Sounding The Same Over The Long Haul

Hey, there!

My client, Jason, up in Seattle, asked me recently what to do about sounding consistent on long term projects, like narration and audiobooks.

It’s a great question, and the stuff of an easy little tip.

So. What’s the secret of maintaining performance consistency?

Long term projects, like audiobooks, technical how-to’s, multi-day narration jobs, help files and so on, make a particular demand of you and your voice that a 30 second commercial does not: how to sound the same in chapter 46 as you did in chapter 1.

Jason was concerned that the listeners would actually perceive any differences as they moved from section to section in his final work.

For the most part, he needn’t worry. Nor should you.

First, let yourself off the hook on this one. There are lots of examples where the narrator of an audio book sounds a bit different from chapter to chapter. Not THAT much different, but everyone’s idea of what an acceptable delta of difference is will vary.

A slight amount of nasality, a tiny change in neutral narration pitch, a bit of a speed change isn’t going to be all that noticeable.

Second, remember that listeners don’t always consume your work in a linear, beginning-to-end fashion – they may only listen to one section, or they may jump around from point to point, especially with technical work.

But what Jason is talking about boils down to maintaining the tone and intention of your work, and maintaining that across multiple sessions of work.

Here’s what I do:

Before I start, say, Chapter 7, I’ll simply listen to the last minute or so of Chapter 6. And I’ll mimic myself, speaking the text from that last part of Chapter 6 out loud, as I’m listening.

Then, I’ll pick right up, at the same pace, same tone, same mental set point that I had with Chapter 6’s work, when I start to record Chapter 7.

You might even want to record that last minute of Chapter 6 over again, moving right on to Chapter 7, and maybe even choose to make your edit not at the chapter break, but before it, so that you’re actually introducing the listener to any slight changes before the chapter switches.

And remember, you then have to maintain tone and intention throughout the session you’re recording. But that’s a given.

Doing that preview will help you maintain the same tone from section to section, and lets you rest easy that you’re not taking listeners, who work through your entire script, on an unintended vocal joy ride.

Hope this helps.


10 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!

  9. Bernard Prame July 1, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

    extremely helpful demo. Thank you!

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