Archive for September, 2012

It Started With A Hiss

My background noise no longer makes waves …


Technically-minded I am not.  And never have been.  I knew that being a voiceover would mean some technology, but I try to keep it to a minimum.  I know my limitations.

I initially dealt with discovering a slight background hiss on my recordings by telling myself that it wasn’t very loud and shouldn’t be a problem.  But when a friend (also a voiceover) mentioned it and then another one said it could easily be costing me jobs, there was no dodging the issue.

A lot of faffing around at home lead me to believe the noise wasn’t coming from the house, so it had to be something to do with my recording set up.  Perhaps my software, Audacity, would be able to reduce or, better still, get rid of it.  So I tried its noise removal.  And yes, the hiss went, but my voice was also distorted and tinny, even at the lowest setting.

Internet research pointed to background hiss being a problem that goes hand-in-hand with recording through a USB microphone plugged directly into a computer.  But most of the solutions – the ones that weren’t written in tecchie jargon that I couldn’t understand, that is – involved buying a pre-amp.  I could see the sense in that, even if it did mean spending more money.  So I ran through the problem with my mentor, Gary Terzza, who agreed that a pre-amp would be a good solution – but had I tried WavePad as an alternative to Audacity?  Some of his students had tried it and really liked its noise removal.

They’re not the only ones!  In literally three clicks, the background hiss was gone, and my voice was as it should be.  Admittedly, I’ve had to pay for WavePad but, given the difference it’s made to my sound quality, I reckon it’s worth it – and it’s certainly cheaper than a new pre-amp!  It’s also straightforward to use, especially so after my ‘training’ on Audacity, and I haven’t scratched the surface of all its other features – sound effects, music and the like.  I may never need to use them – but, in this game, you just never know.

My success with this spurred me on.  I’d noticed an occasional popping on some of my recordings, despite having a pop screen in front of the mic.  It was my own fault for enunciating correctly, I know.  Homespun remedies, like tights over the microphone (or, indeed, the pop screen) only produced a muffled result that was probably even worse.  Standing at an angle to the microphone didn’t do the trick either, so I decided to invest a whole four quid in a foam windshield for the mic.  It was a tight fit, but it seems to have sorted it – and, just to make doubly sure, I use WavePad’s pop removal as well!

Listening to the difference in the quality of my recordings now and ones I made earlier in the year, it does make me wonder how I ever managed to land any work in the first place.  But I got lucky, and I know that.  Now it really is down to just my voice to turn those auditions into bookings …………



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