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Voiceover Recording: Stereo vs Mono?

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Adam Rosenberg
Voiceover Recording: Stereo vs Mono?
on Feb 1, 2015 at 10:42:52 pm

I shot a short film recently that utilizes a voiceover to tell the story, and I recorded a scratch VO with my H4n just to have something to edit to. After I completed the edit, I re-recorded using a Sennheiser lav mic from a sound booth and edited together multiple takes until it sounded just right. Yet when I played the new, proper VO in my edit, I felt there was something lacking compared to the first VO, even though I put much more thought and care into the second one.

Of course there is much to be said about the different vocal performances, the different recording environments, and possibly some demo love, but is it possible that what I love about the first VO is that it's in stereo? Maybe it feels more raw and real? The film is about a bad dream, so maybe the stereo recording feels more surreal and therefore fits the mood better?


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Richard Crowley
Re: Voiceover Recording: Stereo vs Mono?
on Feb 2, 2015 at 12:29:46 am

Virtually 100% of the time, voice (dialog, narration, VO, etc.) is recorded in MONAURAL unless you are recording a sleazy politician who talks out of both sides of their mouth. That single, mono, track is then mixed (and panned) into the proper place in the mix.

OTOH, if have (intentionally or accidentally) recorded some sort of "special effect" into your voice track, then don't let "conventional wisdom" talk you out of it.

Remember, however, to check for monaural compatibility because you can't always control how people play it back.


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Peter Groom
Re: Voiceover Recording: Stereo vs Mono?
on Feb 2, 2015 at 11:30:42 am

I have been in tv studios for 29 years and can confirm that i Have NEVER and will NEVER record a VO in stereo - for a whole raft of good reasons.
Record it mono - position it centre and then do whatever you will re processing / FX
Peter

Post Production Dubbing Mixer


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Bruce Watson
Re: Voiceover Recording: Stereo vs Mono?
on Feb 2, 2015 at 4:18:38 pm

For film, always mono -- it's going to be played back on the center channel (dialog).

[Adam Rosenberg] "After I completed the edit, I re-recorded using a Sennheiser lav mic from a sound booth and edited together multiple takes until it sounded just right."

Two reasons it perhaps "doesn't sound right". First, you're using a lav. Lavalier mics, by nature of their standard placement, generally have a particular sound. They can be somewhat "nasally" because they look right up into the nose. Also they tend to be placed right on the body, which basically turns them into boundary mics. Neither of these sound like what we are used to since when we listen to someone talk in person, our ears are typically above or nearly inline with their nose, and we hear the room all around us, and not just the 180 degree half-sphere that a boundary mic hears. Some post EQ will at least help any nasally sound problems however.

Second, by "Sennheiser lav mic" you probably mean the Sennheiser ME2. Not many people will place this mic in their top 5. A considerably better choice would be the Oscar SoundTech mics, the Tram TR-50, etc.

Rather than a lav mic, I'd suggest a mic made for voice work, like the Electro-Voice RE20. But favorite mics for voice over work become a religious debate. Whichever mic you choose, place it well and use a pop filter to ward off the plosives and you should end up with a very pleasing and natural sound.


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Adam Rosenberg
Re: Voiceover Recording: Stereo vs Mono?
on Feb 3, 2015 at 10:21:28 pm

Awesome. Thanks so much for the advice everyone!


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