15 Criteria to picking the “perfect” voice

I think if Apple and Nuance had a “Voice Talent Evaluation Grid” they would not have ended up with a voice that they would replace in three years…at great expense.  So how do you pick a “perfect” voice?

It helps to have a template when auditioning voice talent.  We have a checklist template that has fifteen criteria to help us pick the best overall voice talent.

Choosing the voice talent to record for new VUI systems usually involves five people or more. Each “likes” different voices for different reasons.  But pleasantness of the voice is just the start. There’s fourteen more criteria to be measured on our checklist.  For example, you have to listen for clicks, pops, saliva noises which will all have to be removed or rerecorded.  If the voice talent has bad comprehension and makes an error every third line, your budget has just grown 33%.  When you’re recording 109,000 words in a script you’ve got to have a clean voice talent.

A checklist also helps the whole team stay on the same page. The last thing you want is for the client to dig in their heels on a voice that has so many technical flaws you’ll bust your budget cleaning up the files.   The checklist helps the client understand why you favor candidate 5 over candidate 4.

BTW, we don’t use talent names because it prejudices the choice.  After all, wouldn’t it affect your choice if you knew candidate 3 and 4′s real names –  Angelica and Gurdta?

So that’s a few examples of the fifteen criteria we apply in evaluating voice talent. Take a look at the Voice Talent Evaluation Grid Checklist. Click here to go tour our site to download our Voice Talent Evaluation Grid Template.

The checklist helps you listen for technical flaws that will inflate the cost of the project as well as imbed in the files errors that must be fixed downstream and even more expense. The checklist also assures that our client, their client, the sound engineer, and the producer deliver voice files at a great price that will endure for a long, long time.  One voicefile contract has been running seventeen years now with thousands of files recorded.

CUSTOM VOICE CASTING - Most recording studios have a fixed stable of regulars they record often.  We do a custom voicecasting for each client.  Our last project we cast forty-three women.  Then we culled it down to the best nineteen.  The talent came in and read a carefully prepared script meant to reveal difficulties that could imperil the budget and the timeframe.  For example, most voice talent are used to recording just a few pages of copy.  We record 11,000 lines.  If the voice talent doesn’t have endurance and consistency it doesn’t matter how good they sound.  The script puts them to the test.


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