Dr. Self-Direction, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The Bass

Jimmy Slonina Voice Leave a Comment

Foaming with Jimmy

Sounds dead to me. That’s a good thing.

It’s clear that a voice actor needs to be very proficient in self-direction these days. Auditions come in a mile a minute from pay-to-play sites, agents and other sources. There is no one in the booth with you giving you feedback on your reads or suggestions on what the client might be wanting. That’s something the actor needs to learn how to figure out for him or herself. It’s a large part of what my current coaching is about. Cracking the code, training for a discerning ear, then record, hit send, and move onto the next one.

And the training never stops! Even the most seasoned veterans get together weekly or more for coachings and workshops. It’s a muscle that should always be exercised, and there’s no better way than to have others around giving feedback when they can.

But I’m learning that an even trickier code to crack has been training my ear to assess audio acoustics. I recently gave an audio sample of my booth acoustics to VO tech guru George Whittam for a free analysis. He said everything sounded pretty good except for hearing a little mouth noise, but the biggest problem was that my booth was sounding too “boomy” or “boxy”. This is something I’ve since learned to be a common problem with small, square spaces such as mine. George recommended I install bass traps in my booth to absorb the low frequency bouncing around when I speak. It being a free consultation, he of course didn’t go into any detail. Which is why now I’m mired in seemingly fruitless research on bass trap logistics. I was hoping I could figure this part out on my own without having to pay several hundred dollars for professional consultation. So to avoid that in the future I need to start getting good at self-technical-direction.

It's all about that bass.

I’m all ’bout that bass.

They say that my mid-level-priced microphone will serve my purposes just fine, but a microphone costing several thousand dollars will make me sound completely different. It’s this difference I’m not yet in a place to recognize. Nor am I yet in a place, I don’t think, to troubleshoot how to reduce low frequencies in my booth with bass traps.

But along with all of the other great number of skills I am laterally learning in a very fast timeline, training my ear to recognize even the most minute sound aberrations and figuring out what sounds “good” or “bad” are things I obviously need to add to my curriculum.

Got any advice on learning to be a ninja sound engineer? Or ninjaneer? Have something to say about bass traps logistics? Or anything else to say about this post? Sock it to me in the comments!

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