Equalizing quartet voices

Our quartet did a recording in a small home studio and it came out terrible! The Alto is very prominent, but Lead, Bass and Tenor are hidden in the background. Is there any way to ‘level’ the voices so they have proper sound placement? Im new to Audacity and any help would be greatly appreciated. Much thanks

Unless you recorded each voice with a separate microphone onto separate tracks, there is probably not much that you can do. You certainly won’t be able to make a single “terrible” microphone recording into a “good” recording.

As you have discovered, the recording environment and microphone placement are extremely important, particularly when “live recording” with one microphone or a stereo live recording with a pair of microphones.

I very much doubt that we can make much improvement to that recording, but we probably can help you to make future recordings better. If you want help with that, a good place to start would be for you to describe (in detail) what your current set-up is. Include a description of the room, all of the equipment you are using, the voices of the singers, the position of things in the room, and anything else that will help us to build a mental picture of what you are doing.

A short sample of your “terrible” audio will probably also help us to see/hear what you need to improve. See here for how to post an audio sample: https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/how-to-post-an-audio-sample/29851/1
(Don’t be embarrassed about it sounding terrible. Anyone that has done live recording knows how difficult it is, and anyone that thinks it is easy clearly has no idea what they are talking about :wink:)

Thanks for the reply. Yes, there were separate mics to the recording, each with their own. Is there a way to bring up each mic with audacity?

The home studio is soundproof, all that was inside it was us and the suspended microphones. Unfortunately I cannot tell you at this time the type of equipment used in the recording room, but I will find out and inform you. All my thanks

IF each mic was recorded on a separate track in Audacity (or other software), which requires using a “multi-channel sound card” that has separate inputs for each mic, then yes you can change the level of each track using the Track Gain slider (http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/audio_tracks.html#gain).

The Track Gain sliders are also duplicated in a “mixer-like” form in the “Mixer Board” tool (http://manual.audacityteam.org/o/man/view_menu.html#mixer)

If the mics were mixed (with a mixing desk) and then recorded as stereo (or mono), then the levels of each mic are essentially “baked into” the recording. Although you can hear that, say, a bass voice sounds much lower than a tenor, there is actually a great deal of overlap between the frequencies of each. A tenor voice is likely to comprise of frequencies in the range of (roghly) 130 Hz to 7000 Hz, whereas a bass voice comprises of frequencies in the range of about 90 Hz to 7000 Hz. Each note sung has a very broad range of frequencies, so adjust one voice affects all voices.

What was the original recording made on? If it was a professional studio recording then they “should” have separate tracks for each mic. There will still be “spill over” from one singer being picked up by the other microphones, but there should be a reasonable amount of “separation”. If that was the case and you can get the original tracks as WAV files, then you can import the files as tracks (one above the other) in Audacity, and “re-mix” the tracks. Note that re-mixing requires good speakers or headphones.

You can try the Equalization effect to enhance or reduce different frequency bands. It’s generally best to cut rather than boost, so try to find the Alto range and bring it down a bit before bringing-up other frequencies.

Try not to overdo it, and don’t expect perfection… As Steve said there is a lot of overlap, especially the harmonics and overtones, so you can’t truly isolate one voice (or one instrument, etc.). The Graphic EQ mode is usually easier to experiment with than the Draw Curves mode.

You can also try the Compressor effect. Dynamic compression reduces the dynamic range by boosting the quiet parts and/or reducing the loud parts. Again, don’t overdo it.

After anything that affects volume, it’s a good idea to normalize to prevent clipping (distortion)… Run the Amplify effect to make sure the peaks don’t exceed 0dB before exporting.

One thing that might help in the future (if you can’t multitrack) is to set everybody up with headphones so that they can hear exactly what’s being recorded. You’ll need a multi-output headphone amplifier, and connect the headphone amp to the mixer so you they don’t hear latency (delay) through the computer.

I’m not so sure multitracking is the way to go with a vocal quartet. It might be best to set-up stereo mics and let the singers adjust the “mix” naturally, as long as they can hear what’s being recorded. Maybe you’d want a separate “solo” mic on it’s own track.

Thank you so much!! It worked great! I split the file into a stereo format, adjusted the tracks and it smoothed the sound of our quartet right up. We sound like a quartet now, I really appreciate your help. You asked about format, well this was originally done in 1979 in a home stereo to 8-tack tape. We are old now (the oldest 80) and wanted to have a good copy for our funerals when the time comes that each of us should pass away. Now this is possible, thank you!!