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How To Make Your Voice Sound Better

How to make your voice sound better using these vocal exercise tips from Mike Russell and if all else fails you can always run vocal sound effects over your voice in software like Adobe Audition or Pro Tools. Also, how to set up your microphone preamp/processor (video tutorial).

100 Subscribers and Growing

I’ve been up on the iTunes store and out in the public arena with this podcast for two weeks and am absolutely loving the experience of being a “podcaster”. In just under 2 weeks 100 of you have hit subscribe in iTunes or on your favourite podcatcher and that makes me feel amazing and is encouraging me to continue podcasting. I have experience of working in the radio industry since the mid 1990s but this is a real learning experience for me.

I started listening to podcasts late last year and discovered many internet marketing and business podcasts that have given me so much value and inspiration that I really wanted to give back to the community of podcasters and, of course, podcast listeners!

What I love about podcasting is that you can see your audience grow and interact with the show instantly. In the UK radio industry there is still an insane way of measuring audience figures – diaries are sent out across the land and listeners have to remember what they listened to and then tick it in a diary and mail it back to the research company – it’s hardly on the level of Google Analytics or Feedburner statistics!

It’s a common statistic, in radio, that only around 10% of the audience will actually call in to your radio show. I wonder what the statistic is for listeners to a podcast commenting or interacting?

Podcast Platforms

The podcast is on at iTunes, Zune, Miro, Blackberry and more platforms and currently in the approval process for the Stitcher podcast platform. I emailed them the other day and had a reply right back from Rachel Eaton (from Stitcher) who has let me know that I’m near the top of the pile now to be approved – it’s been just over a week since I submitted the podcast feed. This is great news as clearly Stitcher are getting plenty of applications from audio content creators who can see the value of being listed on such a service. I’m excited to get approved and find out more. I’ll let you know my thoughts on Stitcher soon!

Voice Over Tips

Should you take out insurance on your voice, how can you sound older and how can you handle deep gravelly reads? I answer these questions and give out some tips like these: “Drink honey and lemon”, “don’t eat chocolate before a voice over session” and “sing the vowels of the alphabet”.

Voice Sound Effects

If you’d like to artificially tune and change your voice I recommend the Waves Plugins. A particular favorite of mine is the MetaFlanger (listen to how it sounds in the podcast audio). These plugins work with most digital audio editors (like Adobe Audition and Pro Tools). I’ll show you some more effects in forthcoming episodes.

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20 Responses

  1. Hey, Mike.

    I was just stopping by to say WOW, you really know what you’re talking about when it comes to podcasts and making them sound GOOD. The quality of this podcast is absolutely amazing. I don’t have any podcasts running yet, but I do make videos to help people, and I have plenty of room to improve on how my voice sounds.

    I never really even thought about possibly changing the sound of my voice artificially to make it sound better. Thanks for the useful tips. When I can get around to it, I will stop by and let you know how it worked out for me!. Thanks.

    Oliver

    1. Share the link to your videos. I’d love to check them out.

      Changing a voice artificially can really help. Dare I say it I’ve worked with some really poor quality audio in my time but with the right EQ, compression and fx you can work magic.

      I would say that the sound quality of a podcast is even more important than for traditional radio for 3 reasons 1. listeners can preview content and decide in 5 seconds if they want to continue listening and subscribe 2. you’re usually going straight into a listener’s ears (via earphones) 3. there are so many GOOD sounding podcasts out there already.

      Saying that I would suggest you try to get the source audio in the best possible quality as it really helps. I’ll be interviewing some of our voice over artists in future episodes and they’re based all over the world (Australia, UK, USA, Malaysia etc.) There’s a technique I use to make sure it *sounds like* we’re in the same studio. I’ll share the details in a future podcast if you’d find it interesting?

  2. Hi , everytime new edition goes better &better you should probably use a name: PODcast where first 3 letters (P.O.D) mean: Perfection On Demand-because number of listeners groving (demand) and you simple make a perfect content… 😉

    1. Thanks. It’s very kind of you to say that. I think there are always ways we can tweak what we’re doing to strive for perfection and I know, in my mind, that I’m not there yet. Getting feedback from you and the community really helps push me to create more!

  3. Hi Mike – liking the podcast – keep ’em coming! I’ve already added a review on ITunes!
    Just to touch on some subjects so far and add some more points for discussion (maybe some ideas for future podcasts) – the ablilty to make your own professional sounding show is becoming easier as what you need is either freely available or not that expensive. For those of us like me who do not want to listen to stations with restricted playlists which tend to play the same old songs again and again, the internet radio is a godsend. There are a number of shows from a number of sources which I download weekly for listening to on my iPod during the morning commute.

    Even Roger “Twiggy” Day is looking at the Internet to getting his show out – check out his website, particularly the bit about “Uncool Radio”.
    http://www.rogerday.co.uk/
    If an individual can record a show, make it available on the internet for others to download/stream, is there still a role for an individual radio station, given this scenario?
    Another possible subject which I would be interested to know your thoughts on are “sung jingles” v “spoken voiceovers”. Do you need them/do they add any value? Like a lot of people I suspect, I loved the jingles which I first heard on BBC Radio One in the 1970’s, but as far as getting my own sung jingles for MAK-FM, when I saw the price of them and the restrictions in their use, I thought I don’t love them that much!
    Hope that gives you some more food for thought!
    Looking forward to future shows (espcially the interviews with the voiceover artists!)
    Mark

    1. Thank you Mark. You raise some great points and yes, the beauty of the internet, is that you can listen to exactly what you’d like to from many different sources in one place. I think the difference between traditional radio stations and internet radio/podcasts is that the latter are “on demand” services and can fit in with people’s busy lifestyles (they can listen when taking a jog, washing the dishes or cleaning the car).

      Look at what Netflix and now Sky’s NowTV have done to traditional live television. I can honestly say I can’t remember the last time I watched a “live” TV show.

      As for “sung jingles” vs “spoken word” – you’re right – a great topic for a future episode as I have far too many thoughts to put in one comment. I think that sung stuff can be more memorable but spoken jingles (if produced well) can make you sound *really* slick.

      Here’s a little teaser… sung jingles are “coming soon” to Music Radio Creative and, as always, my aim is to make them as accesible to those starting their own online radio station, podcast, small business or working as a DJ without sacrificing on quality. Watch (or listen to) this space!

  4. Hi Mike,
    You’ve produced a great tutorial. Thanks. I learned a lot from it.

    I am trying to improve my podcast and thinking of buying a voice processor. But I’m not sure how it would work with my other equipment. I have an Electro-Voice 320 microphone plugged into an Edirol UA-25EX audio interface. My audio editing software is Adobe Audition.

    My question is: Would the DBX voice processor work in conjunction with the audio interface I have? Or would it replace the interface? In other words: would I plug the DBX into the Edirol or get rid of the Edirol?

    Marc
    _____________
    Marc Belanger
    RadioLabour
    http://www.radiolabour.net

    1. Thanks for the comment. Yes, the dbx would work in conjunction with your audio interface. You would simply connect your mic direct to the dbx (it provides phantom power if needed) and then the dbx would connect to your audio interface.

  5. Hello Mike,

    Thanks for the quick, and very useful, response. I look forward to more of your tutorials.

    Take care,

    Marc

  6. I had a little extra cash and ran out and purchased a new DBX 286s Mic Preamp processor after listening to your review. I also set all my settings as you prescribed. I am getting ready now for my weekly three-hour Salty Pride Music N More podcast. Thanks for the setting and the review. –

  7. Loved the tutorial on the DBX. I’m thinking of getting one, actually, but I’m not sure how it would work with my current rig. I run a Heil PR40 into a DBX 166XL COmpresor/Gate/limiter going into a SoundCraft mixer. I then record the output (music from my Mac) into a Zoom H4N digital computer.

    If I got the DBX 286S I assume it would replace the 166XL and go into my mixer so I could then mix voice and music together as it goes into the recording device.

    Is that how it would work ?

    1. That sounds like a good setup to me Jon. Although I’ve never used the 166XL it looks pretty similar to the 286S. The ‘enhancer’ feature is a really nice touch to the 286S which allows you to tweak and EQ the voice. I would imagine you’d also have EQ on your Soundcraft mixing desk so you could add another layer of EQ to help your voice cut right through any music you play.

      Good luck with your setup Jon and do come back and let me know how you get on. I’d love to hear the results!

      1. Cheers Mike.
        My show’s over at: jontusmedia.com/podcast

        Up to 70 episodes now.

        Have been very happy with the Heil PR 40 but your mic / sound blew me away. It’s the first time in about two years I’ve heard a podcast and thought: I want that sound!
        Unfortunately the SoundCraft EPM8 does not have any EQ so I have to add it in Adobe. But I’ve not been happy with the option. I’m definitely going to look at the 286S.

        1. Thanks for sharing the link Jon. Looks like an interesting podcast. I use the enhancer on the dbx 286s and then add a further filter in Adobe Audition. I always think that running the voice through an analogue processer first gives the voice a ‘warmer’ overall feel.

          1. I’m definitely going to check out the dbx 286s; I’m also going to look at the mic you use although I suspect you’ve got sound insulation because condenser’s usually pick up a lot of background noise. Don’t think my “studio” could cope.

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