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Recording quality problem
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mcm
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Joined: 10 Dec 2004
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Location: w. MA, USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:20 pm    Post subject: Recording quality problem Reply with quote

I auditioned recently for a part in an audio drama. I got word today that I didn't get the part, and the person responsible for notifications wrote me a very lovely note but with some disturbing news:



"For the life of me, I can't quite figure out why you were passed over. I loved your voice. I think it simply came down to recording quality. There was a good deal of hiss, and I guess the feeling was that it couldn't be filtered out enough without distorting the voice."



Let's assume this wasn't just a super nice way of letting me down, and there really is a problem with the quality. The file was an mp3. Any ideas about how to begin to diagnose the source? I don't have all my sound-proofing ducks in a row, but that shouldn't give me hiss. When I look at the recording, the "silent" areas are not thin lines such as you would get if you silenced them during editing, they are kind of thick, like, 1-2 mm on my screen (that's probably meaningless, since screen resolution can vary). I'm thinking maybe a cable is at fault?



My system: Rode NT1A mic to a Behrenger UB802 mixer to SB Audigy2 soundcard in my Dell Precision 360 workstation. The mic cable -- don't remember what brand, but it's supposed to be good.



Any thoughts? Need more information?



Thank-you!
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jrkaiser
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can you e-mail me a copy of your audio so I can take a listen to it? justin @ Justinkaiser.com
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Charlie Channel
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Joined: 08 Feb 2005
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Location: East Palo Alto, CA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My son uses Audigy-2 Platnum to record rap and other stuff, and it's never seemed too noisy or hissy to me. Are you using the Audigy 2 Platnum or the PCI card?



The mixer may not be adjusted to minimize noise to the signal level.



A couple of thoughts come to mind. First, I have found that the line input may be noiser than the mic input. I'm not sure how the Audigy is set up, but the first thing to do is to see what your digitizing sounds like when you drive the mic input versus the line input.



Can you please send us (or me) the MP3 file?



The mixer's specs are good. So, it may be how you've adjusted it.
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Andy
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm no technical wiz, but it sounds like the preamp in your mixer may not be up to snuff. That 1 to 2 mm "noise" line in the silent parts indicates a higher than acceptable signal to noise ratio. I have the same problem when I try to cut auditions at work. It's an old Sparta board and the preamps are the culprit. I don't know what kind of software you use, but in the future you may want filter it out before you encode to MP3.
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kgenus
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 3:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I would assume it was the truth, most would send a form "Thank you for you for blah blah blah...." I'd like to hear the file as well. Can you put it online at all?



Kevin
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jrkaiser
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 4:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mary, the audio/noise you are hearing is the fan noise from your computer. You should consider moving your computer out of the room, or finding a way to lower or eliminate the noise.



Also, wouldn't hurt to "generate silence" in between your takes. If you are using CE/AA highlight the section and then Generate Silence of say 3 seconds. That way it is less discernable.



If you are seeing the 1-2 mm I can see why.



I don't hear any abnormal buzzing/etc... just fan and ambient room noise.



Justin
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jrkaiser
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 4:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also watch for chair noise, there were a couple of instances where you may have moved slightly and it came in right after a read, or at one point during the read.



Do you have an air conditioner or something else running in the background?



Otherwise, a nice read...



Justin
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mcm
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 6:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I'd like to hear the file as well. Can you put it online at all?




Thanks Kevin-- I'll email you the file -- I'm not comfy with putting it out in public since it was an audition.



I did send them a thank-you -- I was very touched by their taking an interest.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 6:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You might even consider putting a nice thick heavy blanket over the computer while recording... Don't cover it up too long though.



Justin
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mcm
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank-you for the suggestions. My plan is to move the recording area to a nearby small cement-walled room in the basement, and put a second monitor and mouse in that room. The delay has been that the present distance between cpu and said room would require 30 feet of cable for the 2nd monitor & mouse and that's twice the acceptable distance for attenuation issues. So I need to reconfigure the space and move the cpu and ... you know how projects spawn projects. This audition outcome will, I hope spur me and my workman (hubby) to greater speed. Fortunately, my next audition is in the producer's studio!



I'm sorry that this is not a more interesting noise source-- I know how you guys love to think about these things and you sure did not let me down. I never really noticed the fan noise in the recordings, since I almost always silence the silences in the editing, but then I don't have particularly good monitors.



Thanks again.
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Charlie Channel
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 6:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your signal chain is really clean. The noise is NOT his from your pre-mixer or audio card. You're picking up roomtone. The roomtone includes noise from your computer's power supply fan, probably. While it's true that the computer is contributing to the background noise, I sense an ambience, too.



You situation is one in which you have a couple of options.



Microphone: I run RODE mic's, too. They are incredibly good for the price. They also "hear" everything. I couldn't use the NT-1000 because it picked up all of my mouth music (noise) in my booth. Specifically, I cannot use RODEs outside of my soundbooth for VO. They're good at getting roomtone.



You will probably find a mic like the Electro-Voice RE20 or RE27 will enable you to work in your environment, without a vocal booth. I did a gig using the RE27 at another studio without a vocal booth, where the engineer had 2 computers running and an overhead fan! There was no detectable noise on my reads. And, the client who was in Hawaii via speaker phone, didn't know the difference. I was absolutely astounded.



There is an additional way to tackle the problem. It's probably one of the better solutions. Consider getting an enclosure for your computer. The URL below is for a product one engineer-artist got for his home-studio that he swears totally eliminated his problem:



http://www.recording.org/e-mag/article_85.shtml



Kitzie said she threw some blankets over her computer, carefully so as to not obstruct the fan, and it worked for her.



I found that I was getting low frequency tone from my computer sitting on the floor. Using a noise meter, I found that some low frequency sound was actually being emitted through the side panels on the computer case.



I minimized that low frequency noise by, basically, putting the sound proof stuff on the bottom and sides of my computer (my fan on the power supply is fairly quiet). My desk has a compartment for desktop computer on the lower left-hand side. I stuffed the sound proofing on the sides and bottom. That significanly eliminated unwanted sound that was the same as the tone I'm hearing in your signal chain.



Also, there has been a thread on this board about noise reduction that's pretty good. I ended up getting WAVEs Renaissance VOX (thanks Kevin) that really cleaned up my signal, minimizing roomtone and really making my vocal booth'd mic and my control room mic sound great.



If you can get a noise meter (one of the advantages of Pro Tools is that a plug-in called Essential Noise Meter comes with the package), you can set up your rig and measure the ambient noise. It will also enable you to locate the source and experiment to find what works best to attenuate it.



Bottom line: Get ready to spend another $500. Wink That's show biz!



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mcm
Smart Kitteh


Joined: 10 Dec 2004
Posts: 2600
Location: w. MA, USA

PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear me, I just became "Seriously Devoted". I don't think I like this taxonomic stratification. Can't we just all be "Contributers"?



Get ready to spend another $500, eh? Arggh. Recently somebody, somewhere on this board, probably Charlie, mentioned a Rode tube mic that sounded wonderful. Maybe it was on the mouth music thread. I may become one of those people that collects microphones....



But probably rather than another mic, I will spend money on the 2nd monitor & mouse and isolate the recording area from the CPU. This will also allow me to record without having to bind and gag the rest of the family or send them out of the house.



More later-- thanks again for all the great suggestions.
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Charlie Channel
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 10, 2005 7:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The cement walled basement is really ideal, as you can really block low frequencies from the mic. When you take care of the lows and the highs are taken care of, too.



Have fun!



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billelder
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Joined: 12 Nov 2004
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 2:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I use the RE-20. Great mic. Plus, the Symectrix 528 helps with room noise. When A/B-ing the "Comp Threshold" setting, it's amazing what it removes from the room.
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Bill
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 11, 2005 7:31 am    Post subject: just a couple random thoughts Reply with quote

Another option to try is to record some of the room noise, use that as your noise filter, depending upon your voice and the frequencies of the noise you might be able to apply the filter and have a nice clean sound.



I remember years ago getting that idea from Art Hadley. A dynamic mic will reject background noise much better than a condensor, some of which will pick up the sound of your toenails growing. (a line I stole from someone, can't remember who or I would give credit, or would it be blame? )



I was also thinking is there a window in the room, you might be able to place the mic on the other side of that glass, see the monitor and use a wireless mouse.
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