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I've just bought a new microphone

Vivanco DM 30

Frequency range: 50-14.000 Hz

Impedance: 500 ohm

Sensitivity: 75 dB

Housing: ABS

and tried to record my voice with it. At first, I understood, that my built-in sound card has problems to record it loud enough, the recorded sound feels very odd and "recorded".

Is there any basic guide, how to make recorded sound track feel better, so I can record human actor voice for my game and it would not sound bad?

I guess, the first problem is noise, and I was reading about that and I think I need to get "pop shield" and decent mic stand, but all of that is hardware.

The question is - what do I need to do software-wise, to make recording sound better? Even in freeware Audacity, there are so many controls, I don't know where to start and what should I concentrate to.

PS: I moved this question quickly here, from Game development stack, and I'm sorry, if this is already answered here. Did not know, if sound stack existed at first place.

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    There's no way you're gonna get a really good sound with that mic and your built-in sound card. Post-processing can only do so much. How about getting a simple podcast microphone? These are much better already even in the low-end price range, e.g. Behringer C1U, and avoid sound-card noise trouble by going right to USB. Then you can just apply a standard compressor plugin with default setting, and should have fine sound. Fine-tweaking EQ etc. is mostly something to do to repair problems that should better have been avoided in the first place. – leftaroundabout Jan 27 '14 at 0:48
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    @leftaroundabout You should have made that comment into answer, because it feels to me like an answer - You make recorded voice sound good with decent hardware, and use software only to repair problems, that should have been avoided with decent hardware in the first place. But still, I would like some more information on generic "repair problems" when recording voice, that happens and how they are fixed. – Deele Jan 27 '14 at 6:34
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Some basic rules when recording voice:

  1. Don't record with the microphone touching your lips. It's too close, the voice will sound bassy when using a directional microphone, and you will get pops and sibilants from when you sing 'p', 't' and 's', etc.

  2. Don't record with the microphone too far away. It will pick up too much of the room sound, and it will sound boxy and roomy.

  3. Try different rooms, if you have more than one. Your hallway might sound better than your bedroom, etc.

  4. Yes, get a pop-shield and a mic stand. You can not hold the microphone while singing, the noises from the hand movements will be recorded. To get rid of that you need mics made for live use, and noise gates and things.

  5. Once you get as good a sound as possible directly out of the microphone, apply compression, EQ and reverb/delay to make it sound even better. Here you generally need to experiment, as what sounds good depends on both the microphone and the

  6. Good equipment helps, but always take the time to get the best out of the equipment you have. If you don't, getting the good equipment will not help much. You learn a lot from using cheap equipment, not least which is why expensive equipment is expensive.

A final recommendation about microphones is that the next microphone to get very well may be a Shure SM57. Yes, it's also dynamic, but is a good vocal mic and a good guitar mic and fairly cheap. You might want to go to a store and try out different mics and see what you like. Not all mics suit all voices.

  • Is there a difference between singing and talking, when choosing microphones? I need the one for talking so actor can speak in-game character speech. – Deele Jan 27 '14 at 15:58
  • @Deele I doubt it, but my experience with voice over work is non-existent. In really high price ranges, possibly. – Lennart Regebro Jan 27 '14 at 16:01
  • That "Shure SM57" I already saw in music.tutsplus.com/tutorials/… and now, after receiving second opinion, I'm really considering to get it. What about USB solution others wrote about? What about something like this setup ebay.com/itm/310843722377 ? – Deele Jan 27 '14 at 16:04
  • @Deele USB solutions are easy to use, and mean you don't have to worry about a microphone preamp, as it's built in. Audio-Technica is in my limited experience with it good value budget equipment. I have no experience with that microphone, but it seems like a reasonable first setup. – Lennart Regebro Jan 27 '14 at 16:08
  • Your extended comments gave me an answer, I was hoping for. Thank you. – Deele Jan 27 '14 at 16:37
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What you are hearing are the limitations of your equipment. For a studio recording of isolated voice, I would recommend a condenser microphone (as opposed to a dynamic microphone). @leftaroundabout's suggestion for a USB condenser would save you needing an additional preamp, phantom power, audio converter. This may be the quickest plug in and record solution.

As to your question for ways to improve the recording. There is a cliché expression: "You can't polish a turd."

If the recording is very low quality, it is difficult to transform it into a high quality recording. There are methods to help, Izotope RX is one of them (not free). But the simplest solution is to record again. Sorry, that's probably not what you want to hear!

Good luck.

  • Now I need to find out, what that "USB condenser" is. Thanks for your opinion. – Deele Jan 27 '14 at 15:49
  • Try this one: zzounds.com/item--BALYETI - You can find this mic for US$100 if you look, and it's a desktop USB mic designed to be used while sitting in front of a computer. – KeithS Jan 27 '14 at 16:37
  • Ah ha! Apologies for being too assumptive of your knowledge. Yes, do google the difference between "dynamic microphones," and "condenser microphones." They have different characteristics, and are useful for different purposes. A "USB" condensor will plug straight into your USB port on your computer. Not exactly "pro audio," but can yield results far beyond plugging into the line-in 1/8" jack of your soundcard. – MtL Jan 28 '14 at 0:44
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How to cook a good VoiceOver:

1x Cardoid condenser mic 125€ +++ 1x Heavy mic stand with pop protection 70€ + 1x Vocal booth 250€ ++ 1x Quality mic preamp 200€ ++++ 1x Quality A/D converter/interface 200€++ 2x Quality XLR symmetrical mic cables 20€+ 1x Trained VO artist

A high quality setup often costs between 3000€ and 8000€.

Cheaper solutions can be achieved with 500€ - 1000€

One take a cardioid condenser mic and put it in a vocal booth. The booth should have a reverb time of 0.03 - 0.3 seconds, a high diffusion and very controlled early reflections. After that one connects the microphone with the micpreamp and the mic preamp with the converter. The converter then needs to be connects with the PC/MAC. Activate 48V phantom power. After that simply record the VO artist into your DAW or on your Tape. Be sure to check the levels on the preamp on your converter and in your DAW. If you want a more "professional" sound try to slightly overdrive your mic preamp. If you have an EQ be sure to boost the highs by a slight amount. Cutting around 800 hz by 1-3 dB gives a smoother voice. After that treat the VO with: (following order) editing of breathes noises etc, highpassing (60-120 hz), compression (eg: opto+ssl, parallel compression 1176 all in), DeEssing, EQing (eg: damping mids, boosting highs), saturation/toning (optional), limiting (optional), volume/fader automation.

This will result in a basic "professional" sounding VO, if every step is done correct!

Peace

  • Oh my, this is some serious business you are talking about. I can't even grasp this knowledge at first look. My dream about <100€ setup just evaporated. – Deele Jan 27 '14 at 15:46
  • What is your opinion about something like this ebay.com/itm/310843722377 ? – Deele Jan 27 '14 at 15:55
  • Recommend to a beginner who has just gotten a $10 mic that they spend €3000-8000 to get a near-professional setup is IMO not helpful. -1 – Lennart Regebro Jan 27 '14 at 16:03
  • Yeah but if you want a Professional sound You need the professional equipment. A very cheap recomendation is a Studio Projects B1 Condenser mic 70-100€ with a m box interface 40€. 30€ cheap mic Stand with Pop protection. And then you speak into an open wardrobe. This will help with early reflections! This or an SM 57 is a very good Way to go! – Tobias Schmidt Jan 27 '14 at 20:12
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    @ Lennart Regrebo: he asked how to make good sounding Voice overs so i told him. – Tobias Schmidt Jan 27 '14 at 20:14
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you must first determine the final desired outcome, i.e., I want to record an adult/child female/male with a deep/high/thin/resonant/raspy/shrill voice who is singing/talking for a song/video/movie/game that will be in the front/background of the final mix. Once that is clearly determined, THEN you can make some easier decisions on how to achieve that.

From your OP, I assume that you want to record your own voice and that it's part of dialog, so it will be up front in the final mix and that you are on an extremely tight budget. Your mantra in this should be "Borrow, Borrow, Borrow!!!" :)

The key to voice-overs is to remove ALL room sound from the input. To do this, you will need to have the mic in an extremely silent space and that space should be free from any echos and constant air-flows, i.e. air-conditioning vents not blowing down or across the signal path. I would recommend a walk-in clothes closet with carpet on the floor and lots of hanging clothes on all walls leaving barely any surface without anything on it - even the ceiling, if you can tack up a thick blanket on the ceiling over the top of where your mic is placed.

I would place a decent cardioid mic (SM-57/58) with a quality XLR cable on a sturdy mic stand with a pop filter backed up to some thick hanging clothes to absorb any early reflections. I would place something about 8 to 10 inches away from the end of the microphone to be a guide as to where to have your mouth. The business end of the mic will need to be pointing absolutely directly at your mouth so that it's on-axis. The cardioid pattern will help to give you some decent resonant timbre to your voice depending on how close you are to the mic and the degree of the proximity effect based on that closeness.

To test if the sound of the room has been removed sufficiently from the equation, set the gain for your voice performance at unity and then record just the ambient sound of the room for a full minute. Listen back on a pair of quality headphones and if you can hear anything other than utter silence, set about the job of eliminating whatever it is that you heard. This is easier said than done, but do it you must.

I would try and enlist the help of someone from an actual recording studio or someone that knows, at the very least, something about achieving unity gain and signal routing and achieving a healthy signal response.

You will need a pair of closed-ear, or circumaural, headphones. Sony MDR-7506's are great and even some budget AKG K-55's will suffice. There should be no leakage of the sound from the headphones back into the mic. While speaking, you should be able to hear your voice in the headphones in real time with NO effects. If you use extension cables for any of the audio, use the shortest cables possible that will allow you to do what you need and make sure they are of quality construction. Remember, borrow, borrow, borrow!

Record your voice and when adjusting the setup, be VERY patient and try to adjust only ONE aspect or parameter of the setup at a time and then test it and listen back. If you have the option, try to play the part back in the context in which it will be heard in the final mix. Most of the time, this is not possible, so don't stress over it. Mainly, you want to be able to hear just the voice and for that voice to be agnostic in its context so that it can be placed in a huge variety of settings and that when it comes time, it can be effected properly to make it sit right in the final mix and in the context that it should be in.

Because you're doing this for the first time, this is going to be a time-consuming endeavor, but if you take the time to "get it right", then you can document what you've done and the next time you need to do this, you can get to the good, working setup faster and more confidently.

If you make friends with someone at a recording studio, you might be able to come in and use a studio B or C, or they might have a voice-over suite, during off-peak or even overnight hours for very cheap. Don't do this without trying the at-home setup first and practicing, practicing, practicing the dialog and getting your inflections, delivery and all other aspects of your performance down so that it's second nature to you.

Doing any of that while you're paying for studio time is incredibly stupid and a waste of time and money. Avoid that at all costs - literally.

Finally, remember that talking or singing into a microphone is a learned skill and one that needs plenty of experience and practice. The microphone and signal path become part of the instrument of your voice and the voice PLUS the equipment = the full instrument. One is not separate from the other. Take the time and learn the skill or use someone else that has already taken the time and has the experience. Now, break a leg, as they say!

  • Your answer is the type of information that I was expecting at first place. You did not mention anything about recording end in PC. What sound card is decent enough to be able to record that mic in acceptable quality? What about output back to headphones, is there any specific device in between mic and PC that is required to allow speaker hear himself,as you said, without any effects? – Deele May 20 '15 at 17:39
  • Hi Deele, actually the Blue Mic Yeti is not only a USB microphone, but it also provides the sound processing and a headphone amp and because of that, you don't need to worry about a sound card.If you get more serious about the whole process, you'll obviously rethink your budget anyways and opt for a sound processing device and start to obsess in unhealthy ways about all things sound-related, so go slow. It's an illness that often can't be wholly cured! – Eric Young May 20 '15 at 18:11
  • I almost forgot! The only downside to using the Blue Yeti might be the lack of official Linux support. If you're using a flavor of Windows or a Mac, you'll be fine. You might want to check around for alternatives that offer the variable polar pattern and embedded sound processing that have official Linux driver support if that's a deal breaker for you. Otherwise, I would almost suggest switching OS's because of what you get for your money with the Yeti. – Eric Young May 20 '15 at 18:14

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