John's Voice Over Recommendations
After 9 years of being a full-time, male voice over talent, I'm still figuring out what's GOOD and what's BAD in the world of VO, from coaches to gear to websites and more.
Here are some things that I know are good, either through my own experience or through the experiences of people I trust.
Click a Tab below to see my recommendations.
There are coaches who specialize in multiple genres of VO or one specific genre. Many of the coaches listed below also teach VO in other genres, produce VO demos, or even teach the business side of VO, but I'm listing them for what makes them especially stand out as performance coaches. There are a LOT of other great coaches out there not on this list, but these are ones I know you can trust.
COMMERCIAL VOICE OVER:
Nancy Wolfson - Nancy pushed my career to the next level. She's like the college professor of commercial VO coaches. When you work with her, it's the equivalent of taking a university-level course. Demo production available.
Everett Oliver - Everett has a wealth of knowledge from 2 decades of experience coaching, directing, and casting VO (commercial AND animation). He offers a unique and highly actionable service: live direction of voice over auditions, performances, and demos.
Mary Lynn Wissner - Mary Lynn is on my to-do list for commercial VO performance coaching. Whenever pros ask other pros for recommendations, her name is ALWAYS right at at the top of the list.
PROMO VOICE OVER
Dave Walsh - Dave's impressive career in TV brought him to his trademarked and well-known coaching/VO method called the TrueTell™ Method which he describes as "speaking in one’s purest, most powerful and believable form." Demo production available.
Harry Dunn - Harry brings something very rare to coaching: the perspective of the person on the other side of the glass. He's a Senior Producer for network television, so he knows exactly what producers and TV networks are looking for. Demo production available.
Anne Ganguzza - Anne is a highly successful full-time voice talent on top of being an effective performance and business coach. She coaches all forms of VO but I think her long-form/eLearning acumen is especially good. Demo production available.
J. Michael Collins - J. Michael is a jack-of-all-trades kind of coach (and demo producer) but he is especially adept at long-form narration (medical, eLearning, etc.) VO success. Really, J. Michael is good at a LOT of VO-related stuff. Demo production available.
Scott Brick and Pat Fraley - I list Scott and Pat together because they often work together as audiobook coaches. Not only are they highly accomplished narrators, but they are well-respected and in-demand teachers.
Steve Blum - Steve is a highly accomplished and successful animation voice actor (Wolverine, Spike Spiegel, Orochimaru, etc.). He does all kinds of other VO as well, but animation has been his main game for years. Lucky for us, he coaches animation voice acting as well.
Dave Fenoy - Dave is another very successful voice actor, both in animation and commercial work. I'll always remember Dave's sultry tones with Hulu when I was watching shows on my laptop back in college. We're lucky to have a guy like Dave be so generous with his knowledge.
Crispin Freeman - Crispin is also a very highly accomplished animation voice actor (just look at his IMDB page). I first came across him through his podcast "Voice Acting Mastery". If you're going to start anywhere with Crispin, I'd start with the podcast first.
Many of the performance coaches listed under the "Voice Over Performance Coaches" tab also produce some amazing demos (Nancy, J. Michael, Anne, etc.). However, here are some people who pretty much exclusively specialize in producing demos that will immediately make you competitive in the VO marketplace (assuming you've had proper coaching first).
Eric Romanowski | Ear Blowing Audio Productions - Eric is an extremely talented demo producer, specializing in Commercial, Radio Imaging, Promo, Narration and Affiliate demos. His Radio Imaging demos are especially good.
Chuck Duran | Demos That Rock - Chuck has been producing all kinds of voice over demos that actually rock from his studio in Burbank, California for a long time. The caliber of voice talent that trust him to produce a competitive demo speaks for itself.
Cliff Zellman | A-Mazing Demos - Cliff produces demos that are the envy of both voice talent and audio engineers alike. They sound awesome, especially his automotive demos.
Buying recording gear and editing software is a dangerous game in the world of VO. People can spend thousands of dollars only to realize that they don't have the necessary skills or the right recording space to actually book any work. Tread lightly.
You don't need to spend as much as you think.
Below, you'll see a few things I recommend. It's equipment or software I've either used myself or by successful pros I trust.
NOTE: ** denotes equipment or software I use myself. And just a heads up… some of the links below are affiliate links, so I may receive a small commission if you end up making a purchase. But it doesn’t cost you anything extra.
Do you need a fancy booth or fully-built out, acoustically-treated room to get great sounding audio? Hell no. But it doesn't hurt.
I’ll get into more detail about recording spaces with my videos and blog posts, but often, a small walk-in closet or quiet corner of a house with the right acoustical treatment can be a great starting point and possibly all you’ll ever need.
And like most things, I highly recommend consulting with experts before pressing forward with any of these more costly options. Scroll up and click on the “Audio Consultation and Coaching” tab to find a lot of options.
On to my recommendations…
**WhisperRoom Recording Booth (what I've used since I started) -
I love my WhisperRoom. I’ve brought it with me through 5 moves. They’re excellent because you can take them with you, you can mold the sound within the booth and they do a decent job of drowning out some outside noise.
However, they are NOT soundproof, so having your booth in a quiet space is still key. The acoustics within the booth can also be difficult to wrangle. I’ve had to pack mine with acoustic panels and bedding to get it to not sound “booth-y”. So while I love my WhisperRoom, be prepared to do some additional work to get it to sound just right.
DIY Sound Panels -
Well made sound absorption panels DO work. Depending on the size of your room or closet or whatever, these can be an excellent way to stop those pesky sound waves from bouncing around your room. There are several YouTube videos showing you how to make them, but I think the gold standard was made by fellow VO talent and pro audio engineer, Tim Tippets. I’ve worked with Tim in the past and his ability to make the complicated sound easy is a true gift.
I’ve never used a StudioBricks booth before. In fact, I’ve never even seen one in person. But I know they have some very loyal fans out there, namely some VO pros I know and trust. To see how cool you can make on look and sound, watch this interview of talent Jerry Pelletier conducted by my awesome agent Erik Sheppard: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CH6wsMy9soc.
Do you need to spend $1,000+ on a microphone to be considered a legit pro voice talent?
If you have your recording space squared away, you can make most mic’s sound good. However, I highly highly recommend buying a cardioid condenser microphone (as opposed to a USB mic). Without getting too technical, most cardioid condenser microphones will capture the true, genuine sound of your voice better than any USB microphone. Not to mention, every top level studio in LA, NYC, and all other large markets use condenser microphones.
Here are some I and other pro talent I trust use…
Fellow YouTuber and VO talent, Mike Delgaudio aka Booth Junkie, raves about this microphone and for good reason. It is extremely clean, affordable, and can go head-to-head with most of the top end large diaphragm condenser microphones out there. Now to be completely up front, CAD can sometimes have some quality control issues (my mic was faulty); however, their team will make it right.
**Rode NT1 or NT1-A (I’ve used this mic since day 1) -
The Rode line of microphones is very solid. They’re built well, they sound good, and they’re affordable. I’ve used the NT1-A since I started VO and have recorded some massive projects with it. I’ve never used the NT1 but I know a lot of people prefer it to the NT1-A. Sounds like a good idea for a future YouTube video…
The Neumann brand is synonymous with high end quality. I’ve never used the TLM103 but it is a mainstay for many top level VO talent. If you have the budget, this one is well worth considering.
Sennheiser MKH 416 Shotgun Mic -
This is the go-to microphone in top studios all over the world. You quite literally cannot go wrong with this microphone. I’ve personally never used it, but it’s on my short-list of mics I want to try and/or buy soon. One nice thing about shotgun microphones is their pickup pattern (or how they capture sound) is very directional and narrow, meaning it’s not as sensitive to noises all around the microphone like a large diaphragm mic is (TLM103, CADe100s, etc.).
There are all sorts of other great microphones out there. I suggest you test some out when you get the chance and see what sounds good with your voice. But like I said before, if you have the proper recording space, all sorts of mics can and will sound great. Good luck!
Most DAW’s (Digital Audio Workstation) can handle the basic needs of a pro voice talent. We have the luxury of only having to edit the sound of our own voice as opposed to recording instruments and mixing it with sound effects, etc. It’s not necessarily easy, but it’s not exceedingly difficult either.
Here are some editing software options I trust:
**Adobe Audition CC (What I’ve used since the beginning) -
I LOVE Adobe Audition. I really do. I’m admittedly biased since it’s really the only DAW I’ve used since day 1, but it’s truly an excellent DAW. It was not *that* hard to figure out in the beginning and has the bells and whistles I need to get my audio sounding even better. You can integrate plug-ins quickly and easily as well.
I’ll get more into audio editing in my videos, but for now, a good place to start would be to work with Tim Tippets to learn about audio and how to use Audition to get your auditions and projects to sound awesome. Working with him absolutely changed the audio editing game for me.
You wanna know what’s cool about Audacity? It’s free. Yes. For real. 100% free.
While it’s more stripped down and minimal than Audition, it can absolutely be a DAW that you start out with or even use for your entire career. I know fellow pro’s who swear by Audacity. I haven’t used it a lot, but I’m planning on diving into it a bit more on my channel.
I’ve never used Reaper; however, Mike Delgaudio (aka Booth Junkie) swears by it. And if he swears by it, I’m not asking questions. From what I’ve seen, it’s on a similar level as Audition in terms of functionality. It is a paid DAW; however, it’s a one-time license fee as opposed to a monthly license like Audition.
TW is a Mac-specific software. Sorry, PC users. It’s a no BS, streamlined audio editor. The coolest thing is that their iPad/iPhone editing app is REALLY good. Interested in using Twisted Wave? You can try it for 30 days for free which is really nice. Otherwise, it’s a 1-time license.
I’ve also never used Sound Forge, but I’ve heard a lot of good things. It’s also available for a one-time licensing fee and there are different levels of functionality at different price points which is nice. From what I can tell, the “Studio” version (the cheapest option) should be enough for our purposes. But don’t quote me on that!
It feels mandatory that I add this because it’s the one used by music producers all over the world. However, in my opinion, it is far too complex for simply editing the human speaking voice. But hey - go for it!
I’m sure there are other DAW’s I’ve missed, but this should be more than enough options to steer you in the right direction.
Editing audio can be very intimidating. It still intimidates me. However, there are a few very effective shortcuts.
I’ll be producing videos helping you get the most of your audio, but until then, here are some really helpful audio consultants and teachers I trust.
Tim is not only an audio engineer but a highly successful VO talent and composer. He even dabbles on YouTube. I worked with Tim a few years ago (through his coaching). He 100% changed the trajectory of my career. My auditions and produced audio went from decent to really good/excellent. The guy’s a rockstar. If you want to be taught how to make your audio sound awesome, he’s your guy. If you want someone to consult with you about your recording space or audio quality, he’s your guy. If you want someone to create presets for your audio so you can just point, click, and sound awesome, he’s your guy.
Do I sound like a fan? Yep. Sure am.
George is VERY well known in the VO industry and for good reason. I like to call him the voice talent’s audio engineer. He doesn’t do VO, but he specializes in helping voice talent get great audio out of their mic and recording space. Funny enough, my first time making an appearance on YouTube specifically as a voice talent was on his weekly show with Dan Lenard (a VO talent and audio engineer). Check him and Dan out on their weekly show “Voice Over Body Shop” (VOBS).
Dan is George’s co-host on VOBS. He’s also a very talented voice talent and audio engineer. Dan gives you the unique perspective of a seasoned VO pro AND an audio engineer. He consults and helps you to sound your absolute best, whether you’re a seasoned pro or an absolute beginner. I remember doing a Skype consultation with him many years ago to help me get situated in my WhisperRoom. Well worth it.
“Uncle Roy” is an Emmy Award winning sound designer, recording engineer and producer. If you have an audio problem, he’s your guy. Not only can Roy help you get situated with your studio and editing needs, he produces award-winning, dynamite VO demos. He’s on my to-do list of people to work with in this industry. Highly recommended.
The voice over business is exactly that - a business. And you need to treat your own VO career like a business. The people listed below will help you build out the business side of your voice over career.
Terry Daniel - Terry was my very first VO coach. I had a hard time placing him in this list because he also coaches performance and produced my first demos, too. But I think if you're looking for someone to push you in the right direction as you launch your career or even as you continue your existing career, Terry's the guy for you. Demo production available.
Marc Scott - Marc and I have been at this VO thing for a similar amount of time (I think) and I can attest to the fact that he takes the business side of VO about as seriously as any talent I've ever met. He gets it. Go to his site for many of his on-demand courses as well as 1-on-1 coaching.
Celia Siegel - Celia's consulting services are on my to-do list. She and her talented team help VO talent find their brand to help them stand out in this crowded VO field. And from what I've seen from afar, they do a fantastic job.
There are a lot of voice over websites out there, from places to get work to places to learn about VO (like this website).
Full disclosure: When I first started in VO, I did use a couple voice over marketplace websites to find work; however, I learned relatively quickly that the return on investment of my time and money was much better spent elsewhere.
Because of that, you shouldn't find my name on any of the big VO marketplaces unless they've kept my profile up (which they shouldn't have).
Anyway - here are some website I do suggest:
To Find Potential Clients:
The 2 websites above are directories. They're basically a big list of companies and people who may or may not use voice over in their productions. I'll go over these in more depth in upcoming videos, but for now, they're good places to start.
Marc Scott, who I mentioned under the "Voice Over Business Coaches" tab, is a hardcore LinkedIn fan for finding work. And he's not wrong. LinkedIn is where people are actively looking to do business. It's a great resource for connecting with voice over buyers and decision makers.
To Learn More About VO:
VoiceOverXtra - John Florian's website has been around since at least the first day I started VO. As he calls it, it's "the voice-over industry's online news, education and resource center." You'll find helpful articles, resources, and webinars.
Gravy For The Brain - GFTB is an excellent resource. For a monthly fee, you get complete access to their entire education platform (webinars, courses, live training, forums, and more).
Edge Studio - Edge has been around forever. They offer all sorts of resources, from practice scripts, to coaching, to demo production, and more.
Global Voice Acting Academy - GVAA is an excellent resource. They also offer coaching, classes, demo production, studio setup assistance, and more. But to me - their most important contribution to the VO world is their fantastic non-union voice over rate guide. Seriously, their rate guide is one of the best in the industry.