January 4, 2010
QUESTIONI'm not an engineer, but I could portray one in a radio play!
My question is about home recording. I'm using a RE20 mic through a Mackie Mixer (MicroSeries 1202-VLZ) and Audacity to put it all together. This set-up does what I need for flat voice reads, and some editing (check out my demo: (https://www.voices.com/people/DanD) but leaves an ambient hiss over the vocal--I've read through the Mackie manual, but have yet to find a way to take down the noise.
I've also tried the noise removal effect in Audacity--it does take out the noise, but leaves a "signature" and a slight bit of distortion on the voice...this leads me to think that my problem is back to the mic, or the room I am recording in (a small room in my home.)
Would a soundproof set-up built around the mic take out the ambient noise, or do you think it is signal-related? I have a feeling I may not be the only one experiencing this kind of "technical difficulty." Eagerly awaiting your reply!
Well, giving a listen to your demo I can clearly hear the background hiss. What causes that "White Noise?"
These old ears can tell the difference between the background hissing of a fan or furnace. Those sounds are of a lower frequency. This is electronically induced. Its a function of too much gain from the Mackie. I'll venture one step further and take a guess, (As you have not provided this information) that you are routing the mixer's output directly to the "Line-in" or "Mic-In," and that you are not using a digital interface. That'll do it. While the pre-amps in the MicroSeries 1202-VLZ are reported to be very good, they are good for "Live Performance" and not recording mono-channel voice. Mackie makes great band stuff. Fairly heavy duty and functional, FOR BANDS!
I see this over and over. The equipment we use is designed primarily for making music. Unless you're recording The Dave Matthews Band's latest CD, you only need to record with one channel. So whats the deal with the other 11 channels the1202-VLZ provides you? Are you mixing music live under your voice? I don't think so, or at least you shouldn't be. One thing at a time.
First, as I said, you should be using a digital interface to input the audio into your computer and recording software. A CEntrance Mic-Port Pro or Apogee ONE is a simple, one channel, USB digital interface that takes direct mic input and converts it to the bit and bytes that your computer recognizes as audio. Otherwise, your computer is doing the conversion through the "in's," and its own sound card, and, it basically sucks at it.
The digital converters in these little devices are fantastic and reduce the length of your audio chain. Remember, the more analog devices you have in your chain (You should only have one. Your mic) the more "white noise" introduced.
We discussed the use of mixers in an entry exactly a year ago, entitled "Mix It Up" where I poo-pooe'd the use of mixers for voice work. You're not running a multi-track recording studio. You're laying down mono voice tracks. Aside from perhaps controlling your mic's level, which DI's also do, and some routing that you might require for a phone patch, an analog mixer is really not needed for the type of work most of us do.
The Electro-Voice RE-20, a classic, dynamic broadcasters microphone may not be the best choice for "Voice over" or narration. Lots of guys use them, but they require techniques that are not optimum for what we all do. Best to use a studio condenser mic for that.
This confusion over what to use is common and I think people need to do more research on Home Voice Over Studio techniques and equipment instead of asking the guy behind the counter at your audio retail store.
Try those DI's and see if that doesn't make a difference.
The only "white Noise" I want to hear right now is the sound of falling snow.
About The Author
Buffalo, NY native Dan Lenard has been a radio personality, an insurance sales consultant, a high school Media and Social Studies teacher and a stay-at-home dad. He earned his BA in Broadcasting from Buffalo State College in 1980, a New York State teaching certificate from Buff State in 1997 and then in 2002, an MA in Creative Studies from again, his hometown Alma Mater.Related Topics: Digital Interfaces, Electro-Voice, hiss, Mixers, white noise
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