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Old March 12th, 2010, 11:52 AM   #1
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Need help with improving my narration sound quality:


I am doing a narration for our non-profit organization. I use the HMC-150 with the Countryman B3 LAV MIC connected to it via the XLR connection.

I placed the microphone on a mini-stand and built my own portable audio booth similar to this: The New & Improved Voice Over ?Porta-Booth?

My main problem is my audio has too much background noise (static). The actually voice sounds decent considering the equipment I own. However, I am still picking up too much static. I make sure I am upstairs away from any obvious sources of noise like my computer and refrigerator.

I am using Soundbooth CS4 to clean up the audio. See attached audio clips and configuration. However, the results are not very good. The static is gone but the quality of my voice definitively takes a hit. Almost sounds like my voice becomes a bit scratchy and/or I am in a fish tank.

Any advice on how to clean up the audio properly? Any specific audio filter that people recommend I should use? Any techniques? I am a newbie to audio so any help would be appreciated.

If you need any more information, please let me know.


Here is the link for the audios clips and configuration file:
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Old March 13th, 2010, 08:15 PM   #2
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Depending on what the real source of the noise is, you may simply need a quieter microphone, preamp, recorder and/or location.

OTOH, your sample recordings don't sound as bad to me as you seem to think they are.
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Old March 13th, 2010, 08:45 PM   #3
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hmmm! Okay.

Maybe I am being a perfectionist.

Thanks for the advice.

Take care,

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Old March 14th, 2010, 07:24 AM   #4
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Also, check your cabling, as one small break or kink in the cable can start the introduction of static or noise being included with your audio.
Check cable lengths, and make sure they are not in a position of acting as antennas, picking up unwanted signals, and make sure your cabling is not next to, running parallel to any electrical lines, as induction of electrical will producing unwanted signals.
The age of the cabling being used also comes into play, as when the cables are old, the sheathing that separates the internal conductors, can breakdown, and again unwanted signals can get into your audio path.

Flakey solder joints play a part here as well.

All the manipulation of cabling and the adapters takes a toll, and can start adding unwanted "static" noise.

Does your recording unit "see" this static, in any other recording scenario's, or only when used in this configuration. Are you using battery power only, or plugged into wall power?
Batteries, when they get low in power, can cause all kinds of issues.

Unfortunately, most of us are in the same situation, and we do not have a permanent audio recording area, where cables are not touched very much, and the walls are quiet and sound proofed.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 07:40 PM   #5
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Interesting points.

I was able to get rid of most of the "hiss" via a "hiss remover" filter in Soundbooth.

The default setting did too much damage to the voice but adjusting the setting did make a difference.

Thanks everyone for your help!

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Old March 15th, 2010, 10:52 PM   #6
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Since your camcorder has balanced audio connections via XLR with manual gain control - you're audio recordings actually SHOULD NOT have any significant hiss in the recordings.

Certainly not enough to be apparent.

The biggest suspects to check are these:

Make sure you have the phantom power turned on or that the B3 is battery powered.

The absence of phantom power will cause a condenser mic to operate at a way too low level and will cause precisely the "hiss" in noise floor you're alluding to.

Next to check is proper gain structure. The camcorder should be set to accept a MIC signal and if the gain is proper, the level control should be about two thirds to three quarters of the way up it's gain settings. If you're "cranking it up to 10", it indicates that the camera is expecting a line level but is being fed a Mic level which is way too low.

When you get both phantom power to the mic and the camera properly set to look for a mic level, the noise floor should be inaudable.

If you're getting hiss - something's set wrong.

Good luck.
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Old March 15th, 2010, 11:26 PM   #7
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If Soundbooth has a dynamic effects menu, maybe also apply mild compression, enough to drop the hiss in silences but bump up on on your voice.
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Old March 27th, 2010, 01:11 PM   #8
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Hi Simon.

I've listened to your sample. Monitoring using a pair of Genelecs and then on Sennheiser HD201s. I think you are being overly critical. It's not static.

What I am hearing in the processed version (as expected with de-hissing) is a loss of top but more concerning is some digital artifcats on the voice. It almost sounds as if there is a gated action rather than a top-end roll-off.

I too use CS4 (Production Premium) but stear clear of Soundbooth (if I can). I don't think Adobe understand audio as well as they do digital video NLE (Premiere Pro CS4). Neither some might say!

What you have on your original is natural ambience, NOT STATIC. I don't know what the input preamp specs are for the HMC-150 (in terms of Input Equivalent Noise - IEN) but it sounds quite good - or at least nothing to be concerned about (typical value is around -126dbm). I'll expand on or explain EIN if you wish as I don't want to get off topic here.

If however you remain concerned then I would simply use judicious amounts of roll-off at the top end, nothing more. Plugins are not silver bullets and should be used with care.

Another thing. Check your levels at the de-hissing input. Try dropping them -6db. It might be that the original is over driving Soundbooth and introducing artifacts as a result. Just a thought.


@Bill Davis.

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Old March 29th, 2010, 08:34 PM   #9
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Countryman B3.

It's a good lav, but unless you're trying to match the same person speaking on-camera voice, I'd go for a mic with a bigger diaphragm. That will reduce the hiss.

The reason? The larger the diaphragm, all other things being equal, the lower the selfnoise of the mic and that noise is hiss.

On location you may not hear the hiss due to ambient noise levels, in the quiet of the studio, however, the hiss is usually noticeable.


Ty Ford
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