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Audio Level Troubles?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by mixtape1, Jun 7, 2012.

  1. mixtape1

    mixtape1 Member

    Jun 7, 2012
    I recorded an hour-long podcast featuring two people speaking (each person is recorded onto a separate track, if it makes a difference) and the levels are all out of whack - sometimes people are shouting, other times people are speaking at barely above a whisper. Is there any sort of software out there that will equalize the audio levels so that it is one consistent block of audio? Thank you!
  2. matthewfreedaudio

    matthewfreedaudio Active Member

    May 28, 2012
    Los Angeles
    Yeah, it's called Mixing. It's what you do to the audio after it is recorded. You manually adjust the volumes to be what they need. After that you can apply a SLIGHT bit of compression to smooth out the peaks.

    Production Sound Mixing for TV, Film, and Commercials.
  3. cruisemates

    cruisemates Active Member

    Jan 28, 2004
    Home Page:
    I used to put heavy limiting on vocals when recording - set to kick in only when the vocal exceeded the maximum level I wanted, then the limiters would squish them. A good limiter can do this fair transparently.

    And the trick to recording them that way was that I then had a fairly constant volume level throughout the take so I could then apply an amount of working compression to really bring up the quiet parts and soften the louder parts. That being said, mixing is also another option to be precise, that is one thing automated mixing (that remembers all your moves) excels at.
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    Sep 26, 2005
    There are problems with both above descriptions. When you have more than one person on the interview set, you really need limiters that can all be locked together. If you don't have them locked together, the person who gets louder then the quieter person next to them and will then be picked up more in the quieter person's microphone then their own. This can make for terrible sounding acoustic messes. The time delay differential between closely spaced people and their individual microphones creates comb filtering & frequency dependent phase cancellation. In other words, it sounds like crap that way. And then there is the art of mixing. You need to be fast with your fingers. It's what we call riding the level. And only good TV people know how to do that. Other folks just leave all of the volume controls up and watch the TV monitors while their audio sucks. But then, you can't fix stupid. Utilizing some downward expanders can also help that situation but they are tricky to adjust properly. So I don't recommend that the average Joe even try that. It works great when you set your threshold and amount of downward expansion properly. It sucks when it keeps up cutting things people are trying to say. So it's not something I generally recommend for live television.

    One of the best ways to go is to utilize a single limiter on the output bus. Then you carefully ride everybody's level without ever turning anybody down completely but merely ducking them by a few DB. This method can present the best highly intelligible advantage without having to jump through all sorts of hoops and whoops. Make sure you utilize high pass filtering and order to filter out low-frequency & air conditioning noises. You might even want to utilize some low pass filtering with a slight upper midrange boost to improve spoken word intelligibility. Because when you're talking about talking heads, you're not talking about high Fidelity. You're talking about high intelligibility. And that's where some bandwidth limiting when dealing with spoken word really pays off. For years I had to do this for NBC network television. With one guest whispering and the host yelling. Then everybody yelling. And back again. And when it's live on the air, you don't get a second take. You don't get any postproduction time. It has to be right out of the gate.

    Another trick to utilize in this kind of " level riding " is to cheat your gain trim slightly lower than normal. This allows you to push your faders up slightly higher within its logarithmic audio taper range allowing a finer degree of control. When your faders are too low, your gain riding will go all screwy and sound like amateur hour. Or maybe even amateur half-hour? And then you'll have to blame it on the equipment. But that's really not the equipment's fault. Because in the land of TV audio, and if you can't cut the mustard, there is a lot of other folks waiting in line to replace you.

    Let the world hear what your guests have to say
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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