Assistance Sorely Needed!

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sandyg
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:04 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA

Assistance Sorely Needed!

Post by sandyg »

I'm a 71 yr old retiree, just getting into Voice-Over work. I've been trained by the best I could find in NYC and I am truly a neophyte when it comes to sound recording. Therein lies the reason for this correspondence.

I need to set up my own in-house sound studio.(Equipment listed below)
The object of the exercise is for me to create MP3 files that I can submit via the internet to prospective voice-over talent employers.

I need to know where to go, what to click on to, what settings to activate (I did notice that Output indicates that playback is not enabled, I think). Obviously, I am only using one track, but I would like to lay some music under my voice in some of my recordings. This, I'm also not familiar with.

Is anyone willing to put forth the effort to get me up and running?

My appreciation and thanks, in advance.

Sandy G :roll:
Windows-XP,M-Audio MobilePre USB,Marshall MXL770 Condenser Mic,GoldWave

DougDbug
Posts: 2059
Joined: Wed Feb 16, 2005 3:33 pm
Location: Silicon Valley

Post by DougDbug »

Start by reading the Recording FAQ.

Then, read through the GoldWave help-file to get an idea of what it can do.

There are three things I almost always do when I make a recording:

1- Run the Maximize function to check the peak levels. If they are at 0dB (The digital maximum*), I assume the signal is clipped and I start-over. (If I'm going to do any further processing, I cancel the Maximize function after it reports the current maximum.)

2- Use Noise Reduction or the Noise Gate to reduce any background noise. (In your case, the the Noise Gate is probably best.)

3- After all processing, run Maximize to set the peak levels to exactly 0dB.


You can use Volume Shaping to adjust the volume of a particular portion of the recording. When using Volume Shaping, keep the end-points locked at 0dB, and use a sloped adjustment... avoid "sudden" volume adjustments.

You can use Mix to mix-in some background music. It will take some trial-and-error to get the levels right, because once it's mixed it can't be un-mixed.

You'll probably want to try-out the optional GW Voice Plug-In. It has a couple of tools especially for voice-over, but I have a feeling you wont need them.

I wouldn't over-do the processing, but you may want to experiment with a little Equalization and Compression.

Radio and TV commercials are compressed to make them sound louder. In general, the peaks are "limited" or reduced, and then the whole thing is cranked-up 'till the peaks are back up to the 0dB maximum again.

Note that GoldWave's Compression/Expansion tool uses some "strange" termonology... A decrease in dynamic range is sometimes called expansion.... So, play around with the presets a bit.



* I haven't checked the specs on your Tascam unit, but with 24-bit recording, 0dB may not be the maximum level.

donrandall
Posts: 549
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:06 pm
Location: Denver, Colorado

Post by donrandall »

Sandy - welcome to the VO biz! One can easily become a millionaire doing voiceovers - - if one starts out with two million.

Voice123 and Interactive voices will be happy to take your money and supply you with leads - you can submit auditions and hope to pick up some work.

I recently gave some advice to another new VO guy in another thread, it can be found under the heading "Voice Over Sound" and should be in the topic list just a bit down the page from this thread.

Doug gave you some good advice - he knows his stuff when it comes to Goldwave. The only thing with which I would find any disagreement is the suggestion that you would probably have better luck with a noise gate (noise gating is one of the functions of the Compressor/Expander) instead of the Noise Reduction tool.

Soundcards generally make relatively little noise, and I don't think you should have a problem with yours. Room noise is what you will probably need to suppress (or filter) and the Goldwave Noise Reduction tool is very effective. The filter will (within reasonable limits) remove the unwanted noise without some of the problems associated with gating - but will, not may, but will often introduce it's own problems. Fortunately they are usually minor and easily solved while gating problems often are not. The noise reduction will remove the noise - period. A gate will remove or reduce the noise during those times where there is a gap in the actual signal - or recorded material. Gaps between words, such as pauses, will allow the gate to close and all sound disappears. When speaking, the gate must open to allow the signal to record - and with it will be the underlying and unremoved room noise. The gate will not remove it.

Poke around and find the thread I posted earlier, it's only a few weeks old. If I can help with any techniques specific to voiceover, let me know, I check in from time to time.

donrandall
Posts: 549
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:06 pm
Location: Denver, Colorado

Post by donrandall »

Sandy, I just went and found a couple of threads in which I have put together some ideas for others and I will paste them here for your consideration:

I do voiceovers, so I may be able to give some suggestions that you will find helpful.

I do not record the entire project as one long continuous track - in most cases - because some projects have been long enough to completely fill two full CDs. What I do is keep an ever lengthening "Project" file and a separate "Workparts" file. I open a new file - my "Workparts" file and record as much as five minutes on it and then copy and paste that to my "Project" file. I only do this once I have listened critically and am sure it is what I want to save in the "Project" file. I usually edit out the flaws on this relatively small file because it does not put at risk the rest of the project file in the event of some catastrophic screwup.

When recording voice only projects, you will end up with occasional little things known as "mouth music". I prefer to edit out this unwanted noise at this point - it works better for me this way.

These unwanted noises, clicks and ticks and little pops won't be there consistently because many factors influence the production of these unwanted noises. The best thing to do is avoid them to the degree possible. Drink plenty of water - dehydration is one cause. Another factor is condition of the internal mouth parts - tongue, palate, cheeks, lips etc. What you have eaten or have drunk may help or hurt you here. Apple slices are good. Soda pop is bad, for instance.

I prefer to record at a relatively low level, the average level staying at around -6 or thereabouts, which allows a little "headroom" for those instances where certain sounds may be louder than the average of the track - recording at a higher level may cause distortion in those particular transient sounds. The volume can always be raised later on, using the tools available in Goldwave.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

If you are doing a voiceover for your own amusement, play around and have fun.

If your voiceover is going to be heard by others, quit screwing around. Use your own natural voice. Anything else will end up embarrassing you.

Use a decent quality mic. Do not record at a high level - keep your input to somewhere around -5 (using about half of the available wave table for the average voice level of your speech). Others may tell you otherwise. Go ahead and learn the hard way, if you must. Then you can do it all over again the way I told you.

Once you have your message recorded, find that full second or so of noise that should be a combination of your sound card and room noise. In other words, make sure you opened your mic and stayed very quiet for a whole second or so before you started talking. Now - you can denoise your audio track, using the noise filter. Find the preset for "Initial Noise" and hit the go button. This is critical: make sure the cursor does not start out on silence or any noise that is not what you want to filter out. Now, hit the go button and get that noise out of the way and then listen to a nice clean audio track.

Open the Compressor / Expander and select the "Reduce Peaks" preset. If you have some rather tall spikes, this will bring them down - in fact, you can use that same preset a second time immediately after the first. You can also try the preset labeled "Hard Limit At -6 db".

Now that you have brought those transient spikes down a bit, you have created room which you can use to increase the overall volume to a more useful level. Open Maximize Volume and select "90%" and hit the go button. Now, your level is higher than if you had recorded at a higher level in the beginning and without the distortions you would have generated if you ignored my earlier advice.

It is possible, and even likely that you have increased the level of some residual noise artifacts left over from the denoiser. You can repeat the denoiser operation or use a noise gate. If you would prefer the noise gate, the presets will disappoint you and make you unhappy. Open the Compressor / Expander and select any noise gate preset - now, lets set it up to something that will work: Set multiplier at -6.0db Set Threshold at -45db and open and close at .020 and hit the go button. If all is good, go to the next step.

At this point, you have denoised the track and compressed your audio - that compression and volume increase will make your voice sound fuller and more present.

The following should be done prior to maximizing (normalizing) volume (the eq will raise the volume of selected freqencies and will drive levels high enough to distort if you do this after maximizing volume). This is something you might want to try if your voice sound a bit flat and you would like to add a little life to it - notice that I am not talking about doing one darned thing to enhance low frequencies:

You can use the parametric equalizer to buff and polish your audio a bit more, if needed. Select 50 as a center and 100 as width, reduce by around -2.5 db. Then select a center of 6000 and a width of 6000 and increase by around 2 or 3 db. A little experimentation may be necessary to find a "sweet spot" that works best for you. If you have a "tubby" or "boomy" sound, you can attenuate (reduce) frequencies around the 400 to 600 range. Again, a little trial and error may be necessary.

Keep in mind that you can always sample any effect before hitting the go button and processing the audio - and even after processing the audio, you can undo any operation as long as you have not yet "Saved" it.

sandyg
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:04 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA

HELP! (Still needed!)

Post by sandyg »

I truly appreciate every responseI've received. And, I've tried doing what each of you have said. However, the best recording takes place before all of the other filters and compressions are applied post-recording. If I use them, they add distortions to the recording. At least they do to my recordings. I SOUND AS IF I'M INSIDE A TIN CAN OR A HOLLOW PIPE!
And yes, I'm in a very quiet room. If I could attach an MP3, that would definitely provide a better idea of what's wrong since each of you appear to really be audio authorities.

I've tried removing the hums and hisses. Compressing and resetting the values. I'm ready to pull my hair out! Oh! I forgot. I don't have any!

Seriously. I really need to be taken by the hand and walked through the process of getting to a good sounding recording. If you're using audio terminology, please interpret. I'm not an idiot, but I am out of my element here. I bet I could run rings around you guys when it comes to pharmacy! That's my element!

I wonder if my Tascam US122 could be part of the problem. No matter how I've set the knobs, it doesn't appear to change anything there either.

Simply stated, HELP!

Sandy G :oops:
Windows-XP,M-Audio MobilePre USB,Marshall MXL770 Condenser Mic,GoldWave

Togglehead
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:37 pm
Location: Jersey

Post by Togglehead »

It sounds like you are having a file conversion issues here. What sample rate are you saving the mp3 file in. You have the oppurtunity to specify this in the save dialog box at the time of saving. Or did i totally miss something, and the sounds is borked (<----actual term...=]) before saving.

Where in NJ are you....i live in Northern jersey. This maybe solved rather easily. =]

I havent been on this board long, so im not sure i could get any vouches, but ive been an audio guy for quite a while now and i just might be able to help you out.

sandyg
Posts: 12
Joined: Wed Jun 21, 2006 1:04 pm
Location: New Jersey, USA

Post by sandyg »

Togglehead: As noted, I do live in NJ. Morristown, to be specific.

So far, I've tried two prior sets of audio equipment and returned them to their respective suppliers. I first tried a USB Mic, but it was incompatible with the software (Sonar Home Studio). Then I got my condenser mic, a mixer and Guitar Tracks Pro-3. I couldn't record anything. Then, through great help from a contact I made on another forum, we were able to determine that the competer's factory installed sound card was the culprit, Soundblaster.

So now, I bought Tascam US122 Preamp/Interface and am told this circumvents the Soundblaster card. Obviously, this has all taken a lot of good time that I could have been recording for jobs posted on "Voice123".

I'm very anxious to get my voice-over work out there in a form that presents me in the best possible way.

I believe my sample rate is 24, but I'm not certain. It could be 16. (And, I have no idea what this means). Also, a friend noticed that my voice is only coming out of the left speaker (or earphone) and that tells me that there's some way to set it up to play back in stereo, even though I'm only using one mic.

Ideally, if we do live close enough to each other, I'd even buy you lunch.
That's a promise, not a threat!

P.S.: This offer holds for any other locals reading this.

Thanks,

Sandy G
Windows-XP,M-Audio MobilePre USB,Marshall MXL770 Condenser Mic,GoldWave

donrandall
Posts: 549
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:06 pm
Location: Denver, Colorado

Post by donrandall »

Sandy, Tascam generally builds and sells good stuff. I would tend to doubt that is where your problem originates, but it is a possibilty, because these types of interfaces can be a problem at times.

I went to a website for one of the retailers that sells it - owners of various products are invited to contribute their reviews of various products. Some liked the Tascam USB unit and others were complaining. I thought the following review probably was the most informative and useful. I've included a link so that you can find the rest, if you are interested.


http://www.musiciansfriend.com/srs7/g=r ... 68/rpp=10/
I've used this product professionally for a year for live classical recordings where clarity is crucial, and have not had the slightest complaint. ABSOLUTELY no clicks, pops, noise or bad latency like mentioned in some of these other reviews. IMPORTANT: installation instructions included with the product are not complete/accurate. For correct information, go to tascam website and follow those installation instructions to the letter. You'll thank me later if you do, and if you don't you'll be likely to come back here with a bad review.

Togglehead
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:37 pm
Location: Jersey

Post by Togglehead »

HA! Sandy, i live in Wayne.....thats close enough for ME!

It would take me a few minutes im sure to get familiar with your individual setup, as expected, but im sure i can get you up and running in no time!

To get started, so i can do my homework, try to list your known specs (or links) of the gear you have, including your PC. THis way i can get my research done, and plan out a setup before i arrive....should cut time down.

Sadly right now my car is in the shop (german cars are EXPENSIVE), but im sure my girlfriend would have no problem driving me down there, or lending me her car for a while.

e-mail me directly at dciccone14@gmail.com, we can work out some particulars...=D

Togglehead
Posts: 98
Joined: Mon Apr 10, 2006 1:37 pm
Location: Jersey

Post by Togglehead »

This was an interesting one....shows how much NOT a fan i am of USB based audio stuff.....

He gets signal..and everything appreas to be working properly...except the signal he gets from the tascam is TERRIBLY low....almost not fixable.
I worked a bit with his setup, which is fine for what hes doing...and gave him some GW pointers on how to boost up the volume with minimal background noise.....anyone have any clues to why this signal is coming through so low?


Glad to help sandy...you know how to find me!!!!

donrandall
Posts: 549
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:06 pm
Location: Denver, Colorado

Post by donrandall »

Sandy -

Log on to the Voiceover Bulletin Board. You'll find it at http://www.vo-bb.com

You will be able to register as a user and read notes from some of the very sharp, very knowlegeable people there.

There is a section devoted to gear that would probably help you to resolve your problem.

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