How To: Start Recording your Voice

Unknown-2I was in radio for 3 years.  I know a little bit about the business. 😉 I was a news director at one time for three radio stations in SE AZ and I loved it.  The only reason I quit was that my hubs and I wanted to start our own business and I could not do both…sigh…I mean, I could have…because I am super-mom.  It wouldn’t have been pretty but it could have happened.  I help out a friend of mine who still works in radio with commercials and when he needs “dry reads” because he knows he can tell me how to say it and I will.

Anyway, while I worked at the station I had my 3rd child, my son.  We called him “Señor Poopy-Pants” because every single time I would go into the station to record the news and the afternoon weather and any other spots (commercials) my boy would ALWAYS crap his pants.  And if you are a mom (or dad) you know the stuff I am talking about…the kind that works it way from the tiniest little bowels in the world and manages to erupt up through the diaper, clear up the back and all the way into my son’s hair.  UGH!  Every.Single.Time.  The kind where you are equally gagging, crying and laughing because that MUCH crap should not come out of a tiny little baby.

So when I informed the station that I was preggo, we decided that while the baby was super tiny, I could start recording my news from home.  I currently use Adobe Audition, but I have friends in radio who prefer ProTools.  I prefer Adobe because it is the one that I have learned on…but my friends, who do MUCH more than I do with imaging, commercials and production, they prefer the ability of ProTools.

As one of them put it: “If you go with ProTools and you don’t have someone to teach you, you have a STEEP learning curve!”  ACK!  So…I stick with my trusty old Adobe Audition.

Now that you have had my backstory, I am sure whatever you have for recording your voice will be great for what you need.  Let’s get to what you really came here for…the nitty gritty of recording your voice.

First, when you start speaking into a microphone…get used to it.  Practice makes perfect.  And you probably will not like your voice.  Pretend: you are having a conversation with a few thousand close friends.  You do not have to have a “radio” voice…that will come later, I promise.  (I never thought I had a “radio” voice per se…until I started really recording again and I realize…OH MY WORD!!!!…I DO have a radio voice.  It was quite the shock and revelation, gentle reader.)

Second, mess around with your sound.  If you have Adobe Audition…they have a lot of presets to use.  Have fun with it!  Go to “Amplify” and play with the dB sounds.  3dB-6dB makes your voice sound full.  People in radio want that!

Third, make sure your recording area is devoid of sound.  Seriously.  A microphone…if it’s really good…can pick up the ticking of a clock, the sound of a fan…a dog barking upstairs.

Fourth, create a fake commercial.  Write about 5 lines of copy for anything…best place to look is in your local newspaper.  Many folks have print ads you can pull stuff from.  When you are typing it, put it in ARIAL BLACK IN ALL CAPS LOCKS.   Believe me, it makes for easier reading.  5 lines will be about 12-15 seconds of real-time audio.

Fifth, record your commercial.  Make sure you are careful with “B’s” and “P’s”…they can sound harsh.  When you have to say a word that starts with a “B” or a “P”, turn your head sideways.

Sixth, try not to record after you have something with a lot of cheese.  It can make your voice sound phlegmy.  Ewww…no one wants that.

Seventh, cut out the area that have breaths or no sound.  If you want to make a :30 commercial, then you can keep those in…just make sure they are not too loud.

Eighth, add your music.  You can find a lot of free production music (hint: type in “free production music for commercials” in google) and add it the track.

Ninth, play the two together and get the volume levels so that the music does not over power the vocals.  You can also do this by a process of “enveloping” which you can master the music to be quieter when you are speaking.

Tenth, do a final mixdown and you will have your finished product.

That’s about it…in a super simplified way.  Have fun…whether you are using Adobe Audition, Protools or Garage Band (which I still have not learned).

NOTE:  Be wary of sneaky background noise.  Turn up your volume and listen to your piece, especially if you are just recording a dry voice spot.  Something you cannot hear, a production manager might be able to when the volume is turned up.  If you cannot hear feed back or background noise…you should be okay.

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