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Old January 18th, 2005, 10:23 AM   #1
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Best way to do voiceovers

I'm finishing up a family movie right now and I'm going to be doing quite a bit of voiceovers. Here's what I'm planning to do right now with my current equiptment:

Take a AT lav mic that's plugged into my camcorder to record my voiceovers and then capture the voiceover to Premiere. Considering the amound of voiceovers I want to do, that's a big pain in the butt.

Here's what I'd like to do, but I don't know exactly what to buy: I'd like to have a good flattering mic plugged into my computer and sitting on my desktop, so that I can record directly to the timeline in Vegas. I know it's possible because this is a feature of Vegas and I've tried it with a crappy mic that was way too quiet. The only problem is I don't know how to find a good mic for my computer that's good enough for doing voiceovers.

Can anybody recommend one?
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Old January 18th, 2005, 10:33 AM   #2
 
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While the mic is a big consideration, don't forget a good mic pre. Chances are, the sound card either has a very poor preamp, or none at all.
What's your budget?
For family voiceovers, you can probably feel comfortable with a lesser expensive mic, and plan on spending additional time in post getting it to sound great, or you can spend more money on the mic, and end up spending less time in post.
Unfortunately, the front end (mic/pre) are the most critical and of course, most expensive parts of the whole process.
An inexpensive shotgun is a great option, the AT lav probably isn't bad, it's more the room than anything. You can plug the AT lav into your computer as well, and it will sound the same as it does through the cam, so if you've already got that mic, why not use it?
Check out the #3 webstream on voiceover boxes at http://www.vasst.com/dvdproducts/nht-sound.htm and you'll get an idea of how to make a poorer sounding mic sound better.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 11:15 AM   #3
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Douglas, it turned out to be my computer that was the problem. For some reason my tower has a crappy sound card or something. I just tried plugging the lav into my tower with both an XLR to phone adapter & a Beachtek adapter and both were way too quiet. When I tried to boost the level in Vegas, it was way too noisy. At first I was thinking I needed a preamp, but then I realized that it worked fine with my camcorder.

Anyway to make a long story short I tried the lav mic with the XLR to phone adapter on my laptop and it worked fine. So it must just be the sound card on my tower that's the problem.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 11:38 AM   #4
 
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AFAIK, every standard computer has a crappy sound card, whether it's used for monitoring or recording. This is one of the most important investments you can make, IMO. It's your "broadcast monitor" to the audio world.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 05:23 PM   #5
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You might try recording directly to your hard disk using your camcorder/firewire connection. I know Vegas video capture can do it, but I'm not sure if you can record directly to the Vegas timeline.
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Old January 18th, 2005, 10:54 PM   #6
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Also don't forget most sound cards mic input is a stereo mini plug which is not stereo but mono and a 5 v signal ( kinda like phatom)
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Old January 19th, 2005, 07:37 AM   #7
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Just a guess, but are you trying to put a mic level signal into
a line level port on the sound card? The symptoms you described (very weak signal from the mic, boosting gain in Vegas boosts noise) sounds like a mistake on the input level. I use a mixer/preamp to get a solid line level output and then bring the
L/R into an adapter cable with two female XLR to 1 stereo mini-jack connector that plugs into my soundcard. Never had a problem with this setup. The mic direct into the computer gives me exactly the problem you describe.

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Old January 19th, 2005, 09:15 AM   #8
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Well, I plugged it into the jack with the little picture of a microphone above it, so I think it's meant to be a mic jack ;)

When I did the same thing on my laptop, the mic worked fine.
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Old January 21st, 2005, 08:01 AM   #9
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<<<-- Originally posted by Douglas Spotted Eagle : AFAIK, every standard computer has a crappy sound card, whether it's used for monitoring or recording. This is one of the most important investments you can make, IMO. It's your "broadcast monitor" to the audio world. -->>>

Perhaps one of the few exceptions is the analog input and A/D converter in my Mac G4 Titanium laptop. I'm glad I waited a few weeks some years back, because, after comparing it to my Digidesign Digi 002, the 800MHz G4 does an equivalent job on voice recording. I've even recorded PA board feeds during a singer/songwriter open mic night and felt really good about the audio.

Regards,

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Old January 21st, 2005, 09:30 AM   #10
 
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You must have a very different powerbook than I do, or Philip Hodgetts, or Rich Harrington, or Chris Meyer. All of us have had bad experiences with Apple soundcards. I now use an Indigo from Echo as my Apple soundcard, it's a 24/96 Cardbus card, with 2 channels in, 2 channels out, and 8 virtual channels for busing.
I wish indeed, my Apple card was any good.
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 05:14 PM   #11
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Ty,

<<<Perhaps one of the few exceptions is the analog input and A/D converter in my Mac G4 Titanium laptop. I'm glad I waited a few weeks some years back, because, after comparing it to my Digidesign Digi 002, the 800MHz G4 does an equivalent job on voice recording. I've even recorded PA board feeds during a singer/songwriter open mic night and felt really good about the audio.>>>

How are you connecting this? I would surmise not through the stereo minijack!

I have a 1.5GHz Aluminum and a 667 MHz Titanium and have been using a Griffin iMic to avoid passing audio through a headphone jack (especially since the jack on the TiBook has an intermittent channel!)...of course at the end of the day, it's still going through a 1/8" TRS jack, not my idea of a "professional" audio connector. I guess a "real" breakout box would solve that.

Lately I have been using an HHB CDR830 for audio recording, operating it just like the 1/4" reel-to-reels I used to use back in the day. It gives me a standard CD if I just want to play it back in any normal audio system, plus I can extract AIFF/WAV files in the computer (using iTunes) for editing in Final Cut Pro (or MP3 if not using in FCP). Very convenient.

But I'd be curious what your secret to success is on board feeds and VOs; the Mac is more likely to be out and about with me at any given time.
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 05:38 PM   #12
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<<<-- Originally posted by Mike Butler : Ty,

<<<Perhaps one of the few exceptions is the analog input and A/D converter in my Mac G4 Titanium laptop. I'm glad I waited a few weeks some years back, because, after comparing it to my Digidesign Digi 002, the 800MHz G4 does an equivalent job on voice recording. I've even recorded PA board feeds during a singer/songwriter open mic night and felt really good about the audio.>>>

How are you connecting this? I would surmise not through the stereo minijack!

++Through the unbalanced mini jack!

I have a 1.5GHz Aluminum and a 667 MHz Titanium and have been using a Griffin iMic to avoid passing audio through a headphone jack (especially since the jack on the TiBook has an intermittent channel!)...of course at the end of the day, it's still going through 1/8" TRS jack, not my idea of a "professional" audio connector. I guess a "real" breakout box would solve that.

++Don't like the iMIC. It makes a buzz, even when fed at -10 line level. I spoke to them about it. There are PCMCIA cards (which fit in the left side slot on my powerbook with audio i/Os) but I haven't needed to try that.

Lately I have been using an HHB CDR830 for audio recording, operating it just like the 1/4" reel-to-reels I used to use back in the day. It gives me a standard CD if I just want to play it back in any normal audio system, plus I can extract AIFF/WAV files in the computer (using iTunes) for editing in Final Cut Pro (or MP3 if not using in FCP). Very convenient.

++Right. I have the older HHB, 3 rack spaces, upside down CD transport. I like it a lot.

But I'd be curious what your secret to success is on board feeds and VOs; the Mac is more likely to be out and about with me at any given time. -->>>

++As above, 1/8" Mac mini jack fed by stereo 1/8" TRS male and female RCA splitter cable from Female XLR to male RCA cables from my Sound Devices 442 mixer.

I was convinced after comparing tracks recorded simultaneously to my digi 002 and to the analog jack on the G4. Surprised me!

Regards,

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Old January 23rd, 2005, 08:01 PM   #13
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Wow! Can't get much simpler! Of course, that's a pretty jazzy mixer, it better sound good! :-) A little out of my budget right now, gotta stick with the old workhorse Mackie or Behringer for now. (Of course, that means back to needing AC power)

Right now I only have Soundedit 16...and it has to run in Classic mode! Pretty soon I have to think about getting Pro Tools. And I won't need a Digi box for this Mac?

cheers
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Old January 23rd, 2005, 08:59 PM   #14
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Mike,

Check your own laptop to be certain the converters and all are up to it. I may have lucked out.

I'm running OSX 10.3.4 and for the test used SPARK XL to record. There is no Pro Tools Free for OSX, so you'll have to find something when you leave OS 9. That's the only version of PT I know of that doesn't require some sort of Digi hardware.

The Mbox is good for simple tasks. At $499 USD list, I think it's a bargain. Preamps and converters are certainly up to the task of V/O work and then some.

Sound Devices does make a single channel preamp:
http://www.sounddevices.com/products/mp1master.htm

and, I forgot! via firewire...Sound Devices has the USB Pre... two preamps with a USB interface with LOTS of good features...
[USB]http://www.sounddevices.com/products/usbpremaster.htm[/USB]

Please take a hard look at it as well. It has most of the features of the MixPre, runs on batteries, and doesn't require Pro Tools.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old January 24th, 2005, 10:24 AM   #15
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Tony, I'm guessing you already tried this, but did you check the sound card's software volume control? On a Windows machine, it's very important to make sure this is set up right.

If you double-click the speaker icon in the system tray, then select "Options->Properties" you can adjust the "Recording" volumes. Make sure the check mark is on the correct input ("Microphone" in your case), and adjust the input level accordingly. The "Options->Advanced Controls" menu may give you more control over mic boost or whatever other options your card may have. Mac computers may have similar capabilities.

In defense of your average PC sound card, I recorded two "just-for-fun" studio CD projects using a card that cost about $30 (Creative Ensoniq PCI). Yes, you could hear a slight noise level on a good stereo system (which probably came from my cheap mixer), but it was definitely acceptable for what the project required.

If you do decide that you need a real preamp, I've been quite happy with the ART TubeMP line. I use the TPS as a preamp for my MOTU interface now, and it sounds great.
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