Finding Your VO Sweet Spot
Apr 15 2023
No two voice actors – nor their studios, are the same. Everyone has their own sweet spot.
“One size fits all.” Nice adage. While it’s technically true that an article of clothes could fit everyone, you probably won’t look your best.
Same with your mic. “Stand 6 inches from the mic.” Nice adage. While it’s technically true you could stand that distance, you probably won’t sound your best.
The fact is that the variables between each individual and their gear and studio make it impossible to provide a real “be-all-end-all” answer to “how to sound your best.”
In order to record your optimal sound, you will need to do some careful exploring and experimenting to find your unique sweet spot.
Sound overwhelming? Let’s make things a bit clearer by breaking up finding your sweet spot into 3 elements: voice variables, mic variables, and space variables.
——- This article is brought to you by Edge Studio’s Audition Prep Program. Learn more details here! ——–
- Voice Variables
Your voice sounds different from all others, and leaves your mouth differently. Some voice actors are sibilant, some are more prone to popping. Each has their own volume, tone, pitch range, accent. Some people use more body language than others, which affects vocal delivery. Have you defined the nature of your voice?
It all begins with understanding every nuance of your own voice. That’s right, every single one. This self-knowledge is so very crucial to helping you attune it properly to your equipment and your space.
2. Mic Variables
Every mic is different, and will pick up your voice differently depending on your orientation. We’re talking mic style (dynamic vs. condenser, large vs. small diaphragm, etc.), mic model, and even different versions of the same model. Have you studied and experimented with your mic?
For example: all microphones are designed with a specific polar (or pick-up) pattern. They all have different shapes, SPLs, frequency curves. Some microphones are more “giving” than others (that is, consistency is key. On less-giving mics, your voice’s input will be all over the place).
Don’t overlook the details: understanding the specs of your mic opens up your capabilities and knowledge of voice over as a whole.
3. Space Variables
No two booths are the same. The construction, the contents, the acoustic treatment, the size, all of these things create variation from one voice actor to the next. Every room has one spot that simply sounds best. Have you found yours?
Even variables such as whether you stand or sit have a major impact on your sound.
So, what do you do now?
Now that you’ve considered all of these variables, take 10 minutes to find your sweet spot. It’s easy … and you should do this every time you change your mic, or acoustic treatment, or use a new vocal style:
- Start recording.
- Move around your space and, from different positions, say out loud your orientation to the mic. (i.e. “Now I am 6 inches to the left corner of the mic. And now I am 8 in front of the mic. And now I am…”)
- Try several different vocal deliveries, making sure to also test various pitch and volume levels. These will change from job to job, after all!
- Then, listen back. This will help clarify the best placement for you and your microphone in your space. If you’re not sure what to listen for, ask us!
Of course, the final variable in all of this comes with the work itself. Are you doing a big character voice? A calm meditation guide? Luckily for you, if you already know your sweet spot, adjusting as needed becomes much less of a chore.
Remember: the devil is in the details. A vigilant voice actor makes for a working voice actor. And most importantly: don’t forget to have fun!
What did you discover about your sweet spot from this test? Did you try other tests/tactics to find it? We’d love to hear about it. Send your thoughts to [email protected].
For more in-depth and detailed information about microphones, studio setup, and recording tips, we encourage you to look into our Home Studio 101 class, which you can learn more about here.
We’re always happy to help. Reach out to [email protected] with any questions.