Thursday, October 01, 2009

Do You Hear What I Hear?

I don’t mean the Christmas carol or how some rejected American Idol contestants think they can sing when we agree with Simon Cowell that they can’t. I’m talking about audio file quality.

This week I lost a VO job I’d already booked because the client wasn’t happy with the quality of the test audio file I sent. Ouch. He and his client liked my voice and my interpretation of the copy, but the sound of my MP3 didn’t match up to that of the male talent.

Fortunately the sting of that news was alleviated the same day by another client. They said they were so pleased with a PowerPoint narration I’d done that they want me to be the voice for their entire product line! So they didn't hear problems in any of the 35 files I sent. And I have other clients who accept files without even asking for revisions. Maybe different clients have different technical standards. Maybe the test file was an anomaly (I offered to send another)? Or is my ear not good enough to hear issues if they occur?

The client suggested I get better monitors and recording the tune of around $199/pair for the speakers and several hundred more depending on the software (not to mention the learning curve). Or I might benefit from a new preamp and/or a microphone. Because if there is a problem, it could be any one of these things. Or it could even be how the equipment interacts with my PC. Meaning maybe I'll need a Mac.

Because I’m not sure there is a global problem, or if there is, which component of my setup is at fault, I don’t know if one change would resolve any issue, and if so, which change I should make.

I do not have patience with the trial and error method of figuring things like this out. I haven't found an "audio engineering for VO talent" class. I have asked a couple of VO talents I know to create one, so far to no avail. I may have take a general class, though from what I can tell they focus on music/band recording, not voice, and cover equipment and technical topics I don't need to know about. There are all kinds of tutorials and Wikis/discussion forums on the Web, but most tutorials move too slowly or don’t cover what I want to know, and with Wikis/forums it can be hard to find the answers to the specific questions I have.

So my first step is asking a VO/audio engineer I know to test my system, then have him help decide if I need to buy anything, and if so, help install and make sure I know how to use it.

Who said you have to spend money to make money?

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