A Different Approach to Voice Over Sound Effects

Voice over sound effects add that extra layer of pizazz to your voice over project.

The sound effects you choose for your voice over will depend on the goal you want to achieve. Effects can be created from human or digital sounds, and they enrich the overall quality of the production.

It’s hard to go wrong with sound effects because you can use them anywhere and in any way. From indicating a small event such as a window opening to marking a special event such as a birthday. You have every reason to use sound effects in voice-over, but before that:

This post has been updated in October 2021.

Types of Voice Over Sound Effects

Sound effects are categorized depending on the message they send to the audience.

Ambient Sounds

These effects are used to create a sense of place. An airport sounds different from a train station, and sound effects make it possible for voice overs to communicate this to the audience.

Ambient sound effects are usually played in the background at a reduced volume as the most important part of the voice-over plays in the foreground.

Natural Sounds

These include human sounds (more on this later) that are used to grab a listener’s attention. A scream, a yawn, or a hiccup count as natural sounds.

Why Use Sound Effects at all?

Sound plays a significant role in the way we receive and retain information. Advertisers figured it out and have been using sound effects to sell to consumers for the longest time.

Enhance Audiovisual Experience

Voice over sound effects are used both in television and radio advertising to keep the audiences’ interest.

Imagine you are advertising an outdoor product. To create an ambiance for your listeners, your chosen sound effects could include a crackling fire, the sound of light rain or a cool breeze through the woods.

The trick is to associate your product with what matters most to your audience., which in this case, is nature.

Combining Sound Effects and Images

On television, sound effects enhance visual elements. 80 percent of your movie experience is determined by the audio quality. You will connect to the content more, and even remember it if the sound effects are relevant and well-timed.


Music sets the mood, conveys expectation, and carries the energy of a visual experience.

When using sound effects on TV, pay attention to timing. Ensure the audio and video are synced perfectly. Any disconnection between the two will immediately turn your audience away.


Remember, when done perfectly, sound effects should be unnoticeable to your viewers.

Radio Voiceover Sound Effects

Writing voice over scripts for radio is different because the medium relies on sound effects to communicate.

On the radio, sound effects help listeners create a mental image of whatever event you are marketing. Radio is the most visual medium because it fully utilizes the power of voice over sound effects.

Trying to market office products? Try incorporating the sound of a distant typing keyboard and a printer. Depending on what you want to achieve, you can use explosion sounds, nature sounds, or traffic sounds to further drive the point home.

Evoke an Emotional Response

Sound engages the audience in a way that no other medium can. This is because sound effects awaken the imagination, making the listeners feel like an active part of the story being told.

Something as simple as a waterfall effect in a radio ad will compel your audience to imagine a waterfall in their minds.

Human Sound Effects

Have you ever tried to communicate without using your words?

Imagine having to voice a character that only grunts throughout the script. Sometimes you’ll need to yawn, laugh, or scream for a voice-over.

Human sound effects also help enhance the entertainment experience for the audience.

Think about sports voice over, the screaming announcer, the high energy crowd, and the larger than life feeling in the stadium. It can be very physically demanding to scream during a match, but it achieves the desired goal; making the audience feel like part of the game.

Take your sports voice over to the next level.

You might even need to bark like a dog in some projects. The only limit is your imagination, and as an actor, you should have a pretty acting one.

How to Use Sound Effects in Voiceover

Sound effects are not meant to turn your voice over into a cinematic experience, unless that’s what you’re going for.

They simply make the project sound and feel professional. Voice over sound effects are often subtle details that the audience may or may not notice. However, take these seemingly small details out and the voice over will not be the same.

Sound effects are supposed to blend in and stand out at the same time.

It’s a hard balance to achieve, we know. But sound effects give life to voice over, and it is essential that you get it right.

Don’t overdo it.

You don’t want customers to remember the jingle but have no memory of your brand. Use sound effects creatively, making sure any sound complements the text.

Good voice over sound effects add detail

Sound effects in voice over are not just there to send a message. A simple laugh can add great detail to the voice-over, revealing more about the voice over script and brand behind it.

The secret to producing great sound effects is to be mundane.

Use obvious sounds, everyday sounds, recognizable sounds. The key is to place that normal sigh at a point in the script where the audience has no choice but to notice it. Sometimes, you can communicate using sound effects instead of struggling to find and adapt the words.

Get a Good Editor

You need to know how to place the sound effects just right, starting with ambient sounds (to set a sense of place), and then follow the rest of the voice over.

Get an expert in sound layering.

You’ll be surprised at the level of richness you can achieve in voice over if you just layer the sound right.

A good sound editor can also increase and decrease the volume of your sound effects to set a mood in the voice over. For instance, slowly building up sound to indicate suspense. The effects need to be timed just right in order to communicate any relevant feelings such as tension or fear.

The Power of Music in Voiceover

You can use musical sound effects to set the pace and tone of the voice over. Another option is to layer the sound beneath the talent’s voice, and once in a while, turn off the music so specific words are isolated and emphasized in the listener’s ears.

A sudden shift in sound commands the audience’s attention and forces them to listen.

Music increases retention rates because it has a direct influence on the listener’s emotions. Even that simple jingle is a really powerful form of communication.

Learn all about jingles and how to do them right.

This means using music in voice over, particularly for advertising purposes, increases your chances of influencing consumer behavior. But then again, it depends on your audience. Either way, never overuse music in voice-over, only because it has such a significant impact.


On another note…

Today, brands are using popular artists instead of jingles to advertise their products. Using a well-fitted song the advantage of attracting attention and creating a positive brand attitude.

Popular songs have a worldwide reach thanks to the internet. Using a famous artist in your advertising campaign will certainly get people to turn their heads and listen.

Stay on Message

As you might already know, great voice over scripts tell one story, from start to finish. The goal of any ad is to be heard and understood. Any message you communicate to your audience should be centered, direct, and clear. This means that any sound effects you use should only enhance the voice over.

When Voice Over Sound Effects Go Wrong

This especially happens on TV where the visuals are a priority. Most producers often work on fixing all the interactive elements of the voice-over and hope the sound will take care of itself in the process.

Audiences can look past a lot of things, but bad audio production is unacceptable. Inadequate or poorly implemented sound effects are even more taboo.

Voice over sound effects are very essential in communicating messages with added depth. Make sure you use effects that match the tone and voice of your brand.

To avoid messing up your voice over sound effects, do this:

Make a Sound Plan

You need to plan and budget for any sound effects you will use in your voice over.

Here are some questions to ask yourself:

1. Will the voice-over include music?

If yes, the blending of the music and the rest of the audio should be considered at every point of the voice over creation process.

2. Will the sound design lead the voice over?

In the case of radio ads, the sound design takes priority as it is the primary mode of communication.

3. Will you need to record any natural sound effects?

If the voice actor needs a couple of good sneezes or coughs, this should be clear from the beginning. It’s not that easy to record good natural sound effects, mostly because they have to occur naturally.


Voice over sound effects are often ignored, yet they play one of the most important roles in communicating a message to listeners. This is especially true for radio but just as true for TV voice-over.

To get it right, ensure the sound effects blend into the rest of the voice over. Don’t use effects for the sake of using them; introduce only relevant sounds that add to the depth and texture of the voice over.

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