SAVOA – Society of Accredited Voice Over Artists

Morning Folks,

Missed me? Well that’s nice… I’m still on vacation here in beautiful sunny Jordan. It’s been nice seeing family members and reconnecting with old friends. Not much internet access for me here beyond being able to check my mail regularly. I’m actually writing this post using my  Brother-in-law’s old Toshiba laptop.

Today I wanted to talk to you about getting accredited. This thing has been in the back of my mind for a few months but when I did my preliminary research on it I misread the instructions and thought that as someone who does not reside in North America or Europe that I do not qualify to even apply for it.

I am talking of course of SAVOA (the society of accredited voice over artists (sm) )

For those of you less established voice over artists you might have seen this logo on a few of your fellow voice over artist’s websites. If they have it then it means that they are accredited members of this society.

What is Savoa?

SaVoa Incorporated is a professional not-for-profit organization of voice over artists which:

  • establishes equitable vocal delivery and technical delivery criteria for the individual accreditation of voice artists;
  • establishes a code of ethics, membership, business conduct and peer review standards for the accreditation of voice over artists;
  • supports education for the development of skills needed by voice over artists to meet or exceed established standards and accreditation criteria;
  • promotes public awareness about the voice over profession, accreditation criteria and accredited voice artists;
  • provides a mechanism for voice over artists to attain individual accreditation through peer review, thereby promoting quality assurance in the voice over community.

What Do I Get Tested On

Applying for accreditation means that you will be evaluated using two criteria:

The two areas evaluated for accreditation are vocal delivery and technical delivery.

VOCAL DELIVERY (Performance and Technique) –

I. Performance:

  • Articulation and speech clarity appropriate to the copy
    • sounds of words are present and clearly communicated
    • no unnatural or distracting over-enunciation
    • end of words neither dropped nor punched
  • Vocal dynamics
    • good use of the four voice variables (pitch, rate, volume and quality) in varying degrees to add interest to speech without creating discernible or distracting speech patterns
  • Dramatic interpretation
    • hitting the copy points
    • effectively communicating key concepts of the copy
    • exhibiting energy appropriate to the copy
    • evoking emotion and mood appropriate to the copy
  • Vocal style
    • natural read, which is more common; or
    • stylized read appropriate to the copy, e.g., when voicing an Anime character

II. Technique:

  • Good breath support
  • Absence of vocal tension
  • Absence of mouth noise
  • Delivery within natural vocal range (not straining to be higher or lower than the voice talent’s natural register)
  • Controlled sibilance
  • Controlled plosives
  • Consonants not over-aspirated
  • Consistent distance between mouth and mic
  • Natural flow without awkward breaks

TECHNICAL DELIVERY (Quality and Technique) –

Although your performance demos will be technically evaluated, you will be asked to also provide a clean custom demo recorded pursuant to SaVoa’s instructions (technical demo). The technical demo will be used to analyze the quality criteria below. The quality of the technical demo will be evaluated by a special section of SaVoa that uses instrumentation and software to determine the acoustical properties of the submitted file. This quality test is designed not only for peer review, but also to provide you with a valuable analysis of your recording space.

I. Quality (technical demo):

  • Audio level (finished work ideally delivered at or under -6dBFS. See T1)
  • Noise level (absence of ambient noise. During recorded “silence,” a cumulative noise floor of -40 dBFS or less is deemed sufficient for broadcast standards. See T2)
  • Room decay (reverberation, echo or ring should be below .07 sec with a decay of 85% from first test impact to a sound level at .07 sec. seeT3)

II. Technique (performance demos):

  • No distortion from poor mic placement or other reason
  • No apparent over-processing
  • No indication of overdriving the mic
  • No digital clipping
  • No obvious pickups
  • No indication of poor or absent pop filtering

T1 Best practice dictates that finished dry reads, whether or not edited for content, should be delivered with a maximum volume level of -6dBFS. This level gives the production engineer ample signal to work with and lessens the chance of distortion on the delivered file.

T2 Ambient noise and noise floor: This cumulative sound, ideally at or under -40dBFS, will be measured against ITU-R 468-weighting noise curve. SaVoa is using this international curve as opposed to “A” weighted for two reasons: (1) We are an organization that serves voice over artists delivering to the international market; (2) the 468 curve is widely considered to be more accurate when measuring noise that it perceivable by humans.

T3 Reverberation, ring or echo are the secondary sound waves that are recorded because of insufficient absorption or diffusion in a recording environment. The lingering presence of these decaying sounds can cause problems in post production. One problem is when two sources, for example, two voice actors in different locations, are edited into one commercial. The difference in reverberation can cause stark contrast in the spacial quality of the two voices. This may hurt the perception of reality when the two voices are supposedly in the same place.


No one said this was going to be easy! So how much does all this cost?

thankfully its not very expensive just $75 for the application fee… and then you need to reapply for accreditation every 2 years.

I’ve been thinking of joining these guys for some time now… I still need to figure out if it will help my business at all since my specialty is Arabic Voice overs and they don’t yet cater to that. But it also means that if I join them I can help establish the Arabic Language SaVoa Accreditation division.

I’ll have to think about it some more.

If you are a member tell us about your experience… I’ve very curious to find out your thoughts on the matter… was it worth joining? has it done anything for your career?

Make some noise people.



  1. Taji:

    I truly feel that this is a great tool for all VO talent & clients. It shows clients that you have been through a strict screening process & not only is your voice & experience at the caliber that it should be but your studio capabilities are as well. In the days & age of anyone with a mic & garage band thinks they can do VO – I feel that clients who care about quality will begin looking to this more as a sign of professionalism. It is said that anyone in the union is of this caliber. Well what if I don’t want to be limited to only union projects? What if like you Taji – I am out of the country? This is a stamp of approval for clients.

    I am so committed to the Savoa stamp of standard that we are currently in talks with the Savoa board on how we can benefit each other & create a lasting relationship to promote this level & caliber of talent to the industry.

    How does it benefit you when you are niched down to the Arabic language? To be honest – I really don’t know of any specific results as I do not know other out of the country talent who have used this mark of approval in their career. But this is my honest take on the matter. When you are working in the American market – you can knock out any kind of preconceived notions that US clients might have about working with out of the country talent because you have a familiar mark of approval. They know that your voice & studio capabilities has to be of a higher caliber because you have this stamp of approval. I have so many clients that ask for specific languages like this but want American based talent. It drives me crazy because A) most times with specialties like this US talent can be limited B) why not go straight to the source where you will find in my humble opinion – many times the best because their language is practiced everyday because they are living in that culture – not in the US market where they are probably speaking English most times C) I don’t think a client should limit their options like this – the key is to get the best voice for the project wherever that voice may be located.

    I think it would be a fabulous idea for you to establish a relationship with them Taji & open up the screening process to out of the country talent. I believe it would be a tremendous benefit long term. I would love to get your feedback after you have heard more & researched more.

    Enjoy the rest of your vacation!

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