newbie: Home recording voiceovers equip/software

Discussion in 'Mixing & Editing' started by shafattack, Jan 13, 2005.

  1. shafattack

    shafattack Guest

    Looking for advice and guidance on buying sound equipment.
    Need to record some voiceovers form home and have a limited budget. Dont know much about how to set this up but needs to attach to PC.
    Want to record voiceovers with good quality and be able to play about with the sound files in whatever format they have been saved as.
    What microphones, speakers, equipment (mixers?) will I need and what software is useful for this?
    ALSO where can I get them at a good price?

  2. David French

    David French Distinguished Member

    Jun 19, 2002
    There are many things you will need to acquire:

    Software - This one's easy. The free program Audacity should give you everything you need.

    Soundcard - There are lots of options here, but you will need a clean 2 in 2 out card, PCI if you have a spare slot, Firewire if you have Firewire your PC, or USB if there's no other option. M-Audio, E-Mu, and Echo are the companies you should be looking at. Any one of the products from those companies will give you comperable results. You should probably like to find a breakout box that has preamps and headphone amps so that you can avoid buying a mixer. The Echo Gina 3G would be a good choice here. If you wwant to go with a really nice pre, expect to spen $500 for a one channel unit that will truly be a significant upgrade to the pres on a mixer.

    Mics - Electro Voice RE20 and Shure SM7 are the quintessential VO mics. There are lots of other choices too and hopefully someone more experienced will chime in here.

    Acoustics - This one you didn't mention, but it is probably the most critical factor. I hope you have a nice quiet recording space. If not, take measures to kill any noise source as they will be noticeable upon playback. Also, nothing is more annoying than roominess on a VO. You will need absorption, either Auralex foam or for the DIY-inclined, rigid fiberglass or mineral wool panels.

    Speakers - I'm thinking you could get by with a set of nice headphones. AKG K240 and Sennheiser HD280 come to mind.

    How much are you willing to spend?
  3. shafattack

    shafattack Guest

    Thanks for replying. I should have made my question clearer.
    I am an educational games developer trying to create really effective games for dyslexic kids of 5-10 years old.

    I am working from home and dont have much cash to do this but I have already found some software that will tidy up some wav files I made ie: reduce white noise etc, and your audacity software will be very welcome.
    I fully take on board your 'quiet area to record and good microphone' advice which I will follow up, but I have to use really basic speakers because my audience will be using these types of hardware.
    I myself have Tsunami xx-119A speakers which are typical of the types of speakers the kids will have access to.

    My chief aim is to produce clear voiceovers, I think I can do that now with the software you mention, but is it possible to get these simple speakers to produce 15hz frequencies which helps learning?

  4. lstelie

    lstelie Guest


    I have more or less the same situation to handle and my personal experience (note : this is NOT an advice, much more a return on experience) is that Audacity is not enough for a beginner.
    Audacity is great to record, but when beginning they are a lot of problems that a experienced person would not have, the worst been the noise.

    I record a podcast on my website and I’m totally beginner to all this (and I find it really very very interesting by the way). My workflow is the following :

    - recording on a Apple iBook 1 Ghz though a very bad cheap mic , a Behringer XM8500 that I plan to replace by a Studio Projects B1, a Behringer UB802 mixer and an Edirol UA 20 audio interface. (that I will probably replace, but I don't know yet by what)

    When recording I get a rather low level and a huge noise.

    So after recording I use another software called Amadeus (a cheap shareware) where I try to lower the noise and add some gain.
    In my « I-would-love-it-to-sound-like-a-radio-show-but-I’m-far-from-that » podcast I use some musical transitions, Audacity is a great tool (read : an easy to use by a beginner) to mix several tracks.

    Right now I failed to get a real good result ( you can test the result at for example)

    My two cents

  5. shafattack

    shafattack Guest

    I wouldnt not mind someone telling me how to clear up an average sound file.
    I mean what is generally a good method to use?

    Currently I use something like:
    Noise reducation, high pass filter, normalise, and then see if I can't delete any inconsistant peaks of noises, then cut and trim any excess in front of and after the wave I need.

    Is that good enough and at the end of the day, as long as it sounds ok to my ears isnt that the main thing?

  6. pcdaw

    pcdaw Guest

    Generally you don't want to do anything to the sound that it doesn't need. I would find out how the noise is getting into your recording (could be background noise: heating air conditioning, refridgerator, neighbors truck) Our ears can easily miss somthing a mic will pickup. our ears get distracted.

    start with a reference track (something that was recorded professionally and is comparable to the sound you want).

    cleaning up a V/O file can be as simple as silencing btw words and syllables, adjusting volume on parts taht may be inconsistent with others via gain adj. or compression and finally eq'ing to taste.

    Normalizing usually leaves a crappy result because it just raises gain to match peaks regardless of context or material.

    when you trim, cut, silence parts etc.., fade-in at the top and fade-out at the bottom of audio clips (little tiny quick fades, zoom in) this will result in much smoother transitions.

    bottom line: the better the recording, the better the final result.

    hope this helps
  7. shafattack

    shafattack Guest

    great advice.
    Do you have any links to a really good sound file that I can work by?
    Also what is btw words?
    Also how do I prevent words that begin with 'P' giving off that whoosh of air into the mike? I have tried to place the mike to the side of the mouth and it's better but is that how you do it?
    Also the wav files only seem to have that hiss of 'white noise' I believe its called which is removed for the most part.
    Many thanks for your help so far.
  8. lstelie

    lstelie Guest

    Fantastic advice.. i'd have loved to get that before.. I realized yesterday night that most of that noise (and I had a lot of noise) was purely my fault (basicaly a ridiculousely badly set up mixer preamp).

    Thanks a lot for this message
  9. shafattack

    shafattack Guest

    ok I have something similar now to audacity called wavpad. It has most of the same functionality and i managed to get my sound files which were simple syllable sounds improved.

    I did the following -in case anyone is interested or wants to comment..
    I copied the sound files (which were in wav format) first.
    opened in wavpad and selected the first 1/5th of the actual sound itself and did a 'fade in', and then selected the last 1/5 and did a 'fade out'
    then I selected all and did a 'noise reduction' of -28db. In audacity you just select a portion of pure background noise and then use that to clear the whole file.
    Then I did a 'high pass filter' at 200hz and then 'normalised' at 70% peak level.
    I 'amplified' at 70% gain and then chopped of the dead lines at the front and the end of the wave form itself being careful not to chop off any really important bits..
    Any large peaks that might be a rushing of air I then deleted, checking the sound all the time, then saved it all as an mp3 file.
    I then compared the two files and if there was a marked improvement in quality and size I deleted the original wav file.
    cant say fairer than that.

    Just in case it is useful to others as an approximate course to follow -of course the amounts need to be played with per persons recording but these worked great on most of mine.


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