I wear "open-fit" hearing aids. These sit on top of your ear, with a little tube carrying the sound inserted into the ear canal. For the most part, they work perfectly. Until yesterday, when I was in a studio session and found headphones and hearing aids don't mix.
I was excited about this session. It was a mini-seminar with one of the top "promo" agents in the business. This is a field I really feel I can excel and was eager to "show my stuff". But, aside from my nervousness and inexperience in this environment (which contributed highly), my failed hearing failed me.
When recording a promo, the music bed and "sound bites" of characters are already laid out. Your job as a VO person, is to drop in a word or sentence or two in the appropriate. Here is one from the great Ernie Anderson from the early 80's as an example:
Timing is crucial. As well as emoting emotion, excitement, etc. And, judging from my own personal as well as a dozen of my peers attending, it's not a single take proposition. You listen for a specific "cue" to trigger when to say the copy...a cue that can be a spoken sentence, a sound effect or a piece of music. Here's a (somewhat profane) video of Ernie doing just that...by trial and error. (Start at about 1:30 into the video).
My issue (it's produced differently now) was I couldn't hear the bed. I tried taking out my hearing aids and wearing the headphones and I got a mish-mosh of sound which didn't allow me to hear to all important cues. My next few "auditions" I tried with the headphones over my aids, which resulted in feedback and distortion. So, once again I couldn't pick up the cues. The engineer tried to help, but time was of the essence and we couldn't dwell on my individual issue with others waiting their turn. It was the most frustrating day I've every spent. And, extremely disappointing.
I'm now focused on a solution. First stop will be my audiologist. Maybe there is a setting on my aids that can be programmed to reduce the feedback. Second is a headphone trial. I'm going to head to professional audio stores and test various sets until I can find one that can reproduce sound without feedback and distortion. Third, I want to reach out to the agent and see if I can't give it a second shot...to show I can do it.
I wanted this day to go perfect....and fell flat on my face. But I'm resolved to make whatever corrections I need to make this aspect of the voice over industry a solid part of my portfolio.