Giving a song more 'body'.

I have a recording of my Acapella quartet performing in a church. The recording was made for a local radio station, using a fairly small (but I would guess sophisticated) hand held Sony device and the pure acoustics of the building. We were not amplified in any way.
The music sounds a bit ‘thin’ and I’d like to give it more ‘body’ but without knowing the correct terminology, I don’t know what to look for in the manual/forum.
Can somebody please send me in the right direction.

Chorus is go-to effect for thickening.
You can get a good free Chorus-plugin from BlueCatAudio, no strings attached …

I’m not sure what “body” means but a chorus effect might be too drastic. Usually, this kind of recording has very-little “artificial” processing.

The 1st thing I’d do is Normalize (or Amplify and accept the default). That will bring up the volume if you have any headroom. This is no different from turning-up the volume but sometimes louder just “sounds better” and it won’t hurt anything.

Then, try some subtle equalization. For experimenting, I like the “Graphic” mode better than the “Draw” mode. Maybe some boost around the 200-300Hz range. These are the “main voice frequencies”, but you can just experiment to see if anything helps. Boosting the higher frequencies above 5kHz or so can bring-out the “T” and “S” sounds to help with clarity and intelligibility. Again, just experiment (“preview”) to see what makes it better or worse. You can push the sliders below about 100Hz down all the way. With a vocal recording, the lowest-frequencies are just room noise they should be reduced or eliminated.

Typically, you’ll be adjusting 3 or 4 sliders together rather than boosting/cutting a narrow band. Don’t go too crazy with it… Anything more than +/-6dB is probably too much.

Then try the compressor and/or limiter. These can bring-up the overall-average volume without boosting/clipping the peaks. (Actually, they work the opposite way and they tend to “push down” the louder parts, but the Make-up Gain option will bring-up the overall volume.) The limiter is easier to use because there are fewer settings… There are more ways to mess-up the sound with a compressor. :wink:

I would kind-of guess that limiting & compression are the “key”. Almost all commercial recordings have compression to make them “louder”. (This is dynamic compression and it’s totally unrelated to file compression like MP3.)

After applying effects (especially EQ that can boost the volume) it’s a good idea to Normalize or Amplify before you export. This will bring-down the level if necessary to prevent clipping (distortion) in the exported file. (Otherwise it will bring-up the volume, or do nothing.)

And of course, make a backup before you start messing with the file!

It’s also a good idea to give your ears a rest for a day or so, then come back and re-listen to what you’ve done… It’s easy to get carried away with effects. It also helps if you have a known-good reference recording in the same style/genre to compare to. You wont’ get the exact-same sound as a professional recording but it’s a good way to keep your “ears calibrated”.

Thanks to you both. Looks like I’m gonna have to do some serious thinking this weekend.

hand held Sony device

You might find out what the device was. Exact model numbers are usually enough to tell us what’s happening.

We assume they put it on a stand or table? They didn’t actually hand-hold it, right? How you do that can make a terrific difference in sound quality.


Another free plugin capable of thickening is Acon Multiply :
It has multi-voice control which is very like chorus, but without any flangy artifacts …

Acon multiply settings used on 'Amazing Grace'.png

I’d try this suggestion first.

Take care to not overwrite your original recording - keep a backup copy of it somewhere safe.