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Best Settings for Voice Acting with H4N?

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Tara Pearce
Best Settings for Voice Acting with H4N?
on Jul 11, 2014 at 7:38:11 pm

I can't afford another good quality microphone like the NTG2, so I'm wondering what the best settings are for voices/voice acting with the H4N.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Best Settings for Voice Acting with H4N?
on Jul 11, 2014 at 8:18:14 pm

How are you defining "voice acting" here?
Are you talking about acquiring dialog while shooting video? How are you positioning the microphone (whether it is attached to a recorder or not)? Scripted or unscripted ("reality")? On a sound-stage or out in the Real World?
Or are you talking about dramatized scripts for audiobooks or something.

WHAT you are recording and HOW, and for WHO are very important parts of the puzzle, and without that kind of information, we probably can't offer you any useful advice.


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Tara Pearce
Re: Best Settings for Voice Acting with H4N?
on Jul 11, 2014 at 8:25:06 pm

Acquiring dialogue, no video. Microphone is directly in front of me. Scripted. Real World. Free-lance voice acting - I record lines, send them to someone, and then they match that up with an animation - hence why I said 'voice acting', as people generally understand what that means. If it was done in a studio (not a home studio) I doubt I would nee your guys' help.

Basically I'm asking what the best settings are for cutting out background noise while capturing my voice as clear as possible. I know that's not what the H4N was made for, that's why I asked what the best possible settings were.


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Richard Crowley
Re: Best Settings for Voice Acting with H4N?
on Jul 11, 2014 at 10:48:10 pm
Last Edited By Richard Crowley on Jul 11, 2014 at 10:51:04 pm

If I were contracting for dialog recording, I would want it as "clean" as possible, meaning recording uncompressed (i.e. WAV and not MP3) and without any other "processing". i.e. as "plain ans simple" as possible.

Noise reduction is accomplished acoustically in the recording space. It is not a "filter" you can use while recording, or an "effect" you can apply after the fact.

Voice talent typically have a room ("studio") where they can shut out as much environmental noise as possible. Temporary/makeshift solutions include recording inside a closet with lots of clothes hanging to absorb reflections, (as well as provide additional isolation from environmental noise). Other ways of making "clean" recordings include recording in the wee hours of the morning when your neighborhood is quietest.

Of course signal to noise ratios are improved with proximity between the microphone and the subject. But there is a practical limit to that based on how the microphone performs with your voice, the style of the material, etc.


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Bill Davis
Re: Best Settings for Voice Acting with H4N?
on Jul 12, 2014 at 5:33:30 am

Hi Tera.

I've done voiceover work for more than 30 years. Here are the basics.

The thing you want to achieve is the best signal to noise ration possible. "Noise" in this case is any and everything that's NOT your voice. So everything from traffic noise to electrical hum to the sound of your room's HVAC system is ALL noise. That typically means controlling the room noise as Richard noted above. You want an space that's not too big and that absorbs as much reflected sound as possible. Studios do it with custom installed absorbed materials. But honestly, shutting yourself inside a closet full of heavy coats will do the same thing.

You want a mic that's sensitive enough so that you can conrol the dynamics of your voice and turn the mic up enough to capture them. Typically, VO work is done with a class of mics known as large diaphragm condensers. They are powered, sensitive and very, very quiet in terms of their internal electronic circuitry. This allows them to clearly pick up the nuances of performance including everything from whispers to shouts.

They tend to be expensive, but the human voice is not a particularly complex signal, so don't get stuck on the "perfect" mic. I've done paid voice work using everything from $99 Sure SM-57s to the $1000 Neumann condenser in my voice booth today. Sure the Neumann is better. but over the years I've stood in front of at least 35 different model mics and gotten useful performances recorded with all of them.

For beginners, I often recommend the classic large diaphragm dynamic mikes like the Sure SM-7. They're modest in price and pretty forgiving.

You COULD use just the H4N's mics, but they are built for stereo recording and if you try them, put the H4n in dual mono mode and dump one track in post. All VOs should be recorded and delivered as MONO - never in stereo.

You'll also need a decent pair of over the ear, sound isolating headphones. The Sony 7506's are very popular. Do NOT use earbuds or anything like the Beats phones that are designed for heavily accented Bass. What you want is to be able to clearly hear breath pops, saliva sounds, and fumbled pronunciations clearly so your can re-do the work until it's perfect.

Finally, if you truly want to do voice acting. you should definitely be enrolled in some form of formal acting class - preferably one where you can interact with other actors. To make a script come alive, you need to learn, not how to necessarily just read the words of the script properly, but reference them, then interact with other actors or characters. That's what makes characterizations come alive.

Theres a lot more, but those are some of the basics. Good luck.

Good luck.

Know someone who teaches video editing in elementary school, high school or college? Tell them to check out http://www.StartEditingNow.com - video editing curriculum complete with licensed practice content.


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