Hey Mutt...are you recording and adding your tweaks in post or are you recording "wet"? Tough to tell from the MP3 but this sounds fine to me..? I'm running Cubase and using PreSonus tube mic pre into Cubase and applying 2:1 compression in post. I do use the 80hz filter on the pre but don't do much beyond comp and noise gate. I don't use the limiter at all currently...
The recording technique I use is pretty basic. I use a mic pre with phantom power, don't overload the pre and try to set my levels properly to prevent clipping. I keep tweaks to a minimum (the comp and noise gate). I'm still learning Cubase and the limitations of my current gear so I'm dealing with a technical learning curve associated with my specific mics, pre and DAW. I've used top-of-the-line Pro Tools and AVID systems, reel-to-reels with razor blade editing and crappy 4-track cassette tape recorder/mixers. Personally, the biggest challenge for me is just learning the limits of the gear I currently use and pushing it to the limits of what it can achieve quality-wise.
I just realized this rant is all gearhead talk and no real advice, so:
If I were in your shoes, I'd record some stuff with no effects and try adding one at a time and seeing how you like the results. Strip it to the essence and add one tweak at a time--except take the tweaks to the extreme and see how it sounds when it's WRONG. Turn the compression all the way up. Give the mix too much high end, then try too much bottom. Suck all the nuances out with some brick wall limiting. Mangle it, then back off and do it closer to right and see how it sounds. That's how I learn my gear...
First off thanks for being one of the few, the proud to respond! The sound that you hear on that sample is thanks to the very process you describe of going to the extremes and backing off on different processing elements.
As I asked Eric below...if you were to hear the difference in my mic's sound from dry to processed it would blow your mind. So the question is...have I managed to take a thousand dollar mic and make it sound a few thousand dollars more via processing? And if that's the case...to get the killer dry voice sound that everyone refers to on this site do I need to consider going a different route with my mic?
Ok, depending on your goal here. If you are going to send out auditions..dry voice, no effects at all. Maybe just a slight, very slight touch of compression, just so you have some control over your levels. Other than that, raw voice. Should you land a job, the producer will add whatever processing he/she sees fit. That is their job. if you send something in processed, especially over compressed, it can not be undone. So if that isn't what they want, your toast, they can't undo.
I do have a couple of clients who want the voice delivered, processed, and ready to go. They don't do anything with it once they get it. They just want the files named appropriately so they can put them in place with video and they are ready to go. They are specific wit me though about the processing they want.
Also, if you are a person who is going to put your own demo together, maybe you want a bit of processing. With that said, any good ear can detect overprocessing, so BEWARE of overkill.
Now, I think, and it is my opinion, that your posted audio sounds very nice. BUT I can hear the compression. You can hear the gulps in the audio. That is what I am talking about. Less is more when it comes to this stuff.
Thanks Eric....Ill start a tweaking right away on the compression. Let me ask you this...since I go straight from my avalon m5 mic pre...into my fireface 400 interface into my computer....would it beneficial for me to read a few lines with no processing at all...and then with some processing so you can hear what my mic sounds like without my processing chain?
I hear so many people saying they send dry voice stuff with nothing on it which blows my mind because it leads me to believe I have a crappy mic, or no talent. ha ha
Yes, dry voice, no processing is the key when sending stuff. You have a couple of options here to avoid spikes in your audio. Once you have recorded your voice in, you can "normalize" the audio. Your other option is a light, and I mean very light compression. Without hearing you, I couldn't say whether you have a crappy mic or not. I can say that the Avalon M5 is a top notch piece of equipment. Joe Cipriano and many others use that exact unit. I am taking a stab in the dark here: Are you a radio guy? Being a radio guy myself, I can understand the problem. Your ears have been trained to hear your voice fully processed, therefor you don't like the sound of your "raw" voice. The raw voice gives the end producer the option to do with your voice what they feel is necessary, and they are good at what they do. To answer your end question, if you want to upload a piece of totally unprocessed audio I will give it a listen. In fact, I will upload a piece of unprocessed audio of mine. You can then listen to my demo on my page here. The demo is produced, processed etc..you will hear the difference. The end piece is what the "producer" will do, not what you should do. The piece I am uploading is raw. The only processing is a light compression going in to help control levels. I am using less than 1.5:1 compression. This is raw as it gets. It is meaningless rambling, but it is raw audio which is the way you should send all of your stuff.
Okay I uploaded a dry voice file for you to check out that has only 2:1 compression on it. The avalon m-5 is set with -20db pad that I use. Then Ill switch on the processing chain. The audio has been normalized.
Dude..that sounds great. It does sound just a touch..um..what's the word..open maybe, like you need some treatment in the room. Now, your question on that piece of audio is, do you send auditions processed? NO. Send them exactly what you just posted. The people that hear your auditions want raw voice. They hear what they can do with your voice. Mainly they want to know your style...did it sound like you were reading instead of being conversational for example. I know it is hard to get used to and hard for your ears to hear yourself unprocessed, but what I hear there sounds like YOU, and that is what the producers/directors want to hear, YOU. What mic are you using? Seriously, that sounds killer. It is clean, it is natural, it doesn't need anything, seriously. Send another person or two, I mean experienced person or two to this post and have them listen. I guarantee you will hear the same from them that I am telling you. Ask John Taylor, JS Gilbert, or someone of that caliber to check it out.
I agree with Eric.....the chain sounds clean......never send processed trax unless it's a final mix that you produce. Another good idea MUTT is to record stuff dry and add processing if requested in the post mix.....save a dry copy. In the rare cases where the client wants it to be processed you might get a request to modify the sound, you can change the sound after the fact. I usually add a very light EQ to my final "dry" tracks....the 416 is fat in the mid range and I like to have a LESS compressed sound than the 416 delivers natuarally. Your room is a little bright. Some more treatment will probably do the trick. Remember compression on auditions for voice acting gigs is the kiss of death.....it marks you as a DJ and will brand you as a non-actor. But who among us doesn't enjoy hearing our voices processed to the max! I'll never forget doing weekends at WVBF in Boston 20 years ago and hearing that Fairbanks Sound when I cracked the mic for the first time.....a religious experience....but I sounded like a different guy. Keep fighting the good fight Mark.
Your immense talent shines through much more brightly without the filters of sound bling.
Eric and John are right on. And Joe, well I just ignore him (kidding!!). Seriously, you've got a great raw sound but I'm curious about your room or booth. There is a little bright/open/what have you happening.
It's been said already that you don't have to send processed auditions. And you certainly shouldn't send them out dry and then with a wet disclaimer...it's going to make you sound unsure of yourself. You have the voice, just use that and the client will hear it. They hear many auditions and know talent when they hear it. A mic can't get you talent.
Do you have access to different mics? Expensive isn't always the answer and you may find one you are much happier with in a lower price range. Take it from me...I have several mics and many more at my disposal but my fave for my voice is the SM58. It's not great for everything but it's especially perfect for the majority of auditions. I love it, engineers and production people I deal with are always happy with it and it can withstand a beating if I ever need to take it in the ring for a few rounds.
Thanks for the nice compliment on my "great raw sound," I appreciate that.
My room....hmmm...it's a tiny bathroom, and the walls are covered with styrofoam board I got from lowes. I have moving pads lining the floors, and it is pretty low tech.
Compared to what i used before which was nothing....just a big open room, the sound has changed dramatically and Im really starting to understand just how much a quiet room means. The problem is that being out of work for 8 months now, it's hard to rationalize a grand for sound treatment.
As far as other mics go...no....this is my one good mic. I have several other crappy mics, that I used for field work and know they are not suitable for vo. And you're right about the sm 58....it was one of my all time favorite broadcast mics to be a dj on. Im sure it works awesome on your voice, but for guys with a bigger mid range I bet it would make me sound real muddy.
I appreciate you taking the time to write and if there's anything I can do for you please ask.