Quality is Key

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with content creation (3 helpful tips)

If the work you do has a target in the world of audio engineering or production, this one is for you.


In the era of social networks, it is drilled into us that we must become content creators on some level. Demo videos, tutorials, product hype and launch videos. We are pushed to spend more and more time creating content, because the algorithms reward consistency and quantity over quality

Let that sink in for a moment. You cannot (at least without some seriously scary AI) quantify quality delivery. Resolution, sure. Clarity, okay. But your sound can be clearly horrible in high definition.

The target isn’t to sound perfect. The point is to sound professional.

While being a perfectionist can be a death knell for content creation, there is also a threshold at which you sacrifice too much quality.

As an example. I budget very carefully as regards my software, equipment, training, etc. Every Euro is counted and I do a tremendous amount of research before I spend anything. These are investments in the long term after all. In addition to voice over, I produce music. To aid me in that pursuit I am always on the look out for quality plugins and other tools which can make what I do more efficient. A few months ago, I decided to invest a few Euro in a midi library that I determined would save me significant time, which it has.

The creator of this library spends a lot of time on email marketing and creating videos to show off their latest products in hopes of getting more of my hard earned money. However, I can’t make it through enough of one of their videos to decide of I want to invest further in their products because they quality of their videos is so low. Voice recording is filled with low frequency thumps every time they click on their mousepad. They stammer and stutter their way through their demo videos with so many word whiskers it’s distracting. (Word whiskers are things like “um“, “uh“, unnecessary uses of “like“, “so then you“, “you take and you“)

While being a perfectionist can be a death knell for content creation, there is also a threshold at which you sacrifice too much quality.

If you want to use video as a marketing tool, and your intended target is people in audio then the quality of sound in your video is arguably far more critical than the video content.

Again, perfection isn’t necessary. I have watched great tutorials by young folk working in their untreated garage who provide clear, concise, quality sound in their videos. So it doesn’t take insane sound treatment or expensive hardware to do a good job of providing clean sound to your video.

How can you address this? I have three quick tips for you:


  1. Have a script. It doesn’t have to be word for word, but at least an outline so you know what you are going to say BEFORE you say it. This will also come in handy for tip 3.

  2. Listen to your own recording using what your target audience is most likely to use. Speakers, Headphones, Car stereo, Home entertainment system. Listen back on more than one if you really want to be sure.

  3. If necessary, re-record your voice (ADR) and replace the originally recorded dialogue made at your desk while clicking and typing with clear audio. This can also give the chance to remove those pesky word whiskers mentioned earlier.

You cannot quantify quality delivery

Bonus tip (Pay a VO artist to do the dialogue for you, many of us can provide sound engineering as a service as well)

The target isn’t to sound perfect. The point is to sound professional. If you can’t even put enough effort into your own personal content to come across clear and authoritative on the subject, what trust should I have in your product to provide me what I need.

Don’t shoot yourself in the foot with your content creation. What you make is part of your identity, part of your brand. Even if you have a good product, I am not likely to give you my money if you come across unprofessional in your delivery. There are lots of us out here in the global audioverse who would love to help. Please let us help you! It might even get me to spend some of my precious income on your product.


-Let’s Talk

Quality is Key

  • Quality consumers deserve quality content
  • Show your strength
  • Honor their time
  • Not being perfectionist doesn’t mean be sloppy

Please Prevent Plosives

Please Prevent Plosives

Back at it again with a post on Audio Engineering.


Plosives, let’s talk about what they are, the importance of preventing them, and perhaps more importantly how to address them when they occur.

Plosives pose particular problems for the listener. 


Plosives are a speech sound that occur when a blast of air leaves your mouth. Think of it like a shockwave of an explosion. Get it, ex-PLO-sion, PLO-sive. Most commonly these occur when you say a B, P, or T sound. D, F, and W less commonly, but can also create this issue depending on your particular pronounciation and how loud you are speaking.


At it’s simplest (not addressing Dynamic, Condenser, or other physical microphone configurations) microphones have a very sensitive diaphragm which picks up the vibrations created by your vocal chords. As your vocal chords move, they cause vibrations in the air exiting your mouth and nose, those vibrations are movements of air. The air movements are felt by the diaphragm of the microphone and magic happens inside which turns it into the sounds you hear coming out of the speakers.


A plosive occurs when the shockwave of your breath overpowers and overrides the gentler sound vibrations. It’s pretty easy to see in the waveform of an audio recording. Looks basically like this:



The exact shape may vary slightly, but can be easily picked out along the wave form.


Any time you have one of these, even though the volume may not be all that loud, it makes the speakers do the same movement. A big movement of the speaker, translating to a big movement of air, which results in a pressure wave hitting your ear drums that is not particularly comfortable no matter how low the volume.


This leads us to the importance of avoiding plosives in your recording. If you’ve ever been at a concert where there is a really heavy bass sound and you get the sensation that your chest is pounding in rhythm with the music this is a good example of the effect a plosive has on your ear drum. It isn’t perceived as a sound so much as a sensation of your ear drum being poked. As you can imagine, this isn’t pleasant. Imagine the sensation of someone tapping your head repeatedly. Now imagine instead of tapping on you head, they are tapping on your brain. Repeated plosives will feel about how your imagine that to be. Not great is it? So avoiding plosives through microphone placement, vocal techniques and the like is crucial to creating a pleasant sound.


In a particularly energetic performance plosives can get even the best of us. Have no fear however, it is possible to address the issue after the fact. Here is where working with someone who understands how to interpret wave form, how to balance tonal qualities, and how to do a bit of mastering can make the difference between a good recording and an annoying one.


Like many of you, I often search for tutorials online. For cooking, music creation, how to clip a cats claws, you name it. Sometimes I will find a really informative video but it is laden with plosives and I just can’t listen through the whole thing. We all love boomy voices like James Earl Jones or Morgan freeman. They can be soothing and inspiring. However, that same silky smooth voice can turn grating or fatiguing if it isn’t properly balanced or contains loads of plosives.


Now imagine instead of tapping on you head, they are tapping on your brain.


Do yourself a favor and reach out to experienced audio talent. Sometimes it’s as simple as adjusting how you use the microphone. If you already have the audio and don’t want to re-record ask for help in editing out the harshest moments of the plosives. Good audio vs great audio may not be so perceptible on some media, and perhaps it doesn’t affect your view count too significantly, but the difference between good and bad can have a catastrophic effect on retention of your viewership.


Friends don’t let friends leave plosives in their audio.


Need help and not sure where to turn?


-Let’s Talk

“The difference between good and bad can have a catastrophic effect on retention of your viewership.”


The Importance of Accents in Communication

Think about not just what you want to say, consider also who you want to reach

  Accents add beautiful variety to our communication. Whether the accent is from another part of our own country or from somewhere on the other side of the planet.

  Accents let us identify where we are from, even if we speak the same language with one another. Accents can also carry with them a certain influence on the recipient. Both good and bad.

Accents add beautiful variety

  If you’ve never done so, try watching a movie in another language. For most American English speakers there are certain accents that seem to be frequently associated with certain characters in the movies.


  • The chef? Nearly always French
  • The scientist? German
  • The gentleman? British
  • The domestic bad guy? New York/New Jersey
  • The foreign bad guy’s accent has changed over the years, generally based on which part of the world the US is currently having stressful relations with. British, German, Russian or other vaguely eastern European, or vaguely middle eastern.

  What’s interesting is that these “standards” of accents don’t always carry over for other languages. Some for obvious reasons. Other times though it just makes more sense to change it to a different reference.

  As an example. In the English version of The Little Mermaid, the chef is French. However, if you watch the film in French, the Chef (while still singing in French of course) is Italian. Why, you ask? If everyone else is already French in the film, having a French chef doesn’t provide much change or any comedy to the delivery. Imagine if Chef Louis just sang with a regular American English accent it wouldn’t really provide much for the film.

  While accent variety can and does add flavor to creative media, this isn’t necessarily something you want in all circumstances.

It is for reasons like this that languages like Arabic, Chinese, English, and other major buisness languages have a “standard”, “common” or “simplified” version.

  More specifically, in the professional setting, choosing when to use which accent can influence the perceived professional quality of your services. A prime example is what are called Anglicisms which are English words which have been adopted into local language use rather than translated. If you happen to be able to speak both languages, in my case English and French, this can be a particularly difficult subject. If you say the English word in a French sentence, but with an English or American accent, it’s no longer an Anglicism, it is now a foreign word and may not be understood. Say the EXACT SAME WORD but with a French accent and it is now a recognized and understood word in French.

  So if you are working with a local team and conversing in a local language or everyone is using a chosen lingua franca, it can be detrimental to try to use the “root” accent of a particular word rather than the local common pronounciation, or accent.

  Conversely, if you are in international business and have recorded learning programs, phone systems, or other audiovisual presentations where the observers will come from a diverse group, it is important to choose the most neutral accent/pronounciation possible which grants you the widest possible comprehension. It is for reasons like this that languages like Arabic, Chinese, English, and other major buisness languages have a “standard”, “common” or “simplified” version.

  While I am aware of and have learned from colleagues about “standard” dialects for these and other languages, I can really only speak authoritatively on English, so that is where I will maintain focus. There are a plethora of English accents. In England alone there are more accents and dialects than I can count. Expand that to the UK and the numbers grow rapidly. Heading over the ocean to the United States and again you are met with many regional accents or dialects. In the world of public media, (reading, films and television) one accent reigns supreme. Not because of quality, or eloquence, but because of saturation. Due to the sheer quantity of media produced within very localized parts of the United States, it has resulted in what is referred to as the “General American” accent. Which is humorous because it is neither standard, nor common in the US. But when you watch an American TV program or movie, or listen to a widely distributed radio program in the US, it is the accent you “generally” hear.

  What does this mean for corporations looking to enhance their audiovisual media? If your target consumer of the media is local, then use the most widely understood local accent. If your target consumer is broader and even international in nature, find the general accent, even if it means it isn’t yours. In the case of English speaking peoples around the world, to maximize the number of people who will understand what is being said, you should aim for a “General American” accent. Even if you’re in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, or any number of other countries where English is a primary language of commerce and education.

  This isn’t because American English is better. As an American English speaker, I prefer just about any accent other than American for interpersonal conversation. However, in the professional setting, if you have a group of people from Ireland, South Africa, Australia, France, India, Nigeria, Sweden, and Scotland (yes, I’ve sat in meetings like this) you will find that the one speaking with a general American accent will be most clearly understood by the largest number of people. Again, this is just because of saturation of this accent in the media. It is the sound of English, outside their local accent, that most people in the world hear.

  The summary point of all of this is to say, just as important as matching the appropriate level of vocabulary to your intended audience, so is the accent in which the material is prepared. Think about not just what you want to say, consider also who you want to reach with your message.

-Let’s Talk



Why not 

  • It’s just not real
  • Can never truly mimic empathy
  • Could be supporting dishonest systems
  • You get what you pay for

Why hire a VO Artist?

“They have digital services for that”

Yes, it’s true. You can just use modern text-to-speech offerings to create your voiceover. And some of them can be pretty convincing. Not to mention the cost savings over hiring a real life person to do the work.

So why hire VO artist instead when a computer can do it just as easily for far less? In short, because they can’t.

To begin with, no matter how realistic a digital voice service is, there’s still no life behind it. While technology continues to develop more and more realistic sounding AI, artificial intelligence isn’t artificial life.  Try running your copy through different offerings. Even if you spend considerable time (and don’t forget that time is money, especially your own time) adjusting the intonation and other parameters of the digital voice, it will still occasionally offer you odd pacing or emphasis.

A real person can take your copy and give it life. VO artists are there to breath emotion and meaning into your work. We may even offer a fresh take on your copy that gives it an extra kick you wouldn’t have thought of on your own. We think about the material and the message you want to deliver. We’re calling to action for you, engaging your customers, clients, or students on your behalf. What you say matters and you want it to be impactful. A good relationship with your voice talent can bring empathy and a emotional delivery that you just can’t replicate through digital means.

Then there’s the fact that some of those digital voice platforms are using sampled voices which may have been acquired through nefarious means. That isn’t to say all these services are dishonest or that there is no place for them. Certainly they can provide a cheap alternative for those who have no other means, and may be completely above board. However, unless you’ve fully vetted the service (and I don’t mean just taken one person’s word for it) you could be contributing to a dishonest system.

Lastly, you get what you pay for. With a VO talent, you are gaining a partner in your project. Someone who can offer feedback, ad lib a little where it makes sense to give you an extra perspective. The same is true when you do hire a VO talent. The costs should be roughly in line with the major market. Perhaps they have less overhead or have gained some optimization which gives them some room to save you money. If you find someone way outside the range on the low side, you will likely have a lesser quality recording. If they are way outside on the high end, they may not be the right voice talent for your project. Just as there is the “right” voice for every job, there is the “right” job for every voice. Some of us really shine in commercials. Others in narration or audiobooks. Still others as character voices.

Find the right artist for your project. It’s worth the time, and it’s worth the cost to do it right.

-Let’s Talk