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Figure it Out: Becoming Voice Over

In January 2022, when I started my foray into VO, I had five problems:

1) I did not know what equipment I needed.

2) I did not know how to set any of it up.

3) I did not know any professionals working in the VO world to ask.

4) Equipment is expensive.

5) I wasn't sure if VO was really something I wanted to do, I was exploring.

Full disclosure: I was pretty sure I would like VO because I did have a paid VO gig once, but for that we need to go back 30 years. Back then, I created and produced a radio series for The West Central Minnesota (MN) Initiative fund - I also did the voice over. That series played over local stations in MN as well as on MN Public Radio. Oddly, I never thought of that as voice over until recently. In my mind I was just the voice on the series.

But that was then, this is now. Everything is different from the recording and editing equipment to the tone, pace, and pitch of the voice, and of course where you record - professional studio versus home studio. I could see people in my classes attending from their home studios, and there was everything from sound booths to people sitting in the middle of a bunch of pillows with a blanket surrounding them to people sitting on a couch with their cat. There were really nice mics, and mics you could barely hear. There was distracting noise from some. There was great sound and there was terrible sound.

I was so overwhelmed with what I didn’t know, I didn’t even know what questions to ask. And though I was taking a class, it was online. It's not as though there was a chance to hang out and talk with other students outside of class. Get to know them. Ask them questions.

I turned to a good friend, Greg Hill, who owned a business called AV Genius. Greg worked with sound systems for over 30 years. He even built an amazing home studio in his own home to record music. AV Genius specialized in church sound systems - worship music, mixing, single voice compression, etc. The problem was, well, me. I didn’t know what I wanted or needed, and I sort of tied Greg's hands for what he could suggest by giving an extremely limited budget. Greg suggested a Shure MV7 microphone (about $250) as my first piece of equipment. This is a dynamic microphone with both USB and XLR outputs. When I got my Shure MV7, and plugged it into my computer via the USB cord, I knew I didn’t like the sound. So I went back to Greg, who suggested an XLR cable and interface. (I never asked, but I am fairly sure he knew this was going to happen. His suggestion allowed me to switch).

The Shure M7 has served me well, but as I've figured out more about specific kinds of VO, as with most VO people, I now own more than one microphone. But microphones will be their own blog post.

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