Botched Audio Facelifts
This post ties to my other post about why I don't make stacks for processing voice actors files. A friend was recently telling me about a plastic surgeon who was saying how the pandemic boosted his business tremendously. The reason? People have been on Zoom all-day every-day seeing their faces, and decided it was time to make changes. The same thing is happening to voice actors who used to spend time running around for auditions and really only heard themselves when they actually booked something. Even then, they’d be in a studio recording for a bit while an engineer cleaned it all up and mixed it. With all voice recording shifting to home recording during the pandemic, voice actors were now spending a lot more time on the mic than they might have previously. Just like the folks staring at themselves on Zoom all day and deciding it was time for cosmetic surgery, voice actors hearing themselves so much started to become obsessed with every mouth noise and other anomalies. In their attempts to mitigate their perceived flaws, they very often give themselves a botched audio facelift.
In my early webinars, I showed how quickly and easily software like Izotope’s RX Elements Voice De-Noiser can strip out consistent and minimal background noise in a pinch. I’ve even demonstrated how you can do that in real-time down Source Connect if need be. But you need to be careful! One concerned talent agent reached out early on and told me that “Voice actors are getting carried away with trying to be engineers, and they are ruining their auditions!”. When I teach my classes on using RX Elements (more classes coming soon- so stay tuned to the events page!), I would always stress moderation. The analogy I give is that of young, good looking people on social media feeling compelled to add filters to their images to smooth out their skin. In so many cases, people end up looking like aliens! I totally understand that people get self conscious… but your voice is probably a lot better than you imagine, and the flaws you perceive are most definitely not what clients are listening for during casting.
The biggest issue people obsess over is mouth noise. You’re human. Your mouth makes noise. The best solution to fixing so many problems is to address it at the source. Things to consider:
Keep an apple on hand and take bites as mouth noise presents itself. It’s a tasty and simple way to clear our your mouth!
Lemon flavored mouth swabs seem to work as well as apples in clearing out the mouth.
Stay hydrated. Drink lots of water leading up to your time on the mic, and keep plenty on hand to take a sip as needed.
Avoid eating right before recording. This helps for noises from your stomach, too!
A good old teeth brushing and mouthwash rinsing before recording will also clean things up. And when you get back in the booth with other people someday, they might appreciate it too!
Things that don’t help at all:
Turning down the gain to minimize mouse noise. This does nothing.
Backing away from the mic to keep it away from your mouth. Big nope. That just reveals the flaws in your booth instead.
If you are in a tough spot and truly feel that you need to apply something like RX Elements De-Click or RX Standard Mouth De-Click, go easy- and only apply it once! I recently consulted with someone who had a very intense processing regimen that included multiple passes of De-Click. It erodes your sound in ways that you might not even be realizing. The net effect is something along the line of very old, low resolution MP3s. You’re shooting your voice full of tiny holes and sounding terrible.
If your mic is too bright for your voice, you might consider something a little warmer… or maybe move around your mic and find it’s sweet spot (every mic has one!), where your voice resonates nicely. Keep note of where that area is, and make that your target when you record! If your mouth noise is bothering when recording, consider taking off your headphones! Pop them on for playback as needed for auditions or directed sessions.
Just don’t be the victim of botched audio facelifts! If you do plan on using RX Elements or Standard, feel free to message me. I haven't run classes on either in a while, but I'm happy to do so if the demand is there. More soon!