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Old March 22nd, 2011, 11:58 AM   #1
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Audio in the White Collar TV series

Hi, I really need all the help I can get with tweaking some audio, namely, a voice narration.

I have a man’s voice recorded for a documentary-type video. I’d like to “enhance” it, subtly, if I can. So here’s where the title of the post makes sense.

I’ve noticed while watching episodes of White Collar on my computer (using headphones to listen to the show), that Caffrey and Burke’s voices have an added masculinity to it. As if there’s a deepening of the voices perhaps to draw the focus on them as the main stars. At times, there is a distinct difference between theirs and Mozzie’s voice, Mozzie doesn’t benefit from the deep manly sound. :)

How is this accomplished? I’m using Garage Band and the effects it offers for voice narration are really nice, however, they mostly provide an echo, which isn’t suitable for the project.

How do I make the voice deeper, without it sounding distorted or unnatural, while adding a nice touch to the way it sounds? Is this what is called “sweetening” or “enhancing”?

Any assistance would be much appreciated. :)
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 12:19 PM   #2
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I'm wondering now if it's all about the mike?

Samson Audio - C03U
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 01:41 PM   #3
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Re: Audio in the White Collar TV series

Hi Helen generally to thicken up a voice over we use audio compression to do this as it limits the dynamic range of the voice and can make is sound fuller, as a compressor can affect certain frequencies more than others I generally add some equalisation to bring back some of the bass and treble sounds that can be lost.

I am not sure if this type of processing is available in garage band as is more designed for use on musical instruments, I tend to use pro set-up's like final cut pro and pro tools to do my audio work.

A better microphone can also help but as that is just the means to pick up the voice it all depends on how it is used and how the processing is applied after or during recording.
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 01:59 PM   #4
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Re: Audio in the White Collar TV series

Check out what I just wrote on another thread: Basic audio touchups through Vegas/SoundForge

For a full, clear, masculine voice, you want a boost at the fundamental, say 200 Hz, a dip up to about 2400 Hz, and some boost from 2400 Hz up to 10000 Hz. Also add a somewhat narrow peak around 1200 Hz to help define consonant sounds. That can give a scooped sound with good bass as well as nice definition and balance.

For compression, I like to double the track. Leave one track uncompressed, which will keep it lively, but inconsistent. Compress the heck out of the second track, which will make it full and consistent, but somewhat muffled and dead. Mix the two tracks to taste. The uncompressed track provides the accents, consonants and spice. The compressed track provides full vowel sounds and keeps the voice from dropping off.

All that said, a talent with a great voice speaking into a top microphone, preamp, and recording system can sound full and masculine without processing. Adding compression and EQ can make a thin recording sound fuller, or make a full recording sound massive - like a Hollywood trailer voice.

My guess is that if you met the actors from White Collar in person, the natural quality of their voices would be impressive on their own. Processing only buys you so much...
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Old March 22nd, 2011, 02:16 PM   #5
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Thanks to you both for your suggestions. I'm not using a top microphone at the moment, it's not bad, it's a USB Logitech mike and it records cleanly and nicely (in my own homemade 'portabooth') :-). However, I listened to the demo on the website (link above in my second post) and it seems that 'super cardioid' is one of the keys to it. The voice on the website demos the 3 different settings - super cardioid, omni and figure 8 (not that I know what these are) but the cardioid recording is the effect I'm looking for. The mike would be a good investment, then I'll try my hand at tweaking it on the Mac.

P.S. I'd love to meet the White Collar actors in person! :-))
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Old April 4th, 2011, 06:12 PM   #6
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Re: Audio in the White Collar TV series

For the sake of anyone coming after and searching the forum for audio info, here's a small bit I can contribute:

I got the Shure SM58 + X2U for this project, recording the voiceover straight into Garage Band. It worked very well. I found that it picked up the "p" letter more keenly than the "t" and "s" (we used the pop filter). It's a great mike, very good for voiceovers.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:09 PM   #7
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Re: Audio in the White Collar TV series

The 58' is more of a live performance mic and I've used them on podiums and such for speeches in a live venue setting. It certainly would not be my first pick (or even in the running) for VOs. But whatever floats your boat.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:21 PM   #8
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Re: Audio in the White Collar TV series

I appreciate your comment Rick and it's sure to help someone doing searches make decisions. Who knows - someone may be searching for advice on a mike for a live event.

My first pick is the Samson C03U but I just couldn't get it down here so I got the Shure. I'm happy with the Shure.
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Old April 4th, 2011, 07:40 PM   #9
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Re: Audio in the White Collar TV series

Sennheiser MD421 is great on deep male VO, as is the EV Re-20. Both a bit more pricey than an SM-58, but either one would be better for your needs, and both dynamic mics, so not needing phantom power.
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