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Muddy VO Audio in Basketball Arena

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Alana Curtis
Muddy VO Audio in Basketball Arena
on Jan 18, 2013 at 8:28:33 pm

I'm cutting a promo that will play in a college basketball arena. The audio includes a voice over that sounds like something you'd hear on a football promo - that bassy, gravelly sort of sound.

When I cut the first version, the VO sounded so muddy and bassy that you couldn't even understand what the guy was saying. Of course it sounds fine playing from the computer, but the echo in the arena was way more intense than I expected.

Anyone have experience editing audio that will play in such a location? Any advice on how to clear it up?


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Jeff Meyer
Re: Muddy VO Audio in Basketball Arena
on Jan 18, 2013 at 10:45:34 pm

The kind of voice you're describing (plotted with the volume on they Y axis and the frequency on the X axis) tends to respond like a smiley face - lots of low end, not a lot in the mids, and some more on the highs. Try bringing up the highs up for additional clarity.

Use an equalizer to add 2-3dB in the 2-4kHz region, or 2000-4000Hz. With audio there's rarely a "this is the answer" kind of solution - it tends to come down to playing with the sliders and finding what sounds "best." The numbers I say above aren't "the answer," but they should be a solid starting point.


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Michael Gissing
Re: Muddy VO Audio in Basketball Arena
on Jan 19, 2013 at 1:25:57 am

Will the arena be empty? Adding people will help the acoustic a lot. Large echoey spaces have some ugly resonances. If you have a tone generator and play it back in the space you will hear the frequencies that take off.

Best way to EQ is not adding but subtracting with notch type parametric EQ at those resonant frequencies. A deep voice will have resonances down around 120hz which is a classic area for a large roomy space. Try rolling off all frequencies below 120hz with a high pass filter and then some specific notches that match the space. After that you should find better intelligibility and unless the recording is dull there will be no need to add high frequency. Also dynamic compression will help.


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Jeff Meyer
Re: Muddy VO Audio in Basketball Arena
on Jan 19, 2013 at 6:33:03 am

Michael gives solid advice - cutting is generally a better approach than adding. I do agree regarding a high pass, but and if the venue's acoustics allow, I would target 80Hz for the high pass instead of 120Hz. There's a balance to find between removing presence and adding clarity. 120Hz might cut back on your host's presence more than you want.

A cut at about 400Hz might also be able to do a lot.


I'm doing full time stadium work right now. Generally in the venues I do most of my work (8,000 seats closed and 76,000 open air) a small boost on the high end goes pretty far.

Like I said above, sound advice is approximate. There's a few approaches here. A combination of everything I suggested and everything Michael suggested could lead to the best results.


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