Voice Work pt 2 – The Equipment

Okay, so you’ve heard the story of how I got to where I am (and also I said I was a book ahead of myself in the last one, whoops) and now I’ve promised to actually talk about what I use and how I use it. Like everyone wanted! (HAH)

In any event, I’ll admit that my setup isn’t anything too particularly special. I’m sure the average “professional” in the field would look at me as if I’d lost my mind, and struggle to understand how I got anything done at all accepted as professional work. (I certainly did enough of that at the beginning. …And middle. …And now!) But let’s walk through an average recording day for the Rion.

For the longest time, I worked under the same rules as I would if I was singing: I always stood up. That being said, I’ve learned that since I am inherently lazy, I don’t like standing in one place for 30+ minutes at a time. So I’ve recently shifted my microphone stand so that it’s as short as it goes, and I can speak from my chair. I still sit up straight and make sure I work my voice that way, but it makes it easier to check stuff like pronunciations when I run into a word I’m not sure of. (After being called out on how to pronounce “bedraggled” in one of my first projects, I’m careful!)* But I have a fairly basic foam clamshell kind of contraption around my mic. I started out with a Blue Snowball, and have since worked my way up to its successor, the Blue Yeti.

The foam is peeling off the back; I still have to figure out how to fix that. You’ll also see the pop filter that keeps my voice from blowing out the mic on every P and T and whatnot.

In terms of software, I started out all my audio work in GarageBand, but for the past several years I’ve been working with a combination of Hindenburg Journalist and Audacity. Hindenburg was something I found when trying to look for a replacement for I believe GarageBand when it stopped cooperating with me. To my memory, the program cost about $99 and it’s been worth every penny. It also likely does a thousand more things that I don’t even know about, which might make my life easier, and I just don’t know. (It would rather suit my usual relationship with software.) But it’s nice and clean and it’s been fairly intuitive, and that’s really all I wanted for the program.

chap 1
A rare glimpse of the unedited Chapter 1 of MINDTOUCH

All of the main recording is done in Hindenburg, which auto-levels everything for me and ships it out into the mp3 form I need–which I then throw into Audacity. This is for a step that I believe that the next version up of Hindenburg has but I haven’t paid the money for: working on getting the room noise out. Even if you’re not familiar with the term, you probably know what room noise. Anytime you’re listening to something recorded, you can usually hear something in the background: cars or birds outside, the fan of a heating system, the whirr of the computer, something. That’s all room noise. All the background noise you hear in an empty room; that’s room noise. And what I can do with Audacity is tell it to listen to the “silence” I’ve left at the beginning of the recording, analyze it, and take out anything within those sound parameters. (This I believe is considered the “noise floor.” I’m not so good with the jargon.)

chap 1 sword
Chapter 1 again, but this time of SWORD OF THE ALLIANCE

But once I’ve run it through Audacity, made sure it’s an mp3 file again, then it’s off to the races! (Or authors, as the case may be) Sometimes it’s been through ACX at which point it needs to stand up to their test–other times I’m working with Micah and sending it directly to her. But at the end of the day, that’s really all it is. I wish I had something more glamorous to share!

Alas, it’s really just a life of me sitting around and talking to myself, and then being able to go back and edit what I said and make it better. (I’m glad I do the edits as well. I’d feel so bad for anyone who had to listen to all the sputtering and cursing that tends to happen when I record!)

But yes! Feel free to ask any more specific questions you might have if I didn’t answer them. I’m always happy to expand!
*I said “bed-raggled” instead of “be-draggled.” Whoops.


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