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Finding The Right Voiceover Tone

Voiceovers In The 90s

Not long ago, the voiceover artists chosen for TV and radio commercials sounded like they were from another planet. Back in the 80s and 90s, that’s what clients wanted. Or at least they thought they did.

Almost every big-budget commercial featured an outrageously deep, ‘ballsy’ male voice (think John Laws or John Stanton) or a super polished female voice who likely had a theatre background (think Sigrid Thornton or Robin Nevin). Oh, and as for taking direction and suggesting they could sound more natural or emphasise a keyword or a specific phrase, forget it!

One example is the ‘Have You Got What You Paid For’ voiceover at the start of a rented VHS videotape. (Remember those?) Sure, the outrageously deep voice with downward inflections at the end of every line got the message across. But could the producers have used more authentic-sounding talent? I think so.

It seems madness in hindsight, but that’s just how it was. Of course, this was before the internet and mobile phones, and before clients realised that consumers react more favourably to a product or service when there’s a connection. (Interestingly, this also coincided with commercial radio stations phasing out announcers who were 99.5% voice and 0.5% personality).

‘Keeping it real’ is the new mantra. So whether it’s a corporate video, an eLearning voiceover, podcast intro, social media ad, corporate video, a TV, radio or cinema commercial, authentic sounding male and female voiceover talent are getting more and more gigs.

Technology Has Changed The Game

Technology has also played a massive part in the evolution of the voiceover artist. Once upon a time, you’d need to go to a recording studio somewhere in the city. You’d go into a room with a big glass window; on one side, you’d have the creative director, the writer, a client representative, and the sound engineer. 

Then on the other side, there was the voiceover talent. Back then (in the pre-digital era), the studio recorded the session using reel-to-reel tapes, and the sound engineer was like a surgeon. Slicing up and ‘de-breathing’ the recording, cutting and splicing the best takes to create one final commercial.

Today, with advancements in recording equipment, microphones & professional voice booths, the voiceover artist can record a commercial from their spare room (if they like) and send a digital file to the production team anywhere in the country. It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s flexible. Better still, if a client would prefer to be a part of the recording process, there’s also the option of directing voiceover sessions remotely just like they’re in the studio.

Authenticity Is Hard To Fake

Increasingly, our clients are requesting authentic, ‘real’ sounding voiceover talent. Steering away from the classic radio announcer delivery, many scripts call for voices that don't sound like they’re reading. And that’s harder to do than it sounds!

At Abe’s Audio, we strive to provide the best voiceover artists in the country and give an unmatched service level. We’ve been a voiceover production company for almost 25 years, and we’ve seen many changes over the years!

Our clients tell us that we’re at the cutting edge of the professional voiceover industry in Australia because we give them creative control wherever they are. We make it easy and stress-free to source the best voice talent.

Like to work with us? We’d love to hear from you. (And if your project does call for a strong, ballsy voice, we can still help. No judgement!)

Abe Udy

Abe is the founder of Abe's Audio and started the business in 1998 from his bedroom with an old computer, fax machine, dial-up internet, and a microphone in his wardrobe. Today, he leads a team that provides audio production and voice overs to media, agency, eLearning, video & creative clients around Australia and beyond.

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