Recording the spoken word

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by Greggy, Sep 22, 2006.

  1. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    My HS buddy's girlfriend has asked me to record voice passages for some promotional work she is involved with. Small projects that probably will never see national exposure, but will be shopped to certain national retailers, so you never know.

    I own a MD421 and a Studio Projects C3, that should be adequate. Also have a clean mic pre, RNC compressor, Lexicon fx and A/D converter, and a Roland digital recorder.

    What else would you recommend? Room treatments? My studio is a plaster-walled second story bedroom with a barrel vaulted type ceiling. Has thick carpeting. Will probably buy a pop screen.

    Any recommendations about voice eq, compression? My lexicon fx has plate and ambience/chamber type simulations. Any ideas or comments welcome. Thanks.
     
  2. tac5

    tac5 Member

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    You everything necessary to accomplish a quality recording. How you use what you have depends on the quality of your voice and the dynamic effect to want to achieve.
     
  3. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Thanks Tac. BTW, it won't be my voice on the recording. This is very preliminary and I'm not certain who the speaker will be. May never materialize, but I want to be ready just in case she comes thru.
     
  4. loudboy

    loudboy Member

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    Tight and dead are the operative words acoustically, for VO.

    Watch out for excessive mouth noise, when recording females, but put a "clown nose" on the 421, get her right in on it and have a go. 50 million radio stations can't be wrong.

    I wouldn't track w/any compression, either.

    Loudboy
     
  5. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    My room is on the dead side of the spectrum. Lots of sound absorbing furniture, thick carpet, wall hangings, etc. It will be nice to have the RNC handy just in case a voice with lots of dynamics is needed. Thanks for the advice.
     
  6. Carlier

    Carlier Member

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    I once happened to have a clothes rack with some towels hanging down from it near where I was recording some vocals. I moved my chair under the rack and stuck my head and mic in between the towels. It created a pretty dead sound.

    I'm just a beginner, so I really don't know if that's good advice, but it's always fun to experiment.

    Good luck with it.
     
  7. LSchefman

    LSchefman Member

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    There's a new device out by sE that looks like it would work well in your application. It's a stand mount for the mic, set up so that three sound absorbing panels isolate the mic from most unwanted room reflections.

    It's not cheap - runs about $300. But it looks like it's a good idea, and Craig Anderton of EQ says it works well and is "underhyped" by the manufacturer. I guess he loves hype.

    Anyway, what's the point of using really good mics if the room sound sucks?

    I took a look at it at my local GC, and it does indeed appear to be well made and looks like it will do the job for vocal work, including VO. Even though my room is treated, I'm going to order one.

    When it gets here, I'll let you know how it works.

    >>Any recommendations about voice eq, compression? My lexicon fx has plate and ambience/chamber type simulations.<<

    Some engineers will compress spoken word while recording, others don't, and compress on mixdown. My rule of thumb is to compress if it's necessary, such as when a singer gets loud enough to distort the input, but my preference is to save the compression for later stages of the process. The reason I like to save compression for later, when possible, is that usually I'm sitting a voiceover in a mix with music and effects later on in the process, and I'll need to reset the compression anyway.

    Some mics, however, are so forgiving for voiceover work that you can easily sit the VO in the mix when you compress at the first recording stage. Mics like the Blue Mouse and U89 are pretty good at this.

    It's really just a matter of experimentation while the talent's there; see what works for you. For spoken word, I'd use light compression, probably start around 3:1 and back off or increase as necessary. I usually start with the compression threshold around -9 db for voice, and adjust up or down as appropriate for the voice. I don't want to accentuate popping and sibilants, or have the compressor release so that I can hear pumping or breathing, so I set attack and release by ear. On VO I want a nice, even, natural sounding recording. What's necessary to achieve this will depend on the talent's ability, i.e., evenness of speaking, ability to work the mic, etc.

    I'm one of those guys who sets the dials by ear, not by number, though. And every compressor sounds different and responds differently, so it's difficult to give rules of thumb.

    As for reverbs, VO is different than singing, and most voiceovers are recorded pretty dry. If you need to use reverb, start with a small ambient space and go from there. You won't need much, you want the VO to sound natural, not effected (unless you're going for some wacky effect).
     
  8. Greggy

    Greggy Member

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    Les, mucho gracias. Like you, I set fx parameters by ear, so I'll have to play it by ear when the day arrives. I'll have to stop by GC and check out that SE sound damper. I usually avoid compression when tracking instruments unless the dynamic range is great (like hard strumming on acoustic guitar). I probably won't compress the vo unless the dynamics demand otherwise.

    Carlier, that sounds like a cheap alternative. I'll have to experiment.
     

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