How-to Make your Vocals Clear

One of the issues I have been running into is how to make my grandmother’s soft voice sound more clear throughout her interview and make it less difficult for my listener’s to hear her story.  After removing some of the background noise, and playing with the gain, I still felt like I could do more.  Yet creating my own Equalization seemed daunting.  Luckily, I found an eHow from an Audio Engineer who explained the two basic areas to focus on and why making these simple, subtle changes to the Hertz in your audio clear up the sound.

Like I said, it’s pretty simple.  Give it a try:

Step 1:  Select the region of audio you want to apply the effect to (highlight it):

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Step 2:  Go to Effect>>Equalization (EQ) and select:

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Step 3:  Removing Lower Frequencies (helps remove room tone):

After selecting Equalization, you should have a dialog box appear that looks like the one below.  What you want to do now is 1. Hit “Flatten”, and 2. Select “Draw Curves”.  The first area to focus on is lower frequencies—they aren’t often heard in the spoken word so removing them helps with that un-identifiable background noise.

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We want to Roll-off below 100 Hz.  This is done by placing your cursor on the line at 100 Hz, clicking to make a marker, then dragging the line around 60 Hz all the way down.  This will roll-off any frequency below 100 Hz but not cut-off, which would make your piece sound choppy.

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Step 4:  Soften Higher Frequencies:

What does sneak up in audio recordings, especially for softer, female voices, is high frequencies.  These can sound kind of sharp (as mine did), but can be softened.  Moving to the second area of focus, switch your view of the frequency field to “Graphic EQ”.  We will move up to 5000-6000 Hz which is the “sweet spot” of vocals.  Move the slider at the bottom for these two frequencies up to about 6 db.

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And that’s it!  You can preview your changes before saving them if you’d like.  What you will notice is a clearer recording.  If your piece needs a bit more, there are also preset EQ’s in the dialog box that you can play around with, or get brave and make your own!

Hope this helps!  Happy editing!

-SC

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One thought on “How-to Make your Vocals Clear

  1. Thanks for this post Sarah! With the help of your DIY post I was able to manipulate the decibel levels in my audio documentary to not only make voices clearer, but also to soften areas when people’s voices cracked or peaked in pitch, and to make monotone segments sound a little more dynamic and lively. Thanks for the tip!

    ao

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