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Voice Recording FAQ
02-18-2011, 09:21 AM (This post was last modified: 02-22-2011 05:25 PM by Serenity Frost.)
Post: #1
Information Voice Recording FAQ
MasakoX does a very good FAQ on TGWG.

http://thatguywiththeglasses.com/videoli...ar/masavox

You'll want to give it a watch as he explains (WIF PIKTURS) pretty much anything you would think to ask. He goes into detail about needed equipment, using audacity, and techniques for improving both your range and acting ability. I have a few tips on this last topic myself that I didn't see him bring up and I'll list them here in just a moment. Now he's updated quite a lot since I last watched his show, so hopefully this topic won't end up becoming redundant.

The Mic
He mentions three very good mics on his show, and if you own a mic from Rockband you can use that to record as well. The quality will not be stellar, but it's better than using a webcam or built in mic. I myself use a bit of a different (and tad more costly) setup. I have a cardioid, condenser, low impedance mic from audio-technica that is currently discontinued. However, for most purposes, any cardioid condenser mic can do the trick. I chose the one I have because I'm rough on my equipment and this one is meant for live performances. You may notice the adjectives that I've tacked on to the mic. There's a reason for that.

You'll see several options for mics if you look around. Firstly let's look at cardioid or unidirectional. In context the two are pretty self explanatory. The cardioid mic records in only one direction where the unidirectional records from all sides. The later is great for picking up sound effects and background noise (most cameras are equipped with one) but when you're recording your voice it's better to go with the cardioid so that you can cut down on background noise as much as possible.

Next you want to pick either condenser or dynamic. This is how your mic is going to process the sound. This is where things get technical. The condenser mics have a uniform flat frequency. This is great for picking up the sound of your speaking voice. I emphasize that because if you plan on singing it's better to get a dynamic mic. There's another little tidbit about these two that I honestly don't have a firm grasp of. The condenser mic does not have its own phantom power while the dynamic does. This doesn't mean anything if you plan on getting a preamp (which I have) or a mixing board (which is super expensive and only for real professionals.) It is totally possible to use a condenser mic with your computer and without a preamp.

Something you really want to pay attention to. If you don't plan on getting a preamp or usb mic (which I seriously recommend) the size of the jack matters. When I first got my mic I didn't know that a 6.35 mm (1/4") TRS connector would be too big for my laptop. You NEED a 3.5 mm (1/8") to plug it into your soundcard. Otherwise you'll have to buy a converter from Radio Shack and it will SERIOUSLY mess with your sound quality. Not to mention not even work consistently.

Another drawback to getting a mic that plugs into your soundcard is electric feedback. This causes a crackling noise in your audio that while easily edited out can be avoided entirely with a USB.

I mentioned at the top there that I have a low impedance mic. What's the difference between low impedance and high impedance? Well it has something to do with numbers and ohms and I can't quite figure out the really technical bits. I do know that a high impedance mic is cheaper, but you lose quality the longer the cord is. It also has a tendency to pick up on that electric feedback more. The low impedance is just a better mic to get, but if you need to knock that price down just a bit more, this is the place you could do it in so long as you don't mind a little extra editing.

The Preamp
This is not at all necessary if you buy a USB mic. However, if you want a mic that allows for more customizing with your sound a preamp is the way to go. I use a Blue Icicle In-line USB preamp. It'll run you 50 bucks, it looks spiffy, and it offers a great way to convert a standard mic into a USB mic. The preamp plugs right into the bottom of your microphone so you won't need the cable for the mic. I personally got a small XLR male to XLR female Microphone Cable to use in between the preamp and the mic in order to add some length and avoid damaging the two as plugging direct would result in an unwieldy microphone. (I don't own a proper mic stand and often have to hold my mic to record properly.)

The preamp offers in-line volume control (like that volume nob on a mic headphones combo that's part of the cord, only for the mic instead of headphones) and converts the USB. It also removes a bit of background noise too. That's pretty much it, and for me it was totally worth it. There are other more expensive ones that do much cooler things. If you're recording instruments a preamp can let you not only plug in more microphones, but also control the inline volume of each as well as show you pitch without having to watch the recording on the computer screen.

The Software
MasakoX mentions audacity in this video, and it's a fantastic tool. To be honest I can't tell any difference in quality between it and my Adobe Audition program. Adobe Audition does, however, offer a cleaner edit job and if you have a great soundcard you can do more precise voice effects. Audacity is the best way to go for low to no budgeters doing this as a hobby, and I even use it myself for raw recording as it has less tendency to lag than audition does. However, I always do my editing in audition. Maybe it's because I paid hard cold cash for the beast and was also trained to work with it (and Pro-Tools, but I don't own a mac at home and have since forgotten how it works) and so I'm more comfortable with the software and thus can produce better quality. Either way there are a couple things you'll need to know with audition to get started.

Firstly, if you're using a USB mic you may have to do a bit of tweaking to get audition to see that it's there. Edit > Hardware Setup then check the ASIO box. Go to the Default Input dropdown and pick the USB mic. After you've done that make sure you untick the ASIO box. You want it blank. If you don't then whenever audition moves to the background you will stop recording. After that you're done. Tool around with the program (if you own it you probably already know how to use it) and see what you can do. Getting familiar with the software is the best way to insure quality results.

The Acting
A lot of good points are made in the MasaVox series. Especially the one about needing to be willing to make an utter fool of yourself in front of friends and family. This goes double for me as I often move about for scenes that require excitement. Some people can sit down and record their lines and evoke emotional responses this way, and that's great. I'm not one of those people. My acting is entirely method and I have to feel the emotion to convey it right. This means I make lots of facial expressions and move around. Sometimes I can do this while holding the mic but other times I have to gallivant around the room to perform the action and then do my best to mimic how it sounded when I have the mic in front of me.

Always do a minimum of three takes per line. Most directors actually require this of you, but it's still good practice even for those who don't. Practicing your lines before recording is also a good idea. I personally read the entire script through doing the voices for everyone at least once. This lets me practice my range as well as lets me know what my lines should sound like in context.

Extra Tips

* If you find you have some echo in your room this is because of the corners. The more corners the room has the worse the echo will be. The best way to combat this is to put up some bumpy package foam (not the peanuts, the gray foam stuff), some egg cartons, or anything that can absorb sound, in those corners. If you don't want to decorate the room you can buy a three wall recording booth (usually made from the same stuff cubicles are) or make one yourself. Trixen suggested that just hanging a blanket in front of you when you record can do the trick too.

* If you find that you have a lot of lag while you're recording turn off any other running programs that use a lot of virtual memory. You can find out which these are by opening up the task manager (right click the taskbar) then go to View > Select Columns > Tick Virtual Memory. Now when you click the processes tab you'll see a VM Size column. Anything over 100,000 (depending on your system) is going to cause lag when paired with something else that takes up just as much. Firefox and Skype (when hosting a group call) are really bad to do this as well as most video games and art programs. (Another nifty thing, you can end the process of something in order to turn it off instantly, but this is basically forcing a crash of the program and isn't recommended. However, I have found that doing it with Firefox lets me pick up where I left off with my tabs and I have yet to break anything major using this tactic.) Your method of getting all this done might be different if you don't use WinXP. I'm sure there's a tutorial on the internet for Vista and 7 users.

* If you do a lot of voice chatting buy a cheapo mic to use specifically for it. Reserve your good mic just for recording. It saves on wear and if you accidentally break one you have a backup on hand.

* If you don't own a mic stand you can use the plastic holder you get from bulk CD purchases. Preferably keep the CDs on it to provide some weight.



Feel free to add any other tips, suggestions, or experiences with recording that you want to this topic as well as ask any questions you have.
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12-03-2013, 01:53 PM
Post: #2
RE: Voice Recording FAQ
Really great tips! ^^ Found it interesting when you mentioned the mic stand thing. I, myself made a mic stand out of discarded loo roll holders!

Looks weird but as they say, ''if something looks stupid but works, it isn't stupid!

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01-11-2014, 05:29 PM (This post was last modified: 01-11-2014 05:30 PM by Seven Ecks.)
Post: #3
RE: Voice Recording FAQ
If you are looking for some cheap and easy ways to improve the quality of your recording takes by reducing outside noise and echo:

#1 - Carpeting - Carpet absorbs a lot of sound. The shaggier the better. Elvis recorded one of his albums in an all shag carpeted room (including walls and ceiling I believe). We found the carpeting being thrown out when someone was renovating. WARNING: This worked for me. At the time I did not know about things like BED BUGS. You gotta be careful about bringing things like carpet and bedding into your house.. just saying.

#2 - A stand up booth - When I was younger my friends and I made a recording booth in my closet using mostly shag carpet and one piece of wood with a door cut into it. I've also seen a friend make a 'booth' my building a rectangular frame about 6.5 feet tall and just wide enough to turn around in a circle with your hands on your hips. They then hung a load of blankets from it to both dampen the sound coming from inside (for those of you with parents and roomies) and to reduce echo and improve sound quality.

#3 - A closet booth - If you've got a closet you can stand in that you aren't using you can turn it into a recording booth. Carpet the walls, or at least put foam or carpet in the corner. If you need a more temp solution hang heavy blankets on the walls or buy some cheap carpeting and wrap it around the walls. If you can drill a hole in the wall or door to run your cords out of, do that. If you've got someone helping you record, you can have headphones on, and the technician can have headphones on, and both of you have a microphone, though the technician would be hooked up through line in, not mic in, so that it's not recording but you can both hear and talk to each other with the door closed. If you don't have a technician, it can be a little more difficult to record yourself if you want to keep the computer out of the booth.

You can take or leave the advice, it's just what I accumulated during my time doing low-budget / no-budget audio recording. I used a condensor microphone and pre-amp with the closet booth + shag carpeting and the audio recordings were as clear as most studio recordings I've done. Some of it does have to do with the technician doing the recordings / tweaking settings on the hardware and software of course.

Hope that helps some of you!
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