You are a tech wizard. Yes, YOU! If you want to have a successful voiceover business, technology is at least half the battle. In this BOSS Audio episode, Anne and Tim discuss the importance of understanding the technology involved in delivering successful voiceover, including noise, gain levels, compression, and stacks. Boost your tech confidence like a #VOBOSS! Listen to this episode and see how technology can elevate your business.
Quick Concepts from Today’s Episode:
You have to be adept at handling technology in this industry
Unless you want to spend a good portion of your income hiring tech people, you have to know the VO tech basics
We need to be able to roll with new tech in order to navigate your businesses and be successful
If you believe audio tech is going to be hard, you will be right
Avoid recording in a noisy space
Know your gain and input levels
Know the basics of compression – an automatic volume leveler
Compression allows you to be a little bit louder or quieter without moving closer or further from the mic. Proper compression settings imitate good mic control.
A stack is a series of effects or post-processing that are applied to your raw recording to help clean up your audio
Referenced in this Episode
Direct links to things we brought up ++
Learn more about audio by taking Tim’s Courses!
Hear more about tech with Anne and Tim here
Recorded on ipDTL
>> It’s time to take your business to the next level, the BOSS level! These are the premiere 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: Hey everyone, welcome to the VO BOSS podcast. I’m your host, Anne Ganguzza, with the one and only amazing VO Tech Guru, audio master, Tim Tippets. Hey Tim!
Tim: I don’t know about, I don’t know about all that, but hello, Anne.
Anne: Hey Tim, you know, I’m thinking about VO Tech Guru. You know, you are a VO tech guru, and I was in technology for over 20-some-odd years, and I think we both are passionate and possibly geeky about it. I think it’s something that’s so important in our industry, and I think we should really — let’s talk about technology and why it’s so important to be, you know, you have be adept at handling technology for this industry.
Tim: Yeah. In this day and age, you do have to get into the tech side of it unfortunately, unless of course you want to spend a good portion of your income constantly, you know, handling tech issues.
Anne: Calling, or calling tech supporter, yeah. Hiring that out.
Tim: Yeah, right? And then you get the, “is it plugged in?”
Tim: You know, and the, like “are you sure,” that sort of thing. And sometimes it is something really simple you otherwise could and should know about.
Anne: Oh absolutely.
Tim: At least the basics, right? But here’s the thing, Anne, is that everyone who owns an iPhone for instance has — I don’t remember what they say. It has like 10 times the amount of computing power that we — of the Apollo that we sent to the moon. That’s a pretty powerful statement, because you’re carrying that around in your back pocket.
Tim: I’ve had a lot of people come to me and say, “now you don’t understand, I’m not very techy,” you know? And —
Anne: Oh my gosh, people say that all the time to me too, and I’m like —
Anne: — “you need to reframe that.” [laughs]
Tim: Exactly, and that’s why I say each of us, we’re already tech wizards, each and every one of us. If you think about what we have to do on a daily basis in order to get through life, Instagram, Facebook, any number of things that someone might use who is not at all technical —
Tim: — uhh according to them, but will run circles around me all day long with these apps. And I have to use them. You have to use them. They are, we are voiceover professionals and coaches, and so if we’re not using Facebook, and Instagram, and LinkedIn, then we’re, you know, we’re hurting ourselves, right?
Anne: Well that, and we have to navigate files and send files to our clients as well.
Anne: So we need to know how to do that properly.
Tim: Yeah, so that’s really what I want to do is kind of like reframe the conversation about technology, because what ends up happening too often is someone will go in search of information — I’ll give you a really good example. So they’ll go into a forum and ask a tech question like “hey guys, I don’t know if I should be compressing or not, but what is compression?” Ok? And I’ve said this before, but suddenly everyone wants to sound like the smartest person in the room. Right?
Tim: And it’s like “well, it depends, you know, threshold, ratio, attack, the release,” and it’s like whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. People, we get it. You’re smart. But can’t you just tell this person first that it’s an automatic volume leveler and start having a human conversation? We understand you’re super smart, ok, but this person is looking for information, and all that’s really happening here is you’re taking them from being confused into a vortex where now they’ll never ask that question again.
Anne: And they’re even more confused.
Anne: And that’s so interesting, because I always say, in order to be a good teacher, because I was also a teacher for many, many years, and still actually coach one on one, of the best things you can do to be a really good teacher is to break things down and make it simple so that it’s easier to understand. And I think that if people were to have the proper guidance in terms of technology, and things were broken down into simpler pieces, it would be a lot easier to absorb. And it wouldn’t scare people. I know technology scares people sometimes, and I really, really believe — I’ve always stood up on my soapbox for this — I really believe that people need to embrace technology, and that includes all the technology that’s coming down the pike, like AI and all of that stuff, because we need to be able to roll with it in order to be able to really navigate our businesses and to be successful in our businesses.
Tim: Yeah, you’re incredibly spot on with that, and you know, I like to call it the tech gremlin. Right? That’s usually how I refer to it, because — the tech gremlin, what was it, Mugwai from the movie? Always in there tearing wires apart, and “I don’t know what went wrong,” and “I flipped the wrong switch,” or whatever. It’s almost always something simple too, and I get people who are talking into their mic backwards because they disassembled their studio, and —
Anne: Or my favorite, my favorite is when they don’t realize — and this is gold, by the way, and not everybody realizes it unless you’re dealing with studio headphones on a day to day basis, you know, when you’re new to voiceover. That end really does unscrew. So if you need to plug those headphones into a different jack, you have a different size. And that always gets people. And I’m like, “hey, have you tried unscrewing, you know, if you need to plug that into your computer, have you tried unscrewing the end?” And they’re like, “oh my God, I never knew!”
Tim: I know, and that’s when I tell people, “look, that’s ok, because you don’t know what you don’t know.” And people feel incredibly embarrassed when they call me and say “there’s a problem with my microphone,” and then I say, “ok, well you’re speaking into it backwards.” And then they laugh, and they feel embarrassed, and they turn red and all that, but as I always like to say, you’re not a true pro until you’ve spoken into your mic backwards.
Anne: Absolutely! [laughs]
Tim: Because as we go through our careers, we make changes, we get new microphones and all that, but as I like to tell people is that, you know, if you believe tech is gonna be hard, you’ll be right. If you believe audio tech is gonna be hard, you will be right. Ok? But if we break this down and think about it, our brains are super computers, right? They’re the greatest computers on the planet. And when we open our minds to things, we — they tend to stick. A good example of that would be, think about when you were young and you heard a violin for the first time. And you asked mom or dad, “hey, what’s that sound?” And they said, “well honey, that’s a violin.” Think about this for a second. Because you were open to it and you heard a violin just one time, later on, you didn’t need to see a violin. You didn’t need to see someone playing a violin. You just knew one when you heard one, right? Same thing with piano. Same way we distinguish the difference between one person’s voice and another person’s voice.
Tim: Like Anne, if I called you up, I’m now imprinted upon you, right?
Anne: Oh I know a Tim Tippets voice, absolutely. [laughs]
Tim: You’re right. Because you’ve heard it enough times. If I call you up on the phone, and I say, “hey Anne, it’s Tim,” and you’d be like, “uh yeah, I know,” right?
Tim: Because the frequencies and patterns of what I say and all of that is being imprinted on you over time. That’s how smart your brain is. I mean, think about that for a second. You are a tech wizard. Your brain has all the capability to take in anything that you’re interested in. So if you’re interested in having a successful voiceover career, right, technology is at least half —
Anne: Oh my goodness, yes. Yeah. It really is. And like I always tell my students, like you really have to be adept at working with technology. Otherwise — so if it frustrates you, or you get angry about it, or you don’t want to deal with it, it’s not going to really work well for you, because it’s something we have to deal with on a day-to-day basis. And I have to say, I really loved what you said about, you know, you’re not a pro unless you’ve, you know, kind of fallen down, you know, or you’ve either broken something or, you know done, talked in your microphone backwards. Because when I used to be riding horses and I used to take lessons, you know what? They always said you were never a pro unless you had fallen off your horse.
Anne: And so the education comes in getting back up and getting back on the horse, just as technology, when something doesn’t go right, and you’ve got to try to figure out, you know — not many of us have at our beck and call a tech person, right? So in the heat of the moment, if you have to try to fix something, and you have to try to, you know, troubleshoot it, that is where all the education comes from. And that’s pretty much what I did in my job for 20 years. I was a problem solver. And I think that that’s what we all have to really develop and fine-tune our skills in problem solving for tech. And that goes for audio as well, right, Tim?
Tim: Absolutely, Anne. I’ve been called the analogy king quite a few times, but I think you just stole my crown with that horse example.
Tim: That was really solid. But you know, it’s the same in any field. No pro NFL player has not gotten his clock cleaned at some point. That’s just the reality of it. That’s how you learn how to not get hit, ok? And so the way that you learn to not get hit when it comes to audio is you learn what not to do, because that is the single most important thing is what not to do, ok? So things that we would not want to do for example would be voicing in a noisy space, ok?
Tim: That’s one thing. Sure you can say, make sure you’re in a quiet space, but what does that mean? How do you define that, right? Well, when you get in front of mic, and you’re recording, and then you listen back, it becomes pretty clear. So that obviously is part of the quote, unquote tech.
Tim: But along the lines of other simple things, which we’re going to talk about in a future episode, would be gain levels, your input levels. I’ve had many people say, “well, I have no idea what I’m doing here.” Again, that’s ok. It’s easy enough to learn, ok?
Anne: Right, right.
Tim: So let’s take this thing about compression. Ok? And I said as an example of how easy it is to transition from not knowing to knowing. So Anne, how much do you know about compression and how to use a compressor?
Anne: Well to be honest with you, I don’t know. [laughs]
Anne: I just know I’ve had it in a stack that has compressed some of my audio.
Anne: Other than that, not a heck of a lot.
Tim: Great, perfect. So I’m going to explain compression to you very quickly.
Tim: And on the backend of this, I’m pretty sure you’re gonna understand what it does. Right? So first I’m gonna start with, it’s an automatic volume leveler.
Tim: Ok? More, more closely a better explanation of what a compressor is, is an automatic amplitude leveler, and that simply means the strength of your signal coming in. Ok? It’s going to control it, not let it get too loud.
Tim: So we now know that it’s — let’s stick with volume though, because that’s what everyone’s used to saying. So it’s an automatic volume leveler. Ok, great. So if I said the word threshold to you, what does that mean to you?
Anne: Well, it’s either, it’s like a high threshold or a low threshold.
Anne: It’s the most that anything can be.
Tim: Ok good. Now in a compressor, we have a threshold. And you know the input meter on your DAW? It’s always reading somewhere between hopefully -12 and -6 dB, you know, is our target area, ok?
Tim: Now that threshold is simply where I’m going to set that compressor in order for it to start working. So here’s how that works. If I set it at -12, anything that you say that’s below -12 is not going to be automatically leveled out. If you go over that threshold, it’s, the compressor’s gonna start going to work, and it’s gonna start pushing back on the strength of your audio. Ok? Do you understand that?
Anne: I do.
Tim: Great, now let’s talk about attack. Right? Attack is simply how quickly you want it to start doing that. Simple as that.
Tim: Ok? Release is how quickly you want it to stop doing that, after it goes below the threshold, ok? And the reason we have those in play is because if you have a very strong attack, it will be constantly compressing every time you go over -12, which is something we don’t want. And those are details, right? We’re doing a 5000-foot view here, ok? Alright? Now ratio is another thing. That’s how strong we want it to work. If I say 2:1 on a ratio, that means for every 2 dB you go above that threshold, which we said was -12, right?
Tim: For every 2 dB that you go over, it’s only gonna let 1 dB through. 2:1, simple. Ok?
Anne: Got it.
Tim: 3:1, for every 3 dB that you go over, it’s only gonna let 1 pass that threshold.
Anne: Got it.
Tim: Ok? And you can just keep going on and on and on. And very strong ratios will yield very strong compression. And the more you move the threshold — and these are all again granular things. But what I wanted to point out is people have, typically have no idea what a compressor does, and just by saying it’s an automatic volume leveler. And what we’re trying to do here is mimic better mic control.
Tim: Ok? So if I get louder, or if I get quieter —
Tim: Right? It’s allowing me a little bit more room to get louder and quieter without having to worry about moving in toward my mic —
Anne: Oh, got it.
Tim: — or getting further away from it, right, so it helps us more.
Anne: Got it.
Tim: It imitates better mic control. So when you break those things down, especially like in my course as well, I do it visually. I use graphics, so it really gets it across. Right? But again, it’s one of these things where I’m doing text messages, and I’m trying to do, what are, emojis, right? And my daughters are laughing at me. And I’m getting all of these, you know, you get the ROFLs and all that other kind of stuff, and I’m turning it towards them, and I’m like, “what does this acronym mean?” And they’re like, “are you kidding me?” Right? And so they go “no,” and they laugh at me, and they’re like “you’re supposed to do this, and you’re supposed to do that.” And I’m like, “look, I’m no good at this.” Why am I not good at it? Because I’m not interested in it. Right? For instance my student group is on Facebook. And I go in there, and I answer tech questions and all that, and it’s a private group. But the point is is I have to be on that platform, I have to be. But if you ask me later today, “Tim, do you want to be on Facebook, and I can just take care of all this for you?” I’d be like, “take it, take it right away.” Right? The first time I went Facebook Live, I was like, “I’m gonna completely jack this up.” I just know I am. I’d never, I’d heard people doing it, I was with you on VO Peeps when you had that episode.
Anne: Yep, absolutely.
Tim: And you had a moderator and all this other kind of stuff, and I’m like, “what? How is this even a thing?” And so what I did was I simply went on the Internet, and I watched a video on how to do Facebook Live, and how to have a moderator, and I was like, “this isn’t hard at all.”
Anne: There you go.
Tim: I went Facebook Live, and the students loved it.
Anne: See, there is such a thing — I mean, I am known as Anne Gangoogle, because I’m constantly telling people, right, just go ahead and Google it, because it can really can help. I know there’s some people who like a little more hand-holding in terms of technology, and so I always would recommend for any of you that have a fear of tech, or feel as though you’re not good with tech, you know, you can take basic technology courses just about anywhere and especially online. You can look up anything online. Pretty much there’ll be a YouTube video about it. But if you want a little more hand-holding, there are lots of people who’ll offer, you know, general technology classes to help you get up to speed on these things. And then of course there are people like real pros that are really honing in on different topics, like Tim, with your audio classes, right, and just technology in general. And I just think that any one of you that are out there, that are maybe inhibited by technology, you need to do this. It’s not just enough for you to go take coaching, one-on-one coaching, and vocal performance, and then get another demo. If you are lacking in any of some tech skills, I’m gonna say basic tech skills, in terms of being able to deliver files and quality audio to your client, then you need to get yourself up to speed. I cannot stress that enough.
Tim: Yeah, you’re absolutely right, and having the help of a pro, an audio pro guiding you — you mentioned my courses, votechguru.com/courses. People can go check out a free video there. But the thing I really want to convey today, because it crops up all the time, is this is not rocket surgery. It just isn’t, ok? One of the problems that we have is on YouTube, we have a lot of people that are musicians who are giving advice that does not apply to voiceover. You would compress vocals on a music track, for instance, much more than you would in voiceover. Voiceover tech is really about kind of like a soup, right? You don’t through in a handful of salt and a pinch of pepper, right? That’s not how it works. It’s a pinch of salt, a pinch of pepper, a pinch of saffron, whatever the formula is, ok? And it’s the same thing with an FX rack, is we’re not trying to beat the snot out of the audio. That’s a really bad idea. And people don’t know, and that’s ok. You don’t know what you don’t know. But what’s not ok is not going and finding out. Because it is absolutely essential. We see it all the time. How many SourceConnect questions have you seen in the last —
Anne: Oh my goodness.
Tim: — week?
Anne: How do you map the ports? Yep.
Tim: Exactly. “And I’ve got a firewall, and now it’s a problem,” and all this other stuff.
Anne: But yeah, and here’s the thing. There, you know, of course there’s Google, right, and even if you can’t get into your router, and that’s totally understandable — I mean, that’s something that I used to do as part of my tech job back in the day, because we were an Internet service provider. But even I said, you know what? I’m just gonna let the people over there at SourceConnect map my ports if it needs to be done.
Tim: There you go.
Anne: And what’s great is that there’s a lot of people who are only too happy to explain to you what they’re doing. And I always say, go ahead. Just take them up on it. Try to learn something new, even if you’re like, “oh my God, this is so beyond me.” If you can just get yourself exposed to more of the terminology and the process, I think it’s going to help you out overall more than anything else. Now hopefully you know, you’re interested in it, right, because Tim, you’re saying you do it because you’re interested in it. If you’re not interested in technology, try to reframe it so that you’re interested in the beautiful things that technology can help you to do, right, to help you grow your career, to grow your personal growth. The fact that we have the Internet, I’m always saying I would marry the Internet if I could, because it’s just an amazing, it’s an amazing network!
Tim: Well, you’d marry certain parts of the Internet, just to be clear.
Anne: That’s right. [laughs] But you know, it’s a wonderful thing that we have the information at our fingertips, and I’m not gonna date myself, but I am one of those people that, I used to have a library card, right? Remember when we used to — I used to be assigned term papers that we had to do, and we’d have to go to the library and sign out books. Well, guess what? The Internet, man. [laughs] It’s a beautiful thing.
Tim: And the thing, the difference between the library and the Internet is the stuff at the library is usually vetted.
Anne: True, very true.
Tim: But the Internet is the wild west, and it will be for some time. And it’s improving —
Anne: But there’s still accessibility instantaneously, which is —
Tim: Oh no, absolutely, absolutely. You talked about your Google name. The one I used to use — I don’t anymore — is I’d say is, “what do I look like, Toogle to you?”
Tim: That’s what I tell people. But it’s just like anything. If you’re interested in having a successful voiceover career, you do need to know some basic things, and there are some other things that you can set it and forget it.
Tim: But a basic thing would be something like, I did a voiceover not too long ago for Bazooka candy where I had to turn my input down while I yelled this thing. You know, I’m the moose, I’m the mascot’s voice, right? But I’m otherwise doing a very close read and had to turn my gain up. So just knowing what your gain input knob can or cannot do for you, when I turned my gain down in order to yell “Bazooka,” ok, which was my line, I didn’t move that much further away from the mic at all. I just turned my gain way down, did a test with the guy live, and said, “how’s that?” Now why’s that advantageous? The further I get away from my mic, if I have to yell, the more of my room you’re gonna hear. And we don’t want that. We don’t want the previous voiceover sounding this way, and then I get loud — you know, I’ll pull away from my mic right now. Bazooka! Right, you can hear the entire room, right? So just something as simple as that, which anyone can do, anyone can do, it’s a habit. You do it again and again and again, and before you know it, just like anything else, you get used to it. Go into Facebook. You’ve used Facebook before on your phone? How hard is it to go into Facebook? You don’t even think about it.
Tim: And going back to IT, Anne, I know that you told me once that you used to build websites. Ok?
Anne: I did.
Tim: Ok, so when you first go into building websites, what did that look like for you? Was there trepidation there?
Anne: I had no idea what I was doing. [laughs]
Tim: Ok, you had no idea what you were doing, ok.
Anne: Yep. And so I was like, whoa.
Tim: And so when you first started building these websites, you had a lot in front of you —
Anne: I did.
Tim: Yeah, and obviously at some point, you’re gonna be intimidated.
Anne: Oh, I was.
Tim: That’s the reality of the situation —
Anne: I was.
Tim: — when you’re going into something new. But it’s just like a new job. When we get a new job, we don’t know what we’re doing. Then we’re there for a month, and we look back, and we go, “what the heck was I worried about?” Ok?
Anne: There you go. You just kind of take it slow, piece by piece, and then it will come together.
Tim: How long did it take you before you stopped being concerned about building websites?
Anne: Oh, a few weeks, I’m gonna say. Because once I learned enough to begin, then it became manageable.
Tim: Right, that’s it. So don’t fear the Reaper.
Tim: Don’t fear the tech gremlin.
Anne: Good advice.
Tim: Yeah, the tech gremlin is more or less imaginary. You can get rid of it really easily. And again, you don’t really need to know that much, and you can get people to fish for you and create websites for you and all that other kind of stuff if you need to, because you don’t want to get into it, that’s fine as well. But the more control that you have over what’s happening in real time, the less stress you’re gonna have. And the less stress you have, guess what? Less mouth noise, better performance —
Anne: Oh yeah.
Tim: But it all ties in.
Anne: It all ties in, and I’m gonna say if you decide that, you know, technology is not your thing, know enough so that you know how to direct someone, and you know what you want out of it so that you can direct someone to help you. That’s basically how it works for them, if you want to outsource it, so.
Tim: Good advice.
Anne: Yeah. Good stuff, Tim. So guys, don’t be afraid of tech. There are lots of people out there, there are lots of resources out there. Tech is an integral part of what we do every day, so don’t fear the Reaper. [laughs] Good episode.
Anne: Alright, I’d like to give a big shout-out to one of my favorite tech softwares, and that is ipDTL and Kevin Leach out there, and allows Tim and I to connect and communicate and talk about tech like this. You can find out more at ipdtl.com. You guys have a great week, and we’ll see you next week.
Tim: See you, guys.
>> 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.