Boy making facesWhen you are in the director’s chair, the decision rests with you as to how many takes you produce or how you approach a read.

How many takes are enough?
Do you beat yourself up to get what you perceive to be the “perfect” take?
Guest blogger Jill Tarnoff asks these questions and more as she journeys as a professional voice over artist.
Read what she has to say in today’s VOX Daily and join the conversation with your thoughts!

When Do You Let Go?

By Jill Tarnoff
When do you let it go?
Are you your toughest critic? Have you ever fussed over a line or a word trying to get it to sound just right? Oh, you’re a voice over artist, of course you have. Most of us work alone and with minimum direction. That is fine. Most of us (I hope) do just fine with listening to each take, tweaking the read and producing a recording that pleases the client.

The question is: How do you know when to let it go?
I have had the pleasure of fussing over a recording, sending it to the client for approval but expecting them to want another try and then being told that they loved it. I tell myself to not be such a perfectionist. I listen too closely for errors and miss what is good about the work.
However, I have also felt the dismay of sending a recording I liked and being asked to try again. This makes me put the perfectionist hat back on my head.

Something you liked one day can sound so different a few days later and something you were never happy with can sound better when you come back to it.
๏ Do you rely on instinct?
๏ Do you wait for a take that just feels right?
๏ Do you give yourself a time limit and send the best of the session?
๏ Do you ask a colleague for feedback?
I am so happy when the client approval message arrives in my email. Just as a parent has to eventually let go of their child – a voice artist has to let go of their mp3.

When Do You Let Go?

Looking forward to hearing from you!
Jill and Stephanie
© Boylan


  1. Boy Jill and Stephanie I can really relate to this.
    Generally, depending on the size of the script, I try to supply the client with at least three different takes. I find that they usually appreciate this and go with the one that they like the best, which is not necessarily the take I thought was the best. In other cases, if the job is a bit more involved, I may just send one take and am prepared to hear from the client requesting another take. I just completed a project like this at It was for and English and Spanish read which required me to translate the script. I read the clients direction and gave what I felt was a good read but expected to do a “do over”. Thinking the client would maybe not like the delivery or how it was translated. But they loved it.
    I guess to sum up I am learning to trust my gut. If I think I could have done better I do it again. But at some point, I have to let go of the perfectionist in me otherwise I’ll never finish a job.

  2. Hi, Jill (nice to meet another Jill) and Stephanie,
    This is definitely one of the toughest parts of doing voice-over at home, I think. It is hard to know sometimes when enough is enough, or when it isn’t yet enough. I, too, love to hear when a client has approved what has been sent, and have really liked it! One thing I am learning over time is to let loose more, especially if they want a warm, real feel to the recording.
    I don’t ask others for feedback, usually. I do usually use instinct, more than setting a time limit, and I listen very carefully to different takes (if I am doing more than one take) to decide which I think is the best one. If I can’t decide, I may send in more than one and let the client decide.
    Thanks for your blog, Jill!
    Jill Goldman

  3. Hello Jill & Stephanie,
    Like voice talents…all clients are different!
    Some like 2 or 3 takes, and others just want your BEST. Of course, if the client is listening-in to the session, he/she can direct you to what their favorite style is, and I can just edit and send only their fave take.
    Generally, when working on my own…I’ll send 2 or 3 takes and let the client choose. If I’m not happy with a take, I won’t send it. First, it needs to be technically PERFECT. Secondly, I like to give 2 or 3 different ‘styles’ of the read, after speaking with the client about delivery ‘feel.’
    I’d say my success ratio is about 50-1…so it seems to be working for ME–AND my clients that way.

  4. In an audition , the number of takes I’ll do depends on the amount of time I have and the amount of auditions there are in queue. Sometimes when there are a lot of auditions, it can take hours to prep, record and edit! In some cases the agent will ask for only one good take. Decisions decisions! Sometimes I’ll grind over the slightest nuance which doesn’t seem to help at all and I’ve found in most cases to be a total waste of time.
    There are a number of ways to deliver a line..a word…a feeling. In the end, all you can do is trust your gut (based on what you know, what you’ve learned, who you are, the specs or lack thereof), and then let it go.
    Thanks for listening!
    All The Best,
    Bobbin Beam

  5. This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot too – I’ve just recorded my radio drama voice reel, and it was SO tough letting go of each piece – I’m lucky enough to have a sound engineer as a mate, which was brilliant, but it meant that he gave me time to redo each of the texts several times. I ended up agonising over the tiniest nuance of my delivery and it took hours, by which point my voice was knackered, and I had lost all concept of whether what I was recording was any good or not.
    I think – I hope – it’s all about practice – with enough practice, I’ll eventually have the skill and control over my voice to just bang out (first time) exactly what I can hear in my head.
    Leah Marks
    Bristol, UK

  6. I’ve always tried to trust my instinct. But this is a business. Some discipline is necessary. At today’s fee levels the “luxury” of fussing over the “perfect take” makes no sense. Competition requires quick response. Ironically, often the ‘best take’ is among the first 2 or 3 that I do. So, unless told otherwise, or the length of the material to audition is over a minute or two long, I send three takes. I try to make each different. The first reflects the direction I might get, the second what I think the client “really means” and third, one for me. That one reflects my instinct at work the most.
    To be candid, I’m new at this auditioning relatively blind. The conventional way which I’ve followed for decades—sent by my agent at the request of a casting agent to be among 15-20 people the casting agent thinks would be perfect for the role—is imperfect, but at least one gets lots of feed back. Insincere ‘tho it may be.
    I’ve a lot to learn about winning a better share of gigs in this world-wide market place, when the number of people I’m competing with for a job is ten+ times what I’m used to. No problem with the number of jobs presented everyday. There are so many, I’m learning to pick and choose only those that interest me or I think I can do a killer job on. That results in me actually auditioning 5-7 times on an average day.
    I’m not sure the ratio I’ve achieved is average, however. It’s not acceptable to me. In the conventional world I book between 15 and 20% of my auditions. Counting gigs I get off my demos, the ratio is much better than that. So far in the web world I’m booking less than 1%. And that’s doing some generous rounding up of the numbers.
    My instinct tells me I’m doing something wrong.
    Stephanie and Jill, “Lessons-learned-by-someone-who’s- been-at-this-awhile-and-is-successful-and-these-are-the-reasons-why” would be a seminar or webinar I’d buy a ticket to hear. Excessively lengthy title notwithstanding.
    Mike Hanson

  7. The key when you don’t have a director or producer taking the lead is to have the solid discussion up front with your client as to what they’re looking for, so you don’t get too attached to a delivery before it’s shot down, and you have a really good idea about which take will be your best — for them. Not necessarily your best for you, but it’s what you’re hired for.
    As a voice artist, when there’s either a request for more than one take or I have any second guesses about needing to provide alternates, as others have said, 2-3 is plenty. Any more than that, and your client is going to have a hard time differentiating them without feeling totally overwhelmed (this can backfire and make you a bad vendor instead of a good one!).
    I say this as a voice producer and editor who has, on occasion, received far too many alternates from well-meaning talent. I end up stopping at the first one I find that will work, and not listening to the rest, because, in cases of bigger projects, listening to each one stacks on significant time, which costs me money (and also means it’s costing YOU, the talent, money, too!).
    So a little extra is good…but generally, don’t overdo it. Making sure the client knows that after your first take, you’re available for tweaks, goes a long way to save you both the time!


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