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Image by Craig Pattenaude

The Room Where It Happens

     A voice over recording studio isn't just a quiet place to read a script out loud into a microphone. It's a performance space where words are brought to life and ideas, thoughts, and feelings are communicated clearly and sincerely. The problem is that as tech became less expensive and more advanced, the voice over talent pool became muddied on one end by novices who sit in their closets talking into podcast microphones propped up on old towels, and on the other by "gig economy" opportunists, with prefabricated booths and "popular" microphones, who have no passion beyond how much money they can make in a week. What you want, and what your project needs, is the Voiceover Veteran Advantage. With experience and love for the craft, creating the perfect voice over studio is a labor of love      My recording studio is literally my favorite place in the entire world. It's been especially designed and crafted as a unique space for me to create my best work and have fun while I do it. A studio shouldn't be a place you can't wait to escape from, like a stuffy modular booth or a dark closet. I've heard some voice over talents refer to their recording spaces as "sweat boxes" or "caves," whereas my voice over recording studio is more like a combination of a cozy nest and a play room for creative content nerds.      I am truly happy and content In my voiceover studio,. This is where I am at my very best.      It is simultaniously, a grand stage where I am free to create, perform, and express myself without restriction, while also being a comfortable cozy nook where I can hang out with a cup of warm tea, telling amazing tales to your target audience.      You might be wondering, if I love it so much, and I am so very proud of it, why there aren't any photographs of my studio anywhere on my website. The creative types reading this page already know the answer all too well. ​ Yes, it is constantly in a state of chaotic clutter. ​ Funko Pop figures, LEGO builds, and other assorted toys are surrounded by empty or half drunk cups of cold and stale tea, along with a few sweatshirts here and there that got tossed aside when they began to feel too cumbersome during a read, and have yet to be taken to the laundry hamper. There's a forest of post it notes, random script pages covered in multicolored hastily scribbled notes and symbols, a dozen or so pictures that my daughter drew for me, a decade worth of unframed photographs stuck here, there, and everywhere throughout the room... get the idea. ​      I'm trying to present a respectful image on this website for my clients, and yet my studio looks like a gaggle of teenagers have moved in for spring break. ​      What matters most though, is the quality of the audio that I create in this unique and delightful space. My studio is where magic gets made on the regular, and education is available on every subject you can imagine. The power of this one of a kind creative space is just waiting to be put to work for you right now, All you have to do is reach out and tell me what you need. ​

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There are almost as many microphones out there as there are voice actors to speak into them. So how did I narrow down the choices and find the best voice over microphones to use? The same way a pro athlete selects their gear. Fit and responsiveness to an individual set of features and skills isn't priced on a scale. Spending an extra $4000 on a pair of shoes won't make you a better runner. As a matter of fact, the most expensive shoes could likely impede your performance if they are a poor fit for your foot and stride. The same is true for a voice artist. My voice, my skill set, and my recording space are all as individual as my fingerprint and my tastebuds. While some people may look down on the Sennheisser MKH-416 as being less desireable than a Neumann U87, that's only true for a select group of voices and recording spaces. In my studio, after thorough evaluation,I found that a Lewett LCT 440 Pure was a delightful compliment to my voice and read style. For most projects though, I use the Sennheiser MKH-416 P48. Not only does it work extremely well with my voice, but it also creates a sound that matches up nicely with voice over recorded by so many of my peers in the voice over industry, because of its versitility and high quality. If you would like me to use a specific type of microphone for your project, just let me know. There's a good chance I can get my hands on one for you, but that may add a few extra days to my turnaround time.

Custom Construction
and Acoustic Treatment

At its core, voice work is all about energy in various states and forms. Understanding amplitude modulation and frequency manipulation, along with sonic energy generation, focusing, and dispersal are vital to the creation, recording, and production of great voice over audio. Closet studios and modular booths only propagate the misconception that unwanted sound energy can be "blocked" with high density non-porous materials and any type of egg crate foam, without any consideration of conduction properties Professional grade studios absorb and disperse sound waves rather than foolishly attempting to block them. This where the knowledge and experience of the Voice Over Veteran Advantage once again come into play. I’m experienced and knowledgeable enough to evaluate sound proofing construction materials and know how to use them properly for maximum effectiveness. Acoustic treatment needs are unique for each space and require the kind of know how to sort through the numerous available options to find what will not only absorb reflection, but also add warmth and life to the audio recorded in that space. If you have any questions about soundproofing / acoustic treatment, you can send them to me at .

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Hear for yourself how well outside noise and/or equipment hum is eliminated in my voice over recordings in this totally raw and unprocessed recording of me sitting next to my mic but not speaking.

Room Tone/Noise Floor
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Audio Monitoring

The most common mistake made when selecting headphones and monitor speakers for voice over work, is choosing something that “sounds good” over something that accurately represents the quality and character of the audio that is playing through them. So many headphones have noise canceling as a built-in feature these days. While they may be useful on a long flight or convention hall, they have no place in a recording studio because they are the audio equivalent of “rose colored glasses,” so to speak. Monitor speakers these days are also increasingly made to artificially boost bass response or respond specifically to the audio mix found in digital movie streaming. The Ripley Johnson Voice Over Veteran Advantage means that the audio you receive has been reviewed, edited, and adjusted with a high degree of accuracy. I know that the audio I hear in my Beyerdynamic DT770 headphones and my Yamaha MSP3 monitor speakers is giving me a true playback of every frequency as it has been recorded or modified in post-production. So, you can be confident that issues like over correction or noise artifacts aren’t going to be a part of the audio file you receive. – That means your project gets completed sooner and sounds exactly as it should.

Processing and Editing

I still remember the giddy feeling of falling in love with the Orban DSE 7000 at the radio station where I interned shortly after being discharged from the Navy. Naturally my crush converted when Digital Audio Workstations no longer needed a massive dedicated unit, but could instead be installed on a desktop computer. In those days, what we now know as Adobe Audition went by the name Cool Edit Pro. Despite trying out dozens of alternative DAWs over the years, I have always stayed true to the most recent version of Adobe Audition. By this point, it’s almost like an extension of my own mind. I use it on a Lenovo Windows 10 PC, maxed out for premium audio performance. As for interfaces, Focusrite and Apollo seem to dominate the voice over interface landscape these days, but I’m a big fan of the Audient iD22. No muss, no fuss, reliable as the sunrise, and all the power of a top shelf full studio console neatly tucked into something smaller than a kid’s lunchbox. As you would expect, I have the standard suites of plugins and add-ons that are used throughout the voice over industry, but I don’t go in for much in the way of bells and whistles. When all is said and done, I don’t consider myself a tech “expert.” If that’s what you’re looking for, I’ll direct you to my good friend, Tim Tippets, AKA the “Vo Tech Guru.” When it comes to understanding audio gear, learning the ins and outs of creating good clean audio, and tracking down studio gremlins, Tim is absolutely the man you need. You can find him and his wealth of knowledge at . Tell him Ripley sent you.

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Roanoke, Virginia has a multitude of advantages when it comes to selecting a place to build a recording studio. The value of living in a quiet peaceful area as a voice over artist cannot be overrstated.  No street noise, sirens, helicopters or jet engines need to be filtered out of my audio, but the advantage is much more than that. Consider for a moment the effects that the daily onslaught of audio distractions have on a voice over artist. How can someone focus on the nuance of your script when they live in an environment of constant low level noise and activity?  My studio is quiet, of course, but so is my living room, my front yard, and every other space in my home. Living in Roanoke means living in a low stress and low distraction environment, while still enjoying big city perks like a vibrant arts community (ballet, opera, symphony, theatre, and several art museums and galleries), a world class technological university (Virginia Tech), and fine dining. And if, for some reason your project requires a specialized studio located in a major hub, I'm just a few hours away from Richmond and Washington DC by train or any major city in North Carolina by car. ​ When I record your script, it is the only thing that has my attention. The same can't be said for voice artists in LA, Pittsburgh, or Atlanta. ​ Focus, clarity, and peace of mind are critical componants of a great vocal performance, and because I live in Roanoke, they are abundant in my daily life. ​

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