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Old September 23rd, 2005, 07:07 PM   #1
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Audio tweaking tips

Is there a good resource for general audio tweaking tips? Audition and Audacity have bijillions of options and filters, and I'm sure I could make good use of them if I knew what they did. Sure, you can play around - but what's it really doing behind the scenes? What is a particular filter good for?

It's things like this that I'd like to learn. Are there any online resoucres or "manuals" that talk about pratical problems like this?

For example - my voice on my microphone sounds like I'm talking through a wood wall. What's my first step to improving this? What filters should I start out using?

Thanks.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 12:46 AM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen Ellis
Is there a good resource for general audio tweaking tips? Audition and Audacity have bijillions of options and filters, and I'm sure I could make good use of them if I knew what they did. Sure, you can play around - but what's it really doing behind the scenes? What is a particular filter good for?

It's things like this that I'd like to learn. Are there any online resoucres or "manuals" that talk about pratical problems like this?

For example - my voice on my microphone sounds like I'm talking through a wood wall. What's my first step to improving this? What filters should I start out using?

Thanks.
Allen,

In the old days we used to say it sounds like they're "talking into a toilet." No?

As I have been more than happy to do several times this evening, I would suggest doing a search on this site regarding your particular audio issue.

No doubt that you will find much helpful information.

Best,

Stephanie
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Old September 24th, 2005, 06:54 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen Ellis
Is there a good resource for general audio tweaking tips? Audition and Audacity have bijillions of options and filters, and I'm sure I could make good use of them if I knew what they did. Sure, you can play around - but what's it really doing behind the scenes? What is a particular filter good for?

It's things like this that I'd like to learn. Are there any online resoucres or "manuals" that talk about pratical problems like this?

For example - my voice on my microphone sounds like I'm talking through a wood wall. What's my first step to improving this? What filters should I start out using?

Thanks.
I've never heard that.Can you point us to a clip?

Ty Ford
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Old September 24th, 2005, 09:24 AM   #4
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Allen, for that wooden-sounding recording it would be helpful to know how it was produced; specific equiipment, distance, etc.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 09:40 AM   #5
 
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As far as books, there are lots of them; Jay Rose' book on Audio Post is very good, and my Instant Audio book should help as well. However, it sounds as though you're not recording correctly in the first place. Can you provide us some information as to what mic you have, distance you record, room type/materials, and recording hardware?
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Old September 24th, 2005, 09:58 AM   #6
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Old September 24th, 2005, 01:59 PM   #7
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Thanks for the replies,

I'm using an Azden SGM-X (~$100), pluged into the mic input on my laptop. Right now it's resting on two speaker cables wedged between an LCD monitor, so there may some interference there.

I'm talking sometimes about 16 inches away, and other times 3-4 inches away from it, through it's windscreen. It sounds better when I get closer, but I don't know how close I'm supposed to get. This room also has several desks and a carpet in it.

If you're interested I can post a clip in a few minutes. Maybe it's just my preception of it, but it doesn't sound like I'm right in the room when I play it back.

Last edited by Allen Ellis; September 24th, 2005 at 02:42 PM.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 02:39 PM   #8
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Justin - thanks for the link. I'll read those articles.

Here's where I have the microphone mounted:

http://allenellis.com/temp/audio/microphone.jpg

Here's the "wood wall" problem:

http://allenellis.com/temp/audio/wood%20wall.wav

Now that I listen, the 4 inches "more closer" bit isn't too bad - the really bad sound is when I'm 16 inches away.

The only processing I did with that was some basic noise removal. Is there anything else you would do to the clip?

I'm going to be narrarting a 15-minute documentary, so I'd like to learn as much as I can about optimal sound quality. :)

Thanks. :)
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Old September 24th, 2005, 07:16 PM   #9
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I agree that the audio at 4 inches isn't bad at all for a $100 mic. You have to pay more to get better sound. And the drop off at 16 inches is no more than I'd expect. That's the nature of the beast.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 08:26 PM   #10
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Dear Allen,

Thanks for the photo and other specifics.

My suggestion would be to buy some foam, preferably 2" or more in thickness and with dips and peaks. Then build yourself a little voice over station away from your desk and place the foam "walls" at non-perpendicular angles. Also place a piece of foam on the horizontal surface of your "booth" beneath the mic. You may want to use spray adhesive to mount the foam on 3 pieces of plywood, (maybe 2 1/4' x 2 1/4') and connect them using hinges, so you can adjust the degree of angle.

When I ran a 32 track board for a PBS station our audio booth had foam on all the walls and none of the walls were at right angles. Don't know the exact physics of the wall placement but would assume that sound waves are more easily displaced when bouncing around a non-square room. Sure someone here will know.

Hope this helps.

Steph
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Old September 24th, 2005, 08:45 PM   #11
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I've heard people talk about making sure to have a foam room and all of that... does it really make a difference? My voice from 16 inches away is probably half the volume of when I'm 4 inches away. Would a potential echo up to 30 inches away really make any difference at all?

I'm not questioning your suggestions, of course, but I can't really imagine it'd make any difference.

And to my other question, would you personally apply any effects to this clip? I guess I'll do my talking about 3-4 inches away, and I'll throw in the noise removal that I did - it really helped. Anything else a "professional" would do to the clip?

Thanks. :)
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Old September 24th, 2005, 08:59 PM   #12
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Allen,
Obviously you found that working the mic closer yeilds better results. Something called "proximity effect" roughly states that closer is better and will produce more low end. Feel free to work close to your v/o mic, to the point that you start hearing objectionable things like popping and plosives. More voice equals less room/noise/etc. I like a shotgun for v/o, they can have a lot of punch when worked correctly (my personal fav the Sennheiser MKH-416p, no windscreen). Talking about 30 degrees off the front can help with the plosives as you won't be firing straight down the barrel. The barrel must point towards your mouth however, or you'll get that bad "off-axis" sound. I usually tell people to imagine a tennis ball glued to their lips, and that this is the "pop zone" for microphones. Keep the mic out of it and you'll be fine. After you work all of that out, do you have a stand alone compressor or a compressor plug-in? If so, set the compression ratio to about 2:1 or 3:1, and set the threshold so that you get about 6db of gain reduction as you are speaking. This will fatten up the sound and let it punch through the rest of your mix, as well as keeping your v/o level more consistant.

The padded booth mentioned is a good idea, esp if you don't have a quiet area to v/o in. Not a lot of $$. If you are recording directly into your computer, place the thing around the corner or in the next room away from the noisy fans and drives. You'll walk back and forth a few times to get the level right, but the lack of fan noise will save you noise reduction work.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 09:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Allen Ellis
I've heard people talk about making sure to have a foam room and all of that... does it really make a difference? My voice from 16 inches away is probably half the volume of when I'm 4 inches away. Would a potential echo up to 30 inches away really make any difference at all?

I'm not questioning your suggestions, of course, but I can't really imagine it'd make any difference.

And to my other question, would you personally apply any effects to this clip? I guess I'll do my talking about 3-4 inches away, and I'll throw in the noise removal that I did - it really helped. Anything else a "professional" would do to the clip?

Thanks. :)

Too much foam makes a room sound like foam. The best studios are a combination of diffusive and absorptive surfaces with non-parallel walls to reduce standing waves (sound bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball.)

Narrations are done with the mic 4-6 inches away, closer sometimes.

for samples, drop on over to my site.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old September 24th, 2005, 10:41 PM   #14
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ty Ford
Too much foam makes a room sound like foam. The best studios are a combination of diffusive and absorptive surfaces with non-parallel walls to reduce standing waves (sound bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball.)

Like Ty says, nothing beats a good room. In the absence of such, like in a noisy office or converted bedroom...
Watch the Preview 3
http://www.vasst.com/product.aspx?id...3-5b7da6de3482

It's a spin on Stephanie's post, but it works very, very well.
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Old September 24th, 2005, 11:27 PM   #15
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Thanks for the replies.

It's sounding a lot better, now. I ran a normalize on it, and amplified it as much as possible. Then I did a 3:1 compressor and it and I'm liking it a lot more. :)

http://www.allenellis.com/temp/audio/wood%20wall2.wav

It still doesn't sound like this guy: http://home.comcast.net/%7Etyreeford/narration.mp3. Why not? I think fairly soon the lowest common denominator will be my voice (which I need to get lessons in at some point), and the quality of the microphone. Do you think the microphone is a limiting factor at this point?

I think I also hear a little bit of an echo, and it was more apparent when I was trying to do an equalize on it. Do you think that's because of the wood desk it's near? Would that really cause an echo?

Finally - if you were an audio editor and were stuck with this clip, would you do anything else to it? It sounds like it's about 85% better than my first clip, but there's still a little bit of a wooden feeling to it. Is there any way to fix that digitally or is the answer a better recording booth/microphone/voice?

Thanks. :)
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