As a piece of narration in a film or broadcast, not accompanied by an image of the person speaking, voiceover is a tried-and-tested production technique that has been used as a character device, creative device, education or descriptive device, and commercial device, as well as a translation tool, for many years. Yet it is not necessarily easy to create a great-sounding voiceover — arguably all the more so in an increasingly independent age of proliferating YouTube video and podcast presentation — with which to cast a message far and wide. Which is exactly where SounDevice Digital’s dedicated Voxessor plug-in comes into play, perfectly positioned for anyone creating commercials, e-books, movies, podcasts, YouTube videos, and, indeed, any other need to cultivate recorded speech.
Setting the controls for the heart of the human voice — starting with the self-explanatory input (db) knob (to control the input signal level, ranging from -24 to +24) and output (db) knob (to control the volume output of the plug-in itself, ranging from -24 to +24), Voxessor effectively begins by allowing its users to speedily sweep for ideal equalisation. By bypassing the tedious process of manually applying EQ, so there is no need to tweak specific frequency and Q — ratio of centre frequency to bandwidth — settings according to the person speaking’s voice characteristics, Voxessor users can skip searching for those specific sweet spots by simply sweeping through man to guy to woman to girl EQ settings — suitable for working with the deepest and most manly voices to gentle female speech, in other words — using its photorealistic graphical user interface-dominating dedicated control. Couldn’t be simpler, surely — all the more so since an associated intensity (%) knob acts as a dry/wet control for the EQ applied.
And as if that finely-tuned EQ sweep control is not enough to be getting on with, Voxessor helpfully has another ace up its virtual sleeve since the already helpful feature in question can be combined with its inbuilt intelligent matching expertise. Engaging the analyze your voice (learn) button for five seconds is all it takes for Voxessor to detect the voice characteristics of the person speaking, then the match (%) control — adjustable between 0 and 100 — can be used to apply EQ accordingly so that the result sounds as close to ideal as possible.
Performance can sometimes prove problematic — human nature is what it is, after all, so engaging Voxessor’s autolevel automatically fixes any volume imperfections inherent in a speaking person’s performance to achieve a smooth and flawless flow for further perfecting voiceovers in next to no time. This can prove particularly useful during demanding performances involving longer-lasting stretches of sustained speech, such as documentary or e-book narration.
Needless to say, every voice is different and every speaker’s sibilants — speech sounded with a hissing effect — occur on slightly different frequencies. Fortunately, Voxessor’s (switchable) de-esser features tuning (kHz) and depth (%) controls to allow users to choose the right frequency band — between 3,2 and 7,4 — to work with maximum efficiency while minimising adversely affecting the original material.
Moreover, Voxessor also features a smart dynamics section with one-knob compressor (%) and gate (%) controls. All are set internally, tuned to work with dialogue and voiceover applications, although they could conceivably be also applied to vocal tracks — albeit achieving occasional unexpected results!
Rounding out that photorealistic yet flexible GUI — giving users an impression of working with physical hardware while easily adapting to their needs (by instantly resizing to suit when dragging the arrow at the bottom right corner as appropriate) — are a series of onscreen meters: in (indicates the input signal volume); comp gr (indicates the compressor gain reduction); gate gr (indicates the gate gain reduction); and out (indicates the overall output level).
Last but by no means least, Voxessor’s automatic gain compensation constantly adapts to the current settings to ensure that the plug-in’s output always sounds as loud as the input — no more thinking something sounds better simply because it is louder!
It is clearly as sophisticated in action as it is simple in operation, yet Voxessor certainly succeeds in its aim of achieving a perfect voiceover in next to no time! Thankfully, it is also perfectly priced to suit, so anyone creating commercials, e-books, movies, podcasts, YouTube videos, and, indeed, any other need to cultivate recorded speech should seriously consider adding it to their DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) toolkit.