How to record professional quality voice with Audacity.
Posted in 6 May,2014 by . Filed in Tech guide
When I attempted to record my voice first time, I was excited about what does it sound like? After recording voice with my laptop’s built-in microphone, listening the output, I got almost a heart attack! Yes it sound’s horrible. Audio level was poor and unclear by ton of noise. Then I started experiment how to improve my voice recording. Here I will explain which mistake I’ve done before and show a complete process how to make great voice recording. So let’s start with software.
Software: After wasting some time in Windows sound recorder, I’ve also tried some large applications like Adobe Soundbooth, and Logic X Pro on MAC. But none of them fulfil my expectation. Actually software like Logic X require huge skill which is not suitable for home users who only aimed to record/edit their screencast audio, sports commentary or personal music recording. Finally I got comfortable myself with Audacity, a free software and probably most popular recording software for home user. It has very simple user interface comparing to other professional sound editing software like Logic X. Off course it doesn’t have large editing features as like Logic X. That doesn’t mean Audacity records poor quality sound. With proper technic it provides a rich quality audio recording as well as editing. I forget to mention one more thing, Audacity runs on several platform including Mac and Linux. Download it from sourcefroge.
Microphone and recording environment: I’ve started recording with my laptop’s built in microphone. Output result was not satisfactory. Finally I bought Audio Technica AT2020 USB for 111.98$ from amazon. It was a cost effective bestseller condenser microphone and holds lots of positive feedback. Output result was pretty good with it. If you don’t have high quality condenser microphone yet, I recommend for getting one. For recording environment make your room quite as much as possible by closing all widows and turning off AC/Fan unless it too hot like you are baking in oven. Set distance to 1.5-2 feet between your mouth and microphone. You can make a small sound isolation booth with some Acoustic foam. It will give much better sound.
Step by step recording process: Make sure your microphone have at least 70-80% input volume in control panel’s sound setting. Start Audacity interface is pretty simple as shown below.
Change your Microphone setup to your targeted one in device setup , marked as ok sign in picture. It has built-in microphone selected by default. Chose Mono input instead Stereo channel unless you have a 2 microphone setup. Press R or hit record button on toolbar to start recording. Space is default for Stop recoding alternatively you could use stop button. Using shortcut is very effective rather than using toolbar, because when recording is already running you probably lose concentration while moving mouse to toolbar frequently. You can customise shortcut on preference setting. Once you started recording, leave few silent moments to get noise level as shown in next picture.
Select some noise to create a noise profile. Click on Effect>Noise Removal…
You’ll find Ok button inactive, because we don’t have a noise profile yet. Click on Get Noise Profile to make a noise profile, marked Ok sign on picture below.
After creating a noise profile select full track by pressing CTRL+A/CMD+A. Go to Effect>Noise Removal tools one more time. This time you’ll find Ok button active. Before hitting OK button you can customise noise reduction(dB) level and related others fields like frequency smoothing , decay time. If you don’t understand effect of these fields, leave these fields on default value for first time. Just make sure Noise Remove is selected on radio button group. Click ok and you’ll find a much clear voice. Sound level will come further down after filtering noise. Don’t worry about it, we will increase it later. Now its time to filter dynamic range to keep vocal level in a specific volume range. Select Effect>Compressor, Dynamic Range Window will appear up like this.
These setting works fine with default value. You can push Threshold bar a bit left, if you need to keep voice label more accurate. But remember as much you push Threshold bar to left, background noise will increase more. Keep this value between -15dB to -18dB . After customising these value Click OK. Let set a hard limiter for some extremely loud sound. Go Effect>Hard Limiter
Set -4.0 in dB limit and hit Ok. Now edit equalization to add some boost for making voice a bit bold. go to Effect>Equalization, use default bass boost preset or you can customise it yourself.
Its final step to make voice louder go to Effect>Normalise
Check Normalize maximum amplitude and set 0.0 -2.0 dB in value field. Click Ok and you’ll get much smooth and clear voice as well as loud enough.
Export it in your favourite format and thats it. I hope you can make your voice recording as like a professional following this guide.