Can I get a quick tutorial on making presentable speech?

I’m sorry. I know nothing about audio editing, and I’m losing my mind after spending the last two days watching/reading contradicting tutorials.

Here is a single line of dialogue from an audioplay-type show I’m working on. Can someone please walk me through how to make this one line okay? That’s all I’m looking for: fine, tolerable speech.

I’ve already done noise reduction to take care of background noise, but I can’t understand compression for the life of me. I’m pretty sure I’ve already ruined another clip trying to follow along elsewhere; it has this really gross tinny echo on certain lines that at least wasn’t as prominent before. As far as anything else goes, I really know nothing. Any help at all is really appreciated.

I’m sorry this is a dumb request.

We can’t take effects out of a performance, so it’s a little rough to tell you how to fix it.

Burn a test reading according to this formula. You don’t have to use the Hudson Valley Cows if you don’t want to. Use your own script. It doesn’t have to come out even. Cut the total off at ten seconds and ship it.

Eight second read with that two seconds of silence at the front.

Don’t do anything to it. Just read and record, stop and export.


It’s hard to remember that all the Billy-Bobs out there’s real name is William Robert.


William Robert Bojack, remember the name.

Well, WR, (that’s your Hollywood moniker).

Can you tell if your computer is on just by listening? That kills your background noise level right there. Yes, I can suppress it with Effect > Noise Reduction, but by the time I get I get it quiet enough, your voice is starting to sound bubbly and cell-phony. Way better to not record it in the first place.

There is a rule of thumb. If you go into a recording with a list of ways to rescue a disaster, you’re dead.

You sound like you’re recording in your mum’s kitchen. Are you? Plain white walls and tasteful polished wooden floor? Those are almost impossible to use for a good quality recording. If there’s just no other way, you can make up a Kitchen Table Sound Studio from plastic pipes and furniture moving pads.

You still have to unplug the fridge and move the ticking wall clock, but that will kill wall and ceiling echoes.

Side issue. You sent us two blue waves, one above the other on the timeline. You don’t have to do that and ACX/Audible would rather you submit Mono (one wave).

Use the drop-down menu from the black arrow to the left of the track > Split Stereo to Mono. [X] delete one track.

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See what you can do about the machine noise and echoes and post back. What kind of microphone, interface and computer are you using?


What kind of podcast was in your head when you went into this? If you’re going to interview people, we need to know that real soon. There’s no good way to record Skype or Zoom, and recording two or more people in your room is not fun.


I’m using a plain blue yeti usb mic on a pc I built myself (the cooling fan is the source of the background noise). I am currently set up in a big, mostly empty room too. I’ll be able to relocate to something a bit smaller and set up some make-shift sound proofing tomorrow. I’ll report back with the results.

Would audio editing be too taxing for my poor old laptop? That’d be the easiest way to cut out the noise and make moving a bit easier.

As for the show, it’s an audio comedy thing - pretty heavily inspired by the original Hitchhiker’s Guide radioplay. It’ll be primarily recorded with this setup, so no worries there.

Would audio editing be too taxing for my poor old laptop?

You can edit wherever you want. You may want to record on your laptop if it’s a lot quieter than the larger, well-ventilated machine. As long as the laptop drives aren’t full and it’s not doing a million other jobs, it should work.

Defragment manually if you haven’t done that in a while. It’s good if the drive doesn’t have to search frantically for ten minutes to find a hole to put your voice. This doesn’t matter if you’re using a Solid State Drive. They don’t have fragmentation problems.

Try a recording before you bet the farm. You are looking for recordings with ticks or little holes in the sound where the machine couldn’t keep up.

The yeti has a place to plug headphones and that’s highly recommended while performing. It keeps your voice level and makes it so you don’t need as much processing later to suppress wild volume changes. Pro announcers and actors get good at producing stress and other emotions without changing volume.

Also, if you don’t have a killer sound system for post production, good headphones may be the way to listen to edits, mixing, and sound processing.

The headphones should be wired and sealed against the head.

The Hollywood Standard Headphone (yes, there is such a thing) is the Sony MDR-7506. This is David Greene from NPR-West with his.

They have an odd quality of being able to show you sound errors before anybody else can hear them. If you’re the sound person, that’s a big deal, but I can’t wear them for a long time because they take some getting used to—and they’re not cheap. My personal favorite and the favorite of others on the forum is the Sennheiser series.

I have a set of headphones I bought while on holiday/vacation from a music store. Only later when I got home I found they had some significant tonal distortions, but it didn’t matter all that much because I was mixing dance tracks for a Jeep.

Pretty forgiving, those Jeeps. It wasn’t a total loss because they were pretty, on the small side, and I use them in photo shoots.

The Yeti should be set for cardioid (heart-shaped) pattern and you should be speaking into the company name. It’s a side-fire microphone.


Don’t forget your towel, particularly on Kakrafoon.

If it seems clean enough, you can spread it on the table under the Yeti to help suppress slap and comb-filtering tonal distortion.


The Yeti gets its operating voltage from the USB cable. If the USB service 5 volts isn’t clean and well filtered, you can get “frying mosquitoes” in your voice.

There is an Audacity filter for it called Mosquito Killer. Post back if you have this problem.


Alright, how are we feeling about this guy:

Well, WR, I think we’re ready for the Big Time. Little significant background noise and no echoes. There goes mum’s kitchen.

You do have frying mosquitoes, so I got rid of them with the killer.

Mosquito-Killer4.ny (363 Bytes)
Then I mastered it with the Audacity Audiobook Mastering Suite.

And it passes Audiobook Technical Standards. I’m not joshing. It’s not by much, but it does make it. You could submit that for audiobook publication.

First three readings and sentence 2/3 down. For actual publication, you should pass noise by -65dB, so I would apply very tiny noise reduction. That’s later.

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A note here. If you submit mono (one blue wave) to the forum you can read out to 20 seconds. So you don’t have to slice off the end of the sentence. Or you could read some of your own work. Pick something you like. Something from Kakrafoon, perhaps? Add a little theater. Experiment.

Continue to leave the background noise at the beginning. We need that for processing.

“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have…"


Now that the microphone problems are out of the way, there is some bad news. There is no acting filter. There’s no effect or filter to turn you into a broadcast, theater or movie actor. That’s between you and your mouth.

There are tools to correct pauses, word fluffs, tempo, distortions, and duplications, but you can’t correct a reading word by word. There was a forum posting from a reader who claimed he was going to do that. He’s probably still doing that years later. No finished work yet.


Here’s a few lines from one of my characters:

I can’t pretend this is some top-tier acting, but I know I did better in the original (echoy) recording. Doing a cartoony voice is a bit weird with headphones on since I can’t hear what I sound like while I’m doing a take. I think I’ll get used to it, or at least just start drilling lines right before recording.

Anyway, this clip should be a bit better for what I’m looking for. There’s a big difference the loudest and quietest parts, I made a weird mouth sound at one point, and there’s a big gap as I was changing pages between scenes. How would I take this raw audio and turn it into something presentable? Please ignore the clipping if that’s not fixable; I forgot to lower the input volume on the laptop like I did for the PC. The gain’s already all the way down on the mic itself.

Doing a cartoony voice is a bit weird with headphones on since I can’t hear what I sound like while I’m doing a take.

You lost me. The goal of wearing the headphones is so you can hear yourself while you’re doing a take.

In this setup, the headphones are plugged into the microphone interface which is the little black box just to the left of the laptop.

You plug your headphones into the connection on the right, press DIRECT MONITOR and set the volume for comfortable listening to yourself with the right-hand volume control on top.

Some microphones have all this built-in. This is a Samson G-Track.

This is how it works with a tiny interface between my straight, analog mixer on the right and the computer.

The earbuds are just for illustration. I didn’t have the full-on headphones with me when I shot those pictures. That’s how the headphones connect if they were there.

Please ignore the clipping if that’s not fixable

Clipping isn’t fixable, no. That’s up to your recording engineer to fix during the performance by turning the recording volume down.

You can tick View > Show Clipping and Audacity will put red marks at all the clipping points.

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You didn’t apply the killer in that sample. I made the whine worse as illustration.

And then I took it out with the killer plugin.

You shouldn’t leave it in, because effects and filters you use are going to affect your voice and the whine. It has some of the same sounds as fingernails on blackboard, so it really should go.

This is the filter.

Mosquito-Killer4.ny (363 Bytes)

I applied it with 8 mosquitoes.

You install plugins in Audacity like this.

You’ll need to get this down because there’s effects that can be installed to make your theatrical voice.

This is a grand place to put the Digital Hygiene stuff. When you get to a stopping point in a live reading, Export it as WAV (Microsoft) 16-bit and save a copy of the file somewhere safe. That’s the insurance against Something Happening to the edit and flushing the work down the drain. Just open the raw WAV file and start post production over. You don’t have to read it all again.

There’s the thing about filenames. Upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, -dash-, and_underscore_. Those are the only characters safe in filenames. Today is 2020-05-07. No slash marks.

As you read, bookkeeping is a big deal. Think about how you’re going to label your chapters so you can find them later when you assemble your show.

there’s a big gap as I was changing pages between scenes.

This is the clip without the gap in the middle. I drag-selected most of the gap and DEL key on the computer.

What is Morty’s character and what background sound were you planning? Post a 20 second mono sample.

This is a very good start. The voice quality is clear and clean (without the whine and the clipping). So you can go whatever direction you want.



That’s a little cheating. I got that “elf” sound with Effect > Phaser, but most of it came from a plain, ordinary Effect > Change Speed. I’m guessing that wouldn’t fly during production because it seriously messes with show duration. The background “fire” is a sound effect I had handy—and I have copyright since I shot it.

Again, I have no idea who this character is, but now that you have the basic microphone sorted, you can go nuts.


Morty’s actually pretty straightforward - he’s just some dude with an east coast accent. His mom would need some more distinct effects though. The gag with their scene is the classic thing where a mom wants her son to be more like his more successful cousin but, instead of just wanting him to be a doctor or a lawyer, she wants him to turn into a Lovecraftian monster. She’s invisible for the whole bit, but Morty describes her voice as “vibrating out of every surface.” She’d sound very other-worldly and imposing. I was planning on either layering her voice or just putting a reverb on it. If you have any better ideas though, I’m open to suggestions. Here’s a clip of me voicing her:

The struggle you’re going to have is with the effects and filters. Most of them are designed to apply delicate, barely noticeable corrections and then vanish into the night. Pretty much the exact opposite of what you need.



…he’s just some dude with an east coast accent.

Which one? Boston, New York, Baltimore, Richmond?

Just wondering.