An essential component for setting up your business is considering which software you will use to record or edit your voiceover projects. You can purchase a state-of-the-art microphone and have a quiet space to record but consider which voiceover software program will capture vocal quality and perform day-to-day editing. Whether you work in commercials, narration, animation, IVR, Promo, or eLearning, an excellent digital audio workstation or DAW will help you get the job done quickly and accurately.
As a diverse millennial voice actor, I was interested in learning the technology involved in starting a voiceover business. Although I love technology and all the bells and whistles that good software can provide, it can be daunting to learn a new tool. Especially when your inbox is flooded with auditions, you’re marketing yourself, and your time is limited.
How I Decided on My Voiceover Software
Software is one of the things I didn’t research. I purchased all hardware, set up my studio, and explored casting websites that I wanted to join. I had no drive to choose software, and I wanted to hit the ground running and start to book the jobs. I wish I had researched this when I look back on how I got started as a voice over actor.
My Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) of Choice
My husband had a MAC Computer, and he mentioned to me that we had a program called Logic Pro X, and that was the one I should probably use. He noted that his brother would use our computer now and again when he came over on the weekend and liked to make beats, so that’s the program he would use, and he figured it would be advanced enough for me. I had no idea how to use it, but he slowly but surely showed me how. I used Logic Pro X for about a year and a half with no real training on how it should be used. I searched the web high and low for tutorials but with little success. Most of the YouTube videos I found were geared toward music production and how to change the sound for instruments, and little was mentioned about straight voice over.
Luckily, my two fellow Canadian voice over friends, Christi F. and Dalal S., also used Logic Pro X, so we chatted now and again and asked questions about how we used the program. Now to this day, those conversations were the best training source that I had on how to use the program. If anyone who reads this knows of an actual Logic Pro X course that we could take, please let us know.
The Right Tool for Each Job
I should mention that I also contacted George Whittam, a top sound engineer from Los Angeles, to assist me with my overall sound. I told him I used Logic Pro X, and he was surprised. He asked why I used it and I said that it was already on our computer and figured it would be the easiest choice. He mentioned that for voice over, it was “like bringing a tank to a knife fight.” It was a massive software package for a simple job like voice over, and wasn’t necessary. But once I showed him what it could do, he agreed it was a good choice and referred me to use specific plug-ins to enhance my sound.
After working in voice over for a reasonable length of time, I now discovered that Adobe Audition was the most popular DAW, and I realized that I did have that on my computer. I decided to try it for a week as a trial to see how it compares to Logic Pro X but to be honest, when you are so familiar with and use a tool daily, and it’s tough to re-learn a new program. For that reason, I decided to continue with the tool that I was most comfortable using. Adobe now has a monthly subscription cost that I was not willing to pay, especially when I remember a time when it was a single buyout price.
When to Use Plug-Ins with Voiceover Software
It’s important to note that if you are recording in a beautifully top-quality sound-treated room, the effects you will use on the DAW will be limited. The better your recording space, the less you will use on your DAW. I used quite a few plug-ins when I began my career because I was recording in a lightly-treated bedroom closet, and I had to adjust and tune the sound to sound like I was recording in a professional Los Angeles studio. Now that I have upgraded my recording space, I use more minor sound effects and plug-ins. My good friend, who has the best recording space and top-tier microphone, uses virtually nothing on her voice and delivers raw audio, almost completely eliminating any plug-ins.
Because we are living in a digital age and have such diverse tastes, there are quite a few DAWs on the market. Below, I will review some of the most popular DAWs available today, and as time goes on I’m sure there will be many more to come!
Audacity – Free
Audacity is a free voiceover recording software! I remember using this in college to record an assignment for my class to hear. I had zero VO experience back then, but it was user-friendly and only took me a couple of minutes to learn. It’s press record and speak!
- Mono vs. stereo
For a simple beginner voice over, this is a good choice. If I needed to do quick editing for a general project, this DAW would be my choice, and it’s low risk and high reward.
Garageband – Free
Available for Mac computers only, Garageband works for music production and audio recording and editing. There are two versions available – free (great for low budgets) and a paid version. It contains an extensive sound library and is a popular choice for podcasters.
Adobe Audition – USD 20.99 Monthly
Part of the Adobe Creative Suite, this is the most popular voice over DAW software for voice actors. Many of my voice actor friends, both young and old, use this. It contains several effects and a thermal spectrum view that many find user-friendly. I remember when this software used to be a full buyout price, but now it has moved to a subscription price of USD 20.99 monthly, which I find unnecessary and refuse to pay.
Logic Pro X – USD 279
A pricer software, Logic Pro X is considered a high-quality recording software. It contains many plug-in options for music production and voice over and includes an entire library of sounds and instruments, and I have made background music for my demos. Although designed for music production, it works wonderfully for voice over.
Pro Tools – USD 299 Annually
This software is the industry standard for music production and voice recording. Beyonce, Sir Paul Mc Cartney, and Coldplay use it. It is a lot for the simple act of recording voice, but many voice actors love to use it.
Reaper – USD 60 for a Discounted Licence – USD 225 for Commercial License
Reaper is a new up-and-coming, fully customizable software favorite for voice actors. They claim it is user-friendly, fast, and crashes less than most recording software. I have heard great things about reaper, and many tech-savvy voice actors are slowly switching over to this software with rave reviews.
Which Voiceover Software is Best?
After a brief overview of the top-rated DAWs for voiceovers, which is the best? That comes down to your ability to learn all that the program offers, your requirements, and your budget. If you’re a singer and need to record vocals and instruments, you may pick a DAW suited for music production. If you just need to record a single-track voice-over, you may choose another DAW. For me, Logix Pro X is advanced for what I do daily, but it allows me creative freedom when I need it, and I am happy with all it has to offer.