Tech Notes for Voice Talent

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Tech Notes for Voice Talent

technical questions about equipment and software used by voice talent who record at home - moderated by Beau Weaver

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My favorite audio editing tool for Voiceover

Guys,

As I have mentioned frequently, I am a long time hater of Pro Tools. If you are recording multiple channels of music, routing through plug ins and locked to picture, it sure is the right tool. But for recording and editing voiceover tracks, it is a needlessly complex and cumbersome resource hog. And those are it's good points.

I cannot count the calls I have taken from folks who are new to home recording, literally in tears, trying to figure out how to save a simple recording as an mp3 file with Pro Tools. And don't even get me started on how any OS update from Apple usually renders Pro Tools inoperable. And a year to support Leopard? Give me a break. But I digress.

I have done extensive testing of virtually all the audio editors for Mac OSX, including, Logic, Soundtrack Pro, Peak, Adobe Sound Booth, Sound Studio 3, Wave Editor, Amadeus Pro, etc. On the PC platform, I was a long time fan of Sony Sound Forge, but they do not have any plans to port the app to Mac. Peak has it's fans, but it crashes regularly, and support is spotty. I was liking Sound Studio 3 a lot, but there were some bugs, and omissions and the developer did not respond to support requests at all. All of the above programs have their strengths and weaknesses, but for the way I like to work, they were just not quite right.

Anyway, I have been working with a software developer to perfect a suite little app that I just love, and I want to pass it along to you. For my money, the best tool for recording and editing voiceover is: TwistedWave. http://twistedwave.com And, the price is 49 Dollars!*

It loads in about one second. No changing cursors into different tools. It works like a word processor. It saves directly as mp3 files, and will convert between almost all important audio file types. It exports the selected portion of the waveforme as a new file, of any type you specify. Navigation is a dream. You can zoom horizontally in the waveform and zoom in all with the tiny trackball in the Apple Mighty Mouse. It will record the highest resolution audio, sample rate and bit depth your sound card supports. It works with any digital interface that uses Apple Core Audio. For the advanced user, keyboard shortcuts are customizable, and you can create and save customized effects stacks of AU plugins.

I have worked closely with the guy who created the program to make some ease of use tweaks and fine tuning. He has responded to every one of my requests the same day. I think if you spend a little time playing with it, you may fall in love too.

You can download from this link, and try for a 30 day evaluation period for free. A major 1.5 update has just been posted, with additional improvement in development.

I have been using this as my daily editor for some time now and it is a huge time saver. If you are also a musician, or music producer, then Pro Tools is obviously. If all you need to do is record voiceover sessions, quick edit and cleanup and ship off via ftp, then give Twisted Wave a try, and never look back.

Full Disclosure: I am a paid user, and receive no compensation for this recommendation, other than gratitude for a tool so ideally suited for the task at hand.


Beau Weaver

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Comment by Beau Weaver on May 21, 2008 at 6:04pm
More on alternatives to Pro Tools:

Don't get me wrong....if you are a musician, PT is just the ticket. If you can put up with Digidesign's facist hardware requirements, and their absolute inflexibility, it's great. For a full service recording studio, and sweetening to picture, of course, it has no rival.

But for the simple task of recording single, mono, voice over tracks, making a few quick edits, and converting to the client's preferred audio format, it is just ponderous. I have it; I am competent on it. But I never use it. For one thing, it takes two minutes to load, even on a 2.8ghz Mac Pro with 8 gigs of RAM! And the steps required to convert files, is ridiculous.

If you are a MAC OSX user, I absolutely love SOUND STUDIO 3.
http://www.freeverse.com/apps/app/?id=5012
It loads in about a second, and is a total dream to navigate. You will not have to crack a manual. It supports AU plugins. And it's 80 bucks! I have turned on many LA VO folks to it; it's just the simplest thing. I love it.

I am equally conversant with WINTEL PC, and have a long love affair with Sony Sound Forge.
http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/products/soundforgefamily.asp
You might find that their "lite" version Sound Forge Audio Studio might be all you would need. Sound Forge is packed with features......I actually prefer, so that I set up all my computers to dual boot into Windows, so I can use Sound Forge when I really need to do something extensive. If you are a Cool Edit fan, and a PC user; get Sound Forge now.

If you like Pro Tools, stick with it. But be aware.....the guys at Digidesign stay up late every night trying to think of new ways to break your heart.
Comment by Britt Helms on May 20, 2008 at 8:20pm
I'm a Cool Edit user from waaaaaay back too. I still use it in the most current form (Adobe Audition) if I am going to to do any post work or multi-track work. Otherwise I have been using Adobe Soundbooth for single-track VO only work and really like the simplicity of that program.

I think I may have heard about Soundbooth on one of the VO related podcasts that I listen to while commuting to and from my day job. It was either Voices on Demand with Terry and Trish or it may have been Voice Over Experts. Those, along with Vox Talk are great sources of information about the industry from those in the industry who know.

Are there other VO related podcasts that are out there that I haven't discovered yet?
Comment by Lili's travelling road show on May 20, 2008 at 4:37pm
Beau, agreed, on everything you say here. I am so happy I found this group; ProTools is a nightmare!!!

I have been using Cool Edit Pro for years and I love it. I felt so "old school" for a long time and lately, I am very happy to know many other VO artists still use it.

I got the MBOX2 because it seemed like using Protools was the way to go to be able to deal with clients who use Source Connect or ISDN, but still I never ever edit with it. I always transfer files in Cool Edit and work from there, so much easier.

Now I am thinking of setting up a whole other rig for when I record on my own, which is most of the time, and ironically I will be able to use a much better sound card for better money, and sound so much better and keep things simple!!

This is awesome. Thx for this.
Comment by John Taylor on May 20, 2008 at 10:59am
For Source Connect users Source-Elements also has a great little recorder that can record a session without PT or Audition. Source-Elements desktop.
Comment by Terry Daniel on May 20, 2008 at 10:34am
Adobe Audition 3.0 does and always will, ROCK!!! :)
Comment by Sharon Garrison on May 20, 2008 at 9:42am
Hi, everybody! I'm new to "Rock the Mic" and glad to be in the techie group. (Thanks, Beau!) I've had my studio set up for a while but just getting started using it a lot. OK everybody, take a deep breath! I have Protools - not as user-friendly, I know, but I'm not having too much trouble with it. It's very powerful, and I've only begun to figure out all the stuff it can do! Yeah, Rick - bought my 3 years ago when it was really "hot hot hot." (Of course, I started all this stuff way back in the '70s - things were very very different, so I didn't have a lot of experience with digital.) I'll keep you posted on my progress with ProTools. I'm working on two things right now: improving my studio acoustics and also, Trish, doing the mobile thing.
Comment by VU - Founder - Zurek on May 20, 2008 at 6:59am
I've been with Adobe Audition since it's fetal Cool Edit days. It's quick, don't have to push a gazillion buttons, and it's user friendly. Though I have to admit, after the "M-Box" hype "Get protools for cheap" I bought into it in 2002, and never could figure it out>)..it still sits around waiting for me to put it on ebay.

For voice actors producing their own work.. the only good thing that comes from Protools is Source Connect, but waiting and mastering a 30 minute narration piece is for turtle doves!

On the other hand, Always listen to your finished product:)
Comment by James Clamp on May 20, 2008 at 4:54am
Adobe all the way.

What about Source Connect? I love the idea and far less expensive than ISDN - is it popular on the West Coast?
Comment by John Weeks on May 20, 2008 at 1:23am
I've never used Protools because of the price and the BS of dealing with them. I haven't really heard anything good about it!
The woodshop comments made me think of my crazy shop teacher who would throw 2 by 4's at us when we didn't start cleaning up when the clean up bell rang, probably part of the reason I got in this business!
Comment by Trish Basanyi on May 20, 2008 at 1:17am
After using Cool Edit Pro (now Adobe Audition) for 8 years, I reluctantly purchased Pro-Tools (M-Box Mini) back in August to please a VERY picky client, and because I had heard so much about the M-Box mobile capabilities. When i found out I had to pay extra just to turn something into an mp3 i went postal. Went to Hawaii and LOST the client because PT wouldn't work that particular day. Long story after that and I don't want to get riled up again thinking about it. Even before that though, I always thought PT was overkill for VO purposes, but everyone else seemed to think I was crazy! I'm still looking for the best mobile setup because I'd like to travel more, anyone's thoughts? PT is just too unreliable with a PC........(not to mention complicated, and like Beau says, too many steps to do simple things). There just doesn't seem to be an alternative for easily recording on the road, but here HAS to be, right??
My woodshop teacher was a great guy but unfortunately I had too much A.D.D. to even remember anything he said.......
 

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