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Recording Tips for a Successful Voice Over Session


Listenupnorth.com, a spoken word website asked me on Twitter the other day about some recording tips or suggestions when it comes to recording voice overs like they have on their website. They record poetry and single voice recordings that need to be quiet and intimate to capture the listener.

After brainstorming and listening to some of the selections on their website there are a few recording tips I can suggest for a better voice over experience.

Dead Silence

When you are recording speech, especially if that is the only thing that is going to be the recording it’s important to eliminate as much outside noise as possible. Dedicated voice over booths, found in TV stations for instance, are treated to be completely dead. No reflections, outside noise or room sound. That way only the sound of your voice is being picked up by the microphone, nothing else.

Of course, it’s harder to deaden a complete room if you are recording at home but you can certainly set up a space that is deader than anywhere else in the room. You can achieve this with dedicated acoustic absorption, or with blankets and duvets if you are on a budget. Additionally, a dedicated vocal recording solution such as the sE Reflection Filter can help reduce the room sound that tends to creep into home recordings.

Equipment

A good, large diaphragm condenser is good bet for capturing a full and balanced sound of the voice. There are many different brands of condensers out there but most of them get the job done.

You don’t need a $2,000 condenser to get a nice recording of your voice. You can usually get by with a condenser that’s under $300,  like the super silent Rode NT1A or the cheap Audio Technica AT2020. There are even a few USB microphone options out there but I would recommend getting a nice standalone usb interface instead.

Recording Tips

When you have a nice quiet area to record in with your large condenser microphone then there are a few more things to worry about before hitting record. Some home recordings have a low hum to them due to background noise and such. You can reduce a lot of this low end noise if your microphone has a low cut filter that cuts out most of the low end you don’t need. You will end up with a cleaner recording that’s free of annoying low end noises.

If your microphone does not have a low-cut filter then you need to do some post production mixing after recording. Using a high-pass filter in your audio program you can filter out most of that pesky low end you don’t need. If you are afraid of filtering, get over your fear by

Additionally, when you have your vocal tracks inside your audio program you can EQ them for more presence and character. For more details read The Five Frequency Areas of the Vocal.

Before/After Sample.

With just a simple adjustments you can get a much better sound out of your vocal recordings. Listen to the vocal samples below to hear the difference in quality from one to the other. The first recording is done in the part of my room where there is almost no acoustic treatment. There are no blankets or anything to reduce the room sound and I have done no post production to the audio files. I recorded both audio samples with my Audix CX-112 large diaphragm condenser.

In the next sample I moved myself into the “vocal recording” area of my home recording studio. There is acoustic treatment on the walls behind me to dampen the reflections, I have placed the sE Reflection Filter around the microphone to kill most of the room sound and I switched on the low frequency roll-off on my condenser. Lastly, I did some light EQ fixes in Logic to make the voice sound better.

The sound of the voice is a little more intimate and there is less room sound. The only drawback to the “after” recording is that the fan of my old laptop is pretty loud and the conversion to mp3 only makes the noise floor of the recording louder. But all in all a pretty big improvement.

Conclusion

When you are recording voice over, or just vocals in general make sure you take these suggestions into consideration. Treating the wall behind the singer, reducing the room sound that can enter your microphone and filtering out unwanted low end will improve your vocal recording substantially.

I hope these suggestions helped

Image by: Mark David Zahn


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About me

About Audio Issues and Björgvin Benediktsson

At Audio Issues you’ll learn simple and practical audio production tips you can use right away to improve your music from your home recording studio.  Björgvin is the best-selling author of Step By Step Mixing and the founder of Audio Issues. He helps musicians and producers turn amateur demos into professionally produced records they can be proud to release.

We help home studio musicians and project studio producers make a greater musical impact in their lives by teaching them the skills needed to grow their hobbies and careers. We do this by offering simple and practical music production and success skills they can use right away to level themselves up – while rejecting negativity and gear-shaming from the industry. A rising tide floats all boats and the ocean is big enough for all of us to surf the sound waves.

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