The ultimate guide to voice over vs. voice dubbing explains the differences between the two commonly used techniques.

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The ultimate guide to voice over vs. voice dubbing

Voice over and dubbing have a shared history. Both techniques are featured in television, movies, and online content creation. However, people often use the two terms interchangeably.

Here we’ll explain the differences between voice overs and dubbing and outline the unique features of each technique.

The difference between voice over and dubbing

Dubbing and voice over are both techniques used for message recording for new markets or new audiences.

For example, off-screen voice overs serve as a replacement for original dialogues. Think in terms of radio commercials and video games.

Audio dubbing, on the other hand, replaces the original dialogue in its entirety. This technique means that audio fully corresponds to the on-screen actor’s lip movements. As a result, dubbing is much more accurate than voice over.

As you can see, voice over can be considered a type of dubbing.

Voice over has a narrative nature and doesn’t feature the emotion or tonality of the original audio, whereas dubbing most certainly does. This is why dubbing is more adaptable and creative, while voice overs are consistent with the source content.

In essence, dubbing makes it feel like the language actors on screen speak corresponds to the native tongue of the viewers. Hence, making quality dubbing audio requires expertise.

Voice overs serve for creative storytelling or as a tool for fast and direct information translation to an audience. Dubbing is best when used in situations where information retention is the main objective.

Voice over is often used for:

  • News segments

  • Documentaries

  • Auditions

  • Subtitle replacement

  • Instructional content like training or e-learning videos

  • In films for internal dialogue

Dubbing is used for:

  • Feature films

  • TV shows

  • Content for children

  • Content for the illiterate

  • High-impact training videos

Now that you understand the differences between dubbing and voice over let’s look at some common types of voice over.

Types of voice over

There are many different types of voice over. Understanding what each of them is about will help you better use them for your auditions, presentations, or other audio recordings.

UN-style voice over

UN-style voice over is where the original speaker is still heard in the background. The voice over here serves as a translation of the original audio. However, it still lets you hear the original speaker as background noise. This technique is often used for speeches, news segments, or interviews.

Imagine listening to a live speech from the president of Spain at a UN session. A translator may translate the speech into English simultaneously as the president delivers their speech and you can hear the English version on your TV. If you listen closely, you can also hear the original speaker in the background. This is an example of a UN-style voice over.

Off-camera voice over or narration

Off-camera voice over is an addition to content that can also be played by itself. Content creators use this type of voice over for videos and other media like podcasts, documentaries, or radio commercials.


Lektoring is a niche voice over type is dominant in Poland and other Eastern European countries. It’s a voice over where a single voice actor reads the whole translated dialogue. Most often, a male voice talent performs this task.

There’s no emotion in this voice over. While listening, you can also hear the original sequences of dialogue a few seconds before the voice over starts. This way, the translation is less distracting to the viewer.

Why dubbing is important

Dubbing tries to stay true to the speakers’ emotions, sounds, and intonation of the original content as much as possible. It also replaces the original dialogue with another one.

Dubbing serves as a valuable technique for audiovisual media and has endless applications.

The entertainment industry can use dubbing to market products on a global scale. That’s how fans worldwide can enjoy Game of Thrones or Harry Potter as non-English speakers by hearing it in their native tongues.

This technique is also what brought Japanese anime shows in all their glory to American viewers.

Create your own voice overs with Speechify

Speechify is a text to speech app and voice over tool that helps readers create authentic voice overs from any text. You can use this simple app to create an audio version of every text document or format:

  • Web page

  • Blog post

  • Personal e-mail

  • SMS message

  • Physical documents

  • Written or digital dialogues

  • PDF, TXT, DOCX, HTML, etc.

Speechify has natural-sounding voices for creating lifelike voice overs for multiple occasions. Add a voice over to your presentation or use it as an audio file for listening while performing chores.

This simple app eliminates the need to visit a professional recording studio and pay voice over talent for the job. You can create your home studio for explainer videos, corporate videos, or any type of content. You don’t even need to have voice acting skills. The software does it all for you.

If you’d like to learn more about this high-quality voice over tool, you can visit the official website or give it a try for free today.


What are the two main types of voice overs?

The two main types of voice overs are UN-style voice over and off-camera voice over. There is also lektoring, which is less frequently used and is mainly predominant in Eastern Europe.

Is lip sync and dubbing the same?

Lip sync is where professional voice actors match lip movements of the original audio file to produce a high-quality version in a target language. The target audience can enjoy foreign-language content as if it was in their native tongue.

What does the term ADR stand for?

ADR stands for Additional or Automated Dialogue Replacement. It’s a technique used to re-record audio files in a better-controlled environment to boost the quality of the file. It’s useful for audiobooks, animated characters, Netflix shows, and other instances where the original voice needs high-quality representation.

What are the pros and cons of voice dubbing?

Voice dubbing keeps the original audio file’s emotion, tone, and intonation and stays true to it as much as possible. However, it requires a lot of expertise and isn’t always the most cost-effective option.

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