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I made a mono recording of whispered speech and I'm trying to make it sound like someone is whispering right into your ear. I work in Live 9 using mostly the native effects and some free VSTs. The only thing I discovered so far is that Haas panning (using this VST DeePanpot) seems to sound more convincing than regular panning, but still not remotely real. The result still sounds too spacey and too far away.

What effects or techniques would you use? Or is this rather a matter of recording technique?

  • What are you mixing for? Stereo speakers? headphones? 5.1? For recording technique, probably very close-miked, allowing some plosives to come through – Tetsujin Jan 7 '17 at 16:45
  • I want to use this in a song (with nothing in the background), so the mix will be for headphones and stereo speakers. – MinistrChleba Jan 7 '17 at 16:59
  • For headphones, Haas might work well, for speakers it won't. Hard panning even without Haas, in headphones is 'just in this ear', on speakers it's 'over there somewhere' – Tetsujin Jan 8 '17 at 9:23
  • How can whispering to both ears come close to reality? And if you want the whisper to be in both ears, how can it come from a single source.. There are important things to consider when you go for realism. – frcake Jan 8 '17 at 17:24
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    I've heard heavy compression recommended to bring out the breaths. Also, make sure your gain and monitoring levels when recording are set in a way that actually allows the vocalist the whisper and hear themselves. – Linuxios Jan 8 '17 at 22:03
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I don't know if any of the following will work or not, but maybe worth an experiment.

Try a delay of about 1/2 of a millisecond, if you have the capability, between the two channels, of the mono signal. The goal is for the delay to match the amount of time it takes a sound to travel from one ear to the other. I can't remember the exact number--something like 25 or 32 frames at 44100 fps, if I remember correctly. Not sure how effective that is with speakers, but I'm able to get some very real panning effects that way, even on my tiny laptop speakers. Delays that are greater than that amount are not going to be as effective (as a panning device).

Close to the ear, there is going to be both very little roll-off of the highs and a really strong bass response. Low frequency components can travel around the head easily, but the highs will be damped slightly by the head, so I'd try rolling off the highs on the lagging signal a slight amount, but leave the lows strong.

Also, I'd make the whisper totally dry: no reverb.

Another thought, strategic contrasts to other sounds can strengthen an impression. So can you have immediately preceding sounds or context be slightly more mid-rangy, or more distant (using reverb) sneakily setting that up as a "norm" for the ears before using the whisper eq? When the contrasting whisper sound happens, the contrasting qualities should be more prominent as a result.

  • Thank you. Delaying the right channel and separate EQing for each channel worked well. For a better effect, I also applied heavy compression to bring up the silent sounds, as suggested by @Linuxios. – MinistrChleba Jan 11 '17 at 16:24
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The main thing you will want to do is to enhance the bass part of the spectrum in order to enhance realism. Obviously increased level will be necessary (relevant to other elements in the mix) but the bass part of the mix will be the most important in order to enhance realism.

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