While remote work was already routine for many voice actors, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend by enabling more people to work from home than ever before.
Teleworking isn’t quite as common as it was in the spring of 2020, but it’s clear that remote work will be with us for years to come.
If you’re looking to direct a voice actor remotely, you may be wondering how you should approach the recording session.
Let’s take a look at some of the most effective platforms for producing high-quality recordings while working with a voice actor online.
ISDN, or “Integrated Services Digital Network,” is one of the most well-known methods of recording voice over work.
ISDN phone lines communicate incredibly clear audio over long distances and transmit data in addition to the raw vocal recording.
This was the standard approach for a long time, but it can be prohibitively expensive if you’re working on a budget.
ISDN services are also few and far between, making it more difficult to find what you’re looking for or troubleshoot any unexpected technical issues.
Given the inefficiencies and high costs associated with an ISDN setup, many vocal artists are looking for new ways to record their voice work.
Source Connect is a more recent alternative to ISDN that uses an internet connection instead of a phone line. It is one of the most used platforms for remote recording sessions.
The Source Connect Standard package costs $35 per month along with a one-time setup fee of $75.
Alternatively, you can pay a one-time fee of $650 for a lifetime license. This option will pay for itself if you use Source Connect for at least 19 months.
This tier comes with six months of tech support, one network connection per location, and AAC bitrate up to 192 kbps stereo.
The Pro package introduces additional features like auto-replace, RTX mix-review mode, and a 384 kbps stereo bitrate.
Pro subscribers also get a full year of tech support, but this plan is substantially more expensive at $105 per month or $1,495 for a lifetime license.
Finally, the Pro-X platform is limited to Mac devices and comes in at $170 per month/$2,490 lifetime.
Pro-X comes with even better recording quality than Pro with support for 1344 kbps 7.1.
Before you spend any money, you can test out any Source Connect subscription for up to 15 days to determine whether it meets your needs.
Source Connect is a convenient, affordable recording method that has become increasingly popular in the voice over industry.
Keep in mind that both Source Connect and Source Connect Now can connect to an ISDN system through the Source Connect ISDN bridge.
Source Connect Now is an alternative to Source Connect that supports Mac, Windows, Linux, and ChromeOS.
While it doesn’t work on iOS, it’s generally compatible with other operating systems that support recent versions of Google Chrome.
Unfortunately, Source Connect Now is currently limited to Chrome and won’t run on other browsers like Safari, Firefox, or Microsoft Edge.
In contrast to Source Connect, Source Connect Now runs through your web browser and doesn’t require any extra downloads or installations.
Source Connect Now is currently free to use, but premium tiers may be introduced once the software is out of beta.
The platform’s FAQ page indicates that paid plans will be available for as little as $8 per month, with premium accounts coming in at around $24 per month.
With Source Connect Now, you can connect to voice talent using free guest accounts.
Even if you switch to a paid subscription later on, you still won’t have to worry about whether your talent uses the same platform.
One downside to Source Connect Now is that it’s missing features like auto-restore, auto-replace, and remote transport sync which are available with premium Source Connect plans.
ConnectionOpen is an online collaboration program that’s designed for voice actors, musicians, and other professionals who depend on high-quality recordings.
The platform leverages VoIP to enable low-latency audio communication and recording around the world.
Along with uncompressed audio, ConnectionOpen also offers screen sharing as well as video calling via webcam.
Furthermore, ConnectionOpen works well with a variety of digital audio workspaces, or DAWs, making it easy to integrate into your existing workflow.
You can use ConnectionOpen on your desktop or by downloading the ConnectionOpen app on your iPad. Unfortunately, there is currently no corresponding app for iPhones or Android devices.
If you only need to record on a particular day, you can start with a ConnectionOpen day pass which comes with 24 hours of access for a one-time fee of $10.
You may also consider starting with a 14-day free trial, available for any of the premium subscriptions.
The Basic ($25 per month), Standard ($50 per month), and Pro ($100 per month) plans all come with unlimited use of the ConnectionOpen platform.
The key difference between these tiers is the number of day passes each one includes-while you won’t need a day pass to access ConnectionOpen yourself, you will need one to enter a session with anyone else who doesn’t have a day pass or a monthly subscription.
Basic comes with four-day passes, Standard comes with twelve, and Pro comes with thirty.
There are no differences between the three subscription tiers other than their pricing and how many days passes they come with each month.
Founded in 2013, IpDTL is a remote broadcasting service that allows users to place and receive ISDN calls and radio remotes from within their web browser.
IpDTL offers the best of both worlds: you can easily call ISDN users and take advantage of the benefits of that protocol without having to get an ISDN line yourself.
Furthermore, IpDTL also supports phone patches for voice sessions-while these are no longer as common as they once were, it’s still good to have as much flexibility as possible when working with different actors.
Subscribers can even get their own ISDN number, making the platform virtually indistinguishable from a traditional ISDN system while offering a number of extra features.
Aside from an internet browser, all you’ll need to get started with IpDTL is a USB microphone or an audio interface.
Like ConnectionOpen, IpDTL lets users start out with a basic day pass-however, these cost a full $20 compared to just $10 with ConnectionOpen.
There’s also a three-day trial available, but you’ll have to spend $1 in order to activate it.
While that’s much cheaper than the price of a day pass, it’s still relatively inconvenient considering that ConnectionOpen offers a full 14-day free trial for no charge.
Ongoing IpDTL subscription pricing is based on the number of concurrent audio remotes you need.
Bronze ($15 per month per login ID) limits users to just one audio remote at a time.
Silver ($25 per month per login ID) increases that limit to two, while Gold ($35 per month per login ID) raises it all the way to six.
Several add-ons are available for an extra charge:
While Google Meet is most often used for conventional meetings, you may also be interested in using it to record voice acting sessions.
As part of Google Workspace, Google Meet is an incredibly convenient option for clients and voice actors who are already invested in the Google ecosystem.
Unlike some of the other programs on this list, Google Meet is also available for mobile devices running iOS or Android.
Participants can join meetings through their web browser, through the Google Meet app, or by calling the meeting’s dial-in number on their cell phone or landline.
If you don’t have a Google Workspace subscription, keep in mind that you’ll be limited to one hour of time for meetings with three or more participants.
Free users also miss out on meeting recordings, AI-powered noise cancellation, and other premium features.
Google Workspace Individual introduces those features plus advanced tools for other Google services for $7.99 per month with a 14-day free trial.
Paid subscribers can also access 24/7 online support for every application in the Google Workspace suite.
Zoom is another video conferencing app that offers paid subscription plans along with free meetings with some limitations.
Free Zoom users can create meetings with as many as 100 participants.
However, the free tier comes with a limit of 30 hours for one-on-one meetings plus a limit of just 40 minutes for group meetings.
Fortunately, you can simply create a new meeting and share the new link once you reach the length limit.
The Pro tier ($14.99 per license per month) includes a full gigabyte of cloud recording along with support tickets, live chat support, user management, a 30-hour limit on group meetings, and other advanced features.
Business ($19.99 per license per month) increases the participant limit to 300 and adds phone support, single sign-on, language interpretation, and more.
Finally, Zoom also offers custom Enterprise solutions with unlimited cloud storage, a dedicated account manager, and all the features that come with the Business tier.
With the Audio Conferencing add-on (starting at $100 per month), you can invite meeting participants through local dial-in, global toll-free calling, and automatic call-outs at the specified time.
Zoom is one of the most common video conferencing apps in the United States, so most voice actors will have experience using the platform for work or personal calls.
Skype offers free video conferencing and VolP calls both within the United States and abroad.
Like Zoom, it’s available for both desktops and mobile devices.
Skype also comes with helpful features like call recording, SMS messaging, and audio calls with as many as 100 people at no charge.
Skype to Phone subscriptions start at just $2.99 per month for US numbers, and you can try it free for a month before spending any money.
On the other hand, you can also buy Skype credit if you’d rather pay as you go.
Cleanfeed is an online recording studio that’s designed for meetings, interviews, and content creation.
While Cleanfeed technically supports Chrome, Firefox, and Safari, only Chrome is approved by the developers for hosts-the other two browsers are only approved for call invitees.
The platform is currently free for both personal and commercial use, and that includes unlimited session recording.
Cleanfeed Pro is available for $34 per month, with a discount of $22 per month for subscribers who only need it for personal use or up to $10,000 in commercial sales.
Pro subscribers gain access to extra features like email support, multitrack recordings, and channel mixing along with audio optimization tools like echo canceling and higher bitrates up to 256 kbps mono or 320 kbps stereo.
With that in mind, Cleanfeed free users should consider upgrading to the Pro tier if they want to produce high-quality recordings.
Phone patches have been one of the most popular alternatives to ISDN for decades, but they’ve become significantly less popular over the last few years.
When you call a voice actor through a phone patch, they’ll be able to connect their remote studio directly to the phone line.
This usually leads to better audio quality compared to simply speaking through a conventional phone line.
During a phone patch, the client typically provides feedback after each take and then waits for the talent to send them the voice recording from their home studio.
Of course, you can also receive a phone patch call through Skype or another VoIP service and use their recording features.
The key downside to phone patching is that it requires a dedicated receiver, which can cost hundreds of dollars depending on the specific model.
More and more voice actors are turning to solutions that integrate directly to their computers through a website or desktop app.
Outstanding audio quality isn’t always necessary for regular video meetings, but it’s incredibly important when you’re producing a recording for a voiceover job.
You can try out most of these options for free, so don’t hesitate to test a few platforms and see what leads to the best results.
With the right video conferencing tool, you’ll be able to produce crystal-clear recordings with voiceover talent from around the world.