Recording voice over audio in your home studio is sometimes difficult. If you don’t have a professional recording environment, you probably get sounds bleeding into your recordings. Even if you found the quietest room in your house, the one most isolated from outside noise, you will (without proper soundproofing) inevitably have to deal with outside noise. It’s just part of the game, and everyone has to do it. Semi-trucks driving down the street outside, the dishwasher running, kids playing next door, lawnmowers, and even the sound of the refrigerator running. All of these (and a billion more noises that you don’t hear until you try to record in SILENCE) can cause issues in your recording. You need total silence to deliver professional audio.
Now there are quite a few ways to deal with these issues. In fact, we discussed it in a previous blog, but today, I’d like to share a little bit of magic with you. This little voodoo tip will drop the noise floor on almost any voice over recording you do WITHOUT affecting the finished product (at least not in a majorly audible way).
Most of the noises that bleed into an even semi-treated environment are lower frequencies. The high frequencies are easy to stop. The mid-range frequencies are tougher, but still relatively easy to stop. It’s the low frequencies that require the real investment in soundproofing; the investment that those starting out are typically unable or unwilling to slap down until they know whether or not VO is the career for them.
Here comes the magic folks! Presenting the HiPass Filter!!
A HiPass filter simply uses an eq to ditch all the frequencies below a specific frequency (typically somewhere between 60hz and 100hz). I have found the sweet spot to be at about 80hz. The human voice doesn’t provide much at and below those frequencies, so all you have down there is low-end rumble. You know…like from that truck outside, the refrigerator, or the mower.
When I built my studio, I thought I had everything worked out. I built an awesome room in my basement, and it is QUIET. Just one problem…I built the room directly below the refrigerator. You can’t hear it much, but it does send a low-end rumble into the room. Using a HiPass filter, I was able to drop my noise floor from -60db to -72db without really affecting my audio. THAT is some REAL cool voodoo.
Let’s make it happen for you. Your mic, mixer or preamp might have a built in HiPass filter. If so, just turn it on, and that’s it! If not, most recording software packages have a HiPass filter effect or plugin; but, if yours doesn’t, it is easy to do with just a parametric EQ. I’m just gonna tell you how to do with with the EQ because I don’t know what plugins you have, and I am certain you have an EQ. You do have an EQ…right?
First clear the EQ (we only want to get rid of low frequencies, and you can add other EQing if you need to later). Now, drop all frequencies (starting at 80hz) down to nuthin’. Some HiPass filters gradually drop frequencies (with a quick sweep down), and some will cut it off sharply. Just play with it, and see which low frequencies are bleeding into your space. Then, get rid of them!
That’s it. Simple. Easy. Effective. No more rumbly bumbly from the things around you….just sweet silence.