Why Use a Professional Voice Recording Service?
Recording a voice can seem a straight forward enough task and many folks these days may offer a service that can seem very similar on the surface to one several times more expensive. It is quite possible to get a commercial quality recording from a friend with a basic setup, and provided you are prepared to forego a number of 'perhaps' unimportant frills, bells and whistles there maybe good savings to be had. What actual difference does an investment with a professional studio provide and will it make any difference to the person you are trying to reach?
Yes and no is the rather dull answer with a depends thrown in. The most important element really when it comes to getting a good recording will depend mostly on the actual person who is recording you.
If your engineer is someone who has lots of experience delivering broadcast, commercial grade material, who has been hired by commercial businesses and been exposed to professional measures of quality control, then I would feel confident that such a person is going to be capable of giving you a great recording even with a surprising lack of equipment or ideal spaces.
The problem, is there are going to be very few producers or engineers who have accrued experience like this who are still operating out of their bedrooms.
If they are good at what they do, they are likely to have long since ditched the unpredictability of a non-commercial space and instead have developed a professional working environment, with expensive hardware and signal chains and will be charging professional working rates.
So, do those frills, bells and whistles make all the difference? Perhaps not in a really obvious way, in a cold shoot out comparing a £2000 Neumann U87 microphone with a £200.00 (add brand here) microphone, you could be forgiven for thinking they sounded more or less identical.
How much does it matter if the speakers a person mixes on are not proper studio monitors or they use headphones? Not necessarily a whole lot if the engineer knows them really well and can adapt the mix accordingly, but no end of problems if that person gets it wrong. In short, you are introducing the element of unpredictability.
If all of this works in your favour, you can certainly save money, but if it doesn't, you are going to end up getting it redone, this could become a poor economic decision - quite quickly, perhaps more importantly it might cost you an audition.
Rather the pro studio, offers you consistency and reliability of results, leaving you only to worry about the performance. The equipment list of a good studio, should be such that it would be hard to record you badly, and that is the point.
This becomes more apparant in the post production, or the point at which effects are added and the recording balanced or mixed. In particular compression is a process essential for creating a nice even sound, it can make the words sound clearer or more punchy and give the voice some authority, however, if there are problems caused by the hardware, or unwanted noises recorded from a makeshift recording room (traffic passing outside, planes overhead, trains rumbling or heating and air conditioner etc) you cannot use so much compression without all of these unwanted noises being brought up in level, this makes for a scruffy and edgy result. You may not exactly hear the plane flying over head or the air con flicking on, but the spaces between the words will be cloudy or hazy or worse have unwanted harmonics added to the audio. All of this leads to an unsettling sensation, everything kind of sounds ok, but not quite. While your end listener won't necessarily be able to pinpoint what is putting them off your reel, they will still detect compromise or a lack of attention to detail and this might tarnish their opinion of you and your talent unfairly.
As to the claim I made at the top of this post, I would dispute that recording a voice is even simple. In fact I would argue that in some ways the 'simpler' i.e. the fewer tracks a session has as is typical of a voice reel, can be more challenging than that of a full band session.
Full band recording sessions introduce numerous potential issues and inevitable quality control considerations, but they can be blended here and there in such away as to disguise problems, indeed our ears are used to hearing comtemporary music with some degree of human error and with these kinds of recordings there are more places to hide errors or make them part of the music. In contrast a single source or in our case typically two, the voice and piano - there is nowhere to hide and so the listener has plenty of opportunity to hear flaws. Flaws not just with the voice, but also indirectly flaws in the recording quality, this may give them pause for thought, when you just want them to give you a resounding yes.
The truth is that casting agents, managers and anyone involved with hiring you share the same human shortfalls as us all, and despite what they might say, they are far more likely to be impressed and therefore inclined to keep listening to a quality presentation than a poor one, and even if they really are able to be discerning - your voice is in a fierce battle with an untold amount of competition - doesn't your talent deserve to enter that battle at least as equipped as your rival?
Is it worth being passed over your dream job or your big career break because the guy one email along has a better sounding recording?
The old advice, is often the best, and as much as I often wish it were not true, it does seem to be the case that in this world you do get what you paid for.
Here at Working VoiceReels we use only industry recognised signal paths and microphones, our studio is located in peaceful countryside, air conditioned with generous live room and separate control room. I got my diploma in audio engineering nearly 20 years ago and have been working consistently producing vocals, songs and music for commercial purposes nearly as long.
Please do visit the samples page and judge for yourself what we can do for you and of course, drop me a line if you want to learn more.