Voice-Over Demo Guide: How to Record a Voice-Over Demo

To break through as a professional voice-over artist or voice actor, start by recording a great voice-over demo reel.

What Is a Voice-Over Demo?

A voice-over demo, or VO demo, is an audio compilation that voice-over actors use to showcase their abilities. Casting directors use VO demos to connect voice talent with potential clients. Many of the best voice samplers are recorded by a commercial demo producer in a professional studio. Thanks to rapid advances in home recording software, you can create your own demo production in a home studio.

Why You Need a Voice-Over Demo

In the commercial voice-over industry, a well-produced demo is obligatory. The voice-over business is robust, with voice-over jobs available in fields such as commercials, animation, audiobooks, video games, industrial explainer videos, podcasts, movie trailers, and television.

Given the amount of money that goes into such productions, directors and producers do not take chances when it comes to voice-over work. They need assurance that actors will sound articulate, sonorous, and wholly professional before they offer a contract. A well-recorded voice-over demo can help provide such assurance.

5 Types of Voice-Over Demos

Many voice-over artists have more than one type of voice demo on file. They submit different demos depending on the nature of the audition.

1.Animation

A voice-over demo for animation should highlight versatility. You want to represent a variety of characters with different personalities, energy levels, and vocal ranges.

2.Corporate

Corporate voice demos help you book jobs narrating training videos, explainer videos, and industrial films. These demos should showcase your own voice with a focus on articulation, steady delivery, and proper pronunciation of technical terms.

3.Commercial

A commercial voice-over demo requires many of the same qualities as a corporate demo, but commercial casting directors also desire personality in their actors. Use these demos to showcase professionalism but also your own humanity. If you can sing, include a few bars at the end of your commercial reel.

4.Audiobook

The field of audiobooks has rapidly expanded in recent years, and professional voice talent is always in demand. Audiobooks are a storytelling medium, so your demo should involve you reading from a story in your own voice. Resist the urge to create zany voices for any characters you are reading; save those for your animation vocal reel.

5.Podcasting

A podcast vocal demo splits the difference between audiobooks and commercials. Podcasters tend to speak in neutral voices but are able to convey passion about their subject matter. Take note that people who write their own podcasts often host them, and open casting calls for podcast narration tend to be rare.

How Long Should a Voice-Over Demo Be?

The typical voice-over demo is about 90 seconds total. You need only a few seconds of compelling content to catch a casting director’s attention, so break the reel up into five or six segments, each 15 to 20 seconds long. Use the various segments to show your vocal range and character versatility.

How to Record a Voice-Over Demo at Home

If you have some technical skills and can afford a bit of equipment, you can record your own voice-over demo at home. To get a sense of how a professional demo should sound, listen to working voice actor samples or agency house reels before recording your own.

1.Purchase recording equipment.

To record your demo, you will need a computer, microphone, microphone cable, microphone stand, and a digital audio interface. USB mics are portable and plug directly into a computer, making them a fine budget voice-over microphone choice, but the best microphone type for voice-over work is an external line return (XLR) microphone. A budget-conscious pick is the Behringer Q802USB, and if you’re ready to step it up a notch, try the standout Universal Audio Apollo Twin.

2.Download the applicable software.

Every home studio needs software referred to as a digital audio workstation, or DAW. This allows you to record, edit, and enhance voice-over recordings so your finished recordings sound pristine. For beginners, use Audacity or Pro Tools First. GarageBand, which comes preloaded on most Macs, also gives you basic mixing capabilities—albeit less sophisticated ones than you’ll ultimately need for professional voice acting. For more advanced audio mixing and editing capabilities, try Adobe Audition. From there, the next upgrade is Pro Tools, the top-quality recording software used by most recording studios and voice actors.

3.Find a quiet place to record.

Recording at home can be tricky if you don’t have a quiet room free from distracting noises. Closets make excellent impromptu recording booths because your clothes act as a natural sound absorber. To further improve the quality of your recording, learn how to soundproof a space and block outside noise by applying acoustic foam to your walls and sealing air gaps under your doors.

4.Prepare content to read.

Based on the type of voice demo you are making, you will want to find appropriate content to read on your audition. Select content that’s applicable to the type of demo you’re recording and keep your samples short. A casting director goes through dozens—if not hundreds—of demos and will make decisions quickly.

5.Record several takes.

Once you have your hardware, software, recording space, and scripts, you are ready to record your first demo. Use trial and error to record yourself and listen to the playback; you’ll learn a lot about recording techniques and the quirks of your own voice. Keep recording until you have the right number of samples to compile into a demo.

6.Edit the final demo.

Use your editing software to piece together the best segments from the takes you recorded to land on a strong final demo.

Once you have your finished demo, you’re ready to launch your voice-over career. Research websites that connect voice actors with potential clients and casting directors. Use these sites to post your demos and get your work out to the world.

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