On April 15, I presented a webinar about Audacity, the voice recording and editing program I've been using since my days in journalism school. This webinar session, "Audacity: Free Recording Software for Voice Over Projects," was offered through Proz.com. A video recording of the live presentation is now available for purchase here.
We covered the following topics during the live session:
- Introduction to voice recording skills
- Aspects of effective speaking
- Using proper hardware
- Translating for the voice over industry
- Audacity: a cross-platform free audio tool
Below you'll find questions that were asked during the webinar, as well as some other comments that were sent to me by email. If you purchase access to the video, have questions after watching the material, and don't see your concerns addressed here, feel free to contact me and contribute to this Q&A list
What microphone do you use?
The microphone I use is considered semi-professional, provides great quality, and is used by many professional podcasters. It's an Audio Technica AT2020 Conderser Studio Microphone. It's a USB mic that should be detected by your hardware as soon as it's connected to your computer. I also use a Wind Screen Pop Filter to filter out the mouth noises and help keep the sound clear. Here are some other models you may want to check out.
Is there a difference between line-in and USB microphones?
Not that much, since the sound quality may not be affected, no matter which option you use. However, at the hardware level, it's easier to work with USB devices because they are plug-n-play, that is, your computer will recognize it right away and you'll be able to select it and start using it for audio input. You may just need to play around with the settings a little more to make sure your hardware is using a line-in microphone instead.
What headphones would you recommend?
It's best to have some sort of noise-cancelling, so you can hear everything in the recorded audio track and check for echos, pops, and background noises. I have two models I use for recording or entertainment. One is a Sennheiser HD 201, and the other one is a Monoprice Hi-Fi Active Noise Canceling Headphone w/ Active Noise Reduction Technology, which is a little more advanced and has a noise-cancelling button to enhance audio features.
Do you work at a professional studio or at a home studio? How do you charge differently in each case?
I worked at a studio once, when a local company hired my services for a GPS voice recording project. Back then, they told me they paid about $100 USD for the studio fees, then they paid my fees separately. All my other projects have been completed in my home studio and clients have been happy with the final result, but if they demand that I go to a professional studio, I'll research options in the area and add their fee to my fee when invoicing the client.
I've tried recording audio once at home, but there's an echo. What can I do about that?
The best thing you can do is find a quiet place in your house, a room that has furniture, pictures on the wall, curtains, and a bed. The emptier the place, the more echo is going to be produced. If you need to, put some pillows around you to help "suck in" the noise and preventing it from bouncing off the walls―which is actually what produces echos.
You mentioned Audacity doesn't some with MP3 capabilities due to licensing. Could you explain how to record MP3 audio using Audacity then?
Yes, because MP3 is a proprietary format, the developers of Audacity would have to pay a licensing fee in order to use it in the coding of the program, which means that the software would no longer be free, since they'd need to charge users in order to pay for the MP3 licensing fees. A way to avoid it is to offer Audacity without MP3 capabilities and point users to where they can download what is called an MP3 codec, which will allow you to export your recorded audio as MP3 files if the client requires that specific format. All you have to do is visit this page and follow the instructions to install the codec and have MP3 capability within Audacity.
If I receive a video with the original audio and background music, is there a way to add my voice over in the target language and keep the background music?
That's something more technical that involves video editing, actually. If your client demands that you do it yourself, they'll have to send you the video and the background music, and you'll need to use a video editing tool to add your voice over track and edit everything together. What clients usually do is send you the video for reference, so you can record your audio and submit it to them, so they can do it internally or contact the studio responsible for creating the original video with the source-language audio.
Do you use GarageBand and, if so, would you recommend it?
I don't use it myself, because I've been using Audacity since my college days, when I was going to journalism school and working as an intern at a community radio station. They are similar programs used to record and edit audio files, so you can check them both out and compare them to see which one you like best.