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US English Voiceover (American English Voiceovers)

Glossary of Voiceover Terms

This voiceover glossary provides you with a set of basic terms that you can use when ordering a voiceover. In addition, it serves as a supplement to the voiceover articles on this website, to enhance your understanding of them.

Note: While this glossary is by no means comprehensive, it will enable you and the voice actor to understand one another. If you have questions about terms that are not listed here, please feel free to send me an email.


Custom demo

An audio file demonstrating how a voice actor would record your project. A custom demo is usually based on a small part of your script.



An audio file demonstrating a voice actor’s abilities.



Indication of how a voice actor should read a script, for example the required pace and tone. Direction may be indicated in a script using italics, bolding, or other markings. See script.


Dry voice / Dry audio

The recorded voice, edited, but without post-production. See editing and post-production.



The act of removing and/or adding elements to an existing audio file. This usually includes removal of breaths and any other unwanted sounds, as well as the removal of extra “takes”. Compression, noise gating, and normalization may be used as well, depending on the situation.


Finished minute/hour of work

An hour/minute of recorded and edited audio. That is, the measurement relates to the length of the final audio file, not to the amount of time spent creating the final audio file. Compare to hour/minute of work.



File Transfer Protocol. A method of transferring files over the Internet. Usually, receiving a file via FTP is as simple as clicking on a link in an email.


Hour/minute of work

An hour/minute of recording and editing a voiceover. That is, the measurement relates to the amount of time spent creating the final audio file, not to the length of the final audio file. Compare to finished hour/minute of work.



The way of emphasizing words and changing pitch when speaking. This is often used synonymously with “style”, for example: soft, marketing, hard-sell, formal, conversational, flat, etc.



An audio file format that is suitable for many projects. As it results in relatively small-sized files (1 MB per minute), it is suitable for delivery by email. Compare to WAV.



The tool a voice talent uses to record a voiceover. There are two main types of microphones: condenser and dynamic. Usually a condenser microphone is used for voiceover.


Music bed

Music that is added to an audio file in post-production, and which serves as the background to the voiceover.


On hold

A message one hears while waiting for someone to take their call. Usually includes music. For demos, see Telephone Voiceover Demos. For assistance writing an on hold message, see Voiceover Script Templates.



A blast of air that is heard with the P, B, F and Q sounds. Pops can be avoided through proper microphone placement or use of a “pop filter”.


Raw voice / Raw audio

The recorded voice, but not edited and without post-production. See editing and post-production.



A re-recording of part or all of a script.


Scratch track or Guide

An non-professional voiceover that is added to a video, for the purpose of demonstrating the intonation and/or the timing that the voice talent must produce. The scratch track or guide is usually recorded by the video editor or director and will be replaced with the final voiceover recorded by the voice talent.



A text that the voice actor is supposed to record. Scripts may be divided into segments and/or include direction. See segment and direction.



An independent unit within a script. Each segment is assigned a file name and recorded as a separate audio file. A segment may represent a slide in a presentation, a step in a tutorial, a tab in a website, a prompt in a telephone system, etc. See script.



A period of time spent recording a voiceover, usually three hours.


Turnaround time

The amount of time it takes for the voice actor to complete a voiceover.


Voice bank

A bank of voice talents from which you can choose voices for your project.


Voice over

An unseen narrator’s voice, usually incorporated into a media project. Also written as voiceover, voice-over, and VO.
Note: This term is sometimes used to refer to the person who performs the voiceover, as in “This voiceover does a great job, and I intend to hire her.”


Voice talent

A person who performs voiceovers. Also written as voice actor or simply referred to as a voiceover.



An audio file format that offers superior quality in comparison to MP3. As this format results in large-sized files, it is not suitable for delivery by email. FTP or some other file delivery service is used instead. Compare to MP3.


Word bank

A large number of words that the client pays for upfront. The client can then request the voice talent to record scripts up to the paid-for amount of words, any time within the agreed-upon time period (usually a year). The advantage of buying a word bank is that the per-word fee for a large amount of words is lower than the per-word fee for short scripts.



Article by Victoria Feinerman


US English Voiceover (American English Voiceovers)

US English Voiceover (American English Voiceovers)

US English Voiceover (American English Voiceovers)

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