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Old February 20th, 2013, 07:21 AM   #31
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

Transom.org compares a number of mics in a "blind" shoot out. You can listen and decide what you like and don't like and then look at the answer key and be surprised. I think the samples are in their TOOLS section.

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Old February 21st, 2013, 03:38 AM   #32
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

Thank you Reed,

Transom.org looks like a very informative web site, have added it to my bookmarks.
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Old February 22nd, 2013, 07:33 PM   #33
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jody Arnott View Post
Hi all,

I'm after some tips on the best way to record a clean voice over without the use of a recording booth.

I have a decent mic (Rode NTG-3) which records great audio (well, to my ear anyway). So I'm looking for tips on ways to isolate exterior sound.

Record in a cupboard? Build a soundproof booth out of blankets? Record under the house?

Any tips appreciation.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jody Arnott View Post
I'm looking for tips on ways to isolate exterior sound. Record in a cupboard? Build a soundproof booth out of blankets? Record under the house?
Hi Jody, I feel your pain! I record VO’s for product promo and training videos in a noisy environment – the engineering area of a manufacturing plant. For 15 years I’ve had to contend with voices in the hall, footsteps pounding up the stairs, the paging system, test equipment, HVAC noise, and computer fans.

In the beginning I really wanted to use my RODE tube condenser mic – which picked up every sound, no matter how faint – so I tried making a 3-sided temporary booth from padded moving blankets. That helped, but not enough, so I moved the mic to a separate area and recorded in the evenings after everyone else had gone home and the HVAC was off. But this wasn’t a practical way to work and no matter what I did there were still noise issues. I also tried placing the mic inside a cardboard box padded with foam, which didn’t work well at all.

I finally decided that I needed a mic that picked up less extraneous noise, so I auditioned a bunch of sub-$300 mics at a local dealer and purchased the one that picked up the least amount of surrounding noise – of the ones they had available, the ElectroVoice Cardinal (~$150) was the best in this regard.

The EV wasn’t the best mic for my particular voice, but with some processing it was fine. It made my life much easier (I placed the mic on my desk next to my keyboard and made no effort to block out background noise) and the overall result was superior to the “better” mic.

A couple of years ago I got a USB mixer that causes severe “digital hash” noise with the EV mic. I have an Oktava MC012 condenser “pencil mic” so I tried that and, when kept within 6” of my mouth, works OK for voice-overs. It’s not as good at eliminating background noise as the EV, but it’s acceptable.

About 10 days ago I picked up a RODE M3 ($150), intending to use it as a short shotgun for interviews. I gave it a try for VO work as was really impressed: it sounds great with my voice and, when mic’d close, doesn’t pick up much extraneous noise. I'll definitely be using it for my next VO.

Based on my experience I would suggest that you audition as many mics as you can and, if possible, record your voice rather than trying to evaluate the mic while listening live through headphones. Look for a good compromise between how your voice sounds vs. how much background noise the mic picks up.

Once you have some sample recordings see what you can do with them in your audio software. If a mic works well for your environment, perhaps you can use some processing to get the sound you want. Conversely, if you really like the way a mic sounds and, if the background noise isn’t too bad, perhaps you can use gating to clean up the sound (gating “turns off” the mic when you stop speaking).

I’ve included links to VO’s done with three different mics. If you skip past the first two minutes of each video you can hear the VO without background music.

RODE tube mic. Even with all my remediation efforts and tons of gating there’s still lots of background noise.

EV Cardinal:

Oktava MC012:

Oktava MC012 (same conditions, different processing):

I wish you all the best with your efforts, make sure to post some samples of your finished VO!
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Old February 23rd, 2013, 10:21 AM   #34
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

This is an interesting chat with with George Whittam, a leading expert in voice over studio design. George provided engineering services for Don LaFontaine and other famous voice-over artists.

This Week in Radio Tech 108 | TWiT.TV
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Old March 4th, 2013, 12:36 AM   #35
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

Well, here's what I did...

I got myself a great deal on a Rode NT2A and some acoustic foam. I then built myself this box.

The mic screws into a cheap microphone desk stand which is mounted underneath the box (as pictured). I have all of the measurements and specs if anyone is interested.

Oh, and it sounds fantastic! My only issue is that it's a little bit bass-heavy, but that can easily be fixed in post.
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Old March 4th, 2013, 01:42 AM   #36
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

Cool Jody looking good :) a version of our Harlan Hogan rig and the NT2-A is a good choice, make sure it's set on cardioid pattern.

Run some tests in post before you decide it's a bit bass heavy. If so, try the 40Hz bass cut at -5 or -10 .. that's how we test ours on spoken voice.
And try setting your rig up on a big slice of carpet.

Cheers.
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Old March 4th, 2013, 01:49 AM   #37
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

Quote:
Originally Posted by Allan Black View Post
Cool Jody looking good :) a version of our Harlan Hogan rig and the NT2-A is a good choice, make sure it's set on cardioid pattern.

Run some tests in post before you decide it's a bit bass heavy. If so move try the 40Hz bass cut at -5 or -10 .. that's how we test ours on spoken voice. And try setting your rig up on a big slice of carpet.

Cheers.
Thanks for the tips. I would have loved to buy one of the porta-booths but unfortunately when I took international shipping costs into account it was more economical to build something. And there's nothing quite as satisfying as sawing and nailing bits of wood into something useful ;)
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Old March 4th, 2013, 02:01 AM   #38
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

^ yep :) Take your time with the voice testing .. save good sounding voice tracks for reference later when you're in a hurry or not feeling the greatest.

Note the mic settings. Have fun.

Cheers.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 01:10 AM   #39
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

Quote:
Originally Posted by Guy Smith View Post

About 10 days ago I picked up a RODE M3 ($150), intending to use it as a short shotgun for interviews. I gave it a try for VO work as was really impressed: it sounds great with my voice and, when mic’d close, doesn’t pick up much extraneous noise. I'll definitely be using it for my next VO.
I felt I had to butt in on this old post as I have also had good success with the M3 for voice over. Funnily enough I also bought this mic for video interviews, which it's also very good at. I used it recently for a series of VOs as it was convenient and at hand. After a while I thought I should be using something better and tried a Baby Bottle and an M-Audio Sputnik that I use for music production stuff. Don't get me wrong, I love these mics in that context. But for VO I started to have to think more about proximity and was needing to EQ quite a bit to enhance spoken clarity etc. I was almost peeved that I wanted to go back to the $150 Rode, if only to save time. What I like about the M3 for VO is that it's very unfussy and practical and yet quite classy to listen to. I get up touchy close (I actually put double sponge pop filters on the end) and never worry about distance or placement. As said, I never noticed background intrusion either when used this way. When you have a lot of VO clips all of these factors are a real bonus if you want to just get on with the job. I always click to the second notch of the mic switch to cut bass, and on my voice (male baritone) find a 2.5 db boost at around 5k in post gives edge. The other mics I tried probably had a tad more mid detail, but placement was everything to avoid mud and changes in dynamics, in case you got too animated and moved about. For me the M3 is a go-to VO bomb - if only for utility!

Last edited by Terence Morris; June 30th, 2013 at 11:50 AM.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 09:17 AM   #40
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

I have a closet full of cheap to expensive mics and can get a decent voice recording from any of them. In my experience you need an echo free environment, a good preamp, a clean recording and some audio processing. Most voiceovers I hear have no compression which to me is the most important element. Must control dynamics. Then fine tune the tone with good quality eq and most recordings will start to come to life.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 12:04 PM   #41
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

At last! Duane hit's it on the head. To get a good voice over you need only a few things. The first is a decent voice from the person doing it, and an environment that sounds right!

If you go into a cupboard, it will sound like a cupboard!

If you record outside, on a windless day, miles from anything - it will be as dead as it can be.

Almost any nice sounding mic, shotguns included, will be perfectly capable of recording a voiceover. You need a good ratio of wanted to unwanted sound - so distance with a directional mic sets the overall frequency response. If you go too close, you will start to get too many plosive breath sounds, to far away, it may be too thin and the room sounds start to intrude.

An omni lav, and some foam can work well. Find a dead room, and experiment.

On another note - USB microphones can be useful, but many have no method of adjusting the gain before the A to D conversion, meaning noise can be a problem sometimes. Experiment with what you have and can cobble together.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 08:40 PM   #42
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

I've been using the NT2A with the custom-built recording booth (pictures above) for a couple of months now, and I'm pretty happy with how it sounds.

My voice sounds very natural, my only complaint is it's a bit heavy on the low frequencies, but that can be fixed in post.
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Old June 30th, 2013, 08:53 PM   #43
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jody Arnott View Post
Hi all,

I'm after some tips on the best way to record a clean voice over without the use of a recording booth.

I have a decent mic (Rode NTG-3) which records great audio (well, to my ear anyway). So I'm looking for tips on ways to isolate exterior sound.

Record in a cupboard? Build a soundproof booth out of blankets? Record under the house?

Any tips appreciation.
Best way to record VO without a sound booth? Record inside a car! No reverb, flat sound, great isolation. NTG-2 and NTG-3 works great for that. just aim for the chest about 4 to 6 inches away from the mouth. of cours don't do that close to a highway.

You will get studio quality voice over.
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Old July 1st, 2013, 01:05 AM   #44
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

Of course there will always be a cheap way of doing almost everything, it all depends on the standard you want to work at. As a rule, you get what you pay for.
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Old July 1st, 2013, 06:35 PM   #45
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Re: Tips for voice over recording

If you must build a box, I strongly recommend using Homasote (or Celotex as a poor imitation) rather than plywood. Plywood will be resonant (unless it is very thick and the sides are very small) and may add some undesired coloration to the sound.

Homasote is a great non-resonant product. The only catch is that you might need to reinforce the junctions where two pieces meet, using a small wooden 1"x1" or similar. Screws through Homasote usually hold just fine (and you can reinforce the heads with fender washers), but screws into Homasote are likely to pull out.

I suppose in theory it would be best if the box had no parallel sides; but then you're bringing geometry and angle cuts into the picture. It probably doesn't matter that much, although Harry Olson swore that speaker enclosures sounded much better if they were non-rectilinear.
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