Should You Use Headphones While Recording?

This is a common topic I see covered and there doesn’t seem to be any right or wrong answer. When I started VO, I didn’t like my voice too much, and I thought hearing myself while trying to perform would be super distracting. A few years ago by and that changed, I could ONLY record which monitoring myself, fast forward to present day and I prefer a mix of both. What changed?

Well, I think monitoring yourself can be helpful for certain performances. Anything not 100% my natural voice I’ll monitor. I can hear pops and do a retake on the spot, same with weird mouth noises or my lovely cats scratching at the door of my booth. It can be wildly helpful for getting the right take the first time, however, you need to ride that fine line of slightly listening for those mistakes while giving your performance 100%. It sounds confusing, but over time becomes natural and you do it without really thinking.

Now what really changed for me, is I stopped focusing so much on character work and more on commercial work which these days, the real person read is HOT. I found that focusing on myself would make me critique how “real” I sounded, so I tried recording with no headphones on and oh man, what a difference it makes. I find I can only do natural, real person reads when I’m not monitoring, closing my eyes and pretending I’m talking to a friend sitting across from me. Sometimes it helps to get a new perspective and in the audio world, removing those headphones is a new perspective if you ask me.

If you do choose to monitor, I recommend hardware monitoring over software monitoring every day of the flippin week. For example, my DAW (recording software) of choice is Reaper. It has software monitoring built in, but it’s not 1 to 1, so there’s a very slight delay which is EXTREMELY off-putting. Hardware monitoring plays back in real time, so you can focus on the nuances and screaming kitties in your life, as they happen.

As always, if you have any questions at all please don’t hesitate to ask. Thanks for tuning in and take care!

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