getting good quality sound in spite of complicating factors

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by dmehling, May 24, 2009.

  1. dmehling

    dmehling Guest

    I am wanting to get into podcasting with a limited budget. I want to come up with the best set up for getting good quality sound. I will be setting up my studio in a room in my house which is about 300 square feet and is fully furnished as a living room. Due to many factors, the studio must be in this room. I'm wanting to know what impact this room will have on the sound quality of my recordings and what I can do about it. Also I have another factor to deal with. I have serious breathing problems and must use a respirator to breathe. I have no trouble speaking clearly and at a normal volume, but any microphone used for recording will pick up the sound of the respirator. I'm wanting to know what I can do to keep from sounding like Darth Vader in my recordings. Is there any kind of post processing I could do to try to filter out the unwanted noise? It's really not that loud and will not be heard while I speak, but only between spoken phrases.
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Perhaps that's exactly what you should be doing? You should have at least 4 USB inputs on your computer. You'll need 3 microphones that are USB capable & a multitrack audio programs such as Adobe Audition, Sony Vegas etc.. You'll want 3 microphones. One for your guest. One for you & one for the respirator mechanism. Make it sound like Darth Vader. You can even use some kind of real-time pitch change on your voice to get even closer to Darth Vader. That's taking a negative and turning it into a positive. Over accentuate what you want to attenuate. Make it part of your delivery. It's part of your life for the rest of your life, don't try to hide it. And really let people know what this is like. It's part of your life you can't change.

    Your alternative in trying to remove this sound your staff of life is creating is with "Downward Expansion". Sometimes erroneously referred to as gating. It's like compression & limiting, one offers leveling, the other offers peak control. The downward expansion on voice/vocal recording sounds much more natural than gating. Gating is more effective when used on drums with sounds of extremely short duration. With downward expansion, you preset the level of depth i.e. -3, -6, -9, -12, etc.. Then the most important setting is the threshold control. The threshold is not usable in a generalized form. It's really specific to the person who is speaking. The objective is to set the threshold to the same level at which you take your breasts & the machine makes its move. Once the threshold has been set to just "open up" as soon as something louder than your breath or the noise of the machine, it will only trigger open when you begin to speak. Unfortunately, sometimes the loss of background noise becomes more noticeable than the noise itself. This can sound obnoxious to many people. If that happens, it would be prudent to have an additional microphone in another room, that is generally quiet but still contains some ambient feel. You add that to your signal 100% of the time. This way the downward expansion of the voices will be less noticeable. This can be done with hardware or software elements in very similar manners. Software noise reduction programs and bad equalization won't do the trick. It's that. Or just stop breathing for the show. No. No, that doesn't sound like a good idea?

    I'll be holding my breath until I turn blue waiting for your reply.
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. Kapt.Krunch

    Kapt.Krunch Well-Known Member

    Nov 21, 2005
    Now, c'mon Remy...behave yourself. :wink: It's fun to make fun of knuckleheads, but not of peoples' disabilities...although being a knucklehead COULD be considered a disability.

    How about the "Karaoke Method"? What about using two channels from one mic. Flip the phase of the second channel input, and use a parametric EQ to zero in on the respirator noise, then match the levels to cancel that particular noise out? Depending on the frequency range it inhabits, it may reduce part of the vocal range, but running the combined signal through another eq, or maybe even a compressor, may be able to nudge it back closer?

    Just a thought.

  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Such strange coincidences..... FWIW, I'm in a hospital room, listening to the patient in the bed next to mine, on a respirator, fighting for his life. (Another story, another time....)

    There's a lot of ways of handling this sort of thing.

    I know you want the best quality possible, but you DID say Pod-casting. Soooo, the limited quality could work in your favor, if it came to that.

    I'm assuming the part of the respirator that makes the most noise (the pump/compressor?) has to be near you, physically? Is it possible to build a small box around it, similar to what they used to do with noisy printers? (It's basically a box with sonex inside, on the walls, etc.) Since your'e in only one room, you have to make the best of what you have, so ISO is the way to go here.

    Obviously, you'll probably want to mic yourself as closely as possible. Good mouth-to-mic distance is really going to help you here, even if there's a tube going into your trache under your chin. If your levels are set properly, with a little gating/ducking going on, you could pull it off. You could also have a manual "Enable" switch on your mic for whenever YOU speak. It would ramp up/open when you want to speak, and close down when you want it off. This is probably the opposite of the Cough-switches that are still used in radio today.

    You may want to consider theme music or background music as part of your show; that's not all that uncommon these days. You guests mics could be set for a little gating/ducking as well, so the level up/down issues might not be as appartant. There's going to be a fair amount of trial and error here.

    You could have a standard show opening and closing that's been all prepped ahead of time without any respirator noises, and if it's a delayed podcast, you could work on removing some of the noise yourself if your software is flexible enough. It's probably easy enough to get a good sample of the machine all by itself, and you could have that as a template already stored, any time you want to call it up.

    Another way to deal with it is just NOT deal with it, and let your listeners know what's up, albiet once in a while. (Not to be a wise-ass here; you may want to consider a local hospital or pharmco medical rental company buy some time on your show....)

    That's a start, anyway. Hope that helps.
  5. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    There is a little-known microphone technique known as the "differential microphone". This is a super noise canceling method utilizing 2 identical microphones. Generally their capsules are mounted back-to-back as in multi-capsule directionally adjustable microphones. But in this particular instance, the 2 microphones are out of phase to one another and are placed as close together as possible. There are various ways to achieve mounting a pair of microphones together. The Grateful Dead actually used this type of microphones technique seen in one of their films. They were utilizing Sony ECM50 lavalier microphones mounted on a wooden block. You'd see Gerry Garcia singing into only one of the 2 microphone capsules. It works. You speak into only one capsule. Everything else that is common to both capsules is electronically canceled out. This can be accomplished with changing the output wiring of a single microphone and utilizing a XLR Y patch cord. Conversely, it can be done utilizing two inputs on a small console that offers phase inversion. This may very well reduce the noise of your respirator to near inaudible results. The microphones should both be omni-directional. The only disadvantage is that it produces a frequency response with not much low frequency response. This can be adjusted with a standard program equalizer or equalization within software. Even inexpensive omni-directional Radio Shaft microphones could be used for this spoken word purpose. We're not looking for the highest of Fidelity here. But just like the Grateful Dead, you want to put a piece of pop proof foam over them. Guarantee you'll pop them without that.

    I really wasn't trying to be a wise guy with my previous response. People should know what it's like to have to live on a respirator. I'm sure this wasn't exactly your choice. And knowing what they're listening to might add more validity to what you are saying, regardless of subject matter. Yes, it probably sounds obnoxious but then you live with it 24 hours a day don't you? Just like the proud stoic & heroic, late Christopher Reeves. You need to pave the way for others. I am proud of what you are trying to accomplish. If I can be of any further help? Let me know?

    Yours truly
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  6. dmehling

    dmehling Guest

    I appreciate the suggestions everyone has given me. I have thought about those ideas and now have a slightly different question that I would like to ask? First of all, the ventilator issue may not be very significant at all. I didn't intend to exaggerate the problem when I said I didn't want to sound like Darth Vader. The ventilator actually makes very little noise. Besides the name of my website/ministry is so I think people would understand if they actually do hear my ventilator running. The real problem is probably the fact that frequently when I take a breath, there is a pause of 2 to 3 seconds. In those 2 to 3 seconds there's very little noise except for the little bit of noise from the ventilator. What would be more important than canceling out the noise is to remove those pauses. Is there any kind of audio editing software that will automatically take out sections of sound that are relatively quiet in comparison with the sections where I am speaking? I could manually edit it and I could easily see in the waveform the quiet places in the recording. If you could easily see where they are, it doesn't seem like it would be too hard to have them automatically removed.
  7. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Oct 16, 2008
    Frozen Tundra of CT
    Editing the silent parts will be very easy, cut and drag but I don't know of way to do it automatically. I am not sure if I would be comfortable with a computer deciding how much of the pause to remove, you still want the speech to flow naturally and their are pauses in anyones speech pattern.
  8. dmehling

    dmehling Guest

    I have looked at my sequencer program and it has a option for making any sound below a certain volume completely silent. That solves part of my problem, since the ventilator noise will be much quieter than my speaking voice. However, I need to remove the silent spaces. Isn't there some program that would remove the silence of a certain length of time? For example, silence of longer than 1 second would be removed.
  9. MadTiger3000

    MadTiger3000 Active Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    You might be looking to do that manually. It won't take long. Well, relatively speaking.
  10. dmehling

    dmehling Guest

    No, I know how to do it manually. That's very easy but very time consuming. In a single podcast there might be 100 instances that would need to be removed. That would take hours for a single podcast and I will be making lots of podcasts. So if I can't do it automatically then I won't do it at all.
  11. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    There's no way a plugin could do that. You'd need a DAW that could. Or an external program...
  12. dmehling

    dmehling Guest

    I wasn't asking for a plug-in necessarily. I'm looking for any kind of program that will do that.
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Programs like Sound Forge & Adobe Audition have the ability to not only time compress but can be sent with threshold levels that will take the spaces out between words. How else do you think they read those disclaimers regarding automobile purchases and the like. I believe Sound Forage refers to it as "chopper"? I've used it but not in the recent past so I forget. Sorry. But the software can do that. And what about a nice quiet background music track to help define the pauses? Just a thought.

    Title, tags, dealer preparation charges and local taxes extra.
    Ms. Remy Ann David

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