Voice over tinny sound needs fixed

Audacity 2.0.5
Mac 10.9.2
Download - .dog

We are creating a number of videos with iMovie and nearly all the audio will be voice over. When we record sitting at my desk the result is what I call tinny, a term I also being used on the forum. It results from the acoustics of the room and surrounding conditions, I am sure. Just not a good audio. Sounds like you are in a room (and I am).

I have recorded the voice over in 3 ways, all with the same results: lavalier mic plugged into a Griffin iMic which is then plugged to the Mac; same as above but with a Sony mic, EMC-MS908C, a condenser mic; lavaliere mic into a wireless mic system - Azden WM-Pro which is then plugged into the Griffin iMic. Still in the same room for all of these so not surprised that they all give the same results

I have played with the sound in Audacity and it is like a needle in a haystack. The solution may be there but finding the right fix is getting me no where. Since the sound will be the same for each video we make the one solution will fix everything for me. So I am attaching a short section hoping an audio pro will hear it and know immediately what to do. Hoping not to have to buy additional hardware but will go where you point me.

I appreciate any help and the Audacity software. I think it will have a future with me.


That’s the recording in your mum’s kitchen syndrome.


We have a partner posting where someone in Hollywood is ripping out his hall closet to put soundproofing in so he can record audiobooks without either that effect, or “talking in a box” symptoms from simpler, inadequate soundproofing.


One thing you can do since you’re on a Mac is scratch the microphone with your fingernail while you’re recording to make sure you are recording your fancy microphone and not the one in the laptop. That’s remarkably easy to get wrong. Of course, that’s never happened to me…

This is where you get set to Screen Capture as I tell you how to solve this.

Darned if I know. This is a major production problem and everybody runs into it in one form or another. People still use studios and voice-over booths for a reason. (It is hyphenated, by the way). The natural reaction is to try Effect > Noise Removal and I can shortcut the process to tell you not to bother. Noise Removal, better named Noise Reduction will not affect echoes reliably and it damages the show while it’s working.

This American Life gets all their high quality interviews with a very directional shotgun microphone smashed into the talent’s face. Over much experimentation, that turned out to be the best way and I’ve seen other voice-over productions done like that. Transom.org has a terrific section on recording live sound including hardware recommendations.


I’ve been known to create a studio out of Home Depot wood pieces, furniture moving blankets and a directional microphone.


For the exotic inclined, Robert described a technique of removing echoes in post production. It’s about chapter 11 or so in that post.


You could be the test case.


I am not an “audio pro” but I think the attached sounds a little better.


Thanks for the input. I will be trying some things with mic (I also have a shotgun mic) and with a moving pad that I intend to drape over my desk.

Thanks for the suggestions of how to change the clip. I have done this but still not to the point I would like but I am thinking that I may have to accept something less.


IMO needs more treble, e.g. …

Here’s the data for the equalization curve I used (xml file) for “import” into Audacity’s equalizer
side-frame.xml (17.1 KB)
'side-frame' equalization curve.png
NB: That equalization curve is specific for that recording :
if you change anything , e.g. the position of the mic , or record in a different room,
then that equalization curve probably won’t be appropriate.

@Trebor Audacity does not ship with a de-esser so which plug-in do you recommend? Lisp or Spitfish ?


I used Spitfish, on the above, ( de-essing wasn’t absolutely necessary , just my personal taste ).

May be problems with using Spitfish on a modern Mac …


A multi-band compressor, like Gmulti (windows only), can be used to de-ess just using one of the bands to compress the high frequencies, (everything above about 6kHz).

Notes on Furniture Pad Placement.

If you use a directional microphone, you should hang one directly behind you. A shotgun is shooting you and the wall behind you, and the second one on the table in front of you.

Ignore everything in this picture except the table.


That keeps pencil and pen noises down and also helps with “slap” caused by reflections from the table.


Good to know that . When use external mic to record videos , the multiple audio tracks alwasy have some problems. I will try to see what the result is .

I’m not at a machine where I can listen to stuff. Later.

I’m not a fan of the iMic. I know it’s listed in our stuff to use segment, but I used an early one and it was terrible. If all your microphones went through the iMic and they all sound bad, maybe there’s a reason.

I shot a test voice recording a bit ago using higher end (but not excessive) equipment and I thought it came out reasonably well. I sound like me and with moderate corrections I was able to produce an ACX compliant clip.

There are tricks. If you have an aggressively crisp voice in the clip, there’s something wrong. Some microphones do that to make them sound “more professional.” It just makes my ears hurt. The MicPre (iMic) can do that, too.

Directional microphones have proximity effect. You sound more like an announcer the closer you get. More bass. You can only get just so close before you start to get other problems like P and plosive popping, but there’s tricks around that, too. Sometimes a “real” mic stand is called for to get the microphone above your face. The test I did was with the microphone at eye level and to the left pointed down to my mouth.

And etc. Lavalier microphones are intended to be placed in the “chin shadow zone” and the good ones have a slightly boosted crispness to make up for the dullness in that zone.

Everybody gets killed in the same place when they try to record sound. Our environments are very noisy and harsh. Our ears “tune it out” but microphones don’t work like that. It takes newbies a couple of passes to get used to what they sound like in real life. It may not be a bad microphone. You may have discovered the reason people cover their ears when you talk to them.

Of course, if you sound like Mickey Mouse, no microphone is going to do it for you. It could be argued that if you do it right, that kind of voice can be unique and stand out from the crowd. Johnny Olsen didn’t sound like an old-time “radio announcer.” He had a unique voice and killer presentation that kept him working for decades. I saw him live as the voice of a TV show. He stood in order to keep his chest free and he turned a lovely shade of red while he was presenting.


Tim: if they’re exactly identical, you’re probably not using any of them, you’re using the Internal Mic. You did check that pulldown menu, right? I didn’t see you mention having done so.

Checking which microphone you’re recording from is not rocket surgery. Start a recording and scratch the mic.



For what it’s worth – which is probably not much :slight_smile: – the quality of both the mic and the mic preamp/DA matters a fair amount on this sort of work.

Jeff Laurence retired to a mountain in North Carolina on the strength of his great baritone announcing voice… and the $7000 mic and $5000 preamp he puts it through. If you’re going to do an extensive amount of VO work, spend the money; there are a lot of reasonably priced large-diaphragm condensers these days, and the dBx ProVocal is a decent, yet inexpensive preamp with digital output. (By reasonable, I mean mics new under $200 and preamps under about that amount used on eBay.)

Its only problem, for our purposes here, is that its output is SPDIF-Copper, which might be hard to get into a Mac, especially a laptop.


A converter from electrical to optical is 30 € or less. And the Mac already has on optical input.

Also, the DBX VocalPro is no longer in production. And I’ve always wondered how people operate the compressor, since it has no visible interface settings.

The op needs a decent room with better acoustics. Or he needs to treat the room for reflections.

I wouldn’t start buying a mic or a preamp to try and fix the room. Especially a shotgun. I haven’t ever heard a reasonably priced shotgun that sounded reasonable. A Senn MKH, or a Sanken, yes. But those are way out of reach for most of us.

There’s a lot of very good SDC’s out there, from 100-200 €. Thomann’s Tbone SC140, for example. Finding a real LDC for that price is almost impossible. Perhaps the Behringer C1 could be a good choice too, to get some experience, since it’s less than 50 €, so it won’t break the bank. Or something from MXL, if you prefer a US Chinese marriage. Make that an Oktava Mk012, if you prefer Russian :mrgreen:

The Oktava is a bit pricier, but you usually buy the kit. And that comes with 3 capsules: omni, cardio and hypercardio. You might like the omni best, if you sort out your recording enironment first.

And as preamps go: get a Behringer cheapie. Or an Art USB preamp. No need for more if you’re only doing voice inside. No need for color.

In one of the ACX videos, they tell us if the room effects are just not up to a good result, maybe you need to record somewhere else. The modern room design of polished wood floor and bare walls is considered a hostile recording environment by everybody I know.

Oddly, a stand-alone garage usually does OK. A peaked roof/ceiling and room full of cardboard boxes can work. Even a garage tucked under a house can work as long as it has walls of storage and not parallel and bare.

If your setup is entirely portable, record outside once on a non-windy day just to see what it sounds like with no echoes.

People also recommend little stand-alone sound studios like that thing behind the microphone on the right.

My microphone is the one on the left. I didn’t think I needed the additional soundproofing because the room I was shooting in was soundproofed. That was a successful broadcast radio shoot.


I’d like to compliment Cyrano for doing an excellent job countering suggestions I did not make.

“Use a shotgun”, and “don’t worry about the room” being the top two.

“Use a shotgun”,

That was me from further up. NPR gets around a lot of location problems with hand-held shotguns.

I’ve seen voices-over done that way, too, probably because that was the microphone available. It’s frequently the difference between a slightly odd-sounding shoot and no shoot.

And if you can’t soundproof the room and can’t use a fancy-pants microphone, Record somewhere else. It’s possible to “rescue” a bad recording, but it can sound pretty awful when you do and remember you have to clean up the recording every time. ACX is strongly against working like that.


Oh, right; you did suggest that.

Yeah I’d’ve thought it clear you weren’t recommending it for booth-capable VO work.

I have seen them used in booths. I thought it a little odd at the time, but anybody who walks away with a working track is a winner.


My personal cheap-LDC is indeed a Maxell; a 900 or 990; forget which. It ain’t a U-82, but I ain’t Jeff Laurence, either. :slight_smile:

I’ve been perfectly happy with how it sounds, though.