Voice Over Terminology You Need to Know

Voice Over Terminology You Need to Know

The voice over industry is full of jargon and terminology. The phrases thrown around in a recording studio might sound like plain gibberish to the untrained ear. It’s important to stay on top of voice over terminology so you can effectively communicate what you need for your project. To help you get started—or refresh your knowledge—here’s some voice over terminology you need to know.


ADR, or automatic dialogue replacement, is the process where your actors have to replace a scene’s original dialogue in post-production. You might need ADR when a shot’s audio isn’t clear. It’s also used for dubbing lines when producing a project in multiple languages. ADR is a great way to ensure the quality of a shot, even when your original recording doesn’t turn out perfect.

Cold Read

A cold read is part of the audition process. This is where your potential voice over actors read from a script they don’t know. While a cold read is never going to be someone’s best work, they can give good insight to an actor’s ability to adapt and think on their feet. It’s also a good way to see their initial reactions to and interpretations of your script.


A level is part of the sound test before a recording. Your voice actor will read a portion of their lines into the microphone while it’s set to the volume you intend to use for the spot. This establishes an ideal sound level and allows you to calibrate your equipment accordingly. It also helps your voice over actor figure out what volume they need to aim for throughout the recording.


Residuals have to do with paying your voice over actors for the continual use of their performance. When you continue to air your spot or make money from your project beyond what your voice over actor’s initial compensation covers, you pay them residuals. The details will vary depending on different contracts or union rules, but generally, you pay residuals every 13 weeks that your spot airs.

Wild Line

When you want multiple versions of a line to choose from, you’ll ask your voice over actor for a wild line. This is where your voice over actor reads that specific line multiple times—often in a set of three—with a different tone or inflection each time. A wild line gives you options when you’re editing your audio in post-production. This helps you find the perfect delivery of a key line in your script.

While this list of voice over terminology you need to know will help you learn your way around the industry’s vocabulary, you can also learn a lot through experience. Visit Internet Jock to browse our narration, character, commercial, and infomercial voice over services. We’ll help you find the perfect talent so you can jump into your next successful project.