Single voice softer than before

My chorus records and podcasts its weekly rehearsals, using a Zoom H4 and Audacity 2.x. I have a colleague, whose equipment is slightly different than mine; since I’m posting this, it’s here, because I use Windows 7 Pro 64 bit, with Audacity 2.0.6. He uses a Mac with OS 10.6.8, and Audacity 2.0.5. We both use Chris Capel’s Compress Dynamics (not the beta). I don’t really think the processing platform has anything to do with our problem.

We recently moved to a new rehearsal space, a smaller square room instead of the large gym we used to use. The new place is very live and has a high ceiling but not as high as the gym. Because of the smaller size it has many more people per square foot, too. Since the move, our director’s voice on the weekly recordings is harder to hear. She used to be quite clear on PC speakers with the volume at about 75; now at that level her voice is fainter. We place the recorder behind her and slightly to one side, as we did before; we extend the stand so it’s about 6 feet high, which is about level with her as she stands on the podium.

Is there anything we can do to amplify her voice? Unfortunately she isn’t on a separate channel, we record in stereo. There are stretches where she is the only one speaking. The problem would be to amplify one speaking voice without over-amplifying a 98 voice chorus when singing full out. Would it help to move the recorder? We use the default settings on the Compress Dynamics plugin; can someone suggest changes to the defaults that might help?? Any suggestions would be much appreciated.

a smaller square room instead of the large gym we used to use.

Run away.

You have moved into an impossible recording studio.

Post a clip of the work. Use very high quality MP3 and not WAV so you can get more performance into the clip. The system will only let you post a short piece. Get both the director’s voice and the full-on chorus illustrating the problem.

When I use Chris’s Compressor, I use a more aggressive setting than default. The first value, Compression defaults to 0.5 and I bump it up to 0.77. When I do that, the show has a lot of the characteristics of the local radio station and its broadcast compressors.

This is no compression, default compression and 0.77 compression. Note the blue waves getting taller and denser.

I’m not kidding. That’s probably the worst recording environment on earth. The only thing saving you from producing complete trash is the large number of bodies in the room. Each one soaks up a little of the room echo.