How to sound like 1940s films?

I want to sound like the 1940s films sounded. How can I do that?

Does anything here help:

Yes, it helped.
Now I am wondering how to make a 1940s film sound.

Freesound …

Ok, but how do I add the distortion to the voices?

HelmetRadio plugin can produce retro lo-fi effects …

generic retro voice over settings.png
If you need something more accurate, try Audiothing’s speaker’s plugin, (carbon mic). [The free demo version inserts silence every 45 seconds].

Ok, but how do I add the distortion to the voices?

This will be a creative process and it will require trial-and-error to get the sound you want…

You shouldn’t be hearing “distortion” but there is a Distortion effect with several options. Clipping is the most common kind of distortion… It’s the kind of distortion you get if you turn-up the volume and try to get 150W out of a 100 Watt amplifier, etc. The Soft Clipping option should be a pretty good simulation of analog clipping.

The most noticeable thing would be noise - There would be a constant background hiss. That can be created by creating a new track (Track → Add New), then Generate → Noise and choose Pink or White noise. The generated noise will be too loud so run the Amplify effect at -30 or -40dB (on just the noise track) to bring-down the volume.

There is also occasional “crackle” noise. [u]Izotope Vinyl[/u] can simulate the noise from a vinyl record and that should be similar. (It’s a free plug-in but you have to register with your email address.)

There is also limited frequency range - It shouldn’t be that noticeable with voices but it’s noticeable with music. You can simulate that with the Graphic EQ effect. If you’re not familiar with equalizers, the low frequencies (bass) is on the left and high frequencies (treble) is on the right. An old soundtrack wouldn’t go above about 8kHz so you can pull the sliders above 8kHz all the way down. On the low end you can probably kill everything below 100Hz. From there you can just experiment with the other sliders. (With EQ it’s almost always better to cut than to boost).

“Telephone quality” is from around 300Hz to 4kHz co you can reduce the frequency range more for more of that old-timey sound.

Note that the higher-frequencies contain the “T” and “S” sounds, so cutting high frequencies can reduce intelligibility. Don’t over-do it.

A 1940’s soundtrack would also be mono. If you have a stereo track there is a drop-down arrow to the left of the waveform where you can select Split Stereo to Mono. (A mono track will play through both speakers.)