“The Harry Truth” About Processing – VO Quality and Your…

Benztown’s old friend Harry Legg is coming back at you with more of….”The Harry Truth!”

Do you process your VO trax before you give them to the client?  In many radio station production studios your mic is already routed through the station mic processor and there may or may not be much you can do to alter the settings depending on how strict your engineering department is about such things.  In a perfect world, you would send only raw, clean vocal tracks to your clients…maybe just a touch of very transparent processing if you have a nice mic preamp such as an Avalon or Manley.  As a voice talent and a producer, I get to hear my fellow VO talents VO files on occasion…and without naming names – many of them are surprisingly over-processed and noisy.  Some are still sending out 128k mp3’s, which is audibly noticeable in my opinion.  Bandwidth and hard drive sizes are just not much of an issue nowadays, why convert the file from the native wav or aiff to an mp3?  Personally, I just send the original file that is recorded in Pro Tools – either wav or aiff.  Also, be sure to note whether it’s for an audio or video project. 44.1 sample rate for audio and 48khz for video.  Some producers may ask for 24 bit instead of 16 – usually in higher-end video productions.  When setting-up your session with a new client, ask them what they prefer and it’ll show that you have competency when it comes to the tech side of things – which they may appreciate.

Now the reason for sending unprocessed VO is so that the producer can easily do whatever they want to do with your file.  If I geek out with my gear and compress and EQ my tracks a lot because I like them that way (or don’t know better) – then I make it very hard for the producer at the other end to manipulate my audio.  Here’s where you can make careful exceptions…  Whenever I start with a new client, I always ask them to please send me some finished pieces so that I can hear what their production sounds like.  Now, if there production sucks – there isn’t a whole lot you can do…if you hear that they don’t really know how to process your voice to make it cut through – I politely ask them if they’d like me to process my tracks.  This happens most frequently when dealing with video producers and TV stations.  They may be wizards with their Final Cut Pro and After Effects but not so hot with audio…  I have some clients who freely admit this and are very happy that I noticed and offered to send processed VO tracks.  On the other hand, there are clients that would kill me if I sent them processed tracks – because they are audio wizards and really put a lot of effort into their production work.

I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on sending processed/unprocessed VO and on sending native wav/aiff versus mp3’s.  Feel free to comment below.

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