Let's talk plugins. Firstly, what is a plugin?
Well it's kind of like a mini program you can open in your audio editing software that will allow you to alter your audio in some way. Think of them as hacks or shortcuts. They usually come as a .vst extension and you drop that file into your DAW's VST folder. Said plug in should then appear in your effects folder or menu.
Here's a low down of my top 8 Plugins for Voice Over that I find myself using most often. I would never be using all of these at the same time, just in certain situations and depending on the style of the voice over I am doing. Some are geared more towards mastering your audio, which for some of you, will be done by someone else anyway. But if you want to produce your own content or offer your clients more post production services, it's worth looking at these too. They will save you potentially hours of editing time. Sometimes you will luck out on a preset that comes with the plugin but usually you need to tweak the settings and then create and save your own presets for different scenarios.
1) Izotope RX8 Mouth De-click
Coming as part of the Izotope RX8 package, mouth de-click is an absolute must have in your effects chain. Even if you aren't a particularly 'noisy' reader you will find it removes any lip smacks or unsightly mouth noises at a touch of a button. I found I didn't even need to tweak the settings much, the default one does it for me. Do not get this mixed up with RX8 De-click which is in the same suite of tools. You need the MOUTH version as I found the other one distorts my audio. For those of you wondering whether to get RX8 Standard version or Elements? Go big or go home. Elements is missing breath control, mouth de-click and the de-esser. The only reason to buy Elements is if it is on sale and then that then offers you a better price to upgrade to the standard version than buying it outright. I believe we're now on RX9 which does offer some intriguing new features. Dialogue Isolation and Ambience Match might be particularly useful in certain situations but I think the other tools are much the same as they were in RX7 and 8.
2) Izotope RX8 Breath Control
If you are a noisy breather this will dampen down that noise somewhat but be careful with the settings as it can sound rather unnatural or distort your audio. I also think with the more conversational trend of corporate and commercial voice overs people are more forgiving of breath noise but all you audiobook narrators out there might need this in your arsenal.
3) Waves Sibilance, Renaissance De-esser
Waves plugins are such good value and there's nearly always a sale on. Grab one or both of these, sometimes one works better than the other. Women in particularly tend to suffer from sibilance, it can make your S's sound harsh. These programs will dampen them down to make them easier on the ear. You must find the sweet spot with the settings though. Too much and you will sound like you have a lisp.
4) RX8 Voice De-noise
RX8 has some great tools for removing unwanted background noise, particularly the spectral de-noise, but I find myself using this one all the time as the default setting just works. It's especially useful if you have had to normalize your audio to make it louder and this has had the unwanted side effect of also raising your noise floor. Obviously not a substitute for a quiet recording environment but if needs must!
5) Waves Renaissance Vox
I own so many different compressors but this one is the one I go back to when I need my audio to pop. So easy to use. I add a touch of compression to most of my stuff. It just sounds better.
6) Waves L2 Ultra Maximiser
Another great compression tool from Waves that I will often use instead of Renaissance Vox if my voice is getting lost in the mix behind music or sound effects. An absolute must when I was mixing my animation and gaming reels.
7) Waves WLM Meter
Worried your podcast or narration is too loud or too quiet? Platforms like Spotify, Xbox, YouTube and Netflix actually have parameters for how loud they want the audio to be, usually measured in LUFS. This is a great program for checking whether your audio is hitting those requirements. Select the pre-set for the platform your audio will be heard on then play the track and the meter will pick out the 'overs' an 'unders' which you can then fix with a few clicks. The average voice over probably doesn't need to worry about mastering, it's usually done by someone else. But if you do produce your own content and want an impartial ear on your levels, this meter will help you.
8) Waves Vocal Rider
I've used this successfully more for my singing tracks than voice over but if I was editing a conversation between two voices and they were both at different levels, I could run Vocal Rider, tell it what I want the optimum level to be and it will automatically bring the voices up or down accordingly. Much quicker than manually adjusting the gain for each person.
So that's my top 8. Have I missed any? Any plugins you rate? Let me know.