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How to make your voice sound better

One way to make your voice sound better is with an understanding of audio post production. We have video tutorials on how to fix common voice over issues and other helpful post production tips.

Since 2020, Voice123’s Customer Success team has been able to resolve over 200 individual audio recording quality queries from voice actors by troubleshooting their issues and addressing their concerns. We’ve noticed a couple of common and frequently recurring issues, so our goal here is to draw them into open conversation. 

With the help of audio engineer Jairo Pineda, we’ll be covering audio production as well as providing post production tips and tricks.

Jairo PinedaPost Producer, Musician & Audio Engineer

Work experience: Spotify, Pandora, Netflix, Publix, Disney.
Specializes in: audio restoration, radio tag mixing, post-production for TV and cinema, music production, Binaural 3D sound.

We’ll be covering a variety of topics below, accompanied by video tutorials from our “How to edit voice overs” series.

Before diving in, please allow us to stress:

  1. This is not a one-size-fits-all industry. Not all voices benefit from the same processes. You may find some recording techniques more useful than others, and some audio post workflows that will suit you better than they will someone else.
  2. It’s about the processes, not the tools. Understanding the concepts behind the purpose of why you’re doing something is far more beneficial than the ‘how’. Whether you’re using Audacity, Ableton, Pro Tools, Audition, Reaper, or even GarageBand, the tools are only as good as your application knowledge. 
  3. Planning is key; “we can fix it in post” is a fallacy. By ensuring you’re recording in the best environment possible and with proper technique, you can eliminate the headaches that inevitably reveal themselves in post. Always address the cause, not the symptom.
  4. Investing in yourself is the next step in your professional growth. Honing your craft means investing in yourself, whether it’s via education, equipment, workshops, coaching, etc.

With that said, let’s get to it!

What’s the difference between editing, mixing, and mastering?

Editing, mixing, and mastering are three different stages of post production.

  1. Editing is the clean-up process, and it can include but isn’t limited to removing unwanted silences and noises, deleting mistakes and removing breathing noises.
  2. Mixing is when you set volume levels (and stereo placement, if applicable) correctly, so all the individual elements come together like pieces of an audio puzzle – whether that involves sound effects, music, or both.
  3. Mastering is when you apply finishing touches to the whole project. This can include EQ, compression, normalization, and limiting. While some of these processes may be involved during mixing, their purpose then is to allow everything to fit together seamlessly. The purpose of mastering is to ensure your finished recording meets all the necessary technical and quality specifications like digital recording format and overall volume. After mastering, your project needs to be the best it can be.

How to reduce mouth clicks

This is not a one-size-fits-all industry. Not all voices benefit from the same processes. You may find some recording techniques more useful than others, and some audio post workflows that will suit you better than they will someone else. Click To Tweet

Mouth clicks are noises that naturally occur in our mouths, but especially when they’re dry. They happen as our tongue, teeth and saliva interact, causing little slaps, clicks, and pops. It’s always better to try and avoid – or at least lessen them as much as possible – before the recording process even starts. The solution is to make sure you’re really well hydrated and avoid drinking beverages like strong coffee just before you record. Certain types of medication can be a problem too. There are reams of potential remedies, but they don’t all work for everyone.

Tips and tricks to reduce mouth clicks in your recordings

  1. Drink plenty of water at least 2 or 3 hours before recording and keep a glass of water handy.
  2. Avoid drinking diuretic beverages such as soda, coffee, energy drinks, or tea.
  3. Avoid smoking.
  4. Drink sips of water in between takes and phrases to keep hydrated.
  5. Mic positioning and vocal projection can help reduce mouth clicks.

Additional Reading 

The secret to preventing mouth clicks – Gravy for the Brain 

Producing professional voice overs at home – Pt. 1 & 2 – Sound on Sound

Ultimately, if there are audible tongue slaps as well as mouth clicks and pops in your recording, you’ll have to carefully edit them out. Here’s how:

DAW + Plugins Used: 

iZotope RX 8 Standard and Elements

iZotope mouth de-click 

Mouth Clicks Tips - How to make your voice sound better
Tips from the community

How to reduce plosives

It’s about the processes, not the tools. Understanding the concepts behind the purpose of why you’re doing something is far more beneficial than the ‘how’. Whether you’re using Audacity, Ableton, Pro Tools, Audition, Reaper, or even… Click To Tweet

‘Pops’ are caused by plosive consonants like p, t or k. They happen when a rush of breath hits the mic’s capsule because of either the lack of, or the use of an inadequate pop-filter. 

If your recording setup lacks a pop-filter or the one you have is inadequate, you can practice and perfect the production of plosive consonants by positioning the lips so you force your escaping breath downwards rather than straight at the mic. It takes getting used to, though – and you have to practice it well, otherwise your plosives will always sound strained or tentative.

A great exercise is to practice talking with a pencil in your mouth, because it helps project your breath to the sides of your mouth.

Tips and tricks to reduce plosives in your voice over recordings

  1. Nothing beats a good pop-filter and no voice actor should record without one! The mesh is designed to prevent plosives from reaching the mic capsule by effectively dispersing your breath. Double-layered pop filters are recommended, as they work better than single-mesh or a punched-metal one. 
  2. Practice your pronunciation by trying to redirect the airburst to the sides of your mouth instead of to the front.
  3. Move your head slightly away from the mic capsule when pronouncing plosive consonants, so that the mic doesn’t pick up the airburst. This takes practice so you don’t go off-mic. 

If, despite your best efforts, you end up with ‘pops’ in your recording, you can either reduce or remove them with careful editing. Here’s how:

DAW + Plugins Used: 

Ableton Live 10

High-pass filter – de-plosive

iZotope RX

How to reduce sibilance

Sibilance is the excessive high frequency sound that’s produced with letters like ‘s’; it’s that hissing ‘s’ sound. It’s the result of a combination of factors involving your lips, tongue and teeth, and can be worsened if you have a lisp. You can reduce sibilance by adapting your recording technique in front of the mic. 

Tips and tricks to reduce sibilance in your voice over recordings

  1. Move your head away ( mouth approx. 1 inch to the side) from the mic capsule when pronouncing an ‘s’ sound.
  2. For some, placing a popsicle stick vertically in front of the mic capsule can slightly disperse the incoming air and reduce the sharpness of the hiss, but it doesn’t work for everyone.
Popsicle stick hack - Microphones - Sibilance

If you end up with troublesome sibilance in your recording, you can reduce it while editing. Here’s how:

DAW + Plugins Used:

Pro Tools

De-esser

Sibilance Tips - How to make your voice sound better
Tips from the community

How to remove breathing noises

Breathing is inevitable, but breaths can be intrusive in voice-overs to the point of distracting from your performance. Soft, gentle breaths are fine – you’re human, after all – but loud harsh breaths can really irritate a listener.

As always, it’s best to address this issue while recording. Adding to our ‘move away from the mic’ tip, we also suggest breathing exercises.

Tips and tricks to reduce breaths in your voice over recordings

  1. Practice breathing softly and gently. It’s those sharp intakes of breath that are your enemy.
  2. Start breathing from your diaphragm, this will give your voice the support it needs for endurance, projection, and tone.

Additional Readings 

Tara Platt and Yuri Lowenthal explain diaphragmatic breathing on Voice over voice actor.

If you find there are troublesome breaths when you listen back to your recording, you can either reduce or remove them while editing. Here’s how:

DAW + Plugins Used: 

Pro Tools

iZotope RX 

De-breath

How to remove rumble and background noise

By ensuring you’re recording in the best environment possible and with proper technique, you can eliminate the headaches that inevitably reveal themselves in post. Always address the cause, not the symptom. Click To Tweet

Rumble is low frequency noise. Background noise is that which is produced by external sources – you know: lawn mowers, cars, airplanes, children, dogs, air conditioners, computer fans – anything that seeps into your recording environment if it’s not soundproof enough, or your computer is right in front of you. 

Rumble is created by vibrations and movements. In some cases, these can be the result of traffic passing by if your recording studio is next to a busy street, or if you move your mic stand or cable while recording. Be careful – and try to limit the intrusion of noise as much as possible.

Tips and tricks to reduce rumble and background noise in your voice over recordings

  1. To reduce rumble, avoid contact with your mic stand or cable when recording. In the specific example of living next to a busy street, you’ll probably have to build an insulated false floor where you can set up your mic stand to isolate it from the floor vibrations.
  2. For background noise, be sure to record in a silent room. Always try to have your computer in another room or far away from your recording space to reduce the amount of fan noise. Be sure to isolate any electric devices that can produce unwanted noise. You can check out our ‘equipment for a home studio set-up’ post for more information on acoustic treatment. 
How to remove rumble and background noise - How to make your voice sound better
Tips from the community

If, despite your best efforts, you have rumble and background noise in your recording, you can reduce them. Here’s how:

DAW + Plugins Used: 

Ableton Live 10 

Noise Gate

iZotope RX 

De-noise

Audio post production is not one-size-fits-all

Investing in yourself is the next step in your professional growth. Honing your craft means investing in yourself, whether it's via education, equipment, workshops, coaching, or more. Click To Tweet

The tutorials provided in this series are not meant to be a comprehensive ‘everything you need to know about audio post production’; we’re simply addressing the most common concerns our team gets to deal with.

Even if you need to invest more time than you were hoping, you’ll be glad you made the effort to improve the quality of your recordings. It’ll instantly set you apart from the pack. Too many wannabe voice actors leap online and submit recordings that get rejected time after time because they either don’t know how to fix things or they just couldn’t be bothered. Care and customer service not only get you repeat clients, they get you more clients because names get around. Be one of them!

Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have any audio post production questions or topics you’d like to see covered, please feel free to drop us a note here!