I’m constantly tweaking and changing my channel strip settings on my VO tracks and can’t seem to really dial in settings I’m happy with over a longer period of time. I know every voice is different, and especially in music production there’s lots of subtle tweaks and of course EQ to really massage the voice. I’m not talking about that.
I would like to get a sense of what you’re doing for a narration / commentary (e.g. for documentary) / VO for movie track.
For example, I did a learning video recently where I had a commentary (i.e. "now move your mouse here and click the OK button to save the changes you’ve made to your document). I would like the voice to sound steady. If I speak softer or louder, there should not be too much dynamics so people need to set their computer volume level up or down all the time. Or when I record a audiobook character. Sometimes they talk softly, sometimes they scream. I want to smooth out that huge change in dynamics.
1. How do you do your gain staging?
What is the average loudness you set your clips to to enter the first plugin in your chain?
2. What plugins / settings do you use?
I’m first using an EQ to cut off unnecessary sounds in order not to trip the compressor. LowCut essentially.
Noise Gate to get rid of unwanted sounds.
Then EQ to form the sound of the voice a bit and make it shiny.
Then a Compressor with pretty fast settings to compress transients and when I make dynamic changes quickly (e.g. suddenly a char in a book starts to scream). I play with ratios between 2 and 6.
Then a limiter to cut anything that still comes through.
And although I like the channel strip of Nuendo for this sort of bread and butter functions my favorite go-to plugin is iZotope’s Alloy 2.
3. My problems with this setup:
Sometimes in documentaries people breathe, and those are often below the threshold of the noise gate. So when people breathe, suddenly the noise gate turns off and the breath gets a very ugly volume bump. But when I set the threshold down, I get a lot more noise through when they move.
When I record narration for a documentary or learning video, I don’t seem to get a nice punchy, transparent sound. Somehow I think the compression has a negative effect. Maybe my compressor settings are too aggressive. Or maybe I’m just not happy with the way my mic sounds and I should get a different one. I’m currently recording commentary with a ElectroVoice RE20.
What do you use?
So that’s why I’d like to hear what you do. If you have a way that worked well for you. Especially the input signal loudness to your plugins and then Noise Gate and Compressor settings would be of interest. Or do you use multiple compressors? One for quick and one for slow changes? I’d really appreciate your experience to get some new ideas what to try.