Hey, there!

When auditioning, giving a loud, clean sound to your submissions is essential. The level at which you safely record those auditions, being careful not to overdrive the microphone or recorded signal, can leave you with a properly recorded, but weak sounding final product. Here’s how to fix that.

Electronically, you can “turn up the volume” by using a process called normalization to tweak the audition’s overall loudness before exporting to your MP3 file for submission. Normalization is a process available in any sound editing and recording software, including ProTools and Audacity.

Here’s a before-and-after example of normalizing a piece of audio. The top graphic is as recorded, and the bottom graphic is after normalizing the audio to full 100% digital volume. To hear the difference, click on the links below the graphic.

Listen to the audio as recorded

Listen to the audio with 0.0 dB normalization

Two things you’ll notice: the normalized version is louder, and the room noise is more noticeable. That’s because normalizing increases all audio evenly, by the same percentage. This means that your words will be louder, but depending upon the amount of room noise in your space, that noise may be louder as well.

You’ll find the Normalize… command under the Effect menu in Audacity. To use it, highlight the entire audition, then go to the Effect menu, and choose Normalize…. You’ll be presented with a screen that lets you choose the level of normalization, where 0.0 is the loudest, and for every full dB you choose to go down, you lower the loudness by about 8%. Audacity is usually set at -3.0 dB, and you can leave it there (-3.0 is recommended, as this is what ACX and other production companies and studios require):


…or change that to -1.0 or 0.0. Leave the other two checkboxes (zero crossover error correction and independent stereo normalization) checked. Click OK. You’ll see your waveform increase in height. You’ve now normalized the audio, and you can continue on with exporting your work.

Do this with every audition you perform, if needed. It really does act like a simple volume control, and adds to the power and presence of your auditions.

If for some reason, normalization lowers the height of your waveforms, there’s a very good chance you’re recording at too high a level, so drop the input level down a wee bit.

If you have any questions, feel free to comment below.

Hope this helps.


9 Responses to 6 Steps to a Perfect VO Demo

  1. Kelli August 18, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    I feel really good about my demo. It is a quick and fun process, even for someone like me who gets very self concious. :)

  2. David Britz September 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    The demos are great. Superb quality. Why go anywhere else?

  3. David Britz October 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Can’t wait to record my Narration VO Demo!! :))

  4. Mike Brang December 31, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Having a well-produced demo is one of the most important things in the VO business. I had a number of demos made from other producers in the past and they all had one thing in common — that manufactured, cookie cutter sound!
    What sets David apart from the rest, besides his affordable price and tremendously fast turn around time, is that all of the clips you record with him sound unique. Each spot sounds like an actual commercial you recorded for a job.
    My agent loved the quality and even asked who produced it to refer his other talent there!

    Thanks again, David for producing such a great, high quality demo for me. You made the process relaxing and enjoyable. I urge anyone reading this unsolicited reply to listen to David’s student demos to hear the difference for yourself. Anyone would be lucky to work with him

  5. Kristy Liles February 9, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

    I can not thank you enough. I worked so hard on 15 page IVR project, one day I cryed, look for answers, pull my hear (not really) but I was about until another VO send me this great tool. Thanks!

  6. Frank June 11, 2017 at 9:51 pm #


    When v123 indicates the audition is for a student/ nonprofit are we to assume it is for $0. If so, why does the audition ask for an amount to be entered?

  7. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

    I did get this scam through Voice 123. In our discourse, they offered me the gig and they gave me the name of a legit local place to record and the same runaround with the money. I didn’t send anything, but instead, I called the studio to make sure the booking was for the day we set up, and lo and behold, the people there had no idea what I was talking about. I then tried to call back my “contact person” who was setting this up and there was a fax machine beep on the other end. I immediately contacted Voice 123 and told them what had happened. You know what they say…if it sounds togaed to be true, it probably is. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    …too good…not togaed.
    The one time spell check didn’t work!

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