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Travel Advice: An Engineer's Perspective


Travel Voice Acting Remote Recording

Conventional wisdom in Voice Actor social media has always been to "throw a comforter over your head" or "build a pillow fort" when you're on the road and need to record in a hotel room. Can I tell you a secret? It sucks. It never sounds good. The reason why is called comb filtering- which (in simple terms) is frequencies cancelling each other out as they arrive at the mic from different angles when boundaries are too close- even with a soft surface.


If you want to double-down on a bad travel sound for sessions, grab yourself a budget USB mic!


"I would rather have an actor stand comfortably in the middle of their hotel room and skip the pillow forts..."

I've had a couple of jobs recently where the actor was on the road, leaving me to punch-up mediocre sound for commercial projects. If an actor brings along a USB mic to make sure they're not missing auditions- great. Although that bad sound quality could also work against your chances of booking. I've previously written about ways to sound good on the road. But if you're that glued to your mic and suffering job FOMO, are you REALLY on vacation? I would urge my ad agency clients and casting director friends to ask about travel as part of checking talent availability for a project. If they're going to be out of town, either get them in a studio where they'll be or accept that you're not getting their best sound. Barring that, unless that voice actor is a true unicorn, I'd rather pick the runner up with a solid setup or able to get to the studio than deal with travel rigs and having sessions crawl along.


While there are fairly expensive travel "boxes" claiming to work as a booth- they also don't sound good... at least I certainly haven't heard one that passes muster for commercial work.


Pro Tools Waves Clarity VX Izotope Travel recording
Waves and RX make amazing tools for audio cleanup.

Us engineer folk have tools that can easily remove background noise (Waves Clarity-VX, RX Voice De-Noise, etc). We also have tools that do a solid job removing room reflections and a reverberant background (Clarity Vx De-Reverb, RX De-Reverb, Adobe AI). With that in mind, I would rather have an actor stand comfortably in the middle of their hotel room and skip the pillow forts, hiding under comforters, and all of the other travel tricks people come up with. This would result in a fuller, richer, and less affected sound, while also giving the actor room to breath- and work.


The other big hurdle is solid internet. Source Connect or any remote connectivity is often hampered by dropouts due to less-than-ideal internet service at hotels. Forget port forwarding for Source Connect. That ship has sailed when you're on the road. But when every other take is unusable because of dropouts, that's problematic- and frustrating. As an actor, you should definitely make sure you're not only running a backup- but have a really fast way to deliver those files in the moment. You would also want to make sure Q Restore is running in the background of your Source Connect sessions for your engineer to pull up fixed audio as needed, if they're taking advantage of Q Restore and Replace in Source Connect Pro.


3 Comments


Heading there now. Thank you Frank!

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Great advice and super helpful understanding the engineering perspective for travel situations. Any tips for those looking to have a solid travel rig, maybe at least for audition purposes? I remember you writing about a cabana rig idea but couldn't find the info on that.

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This article might help: https://www.frankverderosa.com/single-post/hitting-the-road-for-the-holidays

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