Shorten Your Processing Learning Curve With Presets

Posted on March 22, 2012 by

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New post by voice over talent and Home Studio Master, Dan Lenard…

Learning how to do any audio processing can be kind of confusing. Compression, EQ, reverb, High pass and low pass filters may sound like sonic mumbo jumbo.  However, these are things you need to eventually understand as a voice actor with a home studio, especially for auditions that you want to be heard above the crowd.

Fortunately, most of the recording and editing software we use has presets!

These are predetermined filters and effects designed for specific purposes. Even the simplest and cheapest software has presets. Audacity clearly is limited with only a few adjustable parameters in some of its effects.  If you’re on a Mac, Audacity has all the Apple effects, and those have more presets. For example, for reverb, it will give you a selection of different size rooms to recreate an appropriate reverb and echo.

When you move up to more sophisticated software like Audition, you get a plethora of choices. You get different compression schemes, dynamics processing and the like. The best part is, they have names that describe what each does. For example it has Deessing and D-eSSHing presets for both male and female voices.  The Dynamics processor has over 30 Presets ranging from a Broadcasting limiter to my personal favorite “Voice Over.” There are several gating presets too that make setting up a noise gate much simpler. There are also some mastering pre-sets that tell you exactly what they do.

In Twisted Wave, and the old Audition, (Formerly Cool Edit Pro) it’s the same thing. It has lots of presets to do what you want. When you open an effect, there will usually be a drop down menu with all the presets for that certain effect. Also, you can make adjustments and save those adjustments as a customized preset.

Plus, there are plug-in’s galore that you can find simply by doing a search for what you want, like a simple Noise gate plug in or a certain type of distortion to make your voice sound creepy or a Phaser or Chorusing to multiply your voice. Each site explains how to install them to your plug-in directory and when you open the effects rack, it will be listed there. Some are free! Some are not.

So how do you learn how to use them? As I tell anyone after I teach a concept, “Go out and play.”   Apply each preset to a file and see how it changes the sound.  From there you’ll get a feel for what each effect is for and how subtle changes can make you audio much clearer or change the whole tonality of your voice.  But as we talked about with front end processing, with effects in post, its non-destructive filtering and editing that is not permanent.   You can easily restore the file to its original sound.

Even more useful is the ability to build effect “Stacks” in Twisted Wave and a few other programs.  By combining certain effects in the right order you can process a file in one click! That’s very powerful, and time saving!

A word of caution: Don’t use them on actual files to clients or for auditions until someone who knows audio well reviews them to see if you have indeed enhanced your audio and not mangled it. So ease your processing learning curve and end your confusion. Explore your presets and how they can make your audio sing.

Share some questions and comments on this topic! What do you think?

About the Home Studio Master

Dan Lenard Dan is a Voice123 talent and owner of http://www.homestudiomaster.com/