technical questions about equipment and software used by voice talent who record at home - moderated by Beau Weaver
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My favorite audio editing tool for Voiceover


As I have mentioned frequently, I am a long time hater of Pro Tools. If you are recording multiple channels of music, routing through plug ins and locked to picture, it sure is the right tool. But for recording and editing voiceover tracks, it is a needlessly complex and cumbersome resource hog. And those are it's good points.

I cannot count the calls I have taken from folks who are new to home recording, literally in tears, trying to figure out how to save a simple recording as an mp3 file with Pro Tools. And don't even get me started on how any OS update from Apple usually renders Pro Tools inoperable. And a year to support Leopard? Give me a break. But I digress.

I have done extensive testing of virtually all the audio editors for Mac OSX, including, Logic, Soundtrack Pro, Peak, Adobe Sound Booth, Sound Studio 3, Wave Editor, Amadeus Pro, etc. On the PC platform, I was a long time fan of Sony Sound Forge, but they do not have any plans to port the app to Mac. Peak has it's fans, but it crashes regularly, and support is spotty. I was liking Sound Studio 3 a lot, but there were some bugs, and omissions and the developer did not respond to support requests at all. All of the above programs have their strengths and weaknesses, but for the way I like to work, they were just not quite right.

Anyway, I have been working with a software developer to perfect a suite little app that I just love, and I want to pass it along to you. For my money, the best tool for recording and editing voiceover is: TwistedWave. And, the price is 49 Dollars!*

It loads in about one second. No changing cursors into different tools. It works like a word processor. It saves directly as mp3 files, and will convert between almost all important audio file types. It exports the selected portion of the waveforme as a new file, of any type you specify. Navigation is a dream. You can zoom horizontally in the waveform and zoom in all with the tiny trackball in the Apple Mighty Mouse. It will record the highest resolution audio, sample rate and bit depth your sound card supports. It works with any digital interface that uses Apple Core Audio. For the advanced user, keyboard shortcuts are customizable, and you can create and save customized effects stacks of AU plugins.

I have worked closely with the guy who created the program to make some ease of use tweaks and fine tuning. He has responded to every one of my requests the same day. I think if you spend a little time playing with it, you may fall in love too.

You can download from this link, and try for a 30 day evaluation period for free. A major 1.5 update has just been posted, with additional improvement in development.

I have been using this as my daily editor for some time now and it is a huge time saver. If you are also a musician, or music producer, then Pro Tools is obviously. If all you need to do is record voiceover sessions, quick edit and cleanup and ship off via ftp, then give Twisted Wave a try, and never look back.

Full Disclosure: I am a paid user, and receive no compensation for this recommendation, other than gratitude for a tool so ideally suited for the task at hand.

Beau Weaver

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  • It simple terms a compressor+a filtered input to drive the compressor is a de-esser. The de-esser switch puts a filter in the detector (not the signal path) of the compressor. When this special input is brought out to a connector it is called a side chain input. It is is typically used to drive a compressor to act as a ducker or desser. So a compressor with special 'drive' inputs (side chain input) are turned into specialty devices called de-esser or duckers, depending how they are used. 
  • I don't know about it on a hardware DeEsser/Compressor, but on my Waves DeEsser plugin, it has a sidechain output.  That is useful because when you listen to the sidechain only, not the full audio, you can hear the part that the DeEsser is set for.  In your father's case, if he had the DeEsser frequency set correctly for his S sounds, you would only hear those S sounds in the sidechain output.  Nothing else.  It makes it easier to single out your S sounds and also lets you hear what the DeEsser is limiting, or de-essing.


    When you set a DeEsser, you listen to the sidechain, and change the frequency until you hear only (or mostly) the S sounds in the sidechain.  That's what I do on mine.


  • Mr. Nickell, 

    Thanks for taking the time to write to us.  Would you mind explaining what this means... "you can drive the side chain input to make it a de-esser."


    My dad knows what a de-esser is but not the side chain part.


    Thank you

  • Alexis,

    Preamp choices are kind of personal. Some are very clean, some add a nice color. In particular popular units with 'color' are Focusrite Red 7, Avalon 747, and the Universal Audio 6176 let's say. The UA 610 is a good tube pre with no comp. In lower-mid price ranges you might find a Symetrix, Joe Meek, or Aphex. All are good some are better or more special with your mic and voice.


    Grace Designs pres are clean and uncolored. It may sound appealing as a concept but not give you 'that' sound.


    So the last time I went shopping we were looking at Red7/Avalon/UA 610+comp/ limiter. At that time I did not think the Presonus, or less expensve Focusrites that Guitar Center carries and likes to sell were competition for the Red7/Avalon/UA 610+comp options.


    IMO Mackie oversells the Onyx preamp. It is a good preamp for the price. BTW are you passing signal thru the pre only or thru the mixer? The mixer buss degrades the performance compared to the straight pre, but that shouldn't be much of an issue with a singel mic. So buy a FMR audio RNC compressor and hook it up with your Mackie. They are under $200, you can drive the side chain input to make it a de-esser.

  • My dad said to thank everyone for the suggestions.  We do have a good double thick nylon pop filter, so that part is covered.  Also he has been speaking across the mic rather than into it and that has helped some.  He said he will experiment with your suggestions and let you know.   



    (P.S. he was wondering why the Presounus Studio series preamps may not be a good choice) 

  • Yesss... the dreaded esses.  Mine are too strong, and I really do favour the compression method (software or hardware) rather than EQ or frilly nylons.  Why?  Because using an EQ dip at (for example) 4kHz for men, 6 kHz for women, will weaken the harmonic 'wetness' of all other voice components as well.  Good de-essing just drops overall volume briefly during the ess, then goes away.  Studio-grade de-essing is able to reduce momentarily and by a precise amount the volume of just the ess.  Yesss!   Can I afford it?   Nooooo
  • another option that isn't as pretty, but may be functional is: (assuming you have a pop filter, if not, add one) place a thin piece of foam to the pop filter like a wind screen is made from, then use a nylon stocking over the assembly. I prefer black nylons, but the color is inconsequential. The stocking will hold the foam in place as well as hopefully add some more pop removing and s reducing goodness.
  • Alexis,

    The software de-esser is a good option.

    Otherwise you need a compressor that has a de-ess feature. One way to find the ss problem is to play the file and add 6+ db of boost and sweep the frequencies with a parametric EQ, and make it worse. Now that you can determine the problem you can set the de-ess frequency to moderate the ess problem.


    This is a very helpful way to apply an EQ by the way. Boost your voice and find what sounds bad, now remove 1 to 5 dB of the bad.

  • here's a start point that may help for the software's compressor settings:

    compress 1.5 above -24 db
    flat below -24
    low cut off 4000
    high cut off 12000
    You may have to play with the high and low cut off to tweak it some....
  • We don't have a compressor, the chain is....the mic goes to a Tascam interface and then the Mackie mixer then the computer.
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