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Old June 1st, 2005, 06:05 PM   #1
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help! - problems with voiceover/narration

I bought a new microphone (AT897) and wanted to use it for some voiceover/narration work on a Vegas project. I took the mic, plugged into my Beachtek, and then plugged the Beachtek into the mic jack on the PC. When I record the track, it appears to record, but it will not play back. I tried to play it back in other applications and same thing. The track recorded sound, (levels are jumping) but it does not play back. Nothing.

Then I plugged my five dollar PC mic in, recorded a track and it played fine. So, what am I doing wrong here?

Thanks in advance for your help ....

Marc
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Old June 1st, 2005, 07:01 PM   #2
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I should clarify this - it does appear to play back, (levels jumping) but I get no sound. And yes, the speakers are connected correctly - everything else plays fine, including the track I recorded with my 5 dollar microphone.

Thanks again in advance for your help
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Old June 1st, 2005, 07:32 PM   #3
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i don't have an at897 or a beachtek, but i'll try to help...

just to clarify for myself, did you plug your five dollar mic into your beachtek or your PC? i'm assuming you plugged your five dollar mic into your PC.

also, which beachtek unit are you using?

in any case, are the audio level meters moving in your sound application's monitor when the beachtek is connected? applications like wavelab, soundforge, etc. have meters that should see the incoming signal. if you don't see any movement, and you're seeing the meters in your beachtek jumping around, there is probably something wrong with your beachtek to PC connector cable.

if there's a way to plug headphones into your beachtek, i would give that a shot also to see if it's outputting anything.
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Old June 1st, 2005, 08:02 PM   #4
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thanks Henry

I got it to work - but I still have a few questions.

What I had to do was change the setting on the Beachtek from Mic to Line and it worked. My question is - I was pretty much unable to tell the difference in quality between the 350.00 mic and the cheapie. Maybe a slightly better bass quality - is that pretty normal for this type of recording?
Also, when when I record the track, it is barelu audible unless I hit "normalize" in Vegas. Is that pretty much what you have to do? Also, what is db level I should use for a voiceover track. Thanks again, Henry - sorry for all the newbie questions ...

MArc
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Old June 1st, 2005, 08:35 PM   #5
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I don't believe that PC cards are designed to work with mikes such as the AT AT897. I connect the AT897 to my pc using the ART MicroMIX (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/cont...=288120&is=REG) and have been generally satisfied with the results. You might want to give it a try.
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Old June 1st, 2005, 08:52 PM   #6
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ok thanks - I'll check it out. Are you saying that you just can't take advantage of the superior quality with just a PC OEM sound card?
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Old June 1st, 2005, 08:55 PM   #7
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i'm not too familiar with the audio output of the at897, but i do know it's a shotgun mic, and shotgun mics are generally designed to isolate sound sources in relatively noisy environments. this is their bread and butter, so to speak. i can safely guarantee you that when you take your at897 outside and point it at a sound source a few feet away from you, it will sound INFINITELY better than your cheap mic.

on the other hand, your at897 would be a poor choice to do any voiceover work. voiceover work is generally much better handled by a larger diaphragm mic with a caridoid or hypercardioid pickup pattern. as a result, your five dollar cheapie mic might sound as good, if not better, than your three hundred dollar shotgun in this kind of situation. you should do a search on "voiceover", and you'll turn up a lot of info and mic recommendations on this topic.

the normalize effect in audio apps is used to adjust the volume of an audio file to a predetermined standard volume. this can take the volume up, as it did in your case, or down in the case of louder files. instead of doing a lot of screwing around in post, i would look at trying to get audio into your computer/camera louder. you should be able to adjust the gain in your beachtek. keep an eye on your beachtek's level meters. also, look at adjusting windows xp's line in volume controller (in control panel --> sounds and audio devices) and make sure that's maxxed out. if your sound card has a proprietary software mixer that has volume controllers for it's inputs, i'd check that too.

my general rule for setting audio levels for recording voiceovers is to have the audio level meter hang out about halfway in the green safe zone when speaking in your average speaking voice. you never want to peak in the red area (which means the signal is too hot, and can cause clipping, or distortion, in your audio -- which, obviously, you never want to have happen).

hope that helps...
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Old June 1st, 2005, 08:57 PM   #8
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John -

I am plugging into a Beachtek - doesn't that do the same thing as the product you linked - or is this different?
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Old June 1st, 2005, 09:04 PM   #9
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Great - thanks Henry, that helps alot. Actually, someone recommended the AT897 - not specifically for voiceovers, but for a mini-shotgun and some occasional narration projects. I think it as Spot, but I can't be certain. I'll just have to play with all the settings and equipment, and find the best combo. Thanks again.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Henry Cho
i'm not too familiar with the audio output of the at897, but i do know it's a shotgun mic, and shotgun mics are generally designed to isolate sound sources in relatively noisy environments. this is their bread and butter, so to speak. i can safely guarantee you that when you take your at897 outside and point it at a sound source a few feet away from you, it will sound INFINITELY better than your cheap mic.

on the other hand, your at897 would be a poor choice to do any voiceover work. voiceover work is generally much better handled by a larger diaphragm mic with a caridoid or hypercardioid pickup pattern. as a result, your five dollar cheapie mic might sound as good, if not better, than your three hundred dollar shotgun in this kind of situation. you should do a search on "voiceover", and you'll turn up a lot of info and mic recommendations on this topic.

the normalize effect in audio apps is used to adjust the volume of an audio file to a predetermined standard volume. this can take the volume up, as it did in your case, or down in the case of louder files. instead of doing a lot of screwing around in post, i would look at trying to get audio into your computer/camera louder. you should be able to adjust the gain in your beachtek. keep an eye on your beachtek's level meters. also, look at adjusting windows xp's line in volume controller (in control panel --> sounds and audio devices) and make sure that's maxxed out. if your sound card has a proprietary software mixer that has volume controllers for it's inputs, i'd check that too.

my general rule for setting audio levels for recording voiceovers is to have the audio level meter hang out about halfway in the green safe zone when speaking in your average speaking voice. you never want to peak in the red area (which means the signal is too hot, and can cause clipping, or distortion, in your audio -- which, obviously, you never want to have happen).

hope that helps...
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Old June 1st, 2005, 09:07 PM   #10
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also, i forgot to ask... is your mic being sufficiently powered? i can't recall if the at897 is battery powered or phantom powered (meaning powered by an external power source such as a battery pack or mixer with phantom power). if there's no power to your mic, you're not going to hear much.
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Old June 1st, 2005, 09:11 PM   #11
 
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Shotguns are used by many pros for the cutting, in your face voice overs.
Harlan Hogan, one of the better known V/O guys for a variety of national and international commercials, uses Schoeps and AT shotguns regularly, and he talks about the reasons why in his book co-written by VASST instructor Jeffrey Fisher.
Large diaphragms, tube mics, and shotguns all have specific characteristics that are often desirable for various sorts of V/O work.
The 897 is a very nice lower-cost mic for this sort of V/O
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Old June 1st, 2005, 09:21 PM   #12
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I tried using my Beachtek, as you did, to connect the AT897 to my PC and had the same results. The Micromix seemed to work best for me.

It's difficult to get a really good narration track when you record through a PC. The typical sound card is not very good and if you are close to the PC, you'll pick up some fan noise as well. Some people recommend recording into the camera (using a good mike) and then transferring the audio track into the video editor. That takes care of the PC card issues and the fan noise too. It also allows you to move to a space where the acoustics may be better (a carpeted room with drapes on the wall). And you won't have to buy the Micromix to do this.

People generally recommend against using a short shotgun for narration track (it tends to pick up room echoes). Some experts recommend using a lavalier mike close, but not in front of the mouth. I've tried both and have been satisfied using the AT897 (on a boom pole suspended directly above my mouth).

If you are doing work professionally though, there's no real substitute for using a sound studio and a condensor mike.
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Old June 1st, 2005, 09:55 PM   #13
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thanks for the clarification dse/john.

marc,
i was thinking that you normalizing your extremely low audio in vegas might be contributing to the degradation of quality in the AT's sound when comparing it to your cheap mic. my guess is it will probably sound much better when it's not post-processed so heavily.

also, i apologize for the conflicting advice on using your at897 for V/Os. as i stated, i'm not familiar with the mic at all. i've tried using my me66 shotgun for similar work, and it never held up well against my handheld.

good luck...
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Old June 1st, 2005, 10:44 PM   #14
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Just a note , but don't forget that most PC sound cards have a stereo mini input on "mic" and that it is actually a mono input with voltage output on the the other channel.(bias voltage and not phantom power for pro mics)You need a (not easily available) adapter.
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Old June 2nd, 2005, 09:13 AM   #15
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Which BeachTek model do you have?
How are you powering the AT897?
How far away from the mic are you?

There are several steps for setting the BeachTek correctly for the best levels, but I won't mention them til I know which model to be certain of what I'm detailing. Unless there's something very wrong with your BeachTek, it will have to be set to MIC level input, not LINE level or you won't get any signal through it.
After the BeachTek settings, as already mentioned, the PC mic jack is probably the next biggest culprit. Depending on how it is wired you may be getting a lot of cancellation of the signal using the BeachTek.
After that, the software settings (Windows and Vegas) for recording are very important for getting good levels. Your software will show your recording levels. You should be working to get levels between -12db and -6db for an original recording, depending on how you will use this program you're editing.
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