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Old May 26th, 2020, 12:24 PM   #16
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

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Originally Posted by Eric Tomlinson View Post
Greg ... I kind of follow what you are suggesting to split the tracks, but I think this is beyond my capability with Audacity as I stand today.
I was wondering about that. I don't use Audacity, so I would not be able to give you step-by-step instructions that are applicable to your system.

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Please feel free to laugh, one full record session trashed due to starting too soon after eating and my stomach gurgling through 90% of it.
Didn't you notice that right away on your headphones, before going through 90%?
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Old May 26th, 2020, 03:43 PM   #17
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

I thought I had got it under control, until I came to the detailed edits and picked up so many background rumbles I decided it was easier to record the lot again than to cut and paste sections. It was the oddest thing. Even playing back the next day the rumbles actually felt like they were coming from me rather than the recording. I only realised when I replayed the same piece half a dozen times.

I am reading quite large sections at a time, usually at least an hour and repeating what I think is fluffed into the same recording. Not sure I can listen back simultaneously whilst reading and speaking. This seems to work most of the time.

The mouth lube arrived. Does improve things.
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Old May 26th, 2020, 05:09 PM   #18
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

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Even playing back the next day the rumbles actually felt like they were coming from me rather than the recording.
A small-scale version of "Sensurround(R)."

I'm a bit puzzled by your expression "listen back." I think of "playback" as something one does *after* recording so I wonder whether your use of the word "back" means "later." I meant to ask whether you were listening on headphones *while* recording, and whether you heard the borborygmi on your headphones then ... not upon later playback.

At least all the noises were internal, so you didn't mistake it for a neighbor practicing tuba.
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Old May 27th, 2020, 03:44 AM   #19
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

Yes, a genuine sensesurround experience, if not one you'd normally pay for. Very weird.

I have not tried listening to myself simultaneous to recording.

I just configured Audacity to do this, but the effect is a weird echo a fraction after I speak. I doubt I could cope with this going at the same time as reading and speaking.

Is this the normal config for a voice recording?

If it is, I am willing to give it a bit more of a try, but first test is really mind blowing double effect. No wonder actor types are weird!
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Old May 27th, 2020, 10:11 AM   #20
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

Dialog and VOs are normally recorded mono with no effects... at least on planet Earth. A boom mic and a wireless lav on separate tracks is typical (for on screen dialog) but rarely used at the same time in post
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Old May 27th, 2020, 11:44 AM   #21
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

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Originally Posted by Eric Tomlinson View Post
Yes, a genuine sensesurround experience, if not one you'd normally pay for. Very weird.

I have not tried listening to myself simultaneous to recording.

I just configured Audacity to do this, but the effect is a weird echo a fraction after I speak. I doubt I could cope with this going at the same time as reading and speaking.

Is this the normal config for a voice recording?

If it is, I am willing to give it a bit more of a try, but first test is really mind blowing double effect. No wonder actor types are weird!
Proper audio recording interfaces have a direct monitoring feature that allows you to listen to the live inputs with zero or virtually zero latency. With a fast computer and a proper DAW (rather than a freeware editor) you can often get quite low latency.
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Old May 27th, 2020, 03:19 PM   #22
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

But would the voice over actor actually be listening to themselves as they read? I am doing around 12 hours reading and as a normal person listening to myself even in real time would be odd.

However, if this is a skill I need, I will try it.

The computer is quite fast (i7 laptop). I am also willing to buy a licensed DAW if it is required, but this is also taking me back to the question of where I started. Should I be using a stand alone recorder, rather than trying to go directly into a PC. For the budget audio book I am trying to produce I have reached a point of being content with the recording quality. I suspect my biggest limit is my skillset.

I have seen usb preamps that will take a mic and headphones, and have wondered about swapping my mic for this style of set up.

As I am about 4 hours in to recording I am loath to make changes that will affect the recording too much.
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Old May 27th, 2020, 05:05 PM   #23
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

If you have a USB mic and it doesn't have direct monitoring built in the signal is forced through a round trip with several points of delay. There's the trip from the mic through its built in ADC and into the CPU, through the recording software, then through a separate DAC path in the onboard sound card. Even if better software can reduce this it can only affect the middle part of that path. That said, you can try Reaper for free. It's much more capable than Audacity. If you like it and want to own it properly it's $60. Switching software shouldn't alter your sound.

What will really allow you to monitor yourself while recording is a proper audio interface and separate mic. Although some USB mics (Yeti Pro?) do have direct monitoring, many do not. An audio interface is more than a preamp with USB connection, it's an integrated input/output solution. But it would probably mean a change in sound from your current mic. You would be able to monitor the actual sound of the mic while speaking and potentially catch problems before you invest a lot of time recording something you can't keep.

The first thing to do is determine if your mic has direct monitoring. If it does, use that instead of the computer's built in headphone output. There should be a control for balancing input and output levels. Turn any software input monitoring off.

Last edited by Patrick Tracy; May 28th, 2020 at 02:24 AM.
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Old May 28th, 2020, 12:20 AM   #24
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

Unfortunately for Eric, I agree with most of the above comments. Earlier in this thread, the goal was to try to identify problems, and then to make a decision about changing the gear. Now we seem to find a shortcoming in the gear: even 'though the mic might sound acceptable, it apparently lacks any zero-latency monitor output. But since you've gone ahead and started recording, changing mics mid-stream (to use half of a metaphor) will almost certainly cause a noticeable change in the sound. So I fear you are probably married to this mic at least until you get to the end of this book. I hope you can find a way to reduce the latency; even so, more than a few mSec is easy to hear.

That mic is a strange concept. I can't imagine talking into a microphone without wearing headphones.
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Old May 28th, 2020, 04:15 AM   #25
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

Good summary, Greg. I came onto the forum to try to learn how to judge buying recording equipment. If I had bought, my room would still be ‘nasty’ and I would be unhappy.

I have now achieved an acceptable sound without spending anything and things I do now should be incremental improvements on what I have.

My suspicion is that whilst the central device is a laptop regardless of spec, I will be limited.

The next choice of purchase might well be back where I started which is a portable recorder, with a good quality external microphone and a zero latency headphone socket. (And headphones!) Would this be better than an integrated audio device?

Bearing in mind that at the moment, I have two books to record, I don’t have voice over aspirations. I might write other books, but I am even slower at writing than I am at recording.

However, I also think I have a vast amount to learn about technique and using what I have that will contribute to the current project without losing what I have recorded so far?

My idea is to continue through this book and learn as I am doing, then loop back and redo the start.

I owe this forum a lot of gratitude for the input you give me.
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Old May 28th, 2020, 09:35 AM   #26
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

Eric,

If I were you, I'd do some research into lowering the latency of your present setup. Looking at the circuitous route described by Patrick Tracy, I wonder whether you can eliminate the parts where the [digitized] audio goes through your recording software.

Shut off the editing software, and see whether you can find a way, diddling with your laptop's sound settings, to get the mic audio to come directly back out to the headphones. That might be a shorter path, and maybe with luck you will find a way to make the latency much less than it is now.

Other than that, you have pretty well summarized the choices. From a purist perspective, the modular approach is best. A separate mic, a separate mic preamp, a separate recorder (bypassing the recorder's own preamp in favor of your external one which hopefully is better). That's also potentially the most costly approach.

Next down the line is eliminating the recorder in the above approach, replacing the preamp with one that includes a USB converter, and using your laptop for recording. The preamp/converter would have a zero-latency headphone jack.

Or, consider a USB mic with an integral zero-latency headphone jack. A lot of mics include same, so apparently most users and manufacturers recognize the need. I have one (M-Audio brand) that's at least ten years old, so clearly the concept is not new. It was reasonable quality at the time, although certainly not SOTA today. Blue makes a few similar models that do have monitor jacks, so do Audio Technica, Samson, etc. I recently saw a closeout of one sold by Marantz, who used to have a good name (but now they've slithered down into the "consumer" market). You'll find such mics listed by most music stores. My only concern is that voiceover work requires fairly high gain and low noise; a mic designed for general-purpose garage bands might not be good enough for really professional level audio books. Look for a good test & return policy.

At any rate, investigate lowering the latency of your present computer setup before you do anything else. This is something that doesn't apply to my present setup. Other people here will be able to give you more and better advice than I.

Good luck!
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Old May 28th, 2020, 10:53 AM   #27
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

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Originally Posted by Eric Tomlinson View Post
My suspicion is that whilst the central device is a laptop regardless of spec, I will be limited
The direct monitoring feature of a proper audio interface completely bypasses the computer. It routes the audio directly from the input of the interface to the output, without it ever going through the computer. Having an older laptop is perfectly fine. Recording one stream of audio is not a challenging task for any computer made in the last twenty years if it's in decent working order.

On some interfaces the direct monitor is a simple analog path inside the device, with a knob labelled something like Input and Computer. On some it's controlled by a driver on the computer and the audio goes through the ADC and DAC but is routed in the interface directly without going round trip to the computer. Either works, but the digital direct monitor might not work on a truly ancient laptop.

https://focusrite.com/en/usb-audio-i.../scarlett-solo
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Old May 28th, 2020, 02:03 PM   #28
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

That's true. But if you read the entire thread, you'll find that the OP is presently using a USB mic. Since he's already started recording an entire book, he needs to stick with that mic at least for the duration of this project. That being said, at the present time an all-analog path doesn't apply to him, and a separate audio interface doesn't apply to him. So the immediate question is how to get him very low latency monitoring while he's recording himself.

I've read articles saying 8 - 10mSec is acceptable latency, in terms of musicians staying in sync. But from my own experience, I've found that less latency than that can still be disconcerting, because my voice coming through the headphones is phase shifted from what I hear via bone conduction. One's voice can in some cases sound quite strange. It's hard not to try to compensate for that in one's delivery.
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Old May 28th, 2020, 02:43 PM   #29
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

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That's true. But if you read the entire thread, you'll find that the OP is presently using a USB mic. Since he's already started recording an entire book, he needs to stick with that mic at least for the duration of this project.
I know, I'm just trying to get him to understand the issues. For a single stream it might be possible to get latency quite low, but using separate input and output devices is going to work against that.

Setting buffers to lower values is probably the first step. Lower it until dropouts occur then go back up one step.

Also, using ASIO drivers would help, if available. Audacity can do that but it's something you kind of have to be a coder to enable. An actual DAW would be better for that.
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Old May 28th, 2020, 07:59 PM   #30
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Re: Edit / speeding up production

I wonder whether anybody makes a USB audio monitor. Not a playback device. A device with a USB pass-through that would (1.) accept data from a USB mic, (2.) tap it and convert it to analog with as little latency as possible, and (3.) pass it through to a computer for recording.

I might google it, but I'll be surprised if I find one. It would just be a "band-aid" for doing things in a less than ideal way in the first place. I hasten to point out that the OP would be fine right now if his present mic had an analog monitor output. How sad that none of us (including me and the OP) caught this before he started recording.
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