Audio Tip #21: RECORDING VOICES
Chuck put together this list of Questions and Answers for the most
common concerns about how to set levels for recording voices. You are
likely to find many of your own questions answered here:
Q. How do I set the best recording levels for voices?
A—The recording level should be no lower than -12 and
not louder than -3. Hovering around -6 is a good input level. If there
are no dB indicators on your recording device, set your level at a
distance of approximately two thirds up the LED or plasma read-out.
Q. How to set the best levels for my compressor?
A—If you use a compressor, be careful not to
over-compress. Leave some head room on the recording. Soft compression
is best with a 3:1 ratio (ie, 3 dB in, 1 dB out) There are 6 parameters
in most compressors:1) The knee, which smoothes out the input level at
the threshold; 2) The attack time in milliseconds at the input level; 3)
The release time in milliseconds at the input level; 4) The ratio of how
many dB are coming in and how many dB are going out. (Note: The
compressor reacts to the input level); 5) The threshold in dB at which
the compressor attenuates or clamps down on the input; and 6) The makeup
gain to bring the output back up after you have lowered the output. Make
sure the input level is hot enough to affect the compressor.
Q. How can I configure my recording device?
A.—First check the manual for your device. Generally, Capture Record @
44.1 24bit mono WAV whenever possible. Mp3’s should be no less than
192Kbps, Mp3’s no less than mono 96Kbps. Most exchange servers have a
limit of 10 MB for an Mp3 file, so you might need to use YouSendIt to
send a larger Mp3 file.
Q. How do I know what sample rate and bit
depth is best?
A— If you have plenty
of drive space, go with a 44.1 sample rate and a 24 bit rate. Note:
Recording at 44.1 24 bit mono eats up about 7Mb per minute. Recording at
44.1 16 bit mono eats up about 5Mb per minute
Q. Is it
better to record at a lower level and then raise the level
A— The noise floor will come
up if you normalize. It is best to do a test recording. Also, make sure
you have good levels to start with. Once you find a good level, keep it.
Don’t adjust during the recording process because it is not easy to
remove digital distortion if the person suddenly gets louder or closer
to the microphone. Make sure the -20 dB pad is not on when recording.
The -20 dB pad reduces the input level -20dB and is normally used for
very loud instruments. If you use a normalizer, set it at -3 to leave
some head room.
Q. How can I create a good test
A— First create a
preliminary test recording, then listen to the playback of that recording in
headphones. If you hear hums or buzzes, try to eliminate them before the final test
recording. Also, when recording, don’t adjust the input signal after the
recording has begun. Just live with your original level, or at least
make your adjustments early in the recording process.
Q. Should I always record in the same place?
A.— Yes, it is preferable to always record in the same
place, so your recordings are consistent.
Q. Should I
always record with the same device and microphone? Keep voice proximity to the microphone at approximately 5
to 8 inches Keep voice at a constant distance from the
microphone Maintain the volume of the voice at a constant
level Pull the “P” and the “B’ sounds to avoid plosives
Use pop screen or get one if you need it Keep voice up; try
not to trail off at the end off sentences Use a microphone
stand whenever possible Isolate the stand from the table with a
cloth underneath it Keep body movement to a minimum
Position script on a stand so you will not be shuffling the
script Close all doors and windows in the environment
A— Yes, and don’t have any electronic devices up and
running nearby; they can create a hum or buzz sounds.
Q. Can I sample up a poor recording? Will it sound
A— Although it is possible to
re-encode a low fi audio file up it will not make it sound any better.
It will be the original sound quality at a higher sample rate.
Q.How to set up an ideal voice-over or remote recording?
The following suggestions will help to ensure an optimal recording: