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Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute

Joe Offer 16 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 16 Jul 11 - 07:30 PM
Joe Offer 17 Jul 11 - 02:57 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 17 Jul 11 - 04:43 AM
Nick 17 Jul 11 - 06:56 AM
GUEST,Grishka 17 Jul 11 - 09:13 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 17 Jul 11 - 12:46 PM
Tootler 17 Jul 11 - 04:31 PM
Joe Offer 28 Jul 11 - 12:55 AM
Tootler 28 Jul 11 - 08:14 PM
Joe Offer 28 Jul 11 - 08:55 PM
Simon G 31 Jul 11 - 10:22 PM
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Subject: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM

I've just used my Zoom Handy H2 recorder to record a psychologist friend, reading a number of stress-reduction exercises she wrote for caregivers. I recorded on MP3 to save space - although I know WAV would be preferable.

Now, I want to record another friend, playing a flute to accompany the readings. Then, of course, I'll mix the two together.

I know the primitive way. I can edit the speech recording in Audacity and remove imperfections, and then burn the speech recordings onto a CD. Then the flautist can listen to the CD on headphones while I record the flute music on the Zoom H2, and then mix the two recordings in Audacity. I'd mark the time readings for both, so I'll know approximately where things should coincide.

But is there a better way?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 16 Jul 11 - 07:30 PM

If you had a sequencing programme like Ableton or Cubase you could put the voice and flute tracks together more efficiently, even as MP3s. UK Computer Magazine gives sequencing / multitracking software away freely each month but it takes a bit of living with.

Alternatively, you could send both the speech & flute mp3s to me (via YouSendIt) and I'll sequence it for you at this end.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 02:57 AM

Refresh. Any ideas? The flautist will improvise as she listens to the readings, so it's important to time the flute recording to match the readings, as the flautist interpreted them.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 04:43 AM

By Computer Magazine I meant Computer Music magazine, which each months comes with a disk of bundled free software which is enough & more get you started on basic multitracking & sequencing - enough to turn your PC / Laptop into a multitracking studio & audio workstation with some cracking gizmos. The other thing you'll need of course is a half decent soundcard, such as the Behringer UCA202, which cost pennies but is the business. When I passed on a recent project to our record label's engineer for 'mastering' they said it was pretty much a done deal, and I wasn't trying that hard to be honest.

So:

1) Edit the voicetrack asrequired, comvert it to 24-bit WAV, import it into Channel 1

3) Play it back (over headphones) whilst recording flautist on Channel Two.

4) Edit flute track as required (compression / incidentals) and have fun with the mix.

Using Cubase & Ableton (of which Lite versions are cheaply acquired) you can duplicate either file and open them up on subsequent channels to treat differently by way of EQ & FX (reverb, echo touches) and to make the sound a lot richer.

For editing each track Audacity is good, but Sound Forge is better - it'll cost you £30 quid or so for the basic package, but worth every penny. If you run to an H2, then some decent editing & sequencing software is essential. Did the H2 come bundle with Cubase? I can't remember came with my H4 (on which you can multi-track of course but I never have).


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: Nick
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 06:56 AM

Try Reaper. You can try for free with no restrictions. Easy to mix the two tracks together


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: GUEST,Grishka
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 09:13 AM

Audacity does the job alright (overdubbing and mixing actually being its main use case), as Suibhne writes. No need to burn a CD, since Audacity can import MP3 directly.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 12:46 PM

As all are agreed working with playback and recording in real time
to a multitrack laptop/PC sequencer is the most practicable effective method,

all I'll add is a reminder to watch out for latency
- the slight few milliseconds time lag that manifests itself as a slapback echo
confusing to the ears and timing of the performer.

Good hardware audio interfaces take this into account in their setup operating procedures,
plus the software sequencer should have menu options for controlling record monitoring latency issues....


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: Tootler
Date: 17 Jul 11 - 04:31 PM

I did something similar to Suinbhne but all you need is Audacity and your Zoom H2 (and maybe your favourite Audio player on the PC)

  1. Record the speech on your Zoom H2 (already done), copy it to your PC.

  2. Playback the speech to the flautist over headphones and record her accompanying music on your Zoom H2.

  3. Copy the flute track to the PC.

  4. If desired edit the two audio files separately for audio quality.

  5. import both into Audacity and mix the two together.


I have dubbed background music on to video of my granddaughter, keeping her chatter using this method.

There is a pretty good tutorial on the Audacity website on mixing tracks. http://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Category:Tutorial

I have an Edirol R09 rather than a Zoom but the consensus seems to be that the sound quality from both is pretty good, even using the internal mics.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 12:55 AM

Well, I got the first three tracks back from the flautist, and I'm mixing them now. She made it really easy for me. I made a CD of the (spoken) vocal part, and she listened through headphones while playing her flute into my Zoom Handy H2 recorder. She marked where I was supposed to match the beginning of the music with the speech on each recording.

I had a little trouble opening both the music and the speech in the same file in Audacity. I opened the speech, and then added a stereo track. I tried to import the music into the stereo track, but I couldn't get it to work. I opened the music track in another window and edited it, then I selected [CTRL-A] and copied it [CTRL-C]. Then I went back to the speech window's added music track and moved the cursor to where the music was to begin. I put the cursor in the area for the added stereo track and pasted [CTRL-V] the music track in place. That worked just fine.

In Audacity, there's a selection under "tracks" for "mix and render." I did that, but I'm not sure what it did - there were still four tracks left on the screen, although the screen display changed somewhat. When I chose to "export" it to a WAV file, a box appeared that informed me that the file would be reduced and mixed to two tracks, so maybe I didn't need to "mix and render." I didn't do "mix and render" on the second track, and it turned out just fine.

I had the H2's microphone gain set to "low" for the speech recording, and that seemed to work pretty well - it didn't pick up background noises, which is what I was hoping for. We had a couple of annoying interruptions from the author's husband, but that was to be expected....

The flautist, whose husband didn't interrupt, suggested that "medium" was a better volume setting for recording the flute, and it seemed to work very well. She used a native American flute, a low 'D' whistle, and a Hawaiian nose flute, and they all recorded very well with the Zoom Handy H2. The Hawaiian nose flute was fascinating - sounds very much like tuva singing, with a dual sound. I think that perhaps the spouses of musicians know that they'd best not interrupt a recording.

So far, the recording process is going amazing well. I give most of the credit to the flautist, Paula Peach (Auburn, California), who seems to be able to play most any instrument exceedingly well. I thought at first that she played just the hammer dulcimer, but I've known her for 10 or more years now and never met an instrument that Paula couldn't play to perfection. I gave my Zoom Handy H2 to her, and she more-or-less figured out how to operate it herself. She improvised the melodies as she went along. I think I'm going to add flute-only tracks to the CD, because the flute music is so beautiful by itself. What a pleasure to work with an instrumentalist like her!

Hey, I'm a rank amateur, but the Zoom recorder and the Audacity editing software allow me to make a pretty darn good recording.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 08:14 PM

Rather than add a stereo track then try to import the music track into it simply go to File>Import>Audio and navigate to the location of your audio track. The audio track should then import into a fresh stereo track.

To mix multiple tracks down to a single track you need to select all the tracks to to be mixed. Click your mouse in the panel at the left hand end of the first track then for all the other tracks, press shift and click your mouse in the panel. Once all the tracks have been selected then mix and render should reduce your tracks to a single stereo track.

I usually convert the individual tracks to mono first then use the pan slider on each track to locate each part where I want it in the stereo "space" - headphones and the solo button are useful for that. Then select all the tracks and mix and render will create a single stereo track with each part positioned where you set it in the stereo image. If you set the pan on a series of mono tracks to the centre, mix and render will create a single mono track.

You may have to reduce the volume slightly on each track to avoid clipping if all the waveforms of your tracks are close to the limit. The volume slider on the left hand panel of the track will do the trick or you can use the amplify effect. The volume slider will also enable you to set the balance between the parts so the flute doesn't dominate the speech. It's all a matter of trial and error. Fortunately, Audacity allows a good depth of undo, so you can try things out, undo them and try again.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 08:55 PM

Thanks, Tootler. I came back to the thread just now to ask some questions about adjusting volume and what's optimum for a CD, and you've given me a good start already.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Tech: Help Me Make This Recording-speech/flute
From: Simon G
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 10:22 PM

Using the normalize effect will get your loudest sound to the highest level it can be on the CD. This is only the start. These day we are used to a compressed sound range on CD so the the quietest sound is un-naturally loud. This is very useful in a car where there is a high level of background noise, but we have become used to it in all situations. Which is why people who are used to CDs find LPs rather empty sounding, its kinda sad but it is as it is.

I wouldn't use the simplistic compressor supplied with audacity but use the add in dynamic compressor. The default settings work well for speech, try it on your speech track.

You also might consider giving the listeners some help in distinguishing the speech from the flute. One way to do this is to pan one track left and other right. If you had two music tracks you would consider those tracks left and right and leaving the speech in the middle.

The other way is to use the tonal range to split the speech and flute by EQing each track to fill a different part of the spectrum of frequencies. You might find the flute and voice already fill different frequencies and you just need to reduce the overflow into each others spectral territory.

Simon


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