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I'm working on a project which requires of me to do recordings of text, which I read. I do this once a week.

My problem is that my recordings are inconsistent and, when I come up with new material, I have to rerecord everything from scratch because I get differences in volume, speed, distance from mic, etc.

What is the standard workflow around achieving consistent recordings?

I do the recordings in my living room. I wouldn't say that it's very noisy outside but I'm also no professional. I have a tiny room, which is secluded so perhaps I can do my recordings in there to limit external noise.

I use a Sure SM58 mic on a mic stand without a pop filter. Perhaps I should get that.

Thanks

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OK some tips to get consistency.

  • Practise
  • More Practise.
  • When you think you have done enough practise, do more practise just in case.

In all seriousness, consistency is a learned skill, which you will improve at as things progress.

The best way to pick up the energy and speed for new material is to listen to existing material and re-voice it just to get back into the swing of things.

The smaller room, with some acoustic treatment might be a good way to go. It will give you more isolation from external noise. The acoustic treatment can be simple - rockwool insulation on a wooden frame covered in hessian works really well for basic acoustic absorption.

Now, to the microphone, you should be using a condensor cardioid microphone with a basic pop-shield. The SM58 is a dynamic vocal mic which is designed for use very close to the mouth. This is basically how singers will use it. The frequency spectrum of the mic is designed for very close use in a sound-reinforcement context. It is not the right microphone for dialogue recording and will likely be contributing to the problems of consistency you are experiencing as even a very small change in recording distance with the mic will result in a large change in recording level and spectral response.

Something like a Rode NT1A would be a good mic to investigate. You will need to provide phantom power from your desk or interface and would definitely need to use a pop-shield. The sound quality you will get from a condenser such as this will be vastly superior and much more consistent. It will, however be more susceptible to environmental noise (as it is way more sensitive), so work on your room isolation.

  • Thank you very much! This information is really helpful. I wasn't aware that recording my voice in a consistent manner is a skill. I always thought that I speak in a somewhat similar way all the time and it's just a matter of capturing the sound. Thanks again. – Ando Sep 18 at 20:22
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Yes, you should probably choose the quietest available space to record in.

Set up your microphone in the same position each time. Use the same level settings. Perform the reading consistently. If you're getting popping p's and other breath noise, add a pop filter to your mic. A SM58 maybe isn't the ideal choice for this sort of work, but it'll do!

As long as each recording is clear, does it matter THAT much if it doesn't exactly match the previous one? Would it even matter if different people recorded each section?

  • Thanks for the answer! Yeah, the recordings are kinda important to match between recordings because they are short texts of 1-3 sentences, which I then stitch together. I don't have all the texts, I receive them once every few days so I guess I have to build my workflow regardless the material and apply accordingly. – Ando Sep 18 at 20:26
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Consistent voiceover is a learned skill, just the same as being able to record consistently you need to learn to be able to speak consistently.

Your voice will also warm up with each run-through, so don't even try to take the first 3, or they'll all sound different.
Until you're very aware of how your voice warms up over time - & of course, everyone is different - you could try recording 10 or 15 takes of maybe one minute each, then compare first & last, then second & second last, until you can get a feel for how long it took to settle to a consistent sound.

That will incidentally also teach you how to make every take as 'interesting' as the last, so you don't sound bored by the 7th take.

To practise pacing, you could use a metronome, either real or some phone app these days, or try time yourself against a clock.

  • Thank you very much for the answer. Unfortunately I can accept only one answer. I'll apply these suggestions and hopefully I'll start noticing the subtle differences and improve my consistency. – Ando Sep 18 at 20:23
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One aspect of this is microphone positioning: the distance between your mouth and the mic is critical. When you set up, make sure this distance is consistent. Measure if necessary (I tell vocalists to hold the mic one handwidth away from their mouth), and/or use markings to make the setup repeatable.

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