Here are some suggestions on how to record a voice over. Ready to land your next voice over job?
This is a fairly detailed step-by-step guide for creating a pro quality voice over using Audacity (the free audio software). The steps here will work for any mic, but you should use at least a decent USB mic like the Samson Q2U (which you can get for 59 dollarinis). That's what I will assume for the example here.
Of course if you want much higher quality, you can invest in a large diaphragm condenser mic that you plug into an audio interface unit. A Focusrite Scarlett Solo Studio Bundle (mic, interface and headphones).
Ready? Here we go.
Audacity is a free audio recording program that works on both Mac and Windows and is incredibly powerful - especially for a free program.
To do that, go to Edit/Preferences/Devices (choose the Samson mic (or interface box like "Focusrite Scarlett") under "Recording" and make sure it says "mono" under "channels."
A new track will appear when you hit the "record" button and start recording.
Here are some tips for that:
* If you are using an interface unit to plug your mic in, you can turn the input level knob up on that. If you have a USB mic, go into your Windows Sound control panel (or System Preferences/Sound on a Mac), click on the Recording tab, select your mic, select Properties, then select the "Level." tab. Make sure the slider is at around the 85-90 percent mark. Sometimes Windows puts this level down to like 20% for some reason.
This is pretty self-explanatory. Just click the big yellowish square at the top of the scree.
Now find all the parts you want to cut out (bad takes, baby crying, phone ringing, etc.) by highlighting that bit of audio and simply hitting the "delete" button on your computer keyboard. Leave some space at the beginning though. You'll need that to sample background noise for noise reduction in the next step.
Once you're left with the parts you want to keep, it's time to reduce the ambient background noise. Usually this will be low-level computer drive noise, electronic buzz or hum, hiss from a USB mic, etc.
My current favorite noise reduction plugin is part of the Accusonus ERA bundle of vocal repair plugins. It's called the ERA Noise Remover.
Listen carefully to the recording in headphones. You'll likely have several "p-pops" or "plosives" as they are commonly called, caused when you say the letter P or B. Here is how to get rid of those (for more detail, see my post: How To Fix A "P-Pop" In Your Audio With A Sound Editor.)
This process can be very time consuming. But if you are willing to invest $6/month, you can SIGNIFICANTLY speed up the process of removing p-pops. Accusonus has a product that I now use every time I record my voice. It's called the ERA Plosive Remover. CLICK HERE to find out more or to purchase it. You just add it as a plugin effect in Audacity.
There will almost certainly be a few peaks in your recording that are clearly louder than the rest. You'll want to even things up so that the audio is more consistent. The process is sometimes called "compression." (See my post: What Does Compression Mean In Audio Recording? for more on this).
Here is how to use the Compressor effect in Audacity.
You may notice a few stray bits of unwanted noise in between the talking bits, so to fix those, just highlight them as you find them, and click the "Silence" tool button in Audacity. See pic below.
Lastly, save the audio in whatever format you need by selecting File/Export
44.1KHz and 16-bit wav files are standard "CD quality" audio. You can also export the audio as mp3.
Hopefully that should give you an idea how to record a voice over, a professional sounding one, very quickly. For more in-depth info, check out our Audacity course, the Newbies Guide to Audio Recording Awesomeness.