Using MP3 For Voiceovers

For audio on the internet, the development of MP3 technology (while not exactly new) has been a miracle. Handled properly, an MP3 file will show virtually NO apparent loss in the human voice range as compared to an uncompressed .wav file. If you’ve never worked with MP3s before, you may be skeptical. Here’s are two sample files, a 95kb MP3 and a .wav which is a whopping 512kb for the same data. Imagine the difference in size in a 60-second commercial…or a 10-minute industrial script narration. Yeee-ouch!! Now…can you hear a difference?

WAV or MP3

Now…a word to the wise. As one might guess, there actually IS a cost to such a drastic reduction in file size! It’s very important (and, frankly, anyone who is selling you their voice in MP3 format really should know this!)…I repeat, it’s very important to do any critical sound processing BEFORE saving the file as an MP3.

For me, this means that I ALWAYS apply a light layer of compression and maximize the sound wave before I save it. This gives my clients a nice even tone, well-balanced for dynamics and tonal range.


Personally, I like to use Sound Forge for this purpose. It’s quick and clean. But any audio program worth its salt has this capability, so be advised…make those kinds of changes FIRST…then save to MP3 for transfer.

And, if you’ve never worked with MP3s before and you’re scared that you’ll get the file and not be able to use it, I can tell you that most non-linear editors now allow direct importing of MP3 files into your session. If not, there are many programs out there that will convert from MP3 to .wav (or AIFF if you’re on a Mac). is a great place to look thru tools until you find one you like.