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Hello. I'm a software developer, And I am building a prototype application for audioguides.

In this stage we need to have a few guides recorded, they will not be recorded by professionals yet (my sister in law will do it, she has a nice voice and diction), but they must sound well.
So, I have a few bucks to spend on a software, and maybe a mic to record the guides.
I would like to ask if there is a recommended software to do it?

Note: the resultant audio must be in mp3 format and the must be the highly compressed, since it will be streamed.
Note 2: My budget is about a couple of hundred dollars.

Thanks in advance!


RemyRAD Sun, 02/05/2012 - 19:54

For your application I would simply recommend one of the many USB condenser microphones on the market today. They fall right within your budget. Some even are included with decent software packages.

I've recorded thousands of commercials over my lifetime and 20 years spent as an A1 first call audio engineer for NBC-TV. Recording a plain voice without any processing of equalization or dynamics generally yields a most unflattering and amateur sounding product. Even the best announcers getting paid the biggest bucks don't want to hear their recorded voice without proper equalization and dynamic compression and limiting. That is one of the biggest key factors.

You will also want to record in uncompressed native ".wav " file format. It really won't be necessary to have anything more than 16 bit, 44.1 kHz recording capabilities even if the device is capable of 24-bit, 96 kHz/192 kHz sampling capabilities. You're not going for Fidelity, you are going for the highest and most pleasant sounding intelligibility. So some dynamic range compression at a ratio of 4:1 with up to 10 DB of active gain reduction (generally available on a preset in software) should be utilized on the recording once it has been made. Once you get the announced track properly and dynamically compressed, you may deem that the sound might need some equalization. That equalization can be done before, after and/or before and after the dynamic range compression. Once you have it sounding just right (use commercials off of the radio and/or television as a reference for your sound you will need to create) only then will you take that final track in .wav, 16 bit, 44.1 kHz file format and then compress that digitally to the lossy MP3 file format, 128 kb per second. That provides for a 15 kHz maximum high frequency response which is all that is necessary for spoken word. And it's the way that most announcers deliver from their homes studios via the Internet. So it's kind of like being a software developer. You can develop a simple piece of software to balance your checkbook. On the other hand, you can develop a piece of software that is capable of recording, managing, mixing 128 tracks of audio and just as many tracks of video along with a boatload of special effects. That's a little bit more of a comprehensive piece of software that requires much education, experience and technique in order to deliver a professional product. Audio is no different. It's just as complicated as being a high level software developer. If one should take the purely simplistic approach as you have described, you have developed a checking account balancer and touting it as a high level piece of software. You know you can't get away with that. You're audio guide will be held to the same standards as your software. So you may have to come back here a few more times to get people to help you get the sound that you need to have. Sometimes you can deliver McDonald burgers and tell everybody it's actually lobster. But they'll generally know better once they taste it.

I'm going to the diner tonight for spaghetti. I had lobster last week.
Mx. Remy Ann David

anonymous Mon, 02/06/2012 - 09:02


Thanks Remy for your answer, it was very clear.
I'm aware that sound recording and mixing is a very complex task, but at this stage we just want to make the audioguides nice to hear... It's for demos and presentation to our sponsors only, we are not hitting production with those audios.
When the application is approved we will hire idoneous people to record them.


RemyRAD Mon, 02/06/2012 - 12:20

Well making them nice to hear would include some equalization and compression. You know, a bit of professionalism in your presentation. You don't give someone the checkbook balancing software and tell them it is a preliminary release to the multitrack audio and video program. You may as well record her voice on a cellular phone or the $.98 microphone that comes from your multimedia headset to play games on your computer. That would be just as fine. Every bit as good. Are you going to tell them this is amateur sounding so try to envision something/someone else? Or, we really don't know how to record anything well but we are great with software.

Maybe, this is only a crappy demo but you get the idea. Even demos have to be professionally produced. People are not intrigued by amateur hour nor bad karaoke singers. So why would you give them that as a demo? I already know what a bad karaoke singer sounds like. I know what an amateur recorded sounding voice track sounds like. If you're trying to sell something of yourself to someone, it has to be right, right out of the door. The days of amateur sounding demo stuff has gone by the wayside. It presents you, on whether you are a professional in your profession or you are not. So do it right or don't do it.

This is like those awful car commercials from dealers that want to be on camera. They are so awful, I would go to another dealer than to go to them. The worse the car dealer would look and sound, the less credence I give to them. So what are they saying? You'll get a better deal on your car because we didn't produce a commercial worth a crap. Our mechanics are the best because we didn't pay for an advertiser. Right. When I hear or would see a slick spokesperson, I knew I would be dealing with a professional. Because they took the time to do it right. Any commercial isn't a TV show, it's a demo. But it's not. It's just as important as the TV show. I mean bad advertising always encourages me to buy someone's product. The worse the commercial is the more I want it. I'llMaybe you have ring around the collar? When it's bad enough sometimes it's quite memorable i.e. Brenda Vaccaro for Playtex tampons. That commercial probably sold more sanitary napkins? But I digress and now I need FDS. Maybe a shower would be better but you can't hear that over the white noise?

Nevermind this rant. It's only a demo.
Mx. Remy Ann David

anonymous Wed, 02/08/2012 - 08:34


Well, apparently you enjoy lecturing people, and like I don't know squat about sound engineering, you don't know squat about software engineering.
And yes, this is "just a crappy demo" to adjust which functionalities the system will provide, not even an alpha yet, so it's out of the question to spend money and time doing audios that will NEVER go live.
So, instead off telling me how to do my job, stick to the technical issues of the question, and keep out of areas and issues that you don't s**t about.

RemyRAD Wed, 02/08/2012 - 14:10

Right I don't know about software but I do know about professionalism. I am saying even your friend who is going to do your demo voice track should just simply be properly recorded and processed for a cohesive professional demo. So I was sticking to the subject. You have posted in a professional audio forum and we are talking about presenting professional audio. You already know how to make with the lousy sounding audio so why exactly are you here or is that hear? I was assuming you are here to glean a better product for your demo? You are obviously just a software guy. What I was suggesting also meant you may not need to spend any money with a professional announcer if your person can read well and you can do some simple things that you get from us. That's what most folks come here for, better engineering technique. So go to your local drug store and ask for multimedia microphone headset because that's all you actually need according to your description. And because a person like myself has been so highly involved in recording announcers, commercials, newscasts for NBC television. My specialty is recording the human voice and that's what your question was about. And that has nothing to do with hexadecimal and/or machine code. So I was trying to help you but something for nothing is obviously worth nothing and especially to you.

I'm not saying anything else of which I'm sure you will be happy about.
Mx. Remy Ann David