Voice Over Experts The Voice Over Training Podcast

Using The Proximity Effect For More Intimate Recordings


By David Ciccarelli

March 22, 2014

Comments (2)

Ever wanted to make your voice sound deeper? How about giving it a more intimate, up-to-close-and-personal feel. Try the proximity effect. Amazingly, this requires no special equipment or adjusting settings in your computer. The magic comes from determining how close you should be to the microphone. Listen in to top Voices.com talent Brad Ziffer and hear the results for yourself.

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Links from today's show:

Brad Ziffer
Brad Ziffer on Voices.com

About Brad Ziffer

Brad ZifferBrad is an all-around, creative, nice guy who's passionate about the arts. Graduating from Montclair State University, in Upper Montclair NJ, with a BA in Theater Studies, Brad has since built a recording studio and spends the majority of his time singing, songwriting, performing, voice-acting and producing.

Around the age of 4, Brad began taking piano lessons. It wasn't long after that he began playing the piano in local churches. His musical passion started early, but didn't stop there. Around the age of 15, he began singing in Evangelical churches, leading and assisting in worship for youth and full services. During his teen years, Brad would play around creating, unique, silly voices and imitating famous voices from TV, radio and film. This was the beginning of his ear-training and up-coming voice-over career!

Years later, Brad found himself studying acting and composing original scores for Montclair State University theater productions such as "The Cider House Rules" and "Big Love."

Today, Brad has a successful career and years of experience under his belt. He works full time, recording and producing voice-over work for clients around the world. In addition, he works with artists, in the studio, developing demos to full-length albums. On the side, Brad performs out (singing and playing the piano) at various venues, DJ'ing for events, and enjoys the beach, movies, and spending time with friends and family.

Simply put, Brad's life revolves around the arts and that will simply never change.


[Opening Music]

Welcome to Voice Over Experts, brought to you by Voices.com the number one voice over marketplace. Voice Over Experts brings you tips, pearls of wisdom, and techniques from top instructors, authors and performers in the field of voice over. Join us each week to discover tricks of the trade that will help you to develop your craft and prosper as a career voice over talent. It's never been easier to learn, perform and succeed from the privacy of your own home, and at your own pace. This is truly an education you won't find anywhere else. Now for our special guest.

Brad Ziffer: Hey everybody, it's Brad Ziffer and you probably know me from voices.com or another social media site or maybe we've met in person. You guys are awesome, you guys are great. So today I'm going to share a tip, little trick, you probably know of it, it's called the proximity effect. What is that? Well, I'll tell you. The closer you are to your mic, the bigger, the warmer, the boomier, the more intimate you're going to sound. And if you really want to sound intimate and really get those details in your voice to come through you get close to the mic. And if you have a headphone on you can really hear the way the lips and your mouth and your tongue make sounds.

And if you have a really sloppy mouth and if you're really wet and you have a lot of saliva you're going to pick that up too so that's unfortunate. But if you're further back you're going to thin your voice out, you're going to sound more even, you're not going to sound real big and boomy. But there's going to be times for each.

Now keep this in mind too I'm on a condenser mic so this requires phantom power. So in a dynamic microphone won't require it but I feel a condenser mic really helps to bring out the detail in a voice. So I prefer that. An SM7B from [unintelligible 00:01:53] that's a dynamic, doesn't require any special kind of phantom power. But to me it's a little duller, maybe not as clear, the clarity's lacking a little bit. I use a Manley cardioid reference I use a Neumann U87, I have a Sennheiser 416, all those require phantom power. They're more sensitive, a little more detail to them. But, you know, everybody's got their own preferences.

So here's a Benadryl commercial. Now I'm going to, it's a little, little more energetic so I'm going to be a little further back, you know, six, seven inches back, I have a pop filter to control those plosives. So here we go. Better allergy relief is right under your nose. Clinical studies prove what allergy sufferers have known all along. Benadryl is 54% more effective than the leading allergy prescription. More effective at relieving even your worst allergy symptoms like runny noses. If you're looking for better allergy relief it's as easy as a walk in the park. Benadryl.

Okay. So I was a little further back for that. Again, no need to play with your gain on your preamp, no need to play with your preamp at all really. Now here's something a little closer, I'm on edgestudio.com by the way, they have a great script library. If you want to practice voice overs or if you're making a demo feel free to reference their library. Just make an account on edgestudio.com. Edge Studio's a great teaching facility, they record there as well, get to know them. Good stuff.

Alright, here's beauty.com. So now, okay, I'm going to get a little closer, this is probably like a warmer, more intimate sound, maybe. You have to ask the client what they are looking for, you know. Here we go, let me get really close now, I'm about like maybe an inch from the mic here. You can look all around the world, you can search department stores and boutiques. You can try to see the top experts if you've got lots of time and money. Or you can fill all your beauty needs online. Beauty.com, the world of beauty online.

Okay, so you can really zoom in and hear yourself. I like to wear headphones, maybe other people don't. I kind of like to hear myself. There could be pros and cons to that but I kind of like to get a sense of what I'm doing, a little bit clearer. So when you're closer to the mic you can really zoom in in detail the way you're forming words and the way you're shaping sounds. But proximity effect, it's a great little thing to keep in mind. Just use that space around your mic, utilize it when you're doing anything, any kind of narration.

Now this is really helpful when you have a poorly treated room because the closer you are to your microphone you may not pick up all that noise. If you had a really, really nicely treated space you could move far back and just crank the gain on your preamp and you'll really hear the detail in your voice. But using that proximity effect is helpful because again, if you have a poorly treated space you can get close to the mic, really hear yourself give that warmth, that richness. So play with this, try it out with your own mic and see, see what happens.

So thank you for listening everybody. Again, this is Brad Ziffer with voice over experts and there's plenty more where this came from. Take this tip with you to the microphone, to the studio, let it help you advance your career in voice over. I often team up with guys like Jay Michael Collins, David Caplan. Recently we were in collaboration with Edge Studio so check out Edge Studio, that's edgestudio.com, continue to make your way on voices.com, great opportunities to be had there. And I look forward to talking to everybody soon. Thanks again everybody, bye-bye.

Announcer: Thank you for joining us. To learn more about the special guest featured in this voices.com podcast, visit the Voice Over Experts show notes at podcasts.voices.com/voiceoverexperts. Remember to stay subscribed. If you're a first time listener you can subscribe for free to this podcast in the Apple iTunes podcast directory or by visiting podcasts.voices.com. To start your voice over career online go to voices.com and register for voice talent membership today. This has been a voices.com production.


    When I was active in radio I trained a number of "DJ's". One thing I stressed was the proximity effect; the closer you work to the mic, the closer (and more intimate) you are with your audience. Along with ALWAYS talking to ONE person, it can make a tremendous difference in how your audience relates to you - and what you're saying.

    Posted by:
    • George Utley
    • March 23, 2014 4:57 PM

      True. Changing the distance to your mic will alter how your results sound. Closer for that in your face narration, further for cartoon and less bass, and you can also be close and remove some of the proximity effect in post (using multiband compressing and eq, etc). So, if you have to get a little closer to reduce room echo, you can later adjust it so it's not quite as boomy. My problem is that when I sit, my head tends to go closer and further and it's difficult to maintain the exact distance for longer scripts. For a short 5 to 10 line commercial, sure. For 3 pages of character acting... a little harder. For an audiobook... whew, good luck!

      Posted by:
      • Tim Simmons
      • March 28, 2014 6:37 PM

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Voice Over Experts Podcast

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