Songwriters in the Kitchen!

Board index => Songwriting Ingredients => Topic started by: oorlab on April 17, 2019, 21:39:03

Title: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: oorlab on April 17, 2019, 21:39:03
Hi kitcheneers and @Kellyanneg  - this is opening a new thread on Audacity.
Just a few reading tips
https://flossmanuals.net/pub/audacity-en-2018.02.pdf (https://flossmanuals.net/pub/audacity-en-2018.02.pdf)

and a place to ask & give audacity related tips & tweaks.
Audacity is very easy to use freeware audio editor software, ideal for songwriters who like to do a sketch or an agile edit.
Title: Re: Audacity
Post by: Kellyanneg on April 17, 2019, 21:43:46
@oorlab Excellent!!! Thank you so kindly.  :thumbsup:
Title: Re: Audacity
Post by: Kellyanneg on April 18, 2019, 18:56:44
@oorlab (or anyone!) hello! Well eventually I will be studying a different DAW, but in the meantime I'm still working on a song, and kind of feel like I'll have the same problems with a different DAW being that I don't know the purpose of each effect, and how to recognize what effect is needed. So, I need to break this down. Would you mind if I asked, with a lead vocal track in front of you, what would you listen for? What's the first thing you do? This is one of a million, I just needed to start somewhere!
Title: Re: Audacity
Post by: oorlab on April 18, 2019, 23:26:39
@Kellyanneg  - first I would mute the parts in the track where there is no signal, or delete those parts alltogether. Then you might try a little bit reverb, a touch of EQ (typically for vocals lower the lower frequencies) and may be add some  compression. In most DAW's you can do that on the fly and hear immediately what is the effect on what you hear. IN Audacity you apply the effect and then listen if you like it.

Title: Re: Audacity
Post by: Kellyanneg on April 19, 2019, 12:12:44
@oorlab thank you  :D
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: MrBouzouki on June 21, 2019, 10:26:41
Thanks for starting this thread @oorlab ... I've changed the initial title slightly and made it sticky so feel free to put all your Audacity specific posts in here.

 ::OSMAN:: ::OSMAN:: ::OSMAN::
Title: Re: Audacity
Post by: 1roomstudio on July 05, 2019, 06:51:01
@Kellyanneg  - first I would mute the parts in the track where there is no signal, or delete those parts alltogether. Then you might try a little bit reverb, a touch of EQ (typically for vocals lower the lower frequencies) and may be add some  compression. In most DAW's you can do that on the fly and hear immediately what is the effect on what you hear. IN Audacity you apply the effect and then listen if you like it.

All good suggestions... you might also try a Hass Effect. Duplicate the the vocal track and shift one track ever so slightly in time. Try for a shift that is so slight that you hear the difference, but it’s not obvious that it’s time shifted.

Also... although it is a good idea to delete the ambient room sound in the big gaps between lines, try adding gain to accentuate that breath taken just before the next line... and fade at the end of the line... not just a hard delete. This cleans up the vocals but also adds a bit of life.
Title: Re: Audacity
Post by: Leonard Scaper on July 05, 2019, 15:45:14
All good suggestions... you might also try a Hass Effect. Duplicate the the vocal track and shift one track ever so slightly in time. Try for a shift that is so slight that you hear the difference, but it’s not obvious that it’s time shifted.

Also... although it is a good idea to delete the ambient room sound in the big gaps between lines, try adding gain to accentuate that breath taken just before the next line... and fade at the end of the line... not just a hard delete. This cleans up the vocals but also adds a bit of life.

Those are great tips no matter which DAW you are using.

I use a version of the Haas effect on all of my lead vocals. My main vocal track is always a stereo mix of three mono tracks

Left - 5 ms delay at 15% wet, panned at around 35 left.
Right - 9 ms delay at 15 % wet, panned at around 35 right.
Center - no delay

I usually do the same thing with my acoustic guitar but with full wide panning.

How we edit our breaths can make a big difference in how natural our vocals sound.
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 06, 2019, 13:54:04
Ok so here's another question...
When singing the vocals, it sounds fine, but when I play it back is when it sounds as "tinny" and dry as you can imagine. Horrible. I also feel like I'm overcompensating, being that I'm not used to singing dry, and it feels so unnatural, it really takes away that feeling of the song for me. The instrumental parts are fine. I think it's my voice. I constantly clip. I've tried compression, clip fix etc. And that book I told you about a while ago is useless! Much more info on line. And equalization is talked about quite a bit, but I just don't understand what I'm doing.  :no:
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Bill from November Sound on July 06, 2019, 16:42:34
Ok so here's another question...
When singing the vocals, it sounds fine, but when I play it back is when it sounds as "tinny" and dry as you can imagine. Horrible. I also feel like I'm overcompensating, being that I'm not used to singing dry, and it feels so unnatural, it really takes away that feeling of the song for me. The instrumental parts are fine. I think it's my voice. I constantly clip. I've tried compression, clip fix etc. And that book I told you about a while ago is useless! Much more info on line. And equalization is talked about quite a bit, but I just don't understand what I'm doing.  :no:
I wish I could be more help with us @Kellyanneg  .... but I know with my wife as my lead vocalist getting the vocals right is a big deal so I feel your pain.  ;)
You've probably posted this somewhere but I can't seem to recall. What are you using for a vocal mic and what are you using for an interface?
When I listen back to old recordings we got serious "tin" in our sound. I know for Melissa now that we have the mic that "sounds like her"  (that's a big deal if it actually sounds like you as a singer!!!) she doesn't even want to try anything else. That's her sound. At this stage finding the interface and mic combination will be the main search I'd say.
Point being - the sound is more likely happening in the recording not in audacity.
- Bill
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Leonard Scaper on July 06, 2019, 20:46:31
Ok so here's another question...
When singing the vocals, it sounds fine, but when I play it back is when it sounds as "tinny" and dry as you can imagine.

I'm listening right now to "Cryin' For You". What a great song! You have a fantastic voice.....strong...powerful, really. If you are clipping...and I can see how that could happen.....track much softer. You don't need a lot of gain when tracking in this wonderful DAW universe.  You could be going in at -25 RMS (average) and then bring it up carefully.

Point being - the sound is more likely happening in the recording not in audacity.

Bill's got that right. With a voice like yours you want to capture all of it and then trim a few transients carefully before you even start compressing.

Does Audacity offer clip gain automation?
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: oorlab on July 07, 2019, 13:08:12
@Leonard Scaper  "Does Audacity offer clip gain automation?" you can draw enevlopes, but it is not realy an automated clipping or limiting of the gain. That could be a function of the audiointerface.

@Kellyanneg  If you look at at the spectrum you can see where it is tinny or not. May be this clip is helpful :
https://youtu.be/VZbZa99ocPU (https://youtu.be/VZbZa99ocPU)
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 07, 2019, 17:38:35
@Bill from November Sound yes I know what your wife means! My son gave me a shur58 for christmas and I love it. As of now, my husband hooked up my mixer to my computer. @Layerson gave me some great suggestions a while back for interface packages and such, and also explained my mixer isn't meant for that, so yes it's rigged. We just can't purchase in this department right now. So I think you're right saying it's not Audacity that's the problem. My keyboard records great. The vocals sound horrible. Is it a combination of me/my voice and my set up?Thank you for your response...very much appreciated! @Leonard Scaper thank you for the listen and your kind words about my song! Yes I get loud! Lol. I can't help it. Ive backed away from the mic, sang to the side of it (sounds better) and red red red. When you say "track softly", what do you mean? @oorlab I will definitely watch that video today. I didnt know you can visually see where it is tinny. Thank you so much! The audacity I have downloaded is free, and I believe it's the original version. So, yes I think Bill is right...it's the recording, not the software.  Should I just give this up until I get the appropriate set up? You guys are great, as always, and I am grateful for the support.
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 07, 2019, 17:45:31
Also, the recordings on my soundcloud page are done with my phone sitting on top of my keyboard, not audacity. I like the way the mic sounds. It just plays back completely different when I try using Audacity. I have tried recording dry, and also with reverb, no change in the tinny sound. It's bad! Ear- piercing bad in the loud parts.
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Bill from November Sound on July 07, 2019, 18:17:35
Hi @Kellyanneg  .... you shouldn't give up anything just realize that you don't really sound like that. Consider this part of your learning and it can be what it is. I used to plug the mixer into the computer too ... it made tinny recordings but I learned a lot.

Look for a deal on a scarlet interface or an m-track or something ... right now for less than 200 they come with a better microphone and recording software like protools or something. ( You're in the USA right?) This equipment really will make a difference and if you can can use audacity ( which I find quite difficult to use) you'll be able to rock it with a better DAW! :)

So, yeah, while you're saving up some money for this keep recording and messing with audacity, playing with mic positioning and try learning how to do some EQ work. You might be able to find where that "tinny" frequency is with the EQ and improve what you are currently making.

However - What you're describing as ear piercing is probably due to the limitations of your computer's sound card ( likely comb filtering - but don't worry about the terminology - yet) when you plug in an interface such as an M-track or Scarlett it becomes your sound card. This new soundcard is specifically designed to record music and play music simultaneously. 

A work around while you're saving up could be to:
1. record keys directly into audacity.
2. play back on headphones while singing directly into your phone
3. send the recorded voice audio file to yourself and import it into audacity
4. mix the two together and make it awesome

----   I've never tried this .... but it seems like it could work.   :)
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: oorlab on July 07, 2019, 18:36:50
@Kellyanneg  - tracking softly - also known as recording without clipping - get your maximum signal at -10 dB to prevent hot spiky distorted / tinny sounds. It is also a function of the distance between a microphone and the source of sound.
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 07, 2019, 18:42:07
@Bill from November Sound what an excellent idea!! I will definitely give that a try! Thanks for the encouragement too. I go back and forth, and the guidance from you guys helps me focus. Yes, I am in Ohio. My Christmas list is in the works (ha ha), and I will refer back to the suggestions from you guys when the time comes! Many thanks.   :dance:
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 07, 2019, 18:48:35
@oorlab gotchya...I will continue to work with the mic/singing techniques.The -10db....I apologize, but I'll need to read up on that. I am as much of a beginner as possible with this, no computer knowledge etc., and thank you. All of these things I am keeping in my hat for the next attempt.  :bonk:
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Layerson on July 07, 2019, 20:38:23
I’m gonna try explaining what digital audio clipping is, it’s not as difficult to understand as the one might think, but it requires some visual aid.

Take a look at this picture:

https://www.mtx.com/i/mtxcom/clipped-signal.jpg

This is a picture representing digital sound. The middle line is where the sound is “dead quiet” and the edges are where the maximum sound pressure possible to record resides, which in the digital world is known as 0 decibel (or zero dB). It has two sides in the picture but if you you imagine it just being the upper half, it’s more like a temperature scale where zero is the freezing point and any degree above zero  will result in lost information. Negative dB means that it’s a relative minus that point where information gets too loud.

What it basically illustrates is that after the sound has been converted from analog to digital, if the recorded sound pressure is to high, the captured noise after converting it into digital, will miss some information and the “waves” will be “flattened”. Sound waves in the real world, the kind our ears are compatible with, where longer waves equals bass, shorter waves equals higher pitch sounds, cannot be captured digitally if the volume is too loud. This causes something called digital distortion which doesn’t sound nice at all, unlike analog distortion which is often used as an effect.

I know this is kind of an enigma and counterintuitive but if you imagine it as temperatures it means that the if the signal is too hot, the recording temperature (volume) needs to go down somehow. Either the microphone needs to be located further away from the source (singer) or the amplification of it before it goes into digital needs to be dialed down. If you had an external soundcard, it would have indicated this with red and green lights or perhaps red, yellow and green lights.

Hopefully this sheds some other light in this subject. (Please correct me fellow  Kitcheners if I’m over complicating things).

 ::Rachel::
/Micke
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 07, 2019, 22:07:04
@Layerson so I want to keep the sound no higher than zero? And an external sound card...the interface you guys talk about does that? Is my mic ok? I think you said it's more for performing vs recording, but it doesn't sound like that's a problem. And thank you, again. I am definitely a visual learner, and the more I understand, rather than follow or memorize, the more forward I can go.  :)
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Layerson on July 07, 2019, 23:31:31
Well, it’s important that you lower your input signal levels so they’re well below zero, so somewhere in the range of six to eighteen “steps” below is much better than being near zero. With an external soundcard you would have a knob for the amount of amplification of your input signal and it would turn green when it’s at a good level, red if it’s above the zero dB (clipping) threshold and not be lit at all if the signal was too low.

Since you probably don’t have any such indicators lights, you need to turn down the input level from within your mixer if it’s connected to your soundcard and that’s possible, or by simply moving the microphone further away from you or as a last resort, by singing more quietly (...but that will be audible so maybe that’s a bad idea).

Looking in Audacity, if the volume is too high, the waves upper and lower parts will be bigger and perhaps even “broken” which’s probably visible of you zoom in.

The most important thing is that you somehow capture your voice separately and then look at the results, taking action if necessary. If the wave form looks intact try finding a way to decrease the volume level inside Audacity, if needed. If they’re too high (sounding distorted) you will need to do something outside the computer (decrease volume levels). The last step is trying to match the music and vocals volumes so they’re balanced throughout the song. This might be done by lowering or increasing the volume levels of smaller portions of each separate audio capture, i.e track regions. There are a plethora of ways to get the volume levels in check but basically this is how it’s done in its most primitive way. Cut the parts that need alterations and just edit those.
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 08, 2019, 00:09:57
Many thanks for your time and knowledge. You all have given great pieces of advice which are like a new set of tools to work with.
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 08, 2019, 01:03:35
Oh one more quick question (sorry!) When you say "lowering input volume within the mixer," do you just mean external volume knobs or is this some internal adjustment? Thank you sooo much.
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Bill from November Sound on July 08, 2019, 02:43:51
@Kellyanneg  ... he means turn down the volume. You'll have gain or trim where the mic plugs in, volume knob or slider below that and main volume turn those down and look at the "picture" of the waves on audacity after you record. Look for those flattened waveforms. This could be part of the problem to address ... but it probably isn't all of it.   
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 08, 2019, 02:49:22
@Bill from November Sound ok gotchya...I might be over-thinking this a bit because I'm overwhelmed. Breaking it down like you guys are doing is a huge help.  :shinyteeth:
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Layerson on July 08, 2019, 13:32:26
You’re right Bill, exactly what I was going for.

It’s a bit harder than I thought to explain but what it comes down to is knowing some fundamentals about audio, recording plus knowing a little about your gear. It took me a while to grasp the easy concepts when starting out because I had nobody to ask and no references, this was in the early internet days. Did start with an internal soundcard and Cubase and probably did everything backwards. The getting up to speed and knowing just enough is a bit of an uphill, think it might be easier to be shown some of them in real life because people have different ways of learning and getting the “info-aha” experiences. I’m tenacious though ;)
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 08, 2019, 14:14:21
Thanks guys. Don't mean to be a bother. I really appreciate this. :)
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 09, 2019, 04:38:10
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Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Kellyanneg on July 10, 2019, 16:17:09
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Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Monty Cash Music on January 13, 2020, 20:28:23
Reverb in Audacity is overly complicated in my eyes, in comparison to other DAWs I've used which have better presets and easier controls.

I like buttery reverb but often when I go for buttery in Audacity, I get boxy. And boxy is just well, boxy!

One way I've gone around this is to use a mono track and also a duplicated stereo track. The stereo track with 'Cathedral' preset but with the 'reverb' setting turned down a bit and then the mono track with 'Vocal II' preset but also the 'reverb' setting turned down a bit. Pan both, the mono one a little to the left and the stereo track further to the right and there is a decent amount of butter!

This is of course assuming you recorded in mono to start. But if you recorded in stereo just duplicate your stereo track.  It's great to experiment with multiple reverbs on different tracks and experiment with the panning to get some nice butter.

Another thing I've learned is that it's best to record as close to the action as possible, in other words, record as close to the mouth without pops or wind. Otherwise no matter the amount of mucking around you're always battling the boxy reverb of a small room - and for me that's normally someone's kitchen! (Seems to be the best place to record nowadays, haha)... Boxy reverb recorded from recording too far away from the microphone in a small room can be remedied with some EQ fiddling but not entirely fixed. It's better just to get as close as you can, so you have complete control over the sound once it's in the DAW.

If anyone has any tips, or better ways of doing this, please pipe up!
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: oorlab on January 13, 2020, 20:58:54
Agreed @Monty Cash Music   - Audacity does not have a straightforward  Reverb function, specially because you can only hear it after you apply it. Your method looks good to me, and duplicating tracks and per track play with amounts of reverb is certainly a good tactic.
Recording in a specific spaces (kitchens, bathrooms, hallways) for special effects can also be cool, but than it is intentional. Close miking is the best way to leave your options open for the mix stage.
I always have liked the reverbs and echoes that Ennio Morricone used. In this article there is some mention of layered reverbs used by Morricone for his Spaghetti Western soundtracks
https://theproaudiofiles.com/reverb-mistakes/ (https://theproaudiofiles.com/reverb-mistakes/)

Here is the link to the audacity Reverb settings.
https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/reverb.html (https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/reverb.html)
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Monty Cash Music on January 13, 2020, 21:07:12
@oorlab I checked out the article, it gives a some great tips I will have to experiment more with later. I suppose one thing that Audacity does force us to do is to pay more attention to our sound, because if it is all done nicely for us by a fancy DAW then we don't really think about these things.
Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Pleudoniem on January 17, 2020, 21:36:34
Usually, you can get a lot done by using a plugin that does what you want. Making a sound/vocal 'thicker' can be done in a variety of ways and with a variety of results. The Haas effect is one, as is reverbing it, but also stereo widening may help, or justifying the sound you recorded.

If you are willing to spend a bit on it, I could recommend EZMix, which offers a great lot of easy-to-use filters that oftentimes do the trick for you. There are expansion sets that especially cater for vocals. In my songs, I often like to tweek a setting that was often used in Motown recordings, just because I like the quality it gives to it. But there are other ways to work on the feel and make it fit to your taste.

You might want to try some of these free ones:

https://www.meldaproduction.com/effects/free

Title: Re: AUDACITY - Tips and Tricks
Post by: Monty Cash Music on January 18, 2020, 09:38:24
@Pleudoniem Thanks for the suggestions. I will check out those plugins.