How To Make VOICE OVER Sound BETTER – Premiere Pro CC

Recording a GOOD Voice Over is fairly time consuming. Post Processing that Voice Over to make it sound even better is equally as time consuming, especially if you’re using trial and error to make it sound good.

In this article and video, I’ll show the exact Effects / Plugins I use to make my Voice Overs pop!

I’ll even show you how to mix a Music file with that to make that pop too!

There’s about to be a lot of popping so let’s begin!

If you’ve ever used any kind of Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) such as Logic Pro, you know the benefits of adding audio plugins onto audio tracks on the virtual Mixer. It makes working with Audio a lot easier!

Luckily, Premiere Pro CC has similar features to use in the Audio Track Mixer and this is what we’ll look at now. Well, we’ll look at mixing a Dialogue / Voice  and Music file together, using the Audio Track Mixer, to make the final audio sound BADASS!
To access this go to the Window Menu and Select Audio Track Mixer.

 

Watch Video Here

Enhancing and Mixing Dialogue Audio

I always start with the Dialogue audio in most projects as it carries the message of the Video, so getting this sounding the best you can will always up the overall video value.

How you recorded the audio will play a MASSIVE part in how the Effects will behave and sound during Mixing.

It’ll be really difficult to make your audio sound as crisp as Adele in a recording studio if you used the built-in Microphone on your camera. So basically get your hands on decent gear and I can assure you it will help a lot.

Ok good, lets start with the Mixing

I mainly use 3 Plugins to Enhance and Mix Dialogue.

1. COMPRESSION

The First Plugin I use when starting every Dialogue mix in Premiere Pro is the Multi-Band Compressor.
This is to
raise or lower the level and exact frequencies to make the audio punch through.

Most Compressors consist of 5 controls and once you understand these, compressing becomes a lot clearer. I won’t be explaining these here but may do in a future blog post.

Anyway, in the Multi-Band Compressor I use the Broadcast Preset and tweak it until it sounds and looks right.

  1.  First I lower the LIMITER THRESHOLD to avoid that over compressed sound. I’m never shouting in videos so my voice is unlikely to clip. The job of a Limiter is just that; to limit the level of a signal so it doesn’t clip and distort the audio. 
  2.  I also uncheck the Brickwall Limiter for the same reason. 
  3. I then increase the THRESHOLD on my Low Frequency range to make my voice sound warm and fuller.

And that’s pretty much all I do to compress vocals!
I record in a fairly quiet environment where my voice tone and volume are fairly consistent, but If I was recording outside and shouting or at a Music gig for example, with sounds coming from all angles, then I would compress certain frequencies a lot more to make it all sound level. 

So in short, add compression based on where you are and what overall sound you’re trying to achieve.

2. EQUALISING

My Second Plugin of choice is an Equaliser specifically the Parametric Equaliser.
This is to enhance or improve the sound of the frequencies I just compressed with the Multi-Band Compressor.

EQ is all about listening to Boost or Cut. I don’t use a Preset for this and just adjust the frequencies to what sounds good to me.

The Parametric EQ consists of 5 Bands, 1 High and Low Shelf and 1 HP/LP Filter.

  • HI PASS FILTER

I always start with the HP Filter and CUT all frequencies below 100Hz. I cut using a steep slope of 30dB/Oct so most of the unwanted low end is out These frequencies doesn’t really add anything to a voice so I just cut them out. They may interfere with the low bass frequencies in your Music file when mixing later so it’s best to rid them now!

  • 5 BANDS

Pretty much all of the natural frequencies of a voice are within this range so this is what you should Boost or Cut when EQing.

Lets quickly go through the frequency ranges.

MAKING A DIALOGUE SOUND WARM AND FULL

 If you want to make your voice warm and fuller sounding you need to BOOST between 100-300Hz depending on how warm you want it.

I compressed this low frequency range using the Multi-Band Compressor earlier so now I’ll continue to boost this area.
The range for my voice is around (180Hz with a 3dB boost and a 1 Q/ Width setting) so I’ll boost this slightly so you can hear it.

BTW, these frequency ranges will be different for males and females.

MAKING A DIALOGUE SOUND CLEARER

For Clarity, I BOOST the frequencies slightly between 3000 – 4000Hz. These are the high human speech ranges. Boosting these ranges makes the Audio punch through a little more. Again these frequency ranges will be different for males and females. Females will be more towards the 4000Hz.

This is all I do when EQing. Really subtle changes but still adds some warmth and clarity.

3. NOISE-REDUCTION

The Final and Third Plugin is used to lower the noise in the Dialogue file.

I use Voice-De-Noise by Izotope and have been for years. I find Adobe’s Adaptive Noise Reduction Plugin filters the audio a little too much for my liking. I also find it takes a little too long for the effect to begin the noise reduction. It’s a really good effect but Adobe still needs to work on it a little more.

Anyway, let’s use Izotope’s Voice-De-Noise and there’s only 1 step to apply! Haha. Makes for a great plugin!

  1. Double click on the plugin to open it and the plugin will do the rest when it’s set on ‘Adaptive Mode’. You might need to adjust the Threshold and Reduction levels a little to fine tune the sound. As mentioned earlier, I record in a fairly quiet setting so don’t need to adjust these levels much. You might be around bulldozers, drilling or barking dogs ruining your recordings and in that case, leave the country and build a hut in the mountains! It’ll be quieter there. 

Lowering the noise in a Dialogue audio file is something I do on every project, unless its needed to help the story or message in the video, like being in a call centre environment or if you’re filming an event such as a wedding. So I use the Voice De-Noise effect when the ambient or surrounding noise is not that important.

The Dialogue audio is now complete and sounding good to mix with the Music, so lets add that in next.

Trimming and Mixing the MUSIC

For me, this process takes less time than the Dialogue audio. As the Music has already been mixed by a Sound Engineer, most of the work is done for us.
The only thing I do is: 

  1. Trim the Music
  2. EQ it slightly so it works with my Dialogue audio file 
  3. Add a Side Chain Ducking effect so my Music file is quieter during the Dialogue.

Let’s start with Cutting and Looping the Music

1. CUT AND LOOP 

I first listen to the Music file and add Markers on sections that will make good loops. 

As you can see, I’ve mark and label:

  1. the Loop Start and End points,
  2. any Variation in that loop such as another instrument or sound added that makes the overall sound less monotonous
  3. the End point if I needed to shorten the Music at any point.

Let’s stop for a second and explain how to cut and make a good loop.

  1. First I find the Downbeat in the Music file which is usually the first beat in a bar.
    So if I go to the Loop Start Marker I added, that peak represents a Downbeat. It’s the first beat.
  2. If I jump to the Loop End point Marker, you’ll see another peak and this is where to Cut for it to Loop when its copied and pasted. In short, find the first downbeat and the last downbeat in the loop you want to create and cut that section out.
  3. I will then cut each section at their Marker points as the downbeats for these were already set by me.
  4. I give each section a colour making them easy to find when creating this trimmed down or trimmed up Music file.
  5. Now I’ll move these sections down the timeline to make space for the Loop I cut earlier. It’s a good time to hear if the Loop actually sounds good and basically works. So copy the Loop, paste it straight after it and play it. If it sounds good, copy and paste some more in. The other sections can now be moved in place and checked too.

That’s how I trim the Music and get it ready for my Dialogue audio. The duration will obviously change depending how long the Dialogue is.

Once I’m happy with the overall structure I add some gentle EQ.

2. EQUALISATION

The second thing I do after trimming is Equalise the Music WHILST the Dialogue audio is playing. This is to see and hear if any frequencies between the Dialogue and Music clash.

Then,

  1. I’ll add a Parametric Equaliser Plugin on the Music channel.
  2. I’ll open this and the Parametric Equaliser on the Dialogue channel to see them together. I’m listening for any clashing frequencies in the Music file and cutting those.
  3. I might do a gentle cut on some of the Low Frequencies on the Music file so the file doesn’t sound too bass heavy. This changes on every project.

I don’t EQ much or add other effects to the Music file.
Let’s now move to the final step in mixing Music. This one is exciting as Premiere Pro CC (at the time of writing) hasn’t currently got this as a plugin effect.

3. SIDECHAIN – DUCKING

This is the last effect in my Audio chain and is a really common effect used when mixing a Dialogue file with another sound such as Music. Its known as Side Chaining or Ducking.

So when Dialogue is playing, the Music will be quieter and the final audio will not sound like a big mess.

Adobe Audition has an Auto-Duck feature but I never use Audition. I use Logic Pro for most of my longer audio work where I  need a dedicated audio program. Hopefully Adobe make this available for Premiere Pro soon, like in their next update!

Anyway, a company called BeatRig has a plugin called SideKick Extended 6 that does Ducking quite well.

Here are the steps I use to Duck:

  1. Add the Plugins on BOTH the Dialogue and Music channel strip.
  2. Then, on the Dialogue Plugin, select ‘Send on 1’ which basically means this is the main Audio file I want to send to get Ducked.
  3. On the Music Plugin, select ‘Receive on 1’ meaning this channel will RECEIVE the audio from Channel 1.
  4. Now Play the sequence and Adjust the DUCK Outer Ring until the Dialogue and Music sound right meaning you hear the music louder only in the sections where the Dialogue is not playing.
  5. Adjusting the RECOVER ring will effect how fast or slow the Music will return to its full strength again.

Side Chaining / Ducking is SUCH a good effect and it saves so much time, instead of manually adding in keyframes to lower the volume.

SUMMARY

And that’s how I Enhance, Cut, Loop and Mix my Audio to make it sound the best I can. I really hope you got some value from this.
 If you’ve discovered any Audio Plugins in your travels, let me know in the comments of this blog post.

Thank you for reading.

 EQUIPMENT / SOFTWARE USED 

  • Adobe Premiere Pro CC
Written by ravkan