Voiceover Or Subtitles? Which One Is For You

In multimedia localisation, choosing between voiceover and subtitles is choosing between cost and quality. Voice-over involves multiple steps from transcribing, translating, recruiting voice talent, to recording. Subtitling is more simple, it includes only transcribing, translating, and adding foreign language captions at the bottom of the video screen. However, subtitling is less engaging. So, which one should you choose? Let’s us help you to discover.

Voiceover Or Subtitles?

Context should be the first criteria

The first thing you need to consider is the purpose of your video. Promotional and marketing videos are supposed to be more engaging and emotional. Therefore, human voice-over is reasonably preferable because it is more sentimental. Human voice-over can help you to reflect the speaker’s or the narrative’s emotions.

However, if your video is used only for training or e-learning, subtitles are more efficient. This is because the most important element of a training video is content rather than mood or emotion.

Context should be the first criteria

Understand your target audience

As multimedia is one marketing tool, understanding your target audience is key for success. Particularly, you need to understand your target audience’s culture, interests, and behaviours. For example, in some cultures, voice-over is preferred over subtitles. Another example is watching subtitles on mobile devices can be more challenging because the font is too small. Furthermore, reading subtitles can be distracting for your audience.

Ultimately, when choosing the format to localise your foreign language video, put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. Determine the preferable option for them and give them the best experience and insights to drive your desired result for your investment.

target audience


Voice-over can be 5 times more expensive than subtitles. Therefore, although in most cases, voice-over works best, it is not always the most efficient solution. The cost of voice-over includes transcribing, translating, recruiting voice talent, recording, and editing. In which, the voice talent is the most expensive cost to consider. The cost of subtitling, however, only includes transcribing, translating, and editing cost. Therefore, the subtitling is significantly cheaper.

Voice-over/Subtitles pros and cons

To sum up, both voice-over and subtitles have their pros and cons to consider. Here is the summary of the two formats for your consideration.



  • No distracting text on their screen
  • Suitable for complex conversations with many characters
  • Follow information better
  • Avoid missing information
  • Recreate the original tone and voice of the dialogue
  • More engaging experience


  • Challenges in finding the right voice talent
  • Much more expensive than subtitles



  • Maintain the voice of the original content
  • Have cheaper production cost comparing to voice-over


  • Distract attention away from the visual content
  • Challenges in subtitling complex conversations
Voice-over/Subtitles pros and cons

Let us help you to optimise your multimedia content

At elionetwork, we provide end-to-end both voice-over and subtitling services for multimedia localisation and video translation. With more than 20 years of experience as a voice-over and subtitling agency, we offer consulting sessions to help you identify the best format to localise content. Contact us today to learn more about multimedia localisation.