Contributed by Kelley Buttrick, KB Voiceovers
According to sought-after sound guru, George Whittam, “You’ve got to vet a voice actor’s home studio as well as their talent.”
As the go-to guy for all things audio in the voiceover industry, George knows his stuff. For almost 20 years, he has designed, built, tweaked and tuned home studios to give voice actors broadcast quality sound. Through his business, George the Tech, he manages a team of audio experts who trouble shoot, sound check, and advise on home studio construction.
With the pandemic-fueled flood of new voiceover talents boasting “home studios,” producing low-quality sound or operated by a voice actor with no knowledge of their studio tools, voice buyers are struggling with how to vet a home studio before their clients get into a disastrous recording session. The definition of the term “home studio” is as varied as the voices of the actors who claim to have them.
George, founder of George the Tech, shared three methods of vetting today’s home studios.
Quiet on Demand
“Can they produce Quiet on Demand?” should be the first question asked to vet a home studio, George recommends.
Being able to provide a sound environment without no outside noise interfering with the session is vital. If a voice actor has nice isolation booth, a custom built or designed studio, or even lives in a quiet rural area, they should be able to produce Quiet on Demand.
“Quiet on Demand is expensive,” George said. “Being able to provide that separates the pros from those who are just kicking the tires in voiceover or haven’t made the investment in a professional home studio. Quiet on Demand is essential”
Tools & Space
“It’s more than simply knowing how to turn up their gain, but you’d be surprised at the number of voice actors who don’t even know how to do that,” George said. “They need to know how to operate their equipment and produce great quality sound in their environment, being capable of moving on and off mic depending on the physicality required in the script.”
Expensive gear is nice to have, but the voice actor must know how to best use and control it according to their specific voice and room. The room itself must allow for the voiceover talent to move their body and still produce broadcast-quality sound. Many experienced, pro voice actors have hired specialists like George to tune their rooms.
George suggests those who book voice talent should have that talent record a sample of the script and possibly several samples at different proximities to the mic.
“You’ve got to make sure the talent has a solid internet connection, which in this day and age, should be a piece of cake,” George said. “But, it is not always solid, even in major urban centers.”
Zoom VO recording sessions are happening more and more, and the voice actor’s internet has to be able to accommodate that along with a Source Connect connection and possibly their online recording software. While a wired connection is the gold standard, Wifi is workable if the voiceover talent knows what they’re doing.
During our chat, George came up with a great idea for anyone wanting to vet a voice actor’s home studio. He suggests creating a survey to send before the session with questions like:
- Can you produce Quiet on Demand?
- What equipment are you using?
- How long have you used your equipment?
- Do you know how to adjust gain?
- Do you know how to trouble shoot your equipment?
- Do you have a paid version of Source Connect?
- Does your space allow for working different differences from the mic?
- Do you have wired internet or do you use WiFi?
- If you use WiFi, what are your up and down speeds?
Over the years he’s been in business, George has worked with industry icons like Don LaFontaine, Bill Ratner, Melissa Disney and countless others. He and his team at George the Tech offer many services including vetting a talent’s home studio should the voice buyer not have the time or expertise to do it themselves.
When he’s not out making someone sound great, he’s biking or volunteering to help others with their bikes. He also enjoys mountain biking with just a coaster brake.
He co-hosts the Voice Over Body Shop live webcast and a podcast for audio geeks, The Pro Audio Suite.
For more information about George the Tech, please visit his website at georgethe.tech where you can find the services he provides along with free resources. You can also find George on social media under @George the Tech.
Contributor: Kelley Buttrick, KB Voiceovers, is an award winning female voice talent specializing in commercial, corporate, documentary / docuseries, promo and more. Clients include: Amazon, L’Oreal, Michelin, Yamaha and countless others. To keep her former journalist skills sharp, she enjoys volunteering to create content for ProductionHUB.