I need some help! (Mastering/Audio Restoration)

Discussion in 'Mastering' started by Onelove, May 30, 2008.

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  1. Onelove

    Onelove Guest

    Hey everyone, nice forums, glad to be here. I apologize for the somewhat long post, but I'd really appreciate some help.

    Background of my question:
    I'm the head A/V Tech where I work, and recently the company I work for wanted to get into recording (primarily lectures from seminars). Great- easy enough- the original plan was just to record and give the raw file to a studio who would do the mastering.....But once they heard the first recording, they pretty much want to record everything now, and do the editing/mastering in house (since over an average seminar we will have roughly 15 hours of speaking x 2 seminars a month=30 hours of mastering a month=$$$ at a studio). I have absolutely no experience in mastering audio.

    SO, my question is- how do I best go about this??? My plan thus far has been to purchase ProTools HD 7.4, and get a decent audio restoration plugin and a good EQ plugin. (Algorithmix are top on my list) Then edit everything from a laptop.
    Because the seminars are mostly in hotels and resorts, the acoustics of the rooms are generally bad to horrible with lots of audience noise.

    Setup: For the live sound the mics are Countryman e6i's through Aphex 230s, into a Mackie Mixer. Everything is being recorded on a Sound Devices 722 (small, easy and tough). So to start off the sound is pretty decent.

    Will a combo of ProTools, reNovator, and a nice EQ be enough to produce good quality tracks for eventual production onto CD? Is this overkill? What other software should I look at?

    (Lastly, I'm trying to keep the budget quite low, and the reality is that this is only spoken word/VO stuff, but I would like to have the ability to remove noise effectively)

  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I personally believe that Pro tools is overkill. I think you'd be much better off with something like Adobe Audition. This requires no special proprietary equipment like Pro tools does.

    Plus, I really can't understand why you would need "restoration software" for spoken word recordings originated under your command? What? Noisy, scratchy, clicks, pops, hum, buzzzz?? I hope not?

    Perhaps you may want your preacher to utilize a lavalier/lapel microphone for the PA system? You might however also want to include a pulpit mounted SM58 to use strictly for the recording. This is a microphone that works very nicely for spoken Word recording and doesn't suffer from as much sibalence as a small capsule condenser does, Phantom explosions from bad wiring, etc.. The proximity effect will also provide a warmer tone while the tight cardioid pattern will help to eliminate extraneous sanctuary noises.

    So you really are a video guy in charge of the audio? That's how I read this. It's OK, it was always that way for me over at NBC. Video guys think they can do audio. Then they have to ask an audio person how to do it right. But nobody thinks us audio folks know anything about video.

    Doing good audio should require no restoration procedures. Adding compression, limiting and/or some downward expansion can and does actually improve spoken word recordings. But only if you know how to combine those three elements correctly along with proper equalization. Otherwise you end up with something that nobody wants to listen to. You won't make this nice to listen to as you have people that need to hear a pleasant word from God not something that makes them irritable because it's been too highly processed or processed in correctly. That's called ear fatigue. And a big turnoff to any listener. So you have to make a sound nice and pretty uncomfortable to listen to. Not just to make technically accurate, flat response, blah blah. That means nothing if it's not pleasant to listen to.

    Specialist in talking head recordings
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. Onelove

    Onelove Guest

    Thanks Remy!

    First, the sound is fine, but it could be better. I need the ability to: go in, edit out 3-4 minutes where the speaker talks about something "off-the-wall," remove the speaker coughing, take out the portion where they played a video, edit out when they hit the mic with their arm, change the room ambiance, etc.

    Second, I'm mostly a live sound guy who has gotten placed in charge of mastering audio so that it sounds studio quality. I have good ears, but like I said, I basically need to "learn the ropes" and the tools.

    I suppose it is important to mention that these are not VO people or broadcasters. Essentially, they are teachers and doctors who have no voice training. Some speak quite softly (literally almost whisper level at times) and subsequently a gate at an acceptable level still lets things through that I need to take out.

  4. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Does Algorithmix's stuff work with Pro Tools? They may or may not, and they sure do cost a lot! I'm a PC audio person and don't know about that side of the plug in world, but it's certainly possible. I'd check before spending, though, of course. (I have reNOVATor and their sonic restoration suite, don't get me wrong, they're great tools, but you may do better with some more basic stuff for starters...)

    For the money you'd spend on those plugs alone, you could do this with a laptop PC running Samplitude 10 (or Sequoia if you have the $$) or any one of a dozen other good apps. You DO NOT need PT's to do this. PT's (AFAIK) does not come with the kind of plugs and tools you get automatically with Samplitude/Sequoia and so on. Samp 10 has some great tools including their new spectral editing tool, which works quickly and effectively for sneezes, coughs, and all kinds of other noises. Ditto for their declipper, declicker, noise reduction, etc.

    I'm with Remie on this: you just need to get it right in FRONT of the mics and on down through the wires to your A/D. The rest is, (as you've pointed out) just fixing levels removing lulls, rumbles, p's popping, coughs, etc.

    Don't mean to beat a dead horse here, but Samplitude is perfect for this, working on "Virtual" clips (or objects as they call them) letting you cut, paste, adjust, tweak, EQ, compress, a little or a lot at a time, usually in real time, as fast as you can move your mouse around. Then when it's done, you bounce down to a new rendered wav file, or (even faster) just burn a CD from the edited timeline.

    Or you could simply produce this project, and hire a good studio person to help you with it, watching over their shoulder as they go along, and learning as well?
  5. Onelove

    Onelove Guest

    Thanks Joe, that makes sense. I will definitely be checking out Samplitude, and ProTools after looking at it doesn't seem like the right fit.

    I'll have so much material to work with, and plenty of time to get it done, that I think to start I'm going to try and learn the stuff myself. I'm familiar with ProTools LE from doing some home mixing, but that was simply acoustic guitar stuff that didn't need much editing.

    Lastly- reasons I was askign about an EQ and very nice restoration software are:
    I raaaarely (in fact never) in two years of working here have ever successfully gotten a presenter to do a soundcheck before they go on. To the live audience and presenter me playing with the signal for the first minute or two isn't noticeable (though sometimes the initial tweaks can be large as you know), but I'm worried that on CD it will be more audible, which is why I was thinking of a nice EQ to keep it constant from beginning to end. On top of that, there are times where my gear will be in shipping from on event to the other, and I won't have access to my board- just the recorder and a mic, and one chance to get it. **For example a big event ends on Sunday, a small (30 people with no amplification) starts on Monday.) I'll get a call Monday night asking me to come in Tuesday to record.

    I know this is atypical of the way of recording, but it's kind of the way it has to be done-sometimes I need to just get it and worry about cleaning it up later.
    Also, because there is so much editing to be done on average, a program that is straight-forward, and "single-minded" could be worth it's weight in gold, so that's why I was thinking of reNovator (rather than a "jack of all trades.)
  6. JoeH

    JoeH Well-Known Member

    Jun 22, 2004
    Philadelphia, PA/ Greenville, DE
    Home Page:
    Sounds like you're on the right track however you go, but remember that reNOVAtor is a spectral editing tool, NOT nec. an EQ or level changer. What it IS good for are things like removing p's popping, rumbles in the bass, that sort of thing. You'll probably find it is but one of many useful tools in your arsenal. I go to it a lot for fixes that can't be easily done by EQ and what not, and it's definitely very powerful. That said, the "Spectral cleaning" tool in Samp and Sequoia works in a simlar way, but only on Freqs from about 1k and upwards. This is particularly useful coughs, sneezes, etc.

    I've been in your spot many times; having to just "Grab it and go" on the fly. Many times, it's more important to just capture it, and sort it out later. I think you're going to find you'll get faster and faster at it on the post-production side, while at the same time refining your skills for good, quick, and sometimes-dirty mic'ing techniques.
  7. John3

    John3 Guest

    Like Steinberg Wavelab: very easy to use, with lots of features for your purpose and pretty cheap. here
  8. For what you'd spend on Pro Tools HD I'd master the stuff for a solid year!

    Seriously though...

    If editing and noise reduction is all you are needing to do then I'd look into Wavelab (PC) or Bias Peak (Mac) and Izotope RX for your noise reduction/restoration.

    Pro Tools HD is absolute overkill and not the right tool for the job.
  9. Link555

    Link555 Well-Known Member

    Mar 31, 2007
    North Vancouver
    One thing to think about as you do your live tweaks.... Take detailed notes! That way you can reverse gain/ EQ adjustments in your DAW.

    I second wavelab, very easy to use and some useful vsts come with it. Waves has some decent clean up plugs: Denoiser and declicker are usefull.

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