Biggest Mistakes in VO Part 6: The Crappy Home Studio

Now that we’re all getting ready to have a fantastic 2013 (aka The Most Kick-Ass Year Yet!), let’s take a look at such an easily preventable “biggest mistake in voice over”:  the crappy home studio.

Over the years, I have culled through thousands of your auditions helping out with castings from time to time.  The reads from a low quality studio always make me thump my hand against my head and wonder why the person wouldn’t make their studio sound much better given all the tools and resources available to do so.  Not only are the crappy studio auditions not getting submitted for the job, crappy quality auditions aren’t making it past your agent’s inbox.  Send too many crappy quality auditions, and your agent will stop asking you to read on auditions.  Yikes!

The two most egregious home studio sins are:  1.  The Crappy Mic  2.  The Crappy Room Tone.

1.  The Crappy Mic

Mics are not that expensive these days.  You can get some fantastic mics in the $80-$250 range.  If you can get to a bricks and mortar store like Guitar Center to test out mics, that is the best way to do it.  There are thousands of online forums and reviews where people discuss the best mics, and I’m no expert on equipment, but I can tell you that the AT2020 USB mic is what I use when I’m traveling, so I know it to be a high quality mic for the price.  Also invest in a pop filter (the tube sock over the mic will work in a pinch, but it can mute the sound a little too much).  And if you’re still popping p’s, watch your placement on the mic, or get ready to do some heavy duty editing of your auditions.

2.  The Crappy Room Tone

I am shocked at how many people do absolutely nothing to deaden their room tone.  Crappy room tone can make you sound like you’re in a windstorm or at the very bottom of a tin can.  Either way, this needs to be troubleshooted immediately.  Other crappy room sounds:  your chair squeaking, computer fan whirring, a leaf blower in the back ground, trucks passing, etc.  You must listen back to your auditions and redo if you have any of these ambient noises in the background.  And while you’re at it, how about silencing those off-putting mouth noises, popping p’s, and giant, gaspy breaths?  Yeah, I’m getting bossy about this stuff, but a professional goes the extra mile to take care of the details.

I’d rather you not send auditions until sound quality is fixed than send something out that’s low quality.  Clients do NOT want to hear auditions from a crappy studio.  Period.  The more crappy auditions they hear, the crankier they get, and no one wants a cranky buyer.  Make yourself sound the best you can, and you will stand out from the herd.  And isn’t that what we want in 2013?

Anna Vocino

PS: George Whittam is a fantastic home studio consultant if you need outside help: (NOT an affiliate link, this guy comes highly recommended to me so that’s why I’m posting it).