Voice over advice at DVinfo.net

Go Back   DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

All Things Audio
Everything Audio, from acquisition to postproduction.


Reply
 
Thread Tools Search this Thread
Old October 9th, 2008, 08:13 AM   #1
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Voice over advice

Hi all,

Currently testing a voice over set up for use in one or two projects (audio voice over to Cd, animation and the odd 'misc' project/s).
It's been a while since I've dipped my toes into the audio recording world (up to a point - I use Logic for musical bits and bobs), as currently filming/editing (and getting in deep with those learning curves).
At the moment I cannot possibly afford to bring any more kit if for this purpose, so I'll be using this set up:

*Sennhieser ME66/K6 shotgun (used for video/film purposes for the main but this is really my main microphone)

*Shure SM58 - useful for an extra mic or singing vocals but I'm presuming the Sennhieser is the better choice for voice over.

*Spirit SX mixing desk - mics patched into here with the output directly into an iMac (L and R phono into single phono for the purposes of the iMac).

*Record vocals in Logic Pro - edit and add compression/reverb etc if necessary.

*End up with audio file (Aiff et al).

The results so far aren't bad at all. My gear is in one room whilst I'm recording the vocals in a smaller (carpeted) room with much less reverb (studio 2 - my younger daughters room :) ). Perhaps not entirely professional, but it isn't at all bad. Little concerned over slight hum and hiss in background...whether the cable is picking up something 'ulterior' or just an over sensitive microphone (obviously the Sennhieser isn't a dedicated voice over mic) I'm not sure. For the projects I'm currently doing this for it is acceptable.

Does this set up seem ok? Might there be something I could do to help eliminate a little of the background noise and better the performance results with what I have kit wise?
I may look into a reasonably priced voice over mic in the future, but currently this isn't an option.

Many thanks.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 08:34 AM   #2
Regular Crew
 
Join Date: Jul 2008
Location: Chichester UK
Posts: 167
I'm sure that your 'Studio 2' is better than a lot of the locations I've had to accept to record V/Os when I was a news recordist! Actually, the back of a car is quite dead and if no traffic is passing, is acceptable (for news, anyway). One tip that I find useful when using a directional mic close up is to use the Zeppelin without the Windjammer. This acts as a pop-shield very well for those nasty plosives. Have a good old listen in 'Studio 2' with your ears alone; if you can hear the hum then it isn't cable induced. I don't know about the hiss though - could it be your headphone amplifier?

I was once persuaded to use a lip mic for a voice over in a noisy location - one of the old STC ones with its equaliser box. I wasn't too impressed with its audio quality, but it DID exclude a very noisy background. Spherical waveforms at close range is their principle I believe. I ramble; apologies.
Nick Flowers is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 10:45 AM   #3
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick Flowers View Post
I'm sure that your 'Studio 2' is better than a lot of the locations I've had to accept to record V/Os when I was a news recordist! Actually, the back of a car is quite dead and if no traffic is passing, is acceptable (for news, anyway). One tip that I find useful when using a directional mic close up is to use the Zeppelin without the Windjammer. This acts as a pop-shield very well for those nasty plosives. Have a good old listen in 'Studio 2' with your ears alone; if you can hear the hum then it isn't cable induced. I don't know about the hiss though - could it be your headphone amplifier?

I was once persuaded to use a lip mic for a voice over in a noisy location - one of the old STC ones with its equaliser box. I wasn't too impressed with its audio quality, but it DID exclude a very noisy background. Spherical waveforms at close range is their principle I believe. I ramble; apologies.
Thanks Nick. Listening back to the tests via the speakers (I found myself without a particular lead - the two phono into one lead so had to keep patching and re-patching) it appears any hum is now, fortunately no longer evident. The hiss remains (perhaps I could post it here) but it's more background 'light hiss' (anything to do with the analog Spirit SX desk?). It might be best to post it. The compressor in Logic has cleared some and a spot of high end cut off has helped too...but it's not blinking perfect!!!

The 'zeppelin' I have is the furry number, so not sure if I can prise that off - I'd forgotten about that, being indoor and all that.
I'd build my own pop shield a few years back and dug it out today: an old coat hanger and a pair of tights worked well at the time, but it's a bit of state now...not quite sure I'd like to place my mouth near it.
Thanks Nick.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 02:39 PM   #4
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Scottsdale, AZ 85260
Posts: 1,538
David,

After nearly 30 years of doing professional VO, I'm writing this whilst sitting next to a dedicated vocal booth, where a Neumann large diaphram condenser mic hangs in suspension surrounded by acoustic foam walls and dedicated noise abatement construction.

However, my most recent voiceover was done as follows.

A client HAD to have the job on day X. Revisions voiced and submitted on day Y - no excuses.

Unfortunately, I was scheduled to be two states away from my VO booth on day Y.

So for the original VO, I left the vocal booth dark. And instead, I sat here at my computer and used the following equipment.

One of my MacBook (not Pro) laptops. A small, inexpensive Sony short shotgun condenser mic that had come with a previous camcorder purchase. A Centronics MicPort Pro as pre-amp and headphone driver. A pair of Sony 7506 headphones. (Probably $1500 retail worth of gear, far less than my studio mic alone.)

Centrance MicPort plugged directly into Microphone XLR. From it run both USB to laptop and headphones.

I held the mic in one hand, operated the laptop (free Audacity software) and turned the pages of the script with the other.

I took this approach so I could throw all the equipment in a very small bag to toss into my suitcase and take the whole shebang with me while out of town.

It worked great. Compliments from the producer who had to mix everything and no complaints from the the 500 people in the ballroom who had to focus their attention on the corporate awards show narration for half an hour of their lives.

Some points to consider:

Modern recording equipment is WAY better than classic recording gear and approaches.
Equipment does not make good recordings. Talented people do.
The mic technique I used de-emphasized the recording space verses my voice.
Which was possible because I've been doing VO work for 30 years and know how!

I note all this because, honestly, my experience tell me that we've reached a point where the equipment in a recording chain has VERY LITTLE to do with the success or failure of a VO recording.

I've said before, a weak or untrained voice in a PERFECT recording situation can't be anything better than a perfect recording of that weak or untrained voice.

Sure you can compress it to hell and boost the gain, but if you're boosting BAD, you just get LOUDER BAD.

If you seek quality VO recordings - stop worrying about equipment - Human VOICE is NOT a challenging signal to record properly.

Concentrate instead on talent and performance. That's at least 80 percent of the recipe for quality VO work.

For what it's worth.
Bill Davis is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 04:16 PM   #5
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Camas, WA, USA
Posts: 5,513
One tip is to double your voice track. Compress the hell out of one of them. Mix to taste.

For compression, try -25 dB threshold, 20:1 ratio.

Listen to the two tracks. The raw track will sound peaky. Some vowels might be soft. It might not sound all that full. The compressed track will be consistent, but will sound dead and lifeless.

By mixing the two together, the compressed track takes over when quiet, and the raw track contributes the peaks and details.

It won't turn an amateur into a pro, but it can be a big improvement over thin (raw) or dead (compressed).
__________________
Jon Fairhurst
Jon Fairhurst is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 05:56 PM   #6
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Burbank
Posts: 1,811
Most noise problems can be instantly cured by using a directional dynamic mic. Condenser mics pic up noises you can hear normally.

I have a mic from Audio Technica that works well for location voiceover recording. A friend has a Heil PR20 he likes. Another uses a Heil PR40.

I have one of the original Microtrack recorders. The mic plugs directly in and I record 24 bit wave files.

A friend uses a computer and the micport for the same thing.

Most recently I recorded a child in a storage room, with a parking lot outside. The recording was for her "thoughts" during a dance number. The voice was added to the music. With very little basic processing (sliahf compression, volume adjustment on a couple of lines, slight eq) it came out perfect. No noise, nice full sound with plenty of character in the voice.

I think problems are introduced by getting too fancy. The simpler the better. I sometimes use a mixer, an SD302. This is one piece of equipment that cannot be compromised.

Regarding the hum: I would point the mic in all directions and see if it changes. It could be something coming from another room or outside.
Jack Walker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 06:04 PM   #7
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Quote:
I've said before, a weak or untrained voice in a PERFECT recording situation can't be anything better than a perfect recording of that weak or untrained voice.

Sure you can compress it to hell and boost the gain, but if you're boosting BAD, you just get LOUDER BAD.

If you seek quality VO recordings - stop worrying about equipment - Human VOICE is NOT a challenging signal to record properly.

Concentrate instead on talent and performance. That's at least 80 percent of the recipe for quality VO work.

For what it's worth.
Absolutely agree Bill. Similar really to some of the modern day trash pop which infiltrates our airwaves. Some really old, starkly recorded reggae albums sound beautiful purely because of the spirit of the performers/performance. The Beach Boys Smile album another case in point...the rough diamond bootlegs still sound sublime compared to the more recent (and highly glossy) re-recordings, which don't really cut it.
Thanks for your time posting Bill. I think I'll be ok with the kit I've got now...but advice on a dedicated VO mic for future knowledge certainly won't go amiss (price being a consideration)!
Cheers.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 06:08 PM   #8
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jon Fairhurst View Post
One tip is to double your voice track. Compress the hell out of one of them. Mix to taste.

For compression, try -25 dB threshold, 20:1 ratio.

Listen to the two tracks. The raw track will sound peaky. Some vowels might be soft. It might not sound all that full. The compressed track will be consistent, but will sound dead and lifeless.

By mixing the two together, the compressed track takes over when quiet, and the raw track contributes the peaks and details.

It won't turn an amateur into a pro, but it can be a big improvement over thin (raw) or dead (compressed).
Having never recorded live on Logic Pro before, I presume I can 'copy' a performance to a new track - hence doubling up? Must admit the compressed tests I did today did sound a little 'cadaverous' and almost unreal. Impressed with the effects in Logic by the way (used a few of the vocal FX earlier)...I don't have the money or 'real estate' to house hardware units (my DAT machine and Akai sampler sit a little forlornly to the right of me since the mac and logic moved in).
I will give that a whirl Jon - thanks a million.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 06:18 PM   #9
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Walker View Post
Most noise problems can be instantly cured by using a directional dynamic mic. Condenser mics pic up noises you can hear normally.

I have a mic from Audio Technica that works well for location voiceover recording. A friend has a Heil PR20 he likes. Another uses a Heil PR40.

I have one of the original Microtrack recorders. The mic plugs directly in and I record 24 bit wave files.

A friend uses a computer and the micport for the same thing.

Most recently I recorded a child in a storage room, with a parking lot outside. The recording was for her "thoughts" during a dance number. The voice was added to the music. With very little basic processing (sliahf compression, volume adjustment on a couple of lines, slight eq) it came out perfect. No noise, nice full sound with plenty of character in the voice.

I think problems are introduced by getting too fancy. The simpler the better. I sometimes use a mixer, an SD302. This is one piece of equipment that cannot be compromised.

Regarding the hum: I would point the mic in all directions and see if it changes. It could be something coming from another room or outside.
Am I right in saying my Sennhieser is a 'super - cardioid' (fall under condenser? forgive me but the mic terminology is a bit of knowledge hiding in my sub brain!)? The Shure SM58 dynamic?

Quote:
I have one of the original Microtrack recorders. The mic plugs directly in and I record 24 bit wave file.
Be handy if my spirit were digital...the amount of cables I found hiding under my bed today (replaced for the most part by the mac and s/w synths/FX units et al) is incredible.

Quote:
I sometimes use a mixer, an SD302. This is one piece of equipment that cannot be compromised.
Where do you sent the output to this Jack? I usually record dialogue directly to camera (JVC HD100) - works well with the Sennhieser, but if I were to go out and record 'ambience' or dialogue without the camera (or alongside) then I'd struggle to find a place to record it into...an oldish MiniDisc (remember them!) is all I can think of. I assume portable DAT's have been replaced by HD's now?

Thanks Jack.
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 06:43 PM   #10
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Baltimore, MD USA
Posts: 2,323
Hello David,

You sort of asked and answered your own question. You have a mic you're going to use it.

You are unsure about your recording environment. You already hear hum and hiss. Those are problems. There are too many causes to even guess why. The mic you have is not one used by VO. It's an art school, mid-line shotgun mic.

As long as your expectations aren't great, you'll be fine.

BTW, scour the web for an MCA SP-1 condenser mic. It miraculously sells for $39.95 , but should cost about $750.

Regards,

Ty Ford
Ty Ford is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 07:20 PM   #11
Inner Circle
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Vancouver, British Columbia (formerly Winnipeg, Manitoba) Canada
Posts: 4,087
David, I'm currently using an Apex 435 medium diaphragm condenser mic that I bought for $80 three years ago complete with suspension (BTW the suspension is crap but it DOES work). I went in looking to spend $800 on an AudioTechnica and walked out with this one. Is Apex going to put Neumann out of business anytime soon? I seriously doubt it but my Apex recorded v/o's have made national broadcast as well as countless training and promotional videos. It ain't superb but with decent technique my humble opinion is that it sounds better than a lot of much pricier solutions I've heard and/or demo'd. At the end of the day, it's more about the delivery than the technology ASSUMING that the technology isn't CAUSING problems...
__________________
Shaun C. Roemich Road Dog Media - Vancouver, BC - Videographer - Webcaster
www.roaddogmedia.ca Blog: http://roaddogmedia.wordpress.com/
Shaun Roemich is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 09:10 PM   #12
Trustee
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: United States
Posts: 1,158
on the flip side, there are a number of USB mics that also work _*ok*_. I didn't say great, but for $100-$200 they can do the job just fine for less then super critical work which sound like what you are doing.

as for a VO booth, you can hang a couple of sound blankets on C stands. normally I put one in front of the mic, and one behind the voice talent. I'll usually also go over the top from front to back. this makes for a pretty dead clean space. works fine for most jobs. the blankets can be had for about $12 each, C stands with arms are around $160ea, plus a few spring clamps for $1 ea. you could come up with just about anything to support the blankets with a litte thought, but C stands work because I have a bunch of them.
Steve Oakley is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 9th, 2008, 10:19 PM   #13
Trustee
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: Burbank
Posts: 1,811
A dynamic mic does not require a battery or phantom power. It operates by the force of the air on the diaphragm and nothing more.

Here is an interesting page on an announcer's website that lists and talks about many of the classic voiceover microphones:
Voice Talent Microphones the Best Voice Over Microphones

At the bottom of the page is an extended list. Your Shure SM58 is in the list.

Also at the bottom is a short writeup about the difference between dynamic and condenser mics.

Since they are not expensive, I think every videoographer, announcer, etc., should have a good sounding dynamic hand mic in the bottom of their case. They are basically indestructable, often have built in pop filters and wind screens, and only need to be plugged in--no power. When all else fails, they work.

In wild environments they help immensely to block out the noise.

Try your SM58 and see if you get rid of the noises in your recording.

(Regarding a mixer, a mixer isn't necessary necessarily, and what I meant to say is no mixer is better than a bad mixer.

As far as outboard processing, I don't think today that any hardware is better than software for most people. A site that has outstanding plugins for a very reasonable price is Voxengo.

I don't think there is a best setup for voiceover/announcer/narrator. Too many variables. from recording studio to location, from closet to auto, from game show to talk show, from movie trailers to documentaries, etc.

Some of the highest paid voiceover talent work on game shows. They are stuck backstage in a small 3-sided cubicle, with a copy stand, mostly in the dark, with stagehands traipsing all about. They shout into their microphone and often look kind of dreary when they are not on.

The guy on David Letterman looks to be sitting on a stool, and handholding his mic. On Jay Leno it looks like the guy is sitting on the floor, crammed between the front of the audience, the cue cards and the cameras.

There is always a solution to get a good result from the situation and equipment at hand.
Jack Walker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 10th, 2008, 03:41 AM   #14
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Quote:
You are unsure about your recording environment. You already hear hum and hiss. Those are problems. There are too many causes to even guess why. The mic you have is not one used by VO. It's an art school, mid-line shotgun mic.

As long as your expectations aren't great, you'll be fine.

BTW, scour the web for an MCA SP-1 condenser mic. It miraculously sells for $39.95 , but should cost about.
The hum has now been eliminated. I have a sneaky suspicion that the cable on the floor (before I moved the mic to a different, carpeted room) was picking up hum from the halogen lights on a dimmer in the room below (although they aren't on a transformer)?
Yes - the shotgun works really well for video/film purposes, I'm pretty amazed at what it can pick up, but perhaps not best suited for VO. I'll have a look for the MCA SP1, though I bet it's pricier, as most things are, in the UK! Cheers Ty.

Quote:
David, I'm currently using an Apex 435 medium diaphragm condenser mic that I bought for $80 three years ago complete with suspension (BTW the suspension is crap but it DOES work). I went in looking to spend $800 on an AudioTechnica and walked out with this one. Is Apex going to put Neumann out of business anytime soon? I seriously doubt it but my Apex recorded v/o's have made national broadcast as well as countless training and promotional videos. It ain't superb but with decent technique my humble opinion is that it sounds better than a lot of much pricier solutions I've heard and/or demo'd. At the end of the day, it's more about the delivery than the technology ASSUMING that the technology isn't CAUSING problems...
Like the look of that too - had a quick search online and they seem to be selling this mic as part of a kit...which I don't really need, so I'll keep on looking for the mic alone. Looks the part too, which may or may not influence the talent (similar to larger vid camera's with added accessories such as matteboxes et al).
Thanks.

Quote:
as for a VO booth, you can hang a couple of sound blankets on C stands. normally I put one in front of the mic, and one behind the voice talent. I'll usually also go over the top from front to back. this makes for a pretty dead clean space. works fine for most jobs. the blankets can be had for about $12 each, C stands with arms are around $160ea, plus a few spring clamps for $1 ea. you could come up with just about anything to support the blankets with a litte thought, but C stands work because I have a bunch of them.
Thanks Steve - it so happens I have a couple of duck down duvets in 'studio 2' which I'll shall promptly set up this morning (someone is popping over later to do a little VO work).
I'll nip to my local sound shop in the near future and look at the blankets, C stands etc...I need one for green screen work as it happens, so hopefully I can utilise the chroma screen stand partly for audio booth purposes also...when things are tight etc!

Jack - I'm now testing the shure SM58 against the Sennhieser, although I seem to recall preferring the Sennhieser in previous tests: it's more powerful and I'd only use that in video/film situations over the SM58, although that's fine for certain situations - 'scene ambiance' for example.

Quote:
Some of the highest paid voiceover talent work on game shows. They are stuck backstage in a small 3-sided cubicle, with a copy stand, mostly in the dark, with stagehands traipsing all about. They shout into their microphone and often look kind of dreary when they are not on.

The guy on David Letterman looks to be sitting on a stool, and handholding his mic. On Jay Leno it looks like the guy is sitting on the floor, crammed between the front of the audience, the cue cards and the cameras.

There is always a solution to get a good result from the situation and equipment at hand
Interesting points Jack! I now recall seeing the fella on Letterman, sat on the chair to the side...I was expecting these guys to be sat in studio like 'Frasier Cranes'!

If it's required for me to carry out more VO work for certain projects then I'll absolutely look out for those cheaper condenser mics listed above.
Huge thanks for your helpful posts....I'm sure more questions will filter out from my head soon enough :)

Cheers,
dave
David Scattergood is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 10th, 2008, 10:56 AM   #15
Major Player
 
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Manchester, UK
Posts: 755
Well, I carried this out earlier - close friends of ours I was doing a favour for, so no huge comeback if I messed up...I'll charge for the next projects :)
For the most part it sounds fine - used the Sennhieser shotgun in the end as I couldn't find the right mic lead for the Shure SM58 into the mixer (although this could've gone straight into the mac via a mini jack).
I'm going to double the track up as per Jon's advice in Logic, adding compression and perhaps another effect should it need one. Though I've not commenced this, might there be a problem with phasing on the two tracks or will the added compression on one (and perhaps a very slight pitch alteration?) take care of that?

The only thing 'protruding' from the audio (and it's only really noticeable when you ramp the volume up high enough) is this slight buzz...the hum and hiss have seemingly been eradicated (created a 'sound booth' using the underneath of a bunk bed and a couple of thick duvets). Not entirely sure where this is coming from...half inclined to believe it may be from the headphone mini jack socket on the iMac - possible? The input from the mixer (mini jack again) is directly sat next to it on the back.

With this in mind I'll attempt on Sountrack Pro to try and eliminate this buzz if possible, although it really is barely audible.

I've included an example, which is a much better example than I can begin to explain:

Many thanks
Attached Files
File Type: mov lynette short buzz example.mov (174.2 KB, 134 views)
David Scattergood is offline   Reply
Reply

DV Info Net refers all where-to-buy and where-to-rent questions exclusively to these trusted full line dealers and rental houses...

Professional Video
(800) 833-4801
Portland, OR

B&H Photo Video
(866) 521-7381
New York, NY

Z.G.C.
(973) 335-4460
Mountain Lakes, NJ

Abel Cine Tech
(888) 700-4416
N.Y. NY & L.A. CA

Precision Camera
(800) 677-1023
Austin, TX

DV Info Net also encourages you to support local businesses and buy from an authorized dealer in your neighborhood.
  You are here: DV Info Net > The Tools of DV and HD Production > All Things Audio

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search

 



Google
 

All times are GMT -6. The time now is 09:35 PM.


DV Info Net -- Real Names, Real People, Real Info!
1998-2017 The Digital Video Information Network