So, I’m digitizing some, er, 20+ year-old cassettes of live music. The quality of the cassettes isn’t, to say the least, spectacular, specifically the vocals sound kind of hollow, kind of like if someone were singing into a plastic cup.
I have no idea what sort of equipment was used to make the original recordings.
I’ve managed to get the digitized version to where it sounds largely like the original, minus some hiss. Is there any way for an amateur to “crisp” the vocals? (I can’t really describe it better than that, I’m afraid…I’m an amateur.)
The short answer is no.
Not that you can’t make vocals crisp and help them along a good deal. You can. What you can’t do is pull the vocals out of the song to do it. Lots of calls for that.
This, Center Pan Removal, and Noise Removal are interesting tools. They almost never work because success goes way up with the quality of the original recording. Bad quality, no success. Everybody has bad quality.
These tools come with enormous lists of reasons they don’t work. For example, in your case, if the recordings are in mono, you’re immediately dead. All the good tools only work on a stereo show. If the tapes are old enough to have mechanical wandering, the stereo field will change and kill the isolation tools.
“Noise removal” effect to reduce the tape hiss - don’t be too ambitious with this, it’s generally better to under use this effect and have a little noise remaining than to over use it and end up with metallic bubbly artifacts in the background.
“Equalization” effect to balance high and low frequencies.
Manual repair of glitches and drop outs.
That’s about it. After these steps, that’s about the best that you will be able to do.
Thanks, guys, this is pretty much what I figured. The “acoustic” equalizer preset seems to help a bit, but I think the combination of not-great recording technique 20+ years ago, plus the relatively low quality of the equipment I’m using now is really too much to overcome.