Tips For Improving Sound Quality


Creating game audio involves many stages, from production, editing, mastering, to integration. Achieving a high-quality end result starts at the recording stage. While there are many fantastic tools available capable of greatly enhancing less-than-optimal, or even problematic recordings, you can save a lot of time and effort in achieving that high standard by being smart in the way you record your sounds. There is only so much that can be done to fix a recording littered with problems, so it’s always wise to put extra care into your initial production.

Today, we’ll look at recording voices. Below are a few simple problems to avoid when recording dialogue and voiceover:

 

1. Plosives:

Generally the result of certain hard consonant sounds like “P” and “B,” these create a spike in the low frequencies, that distorts the signal, adding an unwanted punch to those syllables while obscuring the annunciation. Pop-filters and windscreens are common prevention mechanisms.

Another surprisingly effective tool that everyone already has is a sock. You can place a sock over the grill of the microphone and it will absorb a lot of unwanted noise, including plosives.

 

2. Low Input Level:

When recording it is important to make sure you are getting a high enough input level. Otherwise, the volume will need to be raised significantly, which will most likely result in a lot of audible hiss and room tone. There are some effective methods for masking this unwanted background noise and tools that can remove it. However, both of these strategies become less effective as that noise level increases, and for in-game audio it is always advantageous for your source audio files to be as clean and pure as possible so they can be integrated effectively.

So it’s best to prepare your recording level and mic placement accordingly, such that you maintain an overall high input, while avoiding clipping (exceeding the maximum possible input value of your microphone).

 

3. Room Reflections:

It is generally wise to keep your source files as pure as possible, that way you have more control over their sonic characteristics in both post-production and their in-game integration. Making sure the recordings are sufficiently dry is part of this process. As with the sock example, you won’t need to purchase expensive gear or rent studio time.

In very directional recording like voiceover, you can simply hang a heavy coat–or any thick and soft material–on the wall just behind the mic. This will absorb the vast majority of the room reflections and result in a very dry, clean recording. To take this strategy even further, you can record inside of a closet with a lot of surrounding clothes covering the walls. Not only will the small size of the space limit the reflections, but the clothing will absorb just about any that would occur.

Avoiding these common problems during recording will greatly aid the rest of the process, saving a lot of time, and improving the end result.

Stay tuned for more tips,

-Eric

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