Good Audio = Practice + Quality equipment + Audio editing. Now, first two, takes time and money, but the third one is easy to master. All you need is a small program called audacity.
So, Audacity is a popular audio editing software that has been there for a decade now. People use it to record and edit your musical instrument, podcast, or voice over, etc.
And in this post, we’ll see how to improve your voice over with Audacity. (video tutorial)
Improve your Audio with Audacity
#1 Download Audacity
You can download Audacity from here and install it on your computer like you do with any other program. The program is free and available for all popular program like Windows, Mac, and Linux, etc.
Once done, open Audacity.
#2 Record or Import your Audio.
-> If you have already recorded your audio using some external device, like a portable mic or something, then just import that recording to Audacity.
To do this go to File > Import > and select your recording. It’s always a good practice to create a copy of your voice recording, before importing it Audacity.
-> Or you can also record your audio with Audacity itself. Yes, Audacity is both an audio recorder and editor.
To record your audio with Audacity, connect your mic with you computer (or use the built-in one), make sure the right mic is selected under input device. Next, click the red button to start recording and start speaking. Once you are done, click the Stop button.
#3 Remove Bad Audio
Only professional get their audio right in the first attempt. And since you are reading this, chances are you are not a professional (at least no yet). So let’s remove the repeated audio or gaps you have in your audio.
Select the portion of the waveform you want to delete and click scissor icon. You can also press the delete key; it’s much quicker.
If you can not delete the selected audio, make sure you have stopped the recording.
ProTip: If you make any mistake like deleting something accidentally, then use undo/redo button on Audacity (CTRL+z and CTRL + SHIFT +z).
#4 Remove Background Noise
Unless you are recording your audio in a professional studio, there will always be some background noise or hum sound. So let’s remove it.
First select a sample of pure noise and go to Effects > Noise Removal > Get Noise Profile.
Now that Audacity knows what to filter; go back to your recording and select the entire audio (press ctrl+A). Now, again go to the noise removal dialogue box. Make sure you have default settings (see the screenshot below) and hit OK.
Usually, the default settings are sufficient. ButN, if you have more noise in your recording then move the slider next to Noise reduction to the right and then hit OK. Audacity will remove all noise from the recording.
Pro Tip: It’s good practice speak after 5 seconds after pressing the start button. This way you will be able to pick up the noise quite easily.
What normalization does is, it increase the audio level of the entire clip without affecting the dynamic range. So, if you sound is low, this will increase it.
But if you overdo this (or any other effects per say), it will kill your audio quality.
So select your entire clip (CTRL + A) and go to Effect > and then Normalize. Keep the settings as default (see screenshot below) and hit the OK button.
Now, what compression does it decrease the difference between low and high of your audio, such that you audio sounds more even.
So, again select your audio clip, go to Effects > Compressor.
What settings should you use? Well, there is no fixed value for it, since it depends on the individual voice. I suggest your play a little bit with the threshold (keep it between -5 and -15). Keep the rest as default and hit the OK button. You will notice a reduction in high and low end of you waveform.
We’ll add two filters here — Bass Boost and Treble Boost.
Bass boost makes your voice sound more bassy or deeper. So again select your entire clip, go to effects > equalization > select curve > bass boost.
Now, adjust the curve. By default, it’s 9 dB. If you bring the curve up, it’ll add more base to your voice and vice-versa.
Next, we’ll add Treble Boost; it makes your voice crisp and clear. To do that repeat the same process and as we did above. Select the entire clip > go to effects > equalization > select curve > treble boost. Again, I like to keep it between 3-6 dB. And then hit OK.
However, I highly recommend not to overdo them because this may increase your voice quality, but at the same time, you are also sound like someone else. And when you speak without these filters your audience will not know who you are.
#8 Hard limit
This is optional, but applying these filter may increase the amplitude of your voice over. So if you see spikes in your waveform that touches the ceiling, then use the hard limiter. It chops off the high pitch.
Select the entire audio > effect > scroll down till you see Hard limit. Under dB limit select the value between 0-5 bB and keep other two as default and hit OK.
ProTip: Add Chain
Finally, once you get the sweet spot in your recording. You apply the chain effect to automate everything you just did. This will save you a lot of time.
To a new chain go to File > Edit chain > Add > Give it a name. Then click on the insert option in the right half of the dialog box and add the effects one by one.
To apply the chain to a current project, select the entire clip > File > Apply Chain > Select your chain and apply it to the current project.
So these are some settings I use to improve my voice over. Now this is just an overview; it will take some trial and error to get the best settings for yourself. That said if you have any problem let me know in the comments below.