Some big projects never go away. If you’re the voice for a call center, you can expect clients to come back with requests for more prompts a week, a month or even a year down the road. If you’re successful in preserving continuity, the prompts you do a year from now will sound like the prompts you do today. By adopting a few good production habits, you’ll improve your chances.

  • Preserving Equipment: there isn’t much you can do when equipment fails and you can’t replace it with similar models. Mics have their own personalities, as do some audio interfaces. Even changing out your mic cable can noticeably affect the sound quality. If you have a magic combo, a signal chain you’re really happy with, obviously do your best to keep your equipment in good shape. Protect it from power surges and moisture if you’re in a humid climate.
    • Microphone: I keep my mic in a sound booth covered with an anti-static bag that came with a new hard drive I purchased a while ago. The bag has one of those salt packs that keep moisture away from components. I replace the salt pack from time to time as I buy new gear.
    • Electronics: I don’t remove mic cables or plug and unplug items in my signal chain because I want to avoid wear and tear; but I don’t let juice run through it unless I need it. Flip the switches on your surge protectors and battery backups when you’re not using your gear. It’s greener for the environment and your wallet.
  • Production notes: keep production notes for every project. Maybe you adjusted the gain +5dB, applied noise reduction, and then some EQ or compression. Whatever. For each project, write down what you did and follow the same steps in the same increments on future scripts you get for the same big project. All the while, use and trust your ears. Maybe you spoke a little louder or had a little more energy in one of the recordings and need to adjust the gain accordingly.
  • Give the same performance: Obviously, you want to try to produce the same performance. Some theater actors have the ability to deliver a line the exact same way over seven performances a week for months during a show’s run. Others prefer to vary their performances a bit to keep them fresh. A voice actor who wants to achieve seamless continuity doesn’t have that luxury.
  • Listen to older prompts: You can’t really provide the same performance if you don’t have a record of a prior performance. It’s generally a good idea to listen to older prompts on the same project before you go into the recording booth. Then during post production, follow those trusty production notes. And keep listening!  This will put you that much closer to seamless follow-up voice prompts and undetectable pickups.
  • Save and backup your EQ and compression settings: once you set levels you’re happy with, levels which give your voice warmth and presence or whatever other quality you want to achieve, save those settings. And, back them up.
    • Adobe Audition 3.0 Settings: I recently upgraded my laptop and now have Windows 7 (which has improved my workflow). I use Adobe Audition 3 which saves EQ and other settings to a file called effect_settings.xml.  This is a simple text file which saves unique settings inside <KeyVal> tags. This .xml file is saved in different locations depending which version of Windows you’re using. I’m not sure where Vista puts the file, but here are the locations for XP and Windows 7.
      • Windows XP:  Documents and Settings > Administrator [or your user name] > Application Data > Adobe > Audition > 3.0
      • Windows 7:  Users > [your user name] > AppData > Roaming > Adobe > Audition > 3.0

Some things that can affect sound quality (like relative air pressure) are beyond our control. Still there are a few things we can do to improve our ability to produce seamless voiceovers for clients who come back for more a week, a month or even a year later.

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