How a voice artist turns your script into finished audio files

Narration of complex material takes care, preparation and experience on the part of the voice artist. In the medical voiceover world the recorded text may be used for training young medical staff, or informing patients about thier diseases, so accuracy and the right tonbe are vital.A voice artist doesn’t just sit at a microphone and read – we have to be sure that your source material is translated faithfully into recorded words, with the right pace, emphasis and intonation to convey the meaning you want to get across. Together with the staff at Read On I have this covered – we have been doing it for a long time and we have all the systems in place to make sure our part of your project runs smoothly. Basically you just need to send me the script and I’ll send you the audio files ready to slot easily into your project, but here are more details:

We give you a firm quote

  • You send us the script, with the number of words you need recorded, excluding things like descriptions of what’s going on the screen for each section.
  • Tell us how many files the audio needs to be delivered in, e.g. one per paragraph or one continuous file.
  • Tell us how the result will be used – e.g. in an online explainer, for e-learning or an internet advert, with or without pre-roll.
  • We also need to know whether you will be attending the session via Skype, Zoom, etc as this can affect the quote.

We then quote for the job, and once you commit we record. We will attempt to turn the job round in 24 hours – even if we are in the middle of a long e-learning project we can usually fit short scripts into the schedule.

Getting the details right

We keep our own database of medical and pharmaceutical terms, but it is useful to have pronunciations for any unusual words in advance. If you haven’t already, p[lease check the samples page to get a feel for the way I sound.

We also need to know what format, sample rate and bit depth you want the files supplied in. If in doubt we record at high resolution and run files out at 44.1kHz 16-bit, but it’s worth checking with your developer, sound mixer or or engineer first.

Once the recording is edited we will send you the files by WeTransfer or to your secure ftp for sensitive material.

Directing a voice artist remotely

The internet is becoming the normal delivery channel for the voice artist, but we prefer to send high quality files by WeTransfer because they are just better!When you record at Read On it is straightforward to direct the session remotely – you can sit in by Skype, Zoom, any Chrome-based system like Sessionlink or Bodalgo Call, or even by telephone.

The Glensound mixer handles three clean feeds so we can connect to three separate locations on different systems at the same time if necessary. This can make sessions longer – it is usually more efficient to have one person sitting in.

Remote recording

At Read On we have a variety of ways to connect with other studios, including Source-Connect 3.5, Source-Connect Now and SessionLink PRO. In our experience Source-Connect is the best choice.

Attending the session

Read on is based in the countryside near Lewes, East Sussex – it is generally possible to attend the session in person provided you adhere to Covid precautions.

Quality Control

Recordings are carefully checked against the script before delivery, and are supplied with controlled dynamic range and evenly paced. Read On uses broadcast gear throughout, with monitoring on very fine Harbeth studio loudspeakers.

We offer the option of quiet breaths or no breaths at all. In my view voice tracks sound better completely ‘de-breathed’ in some applications, while others benefit from quiet breaths to maintain a sense that the voice artist is ‘present’. Please let us know in advance if you have a preference.

Recording levels

There was a time when almost all narration was delivered at very high levels. Fortunately the broadcasters have sorted this problem out, to a great degree, and the adverts no longer make you jump.At Read On we generally do not process audio in advance, apart from gentle EQ for some voices and a discreet dynamics system to catch any unexpected peaks. Levels are normally kept to broadcast standards using a PPM and radar meter set to IEC Type IIa.

However, we have the processors to give you specific EQ and ‘arc-welding’ levels if the finished product needs to be heard in adverse conditions – safety announcements for oil rigs, for example. The TC Finalizer works well for this, but don’t listen to the result without turning the volume down first.

Payment for the voice artist

We accept payment via Paypal and, for established customers, bank transfer.

Privacy

We take privacy seriously and have cyber-secure systems for storing client information and scripts. We prefer to have an NDA in place for medical projects, especially where new medicines are involved. Of course we don’t sell or redistribute anything anywhere.

Pick ups and corrections

We do charge for client changes requested after the recording. Even in the best-organised offices errors do sometimes creep into scripts, so we record alternatives where we suspect that the script is likely to be changed later. If we have an alternative in the can the cost of the correction can be lower. There is no charge for errors on our part.

Studio setup

I work at Read On, an independent speech recording facility with the highest quality gear:

  • Neumann TLM193 microphones
  • SPL Track One and Focusrite ISA 430 mk2 preamps
  • Glensound mixer with three clean feeds for multiway link-ups without howl-round
  • TC Electronic Finaliser and A/D converter
  • Focusrite Clarett digital audio interface
  • ProTools 2021 running on MAC
  • Various remote connection options
  • Harbeth M30 monitors
  • Room-within-a-room vocal studio with optimal damping and covid-unfriendly fast air handling