Leveling the volume in audio commentaries

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As a reviewer, one of the key parts in my videos is the audio commentary. It has to be clean and consistent, in order to be easily understandable. However I've been having a problem with the volume levels. They are inconsistent. A sentence can have some words or syllables with a very high volume level, while others are very quiet. I'm using Audacity and the only way I could fix this, as of now, is by selecting the loud parts and making them quieter and selecting the quieter parts and making them louder. So I have to do this for every sentence and as you might guess, it's very tedious and time consuming. Not to mention, the results still don't sound that good. And when applying Bass and Treble boost in order to bring out my voice, the louder parts can become even louder and the quieter parts wouldn't change much. The Leveler effect doesn't work well, because it doesn't level the volume levels as much and it distorts the audio. When doing the recording I try to always keep the same distance from the mic. I've even tried placing it near mouth and recording with a lower sensitivity, but the problem remains. I guess you can't keep your voice at a certain volume at all times.

So is there any technique or something to maintain a relatively consistent volume level throughout the entire commentary? Again, the method I'm using right now takes way too much time and is not as effective as I need it to be. I hope someone can help me with this.

Thanks!
 
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Time Jacker

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As a reviewer, one of the key parts in my videos is the audio commentary. It has to be clean and consistent, in order to be easily understandable. However I've been having a problem with the volume levels. They are inconsistent. A sentence can have some words or syllables with a very high volume level, while others are very quiet. I'm using Audacity and the only way I could fix this, as of now, is by selecting the loud parts and making them quieter and selecting the quieter parts and making them louder. So I have to do this for every sentence and as you might guess, it's very tedious and time consuming. Not to mention, the results still don't sound that good. And when applying Bass and Treble boost in order to bring out my voice, the louder parts can become even louder and the quieter parts wouldn't change much. The Leveler effect doesn't work well, because it doesn't level the volume levels as much and it distorts the audio. When doing the recording I try to always keep the same distance from the mic. I've even tried placing it near mouth and recording with a lower sensitivity, but the problem remains. I guess you can't keep your voice at a certain volume at all times.

So is there any technique or something to maintain a relatively consistent volume level throughout the entire commentary? Again, the method I'm using right now takes way too much time and is not as effective as I need it to be. I hope someone can help me with this.

Thanks!
What's the quality of your microphone like? You don't have to have an expensive mic, but at the same time, you do tend to get what you pay for and it might be worth looking into. Perhaps if you could borrow someone else's mic, you could at least rule it out?
 

ItsJustJames

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In audio editing you use tools such as compressors, limiters and EQ. A compressor takes the quiet bits and brings them and takes your loud parts and reduces them to a sensible level. Note that there are lots of intricate settings and techniques to using these tools. Sadly they're often not single mouse clicks and your problem's are gone. Audio engineering is a fascinating subject but fairly complicated!

The answer is out here. It's normal to have peaks and troughs in your audio - you're probably doing nothing wrong practically. Regardless of microphone type or quality the same problem remains; it's in the editing.

One more note: If your audio is blown out/distorted then you need to bring the gain down. That's NOT something you can cover in editing. If however everything sounds good but just varies largely in volume you can look into compressors and such.

Good luck,
James.
 
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What's the quality of your microphone like? You don't have to have an expensive mic, but at the same time, you do tend to get what you pay for and it might be worth looking into. Perhaps if you could borrow someone else's mic, you could at least rule it out?
It seems to be a pretty decent XLR. However, I haven't got the chance to test its full capabilities. My PC, obviously, doesn't have an XLR input, so I need to get a pre-amp or a module for it. Unfortunately I cannot afford said pre-amp/module yet. Even the cheapest ones, that cost, like, $60 are too much for my budget. And even when I have enough money, this won't be too high on my priority list. I have other tech that needs upgrading as soon as possible. So, for now, I have to stick to the noobish setup of using an XLR to Line-in converter to plug the microphone into my PC. I cannot control the gain, the quality is obviously degraded, the audio has to go through a lot of processing, in order to sound clear enough, but the quality, at the end, is better than using a regular Line-in mic. And, no, I cannot borrow anyone else's microphone, because I don't know anyone with any audio equipment, unless you count regular Line-in microphones.

In audio editing you use tools such as compressors, limiters and EQ. A compressor takes the quiet bits and brings them and takes your loud parts and reduces them to a sensible level. Note that there are lots of intricate settings and techniques to using these tools. Sadly they're often not single mouse clicks and your problem's are gone. Audio engineering is a fascinating subject but fairly complicated!
I haven't thought of using compressors, so I'll look into it. Thanks! And, yes, this all may be complicated, but I'm sure it'll be much more efficient, than manually editing every single part of the audio.
 
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It seems to be a pretty decent XLR. However, I haven't got the chance to test its full capabilities. My PC, obviously, doesn't have an XLR input, so I need to get a pre-amp or a module for it. Unfortunately I cannot afford said pre-amp/module yet. Even the cheapest ones, that cost, like, $60 are too much for my budget. And even when I have enough money, this won't be too high on my priority list. I have other tech that needs upgrading as soon as possible. So, for now, I have to stick to the noobish setup of using an XLR to Line-in converter to plug the microphone into my PC. I cannot control the gain, the quality is obviously degraded, the audio has to go through a lot of processing, in order to sound clear enough, but the quality, at the end, is better than using a regular Line-in mic. And, no, I cannot borrow anyone else's microphone, because I don't know anyone with any audio equipment, unless you count regular Line-in microphones.


I haven't thought of using compressors, so I'll look into it. Thanks! And, yes, this all may be complicated, but I'm sure it'll be much more efficient, than manually editing every single part of the audio.
Yeah, it's definitely tough when you don't have budget. For what it's worth, I've had luck in the past with cheap and cheerful USB microphones. Anything that stops you from having to manually edit the levels has got to be worth the time saving. It's a shame tech can be so expensive!
 

Tarmack

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Compression is precisely the tool for this job. You will need to play with the various settings in Audacity, but essentially you will set a threshold upon which you want the compressor to act. For example, you only want it to target sounds above say -10db. Then you set how quickly you want it to act, the "attack", as well as the "release" or how quickly you want it to stop acting. The faster it acts and releases, the more choppy the volume shift can be. And then finally, you will set a gain boost. This is because reducing the overall level of loud sounds will result in a track that is more even, but of course lower in volume, so it will then add gain to bring that back up a bit.
 
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Thanks for explaining some of the details! :) I knew some stuff about this but not that much, so this was definitely helpful.
 

Review Wiz

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use audacity...set a hard limiter then normalize the audio