Fun With Headphone Volume

Hey, there!

I come from a radio background. So I’m comfortable with wearing headphones when I record. And I think it’s an absolute must that you get comfortable with that as well. If you don’t, you can’t monitor your work as you perform it, effectively doubling the amount of time it takes you to get something recorded, then playing it back to make sure you didn’t make any mistakes.

And once you do get used to having headphones on when you record, you can use the volume control for your headphones to your advantage.

Here’s how.

If you’ve ever tried to talk to someone wearing headphones with loud music playing through them, and they talk back, they’ll probably do so far louder than they would if they weren’t wearing headphones.

Why? Because they are used to hearing their voice at a normal level, and with the headphones on, they can’t hear themselves that at that level. So…they raise their voice.

And they don’t even realize it.

You can use that same effect to your advantage, in a couple of interesting ways.

First, if you want to achieve a natural, intimate read, for promos, trailers, or luxury commercial copy, turn your headphone volume control UP. This will naturally make you drop the volume of your voice as you attempt to properly level what you’re hearing.

And the reverse is true as well. Instead of pretending to yell, lower your headphone volume and you’ll naturally raise your voice to shouting levels, and it will sound far more natural than if you were to “pretend” to be loud.

Works like a charm.

This is one of the things we talk about in VO2GoGo’s Mastering Microphone Technique class. It’s available right now.

Hope this helps.


8 Responses to Fun With Headphone Volume

  1. Denise Fleener March 30, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    Along the lines of headphones……can you recommend a few choices of headphone for the home studio VO artist?

    Thanks, as always, for all the info!

    • David H. Lawrence XVII March 30, 2013 at 4:26 pm #

      I will – and I’ll do it for everyone, in a 60 SECONDS newsletter issue in the next week or so.


      • Al Kessel February 2, 2017 at 9:20 am #

        I’ve taken the advice you gave me on FB a couple years ago regarding what to use in the booth…and LOVE it!

  2. Charles Wells March 30, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    Great advise as always David!

    But question, I’ve got a M-Audio Fastrack interface that I put my headphones into but it doesn’t have a audio out adjustment for them. Only the Output adjustment, along w/ mic input, mix and a button for stereo and mono. How would I get around this?


    • David H. Lawrence XVII March 30, 2013 at 4:25 pm #

      The M-Audio Fast Track actually does have a headphone volume control, it’s just not well-labeled. That large Output adjustment knob on the top of the unit, furthest to the right of the three knobs, and just above the headphone jack itself) controls the volume of both the headphones and the speakers that plug into the RCA jacks on the back of the unit. Personally, I think they should be independent of each other with separate controls, but they are what they are. If yours aren’t working that way, you need to contact the retailer that sold you the Fast Track.

      The M-Audio Fast Track Ultra has rotary volume controls (to the left of the headphone jacks themselves, just past the 4 led lights), labeled, most un-helpfully, 1 and 2. That corresponds to the 2 headphone jacks, not the 2 channels of audio.

      Hope this helps.


  3. Linda DeMetrick May 5, 2014 at 2:11 pm #

    Wow! What fabulous timing!!!! I just got my microphone & realized (after looking at the picture on the box) that I’m probably gonna be needing some headphones. Can hardly wait to hear your recommendation & your tips for the microphone!

  4. Robert Leach February 4, 2017 at 1:25 pm #

    David, this is gold! Giving a intimate read has always been a challenge for me this is a huge help. Thanks so much.

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