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Why Cheap Voice-Overs Will Cost You More

Miles Chicoine

Miles Chicoine

10 April 2019

Why Cheap Voice-Overs Will Cost You More - Voquent

Picture the scene: your production is finished.

Sweet. Your entire team has grafted for weeks, months or even years. Pouring their heart and soul into a project. All you need now is one final element to mark its completion – the voice-over

It is all too common for costs to overrun throughout the development of a project, and one could be forgiven for optimistically hoping to finish bang on budget. 

However, at the risk of sounding slightly cynical, how often do things ever really go to plan in the world of production? When you're at the final hurdle and expenditure has exceeded your initial expectations, it is undeniably appealing to try and save money where possible. The concept of a cheap voice actor is a temptation that has proven irresistible to many an unsuspecting Production Manager, and with disastrous consequences that may not always be immediately apparent. We know first-hand because we're tasked with casting a professional to rectify the mistake of going cheap!

Cheap voice over can cost you more You've spent thousands on creative and video production. A cheap voice-over will only devalue your work.

Of course, this is not to project negativity onto amateur voice acting; after all, everyone has to start somewhere. 

We must all hone our craft and allow our skills and expertise to develop over time. Yet when it is your brand, company's reputation and team's efforts on the line, shortcuts are very rarely the answer. 

The question is then, are you saving money by hiring a cheap voice-over? Or are you costing yourself in another way?


ALSO READ: The Hidden Cost of Not Using a voice-over


Voice acting is an art, a profession, something that actors study for years to cultivate the necessary skill level. 

Of course, natural aptitude is there at the core, but the proficiency and expertise a voice actor or narrator strives to achieve are taught and crafted over time. 


Cheap voice over services A professional voice-over artist with many years of experience provides your project with gravitas, definitely worth paying more for.

It is worth noting that an inexperienced voice artist is unlikely to be performing on a full-time basis and will most likely not be a trained performer. 

A quality piece of voiced audio stretches beyond the spoken words; many elements go into the recording process that we may be unaware of as ‘non-voice actors’. 

An understanding of:

  • mic technique
  • breathing
  • enunciation & diction
  • finding the natural rhythm in the script

Are all vital in the practical outcome of a polished, professional voice-over job? 

Suppose you hired a professional camera operator to film your piece or a sound engineer to master your music. Why would you not hire a professional to provide the film narration?


Explore:  A world of voice-over services


Furthermore, a less experienced voice-over talent doesn't have the depth of knowledge accrued over many projects. 

A professional has to intuitively hit those critical tones, pitches, pauses and pronunciations that mark the difference between drawing out emotion in an audience and losing their interest entirely. Voice-over is most certainly not just speaking politely into a microphone. It's a performance. Our job as the creator is to change the behaviour of the audience and evoke a reaction: sadness, happiness, anger or any other human emotion

You take away something as simple as the pronunciation of a phrase or a well-timed pause. Then you risk losing the message in the mix. We must trust the talent to interpret a script correctly. 

Voicing direction will always be provided in the scripts. Still, the performer's ability to interpret the text truly sets the professionals and amateurs apart. 

When looking at voice-over in advertisements as an example, the creative job here is to sell a product or an idea. It raises the importance of how businesses must be selective in choosing the right voice for their brands. 

Voice is an extension of the brand. Businesses are meticulous in choosing all other aspects of branding (visuals, straplines, values, etc.). They must also take the same care over the audio element. Commercial voice acting is a skill, and this is where an inexperienced voice actor may lack the know-how to use their primary tool, their voice, in a marketing capacity.

Audio Branding A brand is more than a visual design and logo. Sound is equally important. Audio Branding with voice-over can be very effective to make your brand memorable.

Care and expertise are imperative to allow a script to deliver impact and for communicating messages effectively. 

We want to engage our audiences to fulfil business objectives and provide some valued ROI ultimately. Poorly delivered voicing may cause the material to fall flat and lead to a lack of engagement with promos, guides or explainers. Inappropriate or lacklustre voice acting can obliterate immersion in video games or make a program so farcically implausible that it loses its meaning and authority. 

Beyond the voice

As much as the voice talents are essential, so too is the technology used to produce the work

An amateur charging much less than a professional is unlikely to be using professional industry-standard equipment. All but a few USB Mics on the market are unfit to achieve the standard of production of the calibre you required for professional products. By allowing the voice actor’s software to record, you become reliant on the individual being competent from a technology perspective. You run the risk of the individual not having a proper understanding of critical functions, such as being aware that open source applications like Audacity have a higher noise floor, leading to an inconsistency in sound.

All this makes it that much harder to insert the audio into your content, wasting time and resources.

Top Audio Editors for voice overClick the image to take a look at the top audio editors for voice-over.

Poor quality audio takes more time for sound engineers to clean, edit and master to ensure that it’s prepared to a broadcast standard. Sound engineers can make significant improvements to an audio recording. However, they aren’t magicians. Some material is so poorly recorded that you can waste a lot of time trying to rescue it before ultimately abandoning the recording altogether, thus forcing you into going through the process all over again! Yikes.  

Buy one, get one…for a further cost!

Much as with day to day lifestyle purchases, buying cheap often means buying twice

Amateur voice artists charging much less than the industry rate may at first glance seem inviting. Yet scratch a little deeper, and we start to see the underlying/consequential costs come to light. For instance, the saying time is money has never been more relevant. We live in a world where everyone and everything seems to be moving at a million miles an hour. Jam-packed schedules are the norm, with ever-increasing pressures put upon us to deliver. 

It is, therefore, natural for us to want to look for ways to alleviate this stress wherever possible.  

Buy cheap voice over

A cheap voice-over can devalue your brand be a huge turn off to your audience.  

During our business endeavours, we welcome time-saving with open arms. 

In the production stages, you will most likely book studio space by the hour. A booked studio session can overrun or be cut short when talent cannot perform under the direction or in the manner you originally anticipated. Therefore, those pennies you initially thought were tucked firmly in your pocket may well find themselves exchanging hands once more. Whether it comes to re-hiring new talent, paying for more studio time or having to fork over cash to dedicate more staff to the project, you will often end up more out of pocket than initially intended. 

Cheap or Cost-Effective?

Ultimately, you and your team are all working toward the same goal. 
Yes, price is important, but there is much to be said to focus away from cost alone. Going back to brand reputation, it begs the question: 

“What you save on cost, what do you lose in value?”. 

There are potential benefits gained by shifting the focus from purely 'price'. When you eliminate the fixation on keeping costs as low as possible, your focus can shift to assessing the quality of work delivered by the professionals in the industry. 

Your output is only as good as your input. By hiring someone well-established in their profession, you negate the worry of uncertainty throughout the whole process. You can relax in the sound knowledge that your product is safe in their hands. 

Hire a professional Always choose a professional with a focus on quality.

Support the industry

The more professionally trained voice actors are priced out of the industry, unable to compete and being undercut by untrained, cheap voices available on freelancing platforms—the quicker we head towards a decline in overall quality

Yes, we can churn out cheap, quick results, but in the long term, will we start to lose the art altogether, replacing it with sub-par alternatives? 

It is worth remembering there is a massive difference between cheap and cost-effective

Cost-effective means commissioning an experienced voice-over actor at a fair industry price

At Voquent pride, we provide a service that is of excellent value, with access to the world's fastest-growing database of voice-overs in the world.

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Miles Chicoine

By Miles Chicoine

Managing Director and co-founder of Voquent.

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