I am a newbie and very grateful for any suggestions you might give me. I am using Audacity 2.0.5 and I want my end product (a podcast) to be mono and as small a file as possible.
I record with a digital recorder (Zoom h4n) and two Shure SM58 microphones. There are two people on the podcast, a bit of intro music, nothing fancy.
I imported the recording in to Audacity, that gives me a stereo track, each person in one ear. One person was talking too far from the microphone, so her sound is noticeably softer than the other. I edited the recording figuring the sound level could be fixed later. Maybe I was wrong.
To fix the sound levels I used Effects/Amplify. That seemed to do nothing. Then I used Split Stereo to mono in the little box to the left of the tracks and used the gain slider to increase the low volume track. That didn’t seem to do anything. Then I used the envelope tool to increase the amplitude of the channel that was too low. That worked! BUT, when I went back to Tracks/Stereo tracks to mono it changed all the volumes again and it’s unusable like that. What am I doing wrong?
I’ve since installed the Channel Mixer plugin, but I don’t see how to use that post-editing. Help please! I promise when I get good at this I’ll help other people too.
Most of the effects and tools have no idea what sound is. They do simple, glazed-eye calculations and go home.
I record with a digital recorder (Zoom h4n) and two Shure SM58 microphones.
My version is an older H4 and one SM58.
To fix the sound levels I used Effects/Amplify. That seemed to do nothing.
It won’t do anything if you have any peaks in either track that already touch maximum. That’s actually what the tool does. It has no idea what a voice is.
Then I used Split Stereo to mono in the little box to the left of the tracks and used the gain slider to increase the low volume track. That didn’t seem to do anything.
We need to find out why that didn’t work. That’s one of the techniques that should have worked. As you crank through these tools and they act oddly, make dramatic, broad changes to the sliders and see if anything is happening. One technique is to bring the louder voice down to balance and then bring the whole thing up.
I went back to Tracks/Stereo tracks to mono it changed all the volumes again and it’s unusable like that. What am I doing wrong?
Stereo Tracks to mono divides each track in half and smashes them together. If we don’t do that, then the mono show will (for most shows) overload and distort. Your particular show can’t deal with that because of the way you shot it (which is valid, just a little odd).
The mono show is balanced, but low, right? This is the magic place I would use Chris’s Compressor. While the mono show is low, apply Chris to increase the volume and even out the volume variations during the show.
We recommend, strongly, that you shoot separate people on separate tracks in order to give you the most versatility in post production, but not very many people take us up on that. It’s expensive. You need to have good “studio” sound isolation and two matched microphones with two separate sound channels.
People who shoot both (or multiple) voices on one track write to us trying to fix one voice without changing the other(s). Our response is usually that we’re sorry you’re having that problem, but there’s no way to split and filter just one voice from that kind of show.
You win. It may seem like more work (and you may find simpler ways to do it), but you ended with a working, balanced show. Many people who do this wrong don’t.
A note: This configuration is perfect for one-on-one interviews. One channel is your voice from a lavalier or tie-tack microphone (which obviously moves with you) and the other microphone can be a hand-held long-form microphone that you jam in the subject’s face.
There were microphones designed to do this, the Rode Reporter and the Beyer M58 (the one I have). But there is a new technique pioneered by Ira Glass and This American Life where they use a long-distance shot-gun microphone close-up and hand-held. What it lacks in theatrical quality, it more than makes up in clarity of speech and rejection of room noises. It works amazingly well.
This is a discussion about how to shoot sound. Highly recommended.
Do you want to make the podcast perfect? Not just OK, but perfect? Get the interviewer to repeat her words into a correctly positioned microphone. Then edit her new, clean voice into the show instead of her old, damaged one. We get to see how well your microphone isolation technique is.
You may need to change the timing of the voice here and there, but when you get done, it should sound like both of them were in the same room correctly recorded. Only you and I will know what you did.
Of course, that is much more work than simply applying a filter or a special effect. But it should sound much better. This is why we urge you very strongly to record it correctly during the shoot.
NPR with a balance problem, eh?! Your just trying to flatter me now
I like what your rebalancing did, will read-up about how to do that.
Re-recording the interviewer is also possible since the idiot interviewer who talked away from the microphone is me , but right now I have a cold and sound like a man, so it’ll have to wait.
I’m going to try re-editing the whole project and this time run Chris’ compressor first (I didn’t know about it then) and adjust the balance on my voice before I do any cutting.
I’ll return and report.
Thanks again for all the help, much much appreciated!
We get the basket case shows. The ones in need of burial. It’s refreshing to get a show where there’s nothing fatal wrong with it.
A favorite one is someone trying to rescue their first cellphone interview. Voice Recorder software doesn’t record both sides. “Can you help me bring up…” No, we can’t.
will read-up about how to do that.
I did it brute force by drag-selecting the interviewer words and Effect > Amplify by specific amounts rather than give the tool its lead to do what it wants. That’s the first number in the Amplify control panel. That’s dangerous. I probably should have decreased the volume of the loud one and then brought the combination up. I also had to silence a lip smack or something that didn’t fit in the interview. That’s the little hole in the interviewer words.
This is just a lot of little tricks. Since you have the basic interview technique down, it’s just a matter of getting good at it. We’re not trying to rescue a dead show with high voltage paddles.
Post back when you get a final show. There may be other handy tricks or techniques.
Here’s a new sample where I edited the same files again, this time running Chris’ Compressor twice before doing anything else. Interviewer got boosted as needed, but so did a lot of useless fuzz noise. So I silenced all the areas where the interviewer says nothing and I think it’s overall better. Not perfect, but for a first, maybe there’s hope.
Yeah. Much better.
People use studio microphones in studios with studio announcers because it gives them maximum versatility and a presentable show in the minimum time with minimum cost. The more of those professional services and systems you peel off, the more likely you are to kill your show.
Interviewer got boosted as needed, but so did a lot of useless fuzz noise.
How about that? Studios don’t have useless fuzz noise. They’re dead quiet.
I silenced all the areas where the interviewer says nothing and I think it’s overall better.
It can’t take you more than six weeks to do that to the whole hour-long show. The show that’s due on Monday.
This is a broadcast radio shoot I did at work. The producer being interviewed knew I was going to go crazy, so I did. I got the Executive Conference Room because it’s soundproofed. In effect, I shot it in a studio. We double recorded it against equipment failure. I recorded it on Audacity. We got to the end of the interview, I exported a sound file and shipped it to the radio production facility. And we all went to lunch. Badda Bing.
By the way, do the intro and commentary for the show while you still sound like a contralto. It will save you hiring an announcer/presenter. Of course that will only work once, but if this is an audition show, it may get you hired.
There is one more item to all this. We’ve been gazing closely at the blue waves and struggling to put each dB in it’s place. Can you project what your content is going to be for the next few shows? We have one poster who started out life a ball of fire. Six months in, his 90 minute podcast is down to 5 minute “stinger” commentaries. Content is harder than it looks.
I assume you are The Producer? In the case of the left-brain engineers, it’s easy to get swept up in the shape of each little blue wave and forget the goal. Women do right-brain relationships really well and I’m betting you can do a killer show after we get your waves sorted. Just from your clips, I want to know when you post a finished show.
Ah Koz, you’re asking for trade secrets now
Yes, I’m the producer and the other lady is the content provider. We have a plan, but will it work? We’ll find out in a few weeks. I’ll let you know where you can listen soon.