In partnership with BandLab
Even for seasoned musicians, recording and processing a vocal can seem like some sort of dark audio art. From microphone placement to effects choices and plug-in settings, there’s a head-spinning amount of differentials to consider. Even for seemingly straightforward voiceovers, the sheer number of possibilities is bewildering. But no matter what kind of vocal you’re working towards, the first step is to capture the cleanest possible recording. Then, at the very least, it’s a case of applying noise reduction, reducing clicks and pops, and balancing the tone.
Here we’re going to record a simple voiceover, the kind you might require for a vlog narration or podcast. Then we’ll show you how BandLab’s suite of effects can be used to de-noise and smooth out the vocal to create a balanced tone ready for production.
1. Setting up
Fire up BandLab and hit Voice/Mic. Depending on your browser, your system’s security settings may initially prevent BandLab from accessing your microphone, so you might see a pop-up asking you to grant the programme access. Navigate to the mic icon in your toolbar, then click Always Allow and Done to finish the set-up.
2. Making gains
At the lower left of the BandLab window, click Source and then choose your microphone from the drop-down menu. We’re using a USB-connected Shure MV7. Click the Monitoring to hear the mic input. If your signal is running too hot and distorting, use the gain fader on the far left to reduce it. Click record to capture the microphone as a new audio region.
3. Lose the noise
De-noise your short voiceover clip to remove any low-level background hum. Doing so is easy thanks to BandLab’s built-in intelligent algorithm. Right-click the audio region and select de-noise. After a couple of seconds, the processing will remove the noise floor from the voiceover.
4. No more clicks
Your newly de-noised audio should be good enough for many applications but you can go further. Navigate to Fx Effects and add Dynamics > Noise Gate. Set the threshold dial so that the gate cuts out quiet clicks, pops and breath noises. A generous release time of about 300ms should prevent your syllables from being truncated too quickly.
5. Sneaky sibilance
Sibilance may still be an issue, with harsh S sounds still being too prominent. BandLab has an effect plug-in designed to deal with this. Add a new effect and choose Dynamics > DeEsser to smooth the fizziness of those sounds with a threshold of -15dB.
6. Tone it down
With the basics taken care of, smaller tweaks to the EQ can help to reduce the low-frequency pops of your voiceover. Add Tone > Multi Filter to shape your frequencies. You want to subtly roll off the low end without losing the weight of your voice recording. Choose the Lowshelf mode, set the frequency to 70Hz, and the gain -10dB. Your vocal should sound silky smooth.
BandLab is the flagship digital product in BandLab Technologies’ portfolio of music brands, and a leading social music creation platform with a global reach of over 37 million users. Through its best-in-class digital audio workstation (DAW) and audio hardware division, BandLab empowers creators to make music and share their creative process with musicians and fans on an unprecedented level.
The BandLab product family also includes BandLab for Education, an award-winning music creation platform with classroom management tools, and Cakewalk by BandLab, a professional-level digital recording studio for career musicians and producers.