with Tim Tippets
Anne welcomes industry icon and VO Tech Guru, Tim Tippets, for an all-new series on Audio! If you want to rock your business like a #VOBOSS, you need to have BOSS Audio!
Tim Tippets is a voice-over pro, a composer for film and TV, and is highly regarded as a leading audio tech expert and teacher in the voice over community. Our BOSS Audio series kicks off with the fundamentals of modern acoustics.
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
What works for YouTubers might not work for your voiceover studio
2-inch foam only handles early reflections and high frequencies, not low frequencies. The room can sound “boomy”
When we voice inside of a box that isn’t properly treated, it will talk back to the microphone. We hear the room talk back.
Modular booths with 2-inch foam were designed for musicians, voiceover requires a different sound
80 percent of auditions probably end up in the trash for high-end projects, due to bad audio or bad reads
10 percent of people get 90% of the work.
If you have pristine audio, you’re really only competing with 10% of the auditions
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Tim Tippets (AKA “VO Tech Guru”) is a voice-over pro, composer for film and TV, and he is highly regarded as a leading audio tech expert and teacher in the voice over community. From amateurs to pros, Tim has helped literally thousands of people up their game by working with them one-on-one to get them sounding their very best; or even teaching them how to do the same through his online audio course. Regardless of the hardware or software you use, the current space you voice in, the mic or interface you use, Tim’s unparalleled knowledge in the field of voice over tech can help place you and your audio quality in a truly competitive position. Contact Tim at email@example.com
Tim’s Audition Ready Online course
See Tim’s Video on Making DIY Acoustic Panels
Learn more about Vocal Booth To Go and use code votechguru-5 for 5% off.
Read about Anne’s Experience with the Tri-Booth
Recorded on ipDTL
>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premier business owner strategies and successes being utilized by the industry’s top talent today. Rock your business like a BOSS, a VO BOSS. Now let’s welcome your host Anne Ganguzza.
Anne: Okay, hey everyone. Welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host Anne Ganguzza, and I’m here along with my special guest cohost, Mr. Tim Tippets, AKA the VO Tech Guru, my good friend and amazing voice over talent and audio engineer. Thank you so much for joining me today, Tim.
Tim: Ohh go on. Really, go on. No, it’s my pleasure. Glad to be here.
Anne: I’m so excited. So I want you BOSS listeners out there to know that I’ve been after Tim to have him on the podcast for a very long time, and I’m so thrilled that you’re here because you just have – you’re a wealth of information, and I’m so thankful for you and grateful for you to share with our listeners, because I know they just want to hear everything audio that you have to say. So I think we should maybe start at the beginning. What do you think, Tim? We should talk about –
Tim: I think it’s good, yeah.
Anne: Yeah, talk about the importance of acoustics. And by the way, for those BOSSes out there that don’t know, Tim just recently completed building me an amazing studio. I know I’ve talked about it before, but in case it’s your first time here listening, Tim just built me an amazing, custom booth in my home, and finished in, what, March, was it? Early March?
Tim: Yeah, the beast, the beast.
Anne: Yes, affectionately termed the beast. So Tim, let’s talk a little bit about acoustics, and why it’s so important for us obviously in our industry.
Tim: Well, they are mega important. One of the things that I’m seeing a lot lately unfortunately is people coming to me for help with a pretty clear misunderstanding of what good acoustics are. That’s okay because they don’t know what they don’t know, but to give you examples of what I mean, you’ve seen a lot of people on YouTube using like two-inch foam, right?
Tim: That somehow translates into, that will be good for my VO booth. And that’s not true. So like Anne, for instance, what did you start out with? When you first started doing VO?
Anne: When I first, oh gosh, when I first started – [laughs] I started recording like in my closet back in the very beginning, and then after that I hunted around and tried to build my own booth, and then my father helped me, and we ended up with a moving blankets, carpet, moving blankets, and then we just tried to add things on top of it so that we could have good absorption material. But like I said, back in those days, I’m not, I was not really aware of what I was doing or even knew what I needed at the time.
Tim: Right, but at what point did you determine that you were going to need something else? Did someone of you feedback or?
Anne: Oh gosh, yeah. I got feedback and I was mortified! I remember.
Tim: What was it?
Anne: One of my first auditions that I sent in, it was like, “hmm, it sounds like you’re talking in a hollow tube. There’s a lot of echo here. You’re going to have to fix that.” And I was like –
Tim: Okay, that’s a great jumping off point.
Anne: – ughh!
Tim: Because the thing about too much foam that people don’t understand is that it only handles early reflections and high frequencies. It does not do a good job of absorbing the lower frequencies in the voice. And since we all voice essentially inside of boxes, that box is going to talk back to the mic. Right? Like you can imagine, if I had a box I was voicing in and I kept shrinking and shrinking and shrinking that box, right, what’s going to happen if I’m in – if my head is inside that box and that mic is in there with me, and that box gets really, really close to my head? Well, then it’s going to sound super boxy, right?
Anne: Yeah. And it’s going to be hot, just saying.
Tim: Yes. It’s going to be hot.
Anne: [laughs] It’s going to be hot.
Tim: But when we – so I want to be clear about something, because I don’t want people getting the wrong idea about this. I hve not only auditioned before, but I’ve executed projects, you know, and I voice for a lot of the usual suspects. When you’re doing VO and you’ve got a highly that fairly high-end client, you want to be in the best possible situation that you can be in.
Tim: Now what I’ve done, because I had no other choice, is I have actually taken my car, drove away to a really quiet area and my car has fabric seats. I took my 416, my Sennheiser, and voiced, and it sounded great. But that’s because I knew what I was doing, right? The acoustics in a lot of cars aren’t really that bad. Of course you have glass and all that other kind of stuff, but if you positioned yourself correctly, you can get yourself sounding pretty decent. Now in a closet, what will end up happening is, and we all know this – we hear, surround yourself with clothes. Okay. Well, what does it mean? I’ve seen people put in the corner, you know, they will go one angle and then the other, and they’ll voice in that direction, but then they have a wooden floor.
Tim: They have a door that’s right next to them, they’ve got a ceiling that’s not treated. Right? And so we’re hearing the room talk back.
Anne: My first closet didn’t have clothing in it. It was like a storage closet, and it had shelves in it. And so I said okay, I can, you know, I can hang blankets. Well, that did not work very well, just saying. [laughs]
Tim: When we talk about blankets, like Vocal Booth To Go makes the best blankets on the market that I’ve found, vocalboothtogo.com, and by the way, they are sponsors of mine, full transparency. If anyone wants those blankets, VOTechGuru-5. I don’t know if that can be dropped anywhere, probably can’t because it’s a podcast.
Anne: Sure, we’ll put that on our show notes.
Tim: It’s better than nothing, and they’re real great people over there. It saves you 5%, right? The point is I’ve been to the testing labs with these guys over at Riverbank here – it’s near me in Geneva. And the performance they got out of those blankets was absolutely astounding. In fact I’ve heard many PVC booths, DIY PVC booths where they used those blankets, and they sound better than $7000 or $8000 professional modular booths.
Anne: Well, I have to say, when you were here building my custom booth, and I was able to try out a Vocal Booth To Go, I have to say, those blankets, they’re like, they’re luxury. [laughs] They’re so heavy ,and they really, really worked well for me up in our loft area. I was able to continue working, which is so important, while you were here for, you know, a couple of weeks building my own booth, and I had a lot of work to do. I needed to continue working. So it was, it was like a lifesaver for me. Those blankets are amazing.
Tim: Well, I’ll tell you – yeah and when I got in there, I’m going to be honest with you, even though I knew the blankets performed as well as they do, you have this massive vaulted –
Anne: Oh yeah. [laughs]
Tim: – foyer, right?
Anne: Yes, I do, 16 foot. [laughs]
Tim: And this thing is sitting right at the top of the stairs, right where that massive volume is, and I could not believe we weren’t hearing that.
Anne: I know, I know.
Tim: That like really blew my mind. As much as I believed in the product, I mean, come on. We’re talking about a massive vaulted space. And the fact that we didn’t hear it, I was just like okay. I don’t know what to say. But to get on point with this, what ends up happening with some of these modular booths is they were originally built for musicians, right? I mean, the idea was you could play guitar or trumpet or whatever. The sound mitigation, in other words sound coming in and out, they do a pretty darn good job, especially the double layer and the triple layer booths, right? But for an instrument – if I played guitar in a booth that had just two-inch foam, I would be okay with that. And I have. I’ll do it out here in my control room where I’m voicing right now, for instance. I’ll just take my guitar and play away, have no problem with the acoustics. But if I voice, to give you an example – if I’m too far away from this mic – let me show you what I mean. Okay, I sound very different now compared to the entire room. But this room is meant to be live. This room is meant to be live because I need to mix. I compose for film and TV in here at times, right, and also listen to you guys, right?
Tim: When you send me samples and I’m creating presets. So the thing is, is that when you take two-inch foam and you put it inside of a box, AKA a booth, what ends up happening is it absorbs the high frequencies, but then you have a lot of low frequencies hanging around, and they’re not being absorbed by that two-inch foam. Blankets for instance will cover a very large spectrum. It will keep the room from what we call booming, right? And this is especially true where you have booths that are equidistanced, 4×4, 6×6. These are problems if you don’t have good acoustics because that equidistance, the sound is hitting the walls at the same time and coming back towards the mic. and it’s creating what’s calling a standing wave. To give you an idea of what that might sound like, something along the lines of [gorilla like sound] – like that. It’s this kind of, the sound in the background where you’re like, ah geez, it sounds tubby or whatever. People use a lot of different terms, boxy, they’ll use honk, especially musicians, right?
Anne: Now is this – can I just ask a question, is that like sometimes what the problems are with these portable kind of box booths, or things that you put on your desktop? I know I’ve tried those and it’s really hard to get a good sound sometimes, unless you’re perfectly positioned. The only time I was able to perfectly position myself was like, I don’t know, I had my head practically in it, it just was too hot. It just was really difficult to get the right sound.
Tim: Yeah, I understand what you mean by that. The intent there is not to have a VOMO, for instance, VOMO Vocal Booth To Go, as your main booth. I do know some people who use it, but they also have rooms where they – it’s either either one, very quiet, or two, they have a lot in there that’s otherwise absorving things that might make its way out of the booth. The VOMO, which sits on a desktop, where you can put it on a tripod for instance, does a fantastic job on its own. In fact I’ve tested it in a bathroom with tile and was thrown away by the results, could not believe how much it was able to knock down my voice. Because the deeper your voice is, the more low-frequency you have, the more power is going to be thrust outside of that, right, and into the room. Then it is going to try to get back in. You’re right about two things. One is, it can get hot, you know, if you’re doing longform stuff, you know.
Tim: But normally when I travel with my VOMO, I’m normally going to be doing an audition or something. That’s not to say I haven’t knocked out jobs. When were at VO Atlanta, what, like the couple of times ago, at the airport, right, oddly enough I was in room 747 which was bizarre. I actually took out the VOMO and knocked out a job there. And not only that, I knocked out the voiceover for my presentation that day. And it sounded fantastic. But we’re not talking about audiobooks here.
Anne: Right, right.
Tim: We’re not talking about a permanent situation. It’s meant to be a mobile voiceover booth, which is in the name VOMO itself, right? The M is for mobile from what I understand. That being said, in a pinch, will it work? Absolutely, no question about it. But you do need to understand that tool like you would any other tool. You and I’ve talked about this with mic positioning.
Tim: And getting you in the right position relative to the acoustics around you. That’s super important. Again earlier the listeners can hear me pull my mic away. I was actually hanging loose from the mic. As well treated as this room is, I mean, you know, Anne, it has panels, four-inch thick panels everywhere. It still is not going to get the job done. But with proper mic technique along with decent acoustics, you can get up on the mic. I’ve done jobs for Volvo and Mercedes-Benz from right here. Right? And so it can be done. But it depends on the type of read that I’m doing. Sometimes I’ll head into my booth and get on the 103. That’s a supersensitive mic.
Anne: Right, right, right.
Tim: That won’t handle this room, right? It will hear everything. The two-inch foam thing is something that has really been bothering me as of late because the last five months and the crisis, you know, the pandemic –
Time: – I’ve had just a tidal wave of people coming after me. It’s something that they have always either wanted to do or they’re forced to do because they’re working talent, and now they need to get their studio together. They’re searching YouTube and they’re trying to find any answers that they can, and hey. I love it. I mean get aggressive and figure it out so you can work, but there’s also a lot of misinformed people out there who are using two-inch foam and other things. I’ve even seen videos, there are plenty of them, where they have this unfolding IKEA one by one kind of cube, and then they’ll put foam inside of that, like all four sides and voice into it, and think they’re good to go. Well, here’s the problem. Your voice is not contained inside that box, number one. It’s going to travel outside the box. It’s going to hit all of the walls around you, and then the front of that mic is going to pick up whatever is coming back to the box.
Tim: Yeah, and you would be surprised how many people believe, because they don’t have contrast, right – I’m not putting them down. Again, you don’t know what you don’t know. Okay? But how would you know like – I like to use this analogy. So Anne, if I asked you, do you know what chocolate tastes like? And you said yeah, sure, I’ve had a Hershey’s bar. And then I take you to France –
Anne: Or 25.
Tim: Jerry can come along if he wants to. But if I take you to Paris to some café, and I buy you some really high-end, you know, French made dessert with chocolate in it, you’re going to taste it and go that’s what chocolate is.
Anne: That’s chocolate. Yes.
Tim: Right. When you taste a Hershey’s bar again, you’re going to go yeah, we’re not doing that anymore. It’s the same thing with acoustics. You don’t know what you don’t know until you have something contrasting, and then you listen to what it is that you used to do. That’s the aha moment.
Anne: I will tell you that prior to you building my booth here, I did have two-inch acoustic panels that I had in my room, and also in my booth, I had two-inch if I remember correctly. And you installed four-inch at least everywhere in my booth and outside of my booth, and you also did something different too is you kind of removed it from the wall. It makes sense now that when you tell me the sound is going into it, and then going past it, and then trying to come back. It makes sense that you installed them slightly off the wall. That has made a huge difference between the two and the four-inch. It’s an incredible difference.
Tim: Yeah, that’s another thing about – for those of you who are interested in getting some of these building them for around $25 a piece, go to VO Tech Guru on YouTube. I have a video, it’s a DIY for those of you who will brave it. It’s really not that difficult. It’s not as difficult as it looks. You can get if for about $25 apiece. They’re fully transparent from back to front. You get them off the wall just a little bit and you get a lot more performance out of them. The two-inch acoustic panels you’re talking about, they have plywood on the back.
Anne: Yes, they do.
Tim: Here’s is the problem with that. If that sound is not allowed to travel through the panel to hit the wall and then try to come back out, all it’s doing is it’s hitting two inches of acoustic treatment, hitting that plywood, and you’re giving it a much quicker round-trip.
Anne: That makes a whole lot of sense, absolutely. I forgot, I forgot that too, that they have plywood on the back.
Tim: Especially if it’s not away from the wall. Now your wall is not doing anything to kind of help diffuse things that are traveling around inside. That’s one of the reasons we get them off the wall too. Okay? So like as an example, when you’re doing these podcasts, since we don’t see each other right now – I can’t see you, you can’t see me – how far away would you say you’re from the mic right now?
Anne: I’m a good, I’m going to say, maybe 10 fingers away.
Tim: 10 fingers, okay, so that’s more than hang loose.
Anne: Oh yeah, that’s more than hang loose.
Tim: But see, the kind of booth that you have – I recently did a thing for Bazooka. Remember Bazooka gum? Okay? They’ve got this new candy brand called Rattlers or something. And so I play this animated moose. It’s definitely the most dynamic read I’ve ever done because I come in with this really growly, you know, the stuff that I get hired for –
Anne: Of course.
Tim: Low, growly, kind of whiskey, whiskey voice except it’s a candy for kids. At one point this moose that I’m the voice for now, he yells “bazooka” but just really, really loud, okay? I had to do that one in my booth. I didn’t have any choice. Right? When you have proper acoustics like what you have there, you can get 10 fingers away.
Anne: Oh yeah, absolutely. And that’s what – and it’s funny because today I’m sitting with my back completely straight up against the chair, and so it makes me not as close to the mic as I could be. If I rolled up here, Tim, and now I, now you can tell a bit of difference here, right?
Tim: Yeah, more warmth.
Anne: But I also – more warmth in there. And so I, the cool thing is I can kind of vary my distance in this room, and not feel like the room is going to attack me back. [laughs]
Tim: Right, exactly, the attack of the booth. I love it. That’s great.
Anne: The attack of the booth.
Tim: Yeah. So, so really acoustics are the make or break. Okay? And so what I like to say is, since I cast from time to time – Anne, I believe you cast as well?
Anne: I do.
Tim: I’m sure you can verify this. Let’s use 100 people, and let’s kind of break this down. So as an audio engineer myself, and most of these people are qualifying the audio before they send it on to the producer anyway, especially on the higher end projects, right, because no audio guy in his, you know, right mind, his or her right mind is going to say “hey, here’s some super crappy audio, what do you think?” Right? The buckets that I sort them in are this. The first 80 of those 100 auditions – we’ll use percentages. The first 80%, they’re just going in the trash. I know that’s harsh for anyone listening –
Anne: Because of acoustics.
Tim: Right, but that’s the reality. It’s either the acoustics or something that they learned off of YouTube,, “hey, here’s how to get your voiceover sounding great.” Okay, well, great for what? Like a, you know, a radio spot, or you know, what are we talking about? It’s too generalized, first of all. 80% of those are going in the trash for several reasons. It may be a really bad read, it might be really bad acoustics, just really bad EQ, whatever. Now between 80% and 90% is what I call the wince zone, because I listen to them, and it makes me wince. Right? I go “tsss, ooo, too bad, so close,” because either the audio is not quite what it needs to be, but the read is awesome or vice versa. Then you have the 90% to 100%. Okay? These are the 10% that get 90% of the work that we talk about. Right?
Anne: Oh agreed. Agreed.
Tim: But there’s a reason why. I mean, when your audio is pristine, and you’re right for the read, then you’re going to land jobs. Here’s what I’ve heard in a lot of forums. Many times, I’m sure you’ve seen it, people will say “there are 100 auditions there. Why would I even try?” For me, when I head into an audition, I – first of all I see 10 people, that’s number one. Because I’m floating in the 90 to 100 band. And I know that.
Anne: Because you’ve got the acoustics, you’ve got the good audio.
Time: So I know I’m only dealing with 10 people. Now because the market has responded to me over time, and told me what it wants from me, which is usually something inspirational or some form of badassery, right, it’s usually going to be one of the two, okay, since I choose my jobs correctly when I do audition, if it says something like “we want real American grit,” I now know that I’m one of three people. Does that make sense? Okay. And so when I see 100, I’m not afraid at all.
Tim: So it is that important. So think about this. If you can get to that 90 to 100 just by handling your space, getting your EQ together – we’ll have the conversation about EQ and compression and downward expansion, blah, blah, blah. Don’t want to make anyone go to sleep right now, but right now probably the best thing that anyone listening can do if you’re questioning your acoustics, is to take a duvet or some other really thick blanket, put it over you and your mic, and voice.
Tim: Okay? Then pull it off. Now make sure you’re covering yourself entirely, okay? And then pull the blanket off of you, or the duvet cover. We want something thick. We’re thinking like catcher’s mitt here for the sound. Okay?
Tim: Pull it off, talk again, and then see what it sounds like, and then it will answer your question about whether your acoustics are good or not.
Anne: You know what’s so interesting about that is every time I would go traveling, the only way I could voice something that was even acceptable to give as an audition was if I literally put that comforter up over me and made a tent. That’s the only way. I can’t tell you how many times I tried to not do that before I realized that I really do need to have that blanket up and over me before I could really produce anything that was worthy of listening to. That makes a whole lot of sense to me.
Tim: Well, Joe Cipriano does it all the time. The guy is flippin’ MacGyver. In fact, he calls this MacGyvering when he goes to a hotel. I’ve done the same thing too. I call it the Cip tent, but what he does, and you guys, you should go online and look up Joe Cipriano and ironing board sound booth –
Anne: Oh yeah, the ironing board sound booth.
Tim: He’s laying down on a bed, he’s waiting and listening to the session. He’s got his stuff there inside with the Apollo, and he’s waiting to voice. What he does, if you look at the pictures, he puts something on the desk to absorb, he puts pillows on the side.
Anne: Yup, yup.
Tim: The ironing board is propped up, he has something on top that he pulls over the back of him, and I’ve been there when he’s talked, because I set up some presets for him to match his studio, and those guys – he was at VO Atlanta back at the time, and said can you come in real quick on Skype or Zoom, whatever it was. He then voiced something – I think it was Star Wars and then Disney and something for KISS FM, and then he asked them, “how does it sound, guys?” And they said “perfect as always, Joe.”
Anne: There you go.
Tim: So you can do it. It’s just a matter of understanding what needs to be done, and it’s really not that hard to understand what needs to be done. And by the way I have some resources at votechguru.com for anyone who wants to check that out.
Tim: And if you need some help with this, I do offer 15 minute consultations that are free for now.
Tim: You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And I would be happy to talk to you about your needs and what it is that you’re dealing with so we can move you forward.
Anne: And hands down I recommend obviously [laughs] recommend talking to Tim for sure. And so you guys, acoustics, acoustics. We have so many more things that we’re going to talk about in our next episodes, but Tim, thank you so much.
Tim: My pleasure.
Anne: I would like to give a big shout-out to our sponsor, ipDTL, which allows us to connect like BOSSes to one another. Tim and I are actually in completely different locations, m in Southern California and Tim is in a different state. [laughs]
Tim: We’re voice distancing for safety.
Anne: There you go, voice distancing. If you guys want to find out more, you can check them out at ipdtl.com. You guys have a great week, and we’ll talk to you next week. Bye! You can say bye, Tim.
Tim: Oh bye.
>> Join us next week for another edition of VO BOSS with your host, Anne Ganguzza, and take your business to the next level. Sign up for our mailing list at voboss.com and receive exclusive content, industry revolutionizing tips and strategies, and new ways to rock your business like a BOSS. Redistribution with permission. Coast-to-coast connectivity via ipDTL.