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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  • My dad did a side by side with our Rode NT1A and our TLM103 and they were very close.  There was a difference but one was not better than the other.  

    The NT1A costs about $250 with a pop filter.  

    Another choice may be the Harland Hogan mic, we have never used it but I have heard good things about it.  If we needed another mic I bet my dad would get that one. It costs about $250 I think. 

    A small Mackie mixer might be a good investment if you don't have one to tweek the EQ on whatever mic you choose.  I say Mackie because they are known for being very quite and having good preamps (esp. the Onix series).

  • Hi everyone, 

    I am considering upgrading my mic from a Rode NT 1000 to something else.  I think the TLM 103 is more than I want to pay, but has anyone heard anything about the Shure KSM32 for VO use?  (My Rode has quite a bit of inherent noise or self noise as they say and it's also quite sensitive to my English accent - plosives, esses etc.  Any suggestions anyone?

  • Thankyou, Joe. Yes, that backup is really important. And if, like me, you worry about over-filling your hard-drive, there are web services that will store stuff for you economically.
  • I may be a month late with this addendum to Howard's excellent points, but it's worth mentioning anyway.  To any talent that is going to do any editing or processing of their recording before sending it out, a very strong suggestion: ALWAYS keep a copy of the "un-fooled-with" version of your track! You never know when someone else's ears are going to disagree with yours about EQ, compression, levels, etc. If you don't have the original to go back to when this happens, you're wearing a lot of egg on your face.

  • Thanks Howard :)

  • 'Finished' has to reflect what your producers want, and they vary.  If they work with a proper engineer, they might expect or specify 'unprocessed' from you - just a nice straight track that sounds like you and has no intrusive noises.

    Even so, your tracks should at the very least be recorded to consistent levels:  not too many decibels below the maximum possible, and certainly never 'into the red'.

    If it's a book, chapters should match in their general level and loudness - those are not quite the same thing, but a studio can resolve such nuances.

    If someone asks you for 'finished' - ask about the end-use. That's a reasonable question because if they are planning loud music throughout, you'll need to process accordingly to be heard.    They could be saying please deal with the dynamics for us - i.e. reduce the contrast between your soft and loud, by using volume compression and limiting, and deliver a track accurately regulated throughout to (for example) no higher than 3 decibels below maximum.  Possibly they'd expect you to use noise-gating as well, if needed, though everyone prefers the result you get from a silent studio, and any gating has to be done with extreme care as it can eat syllables and can't be undone. Best avoided. 

    Another thing you'll often see mentioned here is 'de-essing' - reducing the strength of esses.  Not all performers/microphones need this, but again simple software can fix it. 

    All this is perfectly feasible with home studio software, can be enjoyable, and is not strictly 'technical' - but it does need practice and careful listening to get it right, plus more information than we usually get about the end-use. For example, something processed to be audible in a noisy vehicle (by raising all the quiet parts of words) might sound over-blown as a bedtime story.  

    'Finishing' a track as above means it can be glued straight into a production without much expert intervention, so it can be another string to your bow, best appreciated by lower-budget projects.  On the other hand, it takes up time that might be better applied developing other aspects of what you do.   Some successful performers never lay hands on their tracks, not even to edit out the fluffs that vex most of us.

    If the producers you've found like your tracks just as they are - lucky you!

  • I am not sure where to ask this question, and if it is already been asked and answered please direct me in the right direction. I use wave pad as my recording software, I record and I can edit, but the question is, what is the difference in just editing the recording and it being a “finished product” I have not had to do a “ finished “ product at home yet and I am a little confused. Thank you for your help.

  • Thanks Alexis-TW is sounding better and better!

  • We record and do most of the editing on Twisted Wave but use Sound Booth (Now Adobe Cs 5 I think) mostly for the click and pop removal, and as a back up. We love Twisted Wave though. 

  • Thanks Howard for that great recommendation! I love simplicity. It's funny that in addition to being voice talents,it doesn't hurt to be quasi recording and editing engineers! I am not super tech savvy but have done well with audacity over the years and look forward to twisted Wave. Cheers! Ed

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