Today, let’s talk about something I’m barely qualified to talk about: your Digital Audio Workstation, or DAW for short.
For those of you who audition & book gigs at remote studios only: a blessing on your house. For the rest of us poor slobs, using a DAW effectively is a critical part of our voiceover business. I don’t know about you, but I didn’t get into the voiceover business to be an audio engineer. However, you need to be able to do some basic stuff with your DAW. Such as…
Create a project with the correct settings. Always ask your clients for their preferred sample rate, bit depth, and if they want mono or stereo audio files. And no, I can’t explain exactly what these things mean. That’s Amanda Rose Smith’s job and she can phrase it exponentially better than I can. More about her royal awesomeness later.
Gain control. That’s a fancy way for saying how loud your recording is before you mess around with it in post. The louder the better, but not too loud. Anything over -3db and your audio starts “clipping”. Clipping is what exactly, I don’t know. My hair is short enough as it is.
Save the audio files in the correct format. Most of the time the clients want WAV or MP3 files, but always ask. What’s the difference? WAV files are bigger. Beyond that, ask Amanda.
Noise gates, compression, mastering, EQ, adding a music bed, etc. See, now my brain hurts.
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Here are some of the more popular DAWs that voice talents use:
Audacity (https://www.audacityteam.org/about/): the gateway drug of DAWs. It’s free, great for beginners, and both Dan Friedman & Amanda Rose Smith regularly teach classes on how to use it.
Adobe Audition (https://www.adobe.com/products/audition.html): I’ve been using this DAW since 2006 when it was Adobe Soundbooth and it’s great. It’s subscription-based but worth every penny, in my opinion. It’s much more dynamic than Audacity but not as complicated as, say, Pro Tools. Speaking of Pro Tools…
Pro Tools (https://www.avid.com/pro-tools): a lot of voice talents use Pro Tools and swear by it. In my experience, it’s way more powerful & complicated than what your typical voice talent needs. If you’re a techno-file and love all the bells & whistles, dive right in. If you’re not, I’d give it a wide berth and stick with a simpler DAW.
Other DAWs I have heard good things about include:
Wanna learn more about how the basics of home recording, signal flow, and mastering? Keep scrolling…
NEWS AND NOTES
Coming to New York City for APAC? I’ve written yet another Survival Guide which tells you everything you need to know about getting the most out of attending the audio book conference as well as the lowdown on parties & workshops. Read it here!
Thursday, May 30th 9am-3pm EST: “The VO Tech Deep Dive and eLearning Extravaganza!” is less than two weeks away and there are still a few seats available. Details below. Tickets are on sale here!
September 13th-15: “VOcation NYC” Click here to register!
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Tom Dheere is a 20+year veteran of the voice over industry who has narrated thousands of projects for hundreds of clients in over a dozen countries. He is also a voiceover business & marketing consultant known as the VOStrategist and produces the comic book “Agent 1.22”. Subscribe to my weekly blog and the monthly VO Strategist Learnin’ Stuff Notice!