Mastering spoken word advice needed.

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by StevenGurg, Jan 19, 2005.

  1. StevenGurg

    StevenGurg Guest

    I mainly do spoken word recordings in my project studio. I have a good signal chain (R84 or NTK, UA6176 or STT-1, Apogee PSX-100, Lynx AES16, Sound Forge 7.0, Event PS8 monitors). I would appreciate any advice from those of you that master spoken word as to what steps you take and what common factors you consider most in mastering spoken word. Thank you.
    SG
     
  2. David French

    David French Well-Known Member

    The guys might not advise this becuase it might come off as self-serving, but I will. Hire a mastering engineer. Sucessful mastering engineers have talent that people who've put all their efforts in to music enginering and production or clinical hypnosis can probably never compete with.
     
  3. TotalSonic

    TotalSonic Guest

    Every recording is different so really this determines what mastering should be done but some general guidelines to look for in spoken word is in general voice is extremely dynamic so some compression is usually very helpful. A high pass filter can often be useful to eliminate rumble, pops on plosives, and increase clarity. If there are problematic p pops I'll often automate a more extreme HPF on for only these and leave it off the rest of the program so that the body of the voice is still intact for everything else. If there is a lot of sibilance a de-esser helps a lot also. Generally if the recording is good then I'll only do minimal eq.

    I'd suggest trying to do the mastering with full range monitors in a room different than the one you tracked and mixed in to get a better perspective on the sound.

    Hope that helps and good luck.

    Best regards,
    Steve Berson
     
  4. Lagerfeldt

    Lagerfeldt Guest

    While a lot of people consider multiband a definite no-no for music mastering, multiband compression can actually work wonders on vocals.

    Popping (p's) can be drastically reduced without affecting the rest of the signal, and de-essing can also be done with multiband. I would still use some normal broadband compression and eq of course.

    Automating EQ or a HPF may be the correct choice in some situations, but multiband is very handy in these cases.

    In the mixing process you could try using a gate to clear up the vocal track a bit for background noise or simply to clean up the words a bit (if you haven't gated the recording, you may be surprised how much this can help in some cases for that really dry and in-your-face sound).

    Be aware if this will be used for broadcast: most (all) radio stations and tv stations have their own compression and limiting applied to the signal. This can be quite hard on the signal, and sometimes heavy compression and limiting in the mastering process (especially limiting) will *not* make the signal louder on air, but simply more squashed or actually *lower* on air.
     
  5. TotalSonic

    TotalSonic Guest

    The main thing broadcast processor chains have a problem with is is not necessarily material that has already been compressed but clipped wave forms - so I would avoid clipping by all means for spoken word.

    Best regards,
    Steve Berson
     
  6. Lagerfeldt

    Lagerfeldt Guest

    Yes clipping or hard digital limiting.

    Anyway, I suspect we're not talking broadcast material in this case?
     
  7. StevenGurg

    StevenGurg Guest

    Great advice, guys. Thank you. And yes, this is not broadcast or voiceover work. It is softly spoken applications of medical hypnosis and spoken instructional material.
    SG
     
  8. mixandmaster

    mixandmaster Active Member

    "Micheal Fossenkemper will send mixandmaster his Weiss compressor"
    "Micheal Fossenkemper will send mixandmaster his Weiss compressor"
    "Micheal Fossenkemper will send mixandmaster his Weiss compressor"
    "Micheal Fossenkemper will send mixandmaster his Weiss compressor"
    "Micheal Fossenkemper will send mixandmaster his Weiss compressor"
    "Micheal Fossenkemper will send mixandmaster his Weiss compressor"
    "Micheal Fossenkemper will send mixandmaster his Weiss compressor"
    "Micheal Fossenkemper will send mixandmaster his Weiss compressor"

    :?
     
  9. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

  10. StevenGurg

    StevenGurg Guest

    I wonder if he would like me to master one track or two?
    I wonder if I will offer to master a disc for him today or tomorrow?
    I wonder how surprised I will be when he lets me master a disc for free?
    When I donate my mastering skills, I feel more creative and confident.
    I wonder which of the above statements I read will effect me first?

    Yes.

    SG
     
  11. Michael Fossenkemper

    Michael Fossenkemper Distinguished past mastering moderator Well-Known Member

    Hey, you're from Tucson. I'm from Tempe. Lots of relatives in Tucson. I'm there about 3 times a year, mostly holidays. I bet the weather there is much nicer now than it is here in NYC. I think snot actually froze to my face today.
     
  12. StevenGurg

    StevenGurg Guest

    Way cool. I was in NYC about a month ago and will return to the city in about 2-3 weeks. My agent is now at 200 W. 57th, our branding group is at 110 Fifth Ave, and my wife and I stay at the Lucerne Hotel at 201 west 79th. On our last visit we didn't even have any snot, let alone it freezing. I hope you are having a heat wave when we return in a few weeks. You know, I think that sometime last year I sent an email to you about mastering. I remember seeing your website and was impressed by the list of work you have done. I especially like the movie soundtracks you did (My Architect, Slums of BH, and MM&W, if I remember correctly)... all really nicely done.
    I live near Sabino Canyon National Park in Tucson, and get to Tempe/Phoenix valley often as we have couple of our kids living in the valley.
     

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