbie Irwin

  9. Victoria: right on with the friendliness thing! Nothing like an engineer with a good attitude! It gets the session off to a good start. Most of my engineers have been on the other side of an isdn feed. They are generally a buddy! Sometimes in a take they are able to hear things that a client will miss and we can record a correct take right there…rather than have the client hear the error later in production which would require a retake session. This activity impresses the client to know we wanted to make things right, right there. The input of a good engineer is always welcome, by both client and me! Just this past week an engineer called me about a session the previous day. There was some audio slapback on playback that no one heard on recording. Could he get a complete re read from me and can we do it without the clients involvement? No problem, I replied. Goin the extra mile is remembered by everyone I work with and hopefully means they will remember that the next time the client/engineer needs a voice person.
    larry wayne

  10. I’m thinking of several times in session (this has been with the client and/or director present) when the engineer and I have made eye contact. Eye contact that means, “You’re doing great, this job takes patience and professionalism. We are both good at what we do. Keep up the good work.” That has meant a lot to me, and not one word was spoken.
    Positivism is the rule of thumb. One of my favorite engineers (without a client and/or director present) says, at the end of the read, “That was beautiful. Now that you’re warmed up, how about reading the first paragraph again?” Instead of picking apart the first paragraph or page of my read, he lets me go through my process to get comfortable. He knows how to bring out the best, by trusting in me.

  11. Hi, Stephanie … sorry I missed you at the NYC mixer.
    Here’s my biggest engineer pet peeve: after you’ve already set me up in the booth and I’ve got my headphones on, please do not make audio fly loudly all across my head. You can always record flat and apply whatever effects or EQ you need later on. Do not make me keep repeating lines over and over until you get it right; my best take is always the first (at most, the second), and you just wasted it!
    Thanks for letting me get that off my chest, as it were.


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