I’m a bit embarrassed to admit that for the first 2 books, I opted to record in my car in the garage, because hey, great acoustics for free. The only effects I used were RMS Normalize + Limiter + EQ. Example attached below, “Mean Lady.” I’ve been using my phone’s mic to record, too…yet, miraculously, still had a couple titles approved.
Now, I’m trying to branch out and improve my equipment and environment. I figured I’d procrastinate on equipment and improve the environment first, by using a room in my local library that I thought was soundproofed and had decent acoustics — there were foam wall panels and what not. Still using my phone as my mic. So I recorded about an hour of audio, only to listen back and think that it’s both echo-y and the room tone is a rather loud “blowing” noise.
I’ve posted below unedited and edited clips from my recording in this library room…
By “edited,” I mean:
I ran my typical effects chain (RMS Normalize + Limiter + EQ)
Noise gated it (Level Reduction: -12 db, Threshold: -48 db, Attack: 250 ms)
Added a track of room tone, so that there isn’t silence during my pauses
Applied Noise Reduction (6, 6, 6).
I’m wondering if this recording is salvageable? Or do you guys think that the ACX QA will hate the reverb too much? They don’t really talk about reverb on their blog.
(And yes, I know my next steps need to be: going through ACX University and watching tutorials; making myself an actual home studio; and recording on a real mic!!)
That’s recording in a large empty room with wooden floors and a waterfall.
There’s no good “clean” way to suppress big room echoes, and background noise that loud is going to cause voice edge problems. The volume is right. Lots of people get that wrong.
You have the mastering order wrong (If you’re following the ACX Mastering process).
Equalization (Low Rolloff) is the rumble filter. It’s there to prevent any very low pitch sound errors from affecting anything else and goes first. It doesn’t have to be trucks going by, thunder or earthquakes. Some microphones make rumble by accident and that’s the way it is.
Then RMS Normalize to set RMS (loudness) and Limiter to clean up any tiny peaks here and there.
If you’re determined to record indoors, you might consider the Kitchen Table Studio.
That will kill room echoes and should sound a lot like your car. After that, you just have to suppress the noise (fffff). Oddly, that’s not normal noise. It does sound more like a waterfall than a gentle rain shower. That could be a data error…?
Anyway, that’s how to get rid of the echo without the filtering and gating calisthenics. Like it says in the description, after you’re done, the studio knocks apart and you can push it under your bed.
ACX QA will hate the reverb too much? They don’t really talk about reverb on their blog.
They do obliquely. They expect your voice to be clear and understandable and sound like you’re sitting next to them telling a fascinating story. Not announcing in a bathroom or barn. They hate distractions (their word).
there were foam wall panels and what not.
There are rules about foam acoustic treatment and some of them are invisible. One is use actual, expensive, heavy acoustic foam and not cheap foam done up to look acoustic.
You have to cover the ceiling or floor. The rule there is no two opposing surfaces. You can get a good echo going between a bare floor and a shiny ceiling.
room tone is a rather loud “blowing” noise
I can’t identify that noise. How far away from the microphone are you? Do you know where your microphone is?
You may be able to overcome the noise problem by getting closer and pushing the phone off center a bit. The fuzzy rule for microphone spacing is about a Hawaiian Shaka if you don’t have one of those round blast filters.
However you can violate that rule a little if you push the microphone off-center and get closer. Like off the corner of your mouth or half-way between your nose and ear. That can also help with P-Popping and mouth noises if you have those.
Note I’m not horrified you’re using your phone. I’ve said many times it’s a natural if you can get it to sound, well, natural. I’ve also said if you find something that works, hold onto it with white knuckles. The forum record for long postings is Ian who spent over a year getting something to work.
Thank you so much, Koz! You’ve made me feel a heck of a lot better about my options and I am in your debt!!
The Kitchen Table Studio is great, and thank you for the specificity on the construction, for those of us who are challenged in that regard. And I also wouldn’t really be opposed to just recording in my (carpeted) closet and using either my phone, or the Olympus on top of the paper towel roll you suggested. I hadn’t thought about putting the mic on something soft, but I knew setting the mic down would pick up on any thumps/creaks/vibrations (or in my case, car dash thumps…) For this year, I’ve got a roommate with a very loud puppy, and a tiny apartment, so I’m putting off the home studio.
Thank you for the refresher on the effects order as well! Whoops.
On the unedited version sounding processed, there’s a noise reduction “feature” for my in-built mic. I’ll try disabling that and seeing how it sounds. Of course, if you try and Google anything to find out more about smartphone internal mics, you’ll only get results about the best external mics.
I’m probably about 2 1/2 fists away from my mic. I’ll try the closer and to the side approach and see how that sounds / affects final noise result, too.
I am definitely learning over time that, like you and the other smart folks on here say, prevention is better than a “cure”!