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What Is Source Connect? ipDTL? Do I Need IT?

So you want to work from home as a voice actor and need to learn more about this thing you’ve been hearing about called Source Connect. However, you have questions. What is Source Connect? Do I need it? When do I need it? How does it work? Is it worth the investment? Source Connect, and similar applications such as ipDTL, allow you to connect to other studios so you can be heard and recorded (on the studio’s side) in high fidelity; full, beautiful, glorious audio quality.

First, however, a little history. If you’re new to the business, you may not realize, we’ve been connecting remotely to other studios for over 20 years through ISDN.

ISDN required pairs of phone lines that transmitted digital data. On each end of those lines was a CODEC (coder/decoder or compressor/decompressor) which is akin to the audio interfaces that we use today to connect our microphones and preamps to our computers. These interfaces take our analog signal and turn it (or convert it) into digital and then from digital back to analog so we can listen back to our audio.

CODECS were expensive and the dedicated ISDN phone lines themselves required monthly fees. This technology, while still available in some places, has become so cost prohibitive or unavailable that it doesn’t make much sense for voice actors to pay those high fees, if they can get ISDN at all. Several years ago, the writing was on the wall. ISDN was getting too expensive and was on its way out. We needed a digital solution for our new way of working.

Along came Source Connect as well as other platforms such as ipDTL (another very popular connectivity application among voice actors.) These platforms allow us to connect to remote studios over the internet with high digital quality and (ideally) with very little delay, or latency. The audio quality is as good as being in the same room and digitally recording live in the studio. The studio on the other end of the connection does the recording, so you, as the talent, only need to focus on your delivery. NICE!

You can read all about these platforms at their respective websites and the tech support has, in my experience, been quite good. Typically they work as stand alone applications and you can still record yourself on your DAW running in the background. Which … is a good idea in case you do lose your connection. As you might expect, a fast and solid connection on both sides is required to help reduce the possibility of lost or poor connections. Also, your studio environment and your equipment will have to meet the highest standards of sound quality as there will be no way to hide imperfections. The remote studio will hear everything.

Prior to your first session with a new studio, there is a little bit of work to do on the front end, such as adding connections/contacts, but once you’ve gone through the process a few times, it all becomes very easy and straightforward.

So, now that we’ve answered the question “What is Source Connect?”, here’s the big question … as a new voice talent, do you need it? Probably not immediately, and a lot of it depends on the kind of work you are taking on. If you are more interested in doing audio books, then most of the recording you will be doing will be on your end. It’s not often you’ll be connecting with other studios. If you are doing commercial work, promos, or other fast-moving formats where studios may need their audio “like … yesterday,” then it may be more of a necessity.

Unless you are or have been actively working with other studios, are auditioning for jobs that specifically request Source Connect (or the other platforms) or are specifically being asked to connect remotely, you probably don’t need to invest in these platforms just yet. That being said, it never hurts to be prepared and one voiceover job could easily cover the cost. As the saying goes, “dress for the job you want, not the one you have.” Bottom line, the type of work you do (or wish to do) and with who you do it should inform the decision.

If you ever have any questions about Source Connect, ipDTL, or any other home studio needs, feel free to schedule a Home Studio Consultation with me through Edge. I would be happy to work with you, and help get your recording space in the best working order possible, as well as answer any questions along the lines of “What is Source Connect?”. No matter how rudimentary it may seem to you, I and the staff at Edge are ready to help.