Communication Masts

What is ISDN?

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ISDN (or Integrated Services Digital Network) is a communications technology from the late eighties, when phone lines and landline telephones were the main method of telecommunication.

In the nineties came dial-up internet, and people would use a modem with their analog telephone line to connect to the internet. However, the connection was slow, and in the process tied up the entire phone line meaning no phone calls could be made or received at the same time.

ISDN provided a way around this problem. It allowed a voice conversation and data connection to happen at the same time and it also offered a higher bandwidth allowing faster connections to the internet.

This is how most businesses use ISDN, but professional voice overs use it in an entirely different way – as a CD-quality phone line that connects their home recording studios (via the use of an audio codec) to studios around the world, allowing their clients to listen in and give direction, and also record their voice performances. The sound quality on a correctly configured ISDN line is almost as good as being in the same room as your client or collaborator.

The Death of ISDN

At the timing of writing this, ISDN is being phased out in the UK. By 2025, it will cease to exist and no more new lines are being added from 2020.

Broadband internet now satisfies the data requirements of nearly all businesses without the need for expensive, slow and outdated ISDN technology.

What Does This Mean for Voice Overs?

Thankfully, there are now many reliable alternatives to ISDN that have been tirelessly tried, tested and improved over the past decade. Audio professionals can also use their broadband connections to link up with each other for podcasts, radio interviews, or voice over recordings, and these broadband-based connections are often free!

Free Alternatives to ISDN for Sending Audio / Recording Live Voice Over Sessions via the Internet

Source Connect Now and Clean Feed are both applications that run in your web browser and allow you to connect for free with others who’ve also loaded the application.

The audio connection is reliable and of excellent quality and can be made fail-safe with the following steps:

  • As a voice talent, presenter or interviewee, run an audio program in the background that also records your microphone. This way, if there are any audible data glitches or buffering problems during the web-based audio link, you’ll still have a pristine copy of the audio to pass on by e-mail after the recording session. Audacity is a free digital audio editor that will do this job well.
  • Connect your computer to the internet using an ethernet cable (You may need an adapter if you are using a newer Mac). Ethernet gives you a higher bandwidth and more stable connection compared to connecting by WiFi to the internet, which is likely to help your audio connection run more smoothly.
  • Select a connection rate that’s not too high. 128K mono is perfectly suitable for most voice recordings, and it won’t overwhelm your bandwidth: The less data you send to less likely there are to be problems with the link.

Premium Alternatives to ISDN

If you’re an audio engineer who’s making a lot of connections to international voice artists, or interviewing people from around the world, Source Connect (full) is a popular way to go.

I’ve used it in my studio and it allows even more stable internet-based audio connections. Its main selling point is that producers can take the audio directly into their DAW (digital audio workstation) and edit on-the-fly as they record a voice talent. This is a big plus point for producers who need to quickly record a lot of audio (e.g. for eLearning courses or audio books). By contrast, with the browser-based free versions, often just the recording is taken during the live connection and it’s then replayed and edited at a later date – taking twice the amount of time.

ipDTL also offer a range of paid-for services that facilitate pro audio connections. SIP audio in particular looks very useful for both voice calls and top quality audio connections – a one-stop shop for the small audio business owner.

Loop Back

To use a phrase from the days of ISDN, now seems like a good time to loop back to the beginning of the article and mention that if you still need to make an ISDN connection, even during and after the phase out, IPDTL also offers an internet to ISDN service, where you can call an ISDN number from your internet browser and send audio from whatever is connected to the audio input of your computer; in my case an audio interface phantom powering my Rode condenser microphone.

So, ISDN for voice overs lives on! (but only for as a long as the physical ISDN lines still exist).

Connect / Contact / Communicate

If you’re looking for a professional voice over actor who has a professional home studio and offers Source Connect, ipDTL and Clean Feed connections, look no further.

I am available for voice overs every week day and can work with you via the internet wherever you are in the world.

Please get in touch to discuss your project.

How a Professional Voice Over Can Help Your Small Business

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As an entrepreneur and self-employed person, I’m well-versed with the steps of establishing a new small business: At first there’s the emphasis on a good company name and domain name, then comes the mission statement and company logo, and soon the business cards are being printed.

Next, you’ll be asking yourself ‘how does my business sound?’ and how best to communicate a memorable message about the product or service you’re offering.

If you want your business to be the best, it should both look and sound the best.

By choosing a professional voice over for your corporate message you can ensure it’s conveyed confidently and professionally. As a result your company will also be conveyed confidently and professionally.

Professional Voice Over vs Do-It-Yourself Recording

Sometimes, people choose to cut costs by asking someone in-house to record their voice over, but there are drawbacks of taking this approach:

  • The audio quality is usually questionable; room tone and background noise can affect the clarity of your message.
  • The tone of voice may sound flat and uninteresting and this can reflect on your company – imagine if your company logo was made from 90s clip art!
  • The meter may be incorrect for the script. If read too fast or too slow, the audio will have an amateurish quality.
  • If a professional studio isn’t used to make the recording, any amendments needed at a later date will be difficult to match to the original audio and can stand out like a sore thumb when you edit them into your video.

By contrast, here’s what a professional voice over will give you:

  • They’ll have a professional broadcast quality studio where pristine audio will be recorded with no background noise, pops or clicks or room tone / reverb.
  • You’ll get an engaging read! Professionals are paid to sound anything but “flat and uninteresting”.
  • If the video has already been created prior to recording the voice, they will keep in mind the length of your video edit and record the script to meet any time limits, while at the same time sounding fluid and captivating. (Note: Usually it’s best to record your voice over first and create your corporate video afterwards, to fit around the voice over).
  • Because most professional voice overs have their own studio, if you need your recording amended at a later date they will be able to provide a recording that’s virtually identical to the original. The new recording (perhaps because you updated the price of your product or have a new special offer) will seamlessly and quickly edit into your original corporate video and will save you money on re-recording the entire script again.

My Credentials

The main types of business communication I usually record are:

Elearning and Training Videos

  1. eLearning Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:43

These require a clear yet engaging tone of voice as the audience often listen for many hours and need to retain the information.

I’ve also written about choosing a voice for your e-Learning course.

Corporate Videos and Animations

Created for:

  • A company’s intranet.
  • To represent a company at trade shows and conferences.
  • For communicating longer informative messages to the public. These communications often make up the bulk of a companies YouTube channel content and / or social media posts.
  • Business to business communication.

The voice over style is often aspirational and upbeat in anticipation of the future, or natural and conversational.

  1. Corporate Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:18

Down to Earth Communications (appropriate during COVID-19)

  1. Down-To-Earth Example Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:30

A down to earth tone can be more appropriate for some corporate messages, especially when relating to changes in uncertain times.

Advertising on YouTube, Facebook, Linked In, Instagram or Twitter

  1. Upbeat Commercials Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:56
  2. Cool Commercials Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:47
  3. Regional Accent Example (Northern, UK) Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:18
  4. Audio Imaging & Branding Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:45
  5. Kids TV Commercials Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:57

When advertising, you’ll need your voice over to sound attention-grabbing and as exciting as the other competing commercials on the TV / radio and streaming sites.

The voice you choose can also give your brand character, whether that’s by choosing a regional accent, a sincere conversational tone or a super cool delivery.

Need a Voice Over Recording?

Please get in touch if you would like my voice to speak for your business. I offer 24 hour turnaround on most scripts and supply ready-to-use audio by e-mail.

How to Direct a Voice Over Session

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First Things First: Choosing Your Voice Talent

Before we get into directing, let’s look at the crucial initial stage of recording a voice over – choosing your voice talent.

When choosing the best voice for your commercial, listen to a few different voice artists’ showreels. Ideally you want to hear close to the tone of voice you’re looking for before you contact and book your voice.

If you’re planning on recording a live session with the voice talent, also satisfy yourself that the voice over has experience of live recording sessions and a long line of happy customers. It may sound surprising, but some people cannot take direction well and don’t sound in the studio as they do in their demos. This is an unexpected scenario that can leave you out of pocket as you find and record a different voice over instead (but usually still have to pay the first one).

You can take the risk out of this situation by asking your preferred voice to record a few lines of a demo before you book them. This is a service that myself and many other pros offer free of charge.

By checking off these points, once you’re in a live session with your voice over, you’ll be able to trust them and their ideas – and because we do this all the time we’re worth listening to! We’ll likely be able to deliver your script exactly as you want it, quickly and with little fuss, leaving everyone happy.

That said, should you have a specific tone, pace or style of delivery in mind you’ll absolutely want to play a part in directing the session. So, here’s how to prepare to direct your voice talent.

Preparing to Direct a Voice Over Session

  • Before the session, read the script aloud to yourself. While it might make you feel self-conscious at first, the more comfortable you are reading the script (placing emphasis and pause where you want it), the happier you’ll be to relay your aims to the voice over artist during the recording session.
  • Reading aloud also allows you to check that your copy is written to time. Adverts for the TV and radio are cut to exact times — usually 19 seconds or 29 seconds for TV and 10 seconds or 30 seconds for radio — so you need to know that what you have to say isn’t too long for your air time slot, and that it can be read at a comfortable pace within that time.
  • Print out a copy of the script, or look at it on your phone and annotate it. The following annotation tips will help you remember to read the script as you intended when you’re in the session:
    • Underline words to emphasise them (but use this sparingly; if everything is emphasised then nothing is emphasised!)
    • Place a diagonal line between words to mark places to pause (e.g. “Often you want to pause / for effect.”)
  • Before the session make a note of a read you like from the voice over’s showreel and let them know at the start of the session (e.g. “I like the tone of voice in your upbeat commercials showreel at 22 seconds”)
  • When thinking of other companies’ advertising campaigns, are there any that sound the way you want your voice over to sound? If so, find the commercial(s) on YouTube and send a link to your voice over before the session.

When the Session Begins

  • As voice overs, we love to hear about your project and your aims at the beginning of the session. Let us know:
    • Some general information about the product or service you’re advertising
    • Who your target audience is
    • Where they are located geographically, if relevant, as this could affect the accent we use to deliver your script, in order to resonate more with your audience.
  • Next, in plain-English remind the voice over how you want the read to sound, for example: ‘cool and powerful’, ‘formal and professional’, ‘upbeat and friendly’, ‘natural, real and conversational’
  • After the first recording, be honest with the voice. Tell them what you think – tactfully! For example, “That was good but it needs to be more upbeat”, “That’s getting there, but can you make it sound cooler and give it more attitude”, “It sounded too much like a hard-sell voice over and it needs to be more natural”, “I’d like to hear it with more light and shade”
  • Soon you’ll have a number of versions recorded, and hopefully they’re getting better every time.
  • Now is a good time to look back at the script you practiced before the session, is the emphasis where you want it? It’s normal to ask the voice over to re-record single sentences at this point, and then after the session, an earlier recording can be edited and modified by adding in these new sentences.
  • As voice overs, we always expect to re-do key sentences and the tag line; this will give you a good number of options to choose from in the edit or when you cut to visuals.
  • Important – With all of this said, it’s surprising how often a client will use a voice over’s very first take, even after exploring different alternatives. This is because, as actors, we do this all the time and our intuition is informed by the hundreds of scripts we’ve recorded over the years for many happy customers.

When to Stop Recording

Eventually, time will run out. It’s likely you’ll book a voice over talent for an hour, but that doesn’t mean you have to use all of the hour. In fact, It’s more common not to for short projects like commercials.

My tip here is simply: Don’t be afraid to call it a day once you hear what you like. Decisiveness is a good thing! Recording new versions for the sake of it will only make it harder to decide which one to use, and can lead to a loss of perspective about what you wanted to achieve in the first place.

After the Session – Editing & Post-Production

  • When faced with all of your voice over takes, decide on a clear favourite, test it with your music or visuals, and then consider editing in any stand alone sentences that you recorded as alternatives.
  • If you need more light and shade and you have a good range of takes, try taking a paragraph from here and there and combining them into one recording. This can sometimes give a more captivating sound to the overall read.
  • On the flip side, sometimes you’ll not want to do any editing. A voice over read that’s recorded in a single take can sound very comfortable and natural, and edits will only interrupt the authenticity of the performance given by the voice talent.
  • At the end of the day, use your ear – whatever sounds best, use it!

My Credentials

Thanks for reading this article, I hope you found it useful.

I’ve written it from my many years of experience working as a professional voice over artist. I’ve recorded literally thousands of live sessions, either via remote connection (Source Connect / ISDN / Clean Feed / SIP Audio) or in person. Some examples include recording with Microsoft in LA, ITV in London, and on a day-to-day basis connecting with clients in their homes or offices who are creating new marketing content.

People often comment on my ability to take direction very well.

Finally, if you don’t want or need to direct your session, I can also supply audio by e-mail. All you need to do is e-mail me a script. I will supply two or three takes recorded in my professional home studio. I offer 24 hour turnaround on most jobs.

I look forward to hearing about your project.

Choosing a Voice for Your e-Learning Course

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In this blog post, I go behind the scenes of creating audio for e-Learning courses.

What to Look for in Your Voice Talent

  • Firstly, choose a voice who records in a professional studio. You could hire Patrick Stewart, but if he made your recording in a shower cubicle using a smart phone you’d not be happy with the result!
  • Next, voice overs who regularly record e-Learning content are the best people to work with. Like myself, they are usually masters of editing and processing audio. They’ll edit your recordings and split them up into separate files (often for each slide that your course specifies). This means their work will drop straight into your training course or e-Learning program and you’ll not concern yourself personally with any audio engineering.
  • Hire voiceovers who have a good internet connection and are tech savvy. This way they’ll not struggle to promptly send you the the large number of audio files your training course likely requires.
  • Check the talent that you hire are regularly available. When you’re creating a lot of audio, mistakes in the script often need addressing. Hiring a voice over talent who is available everyday will ensure that those mistakes can be quickly amended and your project isn’t put on hold.

Do It Yourself vs Paying a Professional Voice Over

Many people think that they can record a good-enough voice over, especially if the project is on a budget. Not surprisingly however, the recording quality and sound of amateur voice overs is below par most of the time.

Additionally, amateur voices aren’t experienced actors. Remember back to your early school days when someone came in to read at story time? Some people had a knack for it while others would read all words as though they were the same. Which did you prefer?

The bottom line is that a professional voice talent will give the most interesting delivery of your message. E-Learning courses (and nearly all kinds of educational audio recording) are, by definition, long. If the message could be conveyed in a quicker way then it would be. It’s important to respect the fact that your audience are going to be listening for a long time, and so they deserve to hear a voice that doesn’t grate or become tiresome – and even better that keeps them interested beyond the first few minutes!

As someone experienced in e-Learning and audio book acting, I am trained for these marathons of text.

  1. eLearning Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:43
  2. Medical Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:29
  3. English Language Course Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:38
  4. Audiobook Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:54

I’m conscious during my performances of e-Learning voiceovers that they must maintain an interesting, clear and engaging tone, as demonstrated in this instructional video I recorded for Samsung.

Choose a Voice Who Can Act

E-learning courses usually have a variety of real-life scenarios aimed at demonstrating the case in point. These scenarios, designed to place the listener in a role play situation, strive to be believable so that the listener can experience and learn from the interaction. It’s therefore important that the voices they’re hearing can act!

Professional voices can often create and perform multiple characters as shown here in my characters showreel:

  1. Characters - Video Game and Audiobook Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:04

When you cast voice overs who are also actors your life will be easier:

  • Your project will require less planning when each voice can play multiple characters
  • Overall the number of voices you’ll have to hire will be reduced, saving you money.

My Credentials

If you’re looking for a voice that ticks all of these boxes, please consider me for your e-Learning project.

To date, I have completed many large audio projects, from audiobooks to training courses.

I Can Also Manage Your Entire E-Learning Project

As an experienced voice actor and trained sound engineer with a good knowledge of the UK voice over industry, I can also offer a one-stop-shop for your e-Learning project. If you would like me to cast multiple talented voices and record and edit your entire project then please get in touch to discuss your requirements.

How I can help your company during Coronavirus (COVID-19)

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Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Right now, things are unusual. As many of us around the world self-isolate, staying connected and informed is more important than ever. However you are affected by coronavirus and the current lockdown it is likely that you need to communicate clearly with your staff, customers or students – and that’s where I can help.

In this blog post I’ll look at my training course voice overs for medical professionals, students and employees, and my voice recordings for on hold phone systems. If you are looking to run a commercial, please see the showreels page for complete examples of my work.

As a professional UK voice over artist with over a decade of experience, I can communicate your message in a clear, confident and assured way. I am working from my pro home studio and offer same-day turnaround on recordings. You can rest assured you’ll receive broadcast-quality audio that’s ready to use in your project. Contact me to learn more.

Medical Narration for Professionals

I have vast experience recording technical, authoritative voice overs aimed at academics and medical professionals on the front line of the health care industry.

  1. COVID-19 Voice Over Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:47

Some of my previous formal narration work (which I record with a neutral accent) has informed doctors and nurses worldwide on how to administer study drugs and evaluate their effectiveness.

  1. Medical Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:29

Medical Narration for the Public

Roche are a leading pharmaceutical company that operate worldwide. To communicate with the general public, they asked me to record a friendly and informative voice over for this video presentation and they found my work a perfect fit for their project.

Online Training Course Voice Overs

Videos and eLearning courses are a popular way of communicating with people working remotely. By combining an animation or presentation with a professional voice over, you can educate and inform a spread out audience in a very effective way.

For this instructional video, I deliver information in a knowledgeable and insightful way to guide dentists through the process of removing a “Trate Superstructure”.

  1. eLearning Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:43

IVR, On Hold & Voicemail Recordings

  1. IVR & On-Hold Messaging Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:40

Now that many businesses are closed and their business hours unusual, IVR (Interactive Voice Response) and on hold messaging is often a business’s first point-of-contact with its customers.

I have a great deal of experience recording professional voice overs for voice interfaces and answer phone messages.

Contact Me

I hope you found this article useful. I look forward to hearing how I can help your business communicate in these unprecedented times.

Stay safe and well as we all do our part to help save lives.

About

Voice Overview

Hello! I am a professional English voice talent with a neutral or northern UK accent. Credits include Lego, Samsung, Jeep, Acuvue, the BBC, Microsoft.


  1. Down-To-Earth Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:30
  2. Upbeat Commercials Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:56
  3. Cool Commercials Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:47
  4. Corporate Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:18
  5. eLearning Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:43
  6. Medical Narration (Authoritative) Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:30
  7. Audiobook Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:54
  8. IVR & On Hold Messaging Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:40
  9. Neutral British Accent Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:33
  10. Northern UK Voice Over Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:18
  11. Characters (Video Game and Audiobook) Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:04
  12. Audio Imaging & Branding Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:45
  13. Conversational & Spotify Voice Overs Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:57
  14. Kids TV Commercials Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:57
  15. University & College Voiceovers Josh Shirt Voice Over 1:09
  16. English Language Course Narration Josh Shirt Voice Over 0:38

Clients often choose me for voice overs that sound:

friendly & upbeat

down-to-earth & natural

– cool & edgy

authoritative

I am also an experienced audiobook narrator and voice actor capable of portraying many characters and emotions.

I can offer same day turnaround on most scripts.

I look forward to hearing about your project.

5 Minute Preview

‘Flamingoes in Orbit’ was updated and re-released in 2019. I auditioned to be the audiobook narrator and I’m very happy to say that I got the part – these stories were a pleasure to bring to life.

The book is now available on Audible and is being well-received in 2020.

Choosing the best voice over for a university advert

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When choosing the best voice over for a college or university advert, select one that sounds educated yet approachable.

Because universities and colleges are diverse places, you’ll probably want to choose a voice that has a clear and neutral accent that will be appealing to all prospective students.

It’s also worth choosing a voice that sounds young with an air of accomplishment. This way, undergraduate listeners will identify with the voice and they’ll also be encouraged that the college is reputable and prestigious.

Keeping the above in mind, here’s a radio commercial voice over I recently recorded for UTC Sheffield:

Clients choose my voice for projects that need to sound upbeat, intelligent and friendly, and because I have a neutral accent, my voice doesn’t conjure images of a certain place and it speaks to a universal audience, much of the same way that educational institutions do.

 

Voice Overs for Streaming Services, and How They’re Different

For the commercial voice over above, I performed a projected ‘announcer voice’ – designed to stand out in an ad break – but it’s a different ball game when I record for Spotify, DAX and YouTube.

On streaming services, the voice is not sandwiched into a large and loud commercial break (as it is on TV and radio) – instead it is often on its own. The listener is also likely on their own (perhaps listening during their commute or while working out). So for these instances, more of a conversational, one-to-one tone is appropriate.

It’s important that voice overs for streaming services don’t shock or agitate the listener by being too loud, yet they must still be interesting and charismatic.

 

Educational Voice Overs

Here’s a voice over narration I recorded for Imperial College London, informing and welcoming new students:

Voice overs for colleges and universities make up a large part of my work as a professional voice over artist. Perhaps my clients can tell that another significant part of my work is educating people: through e-Learning courses, audio books and English language courses for high school classrooms. In fact, in real life I also occasionally educate in the fields of music and technology!

Contact

If your project needs a British voice that sounds youthful, clear, friendly and intelligent then I’d love to hear from you.

Tour Guide Voice Over

Recent Work

I was recently asked to record the tour guide voice over for Wood Green’s new video. It features interviews with staff and lots of cute pets too!

To begin with, Wood Green asked me for an approachable, clear and genuine narration. Then, I performed the script with neutral vowel sounds to cater to their Southern audience.

 

Wood Green The Animals Charity - Tour Guide Voice Over

 

Please get in touch if you’d like me record your voice over.

Flamingoes in Orbit

Recent Work

Philip Ridley’s collection of short stories (Flamingoes in Orbit) – like his two adult novels, Crocodilia and In the Eyes of Mr Fury – became an instant cult classic when first published in 1990.

Flamingoes in Orbit Audiobook Recording

‘Flamingoes in Orbit’ was updated and re-released in 2019. I auditioned to be the audiobook narrator and I’m very proud to say that I got the part.

These stories were a pleasure to bring to life: A multitude of interesting and believable characters jumped out at me from the page and lent themselves to a range of British accents.

I recorded my performance of the novel in October and November 2018 and Ridley’s accurate, engaging and sometimes controversial storytelling literally made me laugh and cry.

5 Minute Preview

This great book is about coming of age, family dynamics and being gay in 80’s England, in a world still bristling with prejudice, and (it) sings and howls with the need for equality and freedom.”

“Menace lurks in the shady corners of family life…. Chilling.” (Time Out)

“Ridley is a visionary.” (Rolling Stone)

The audiobook is now available from Audible, Amazon and iTunes.

Hear More of My Voice Acting

Listen to my audiobook and character showreels or see my other voice actor projects.

If you are interested in casting me for your project please contact me.