Blog Improving Your Sound Quality

Finding the most perfectly clear sound may seem like a white whale. Or a windmill giant. Or a holy grail. Or your other preferred literary metaphor for a difficult dream. The truth is, upping your audio quality involves neither intense processes nor Scrooge McDuck finances. No matter your skill level or budget, solutions abound to help you craft professional results that don’t require intense processing. Our audio engineering instructor Tony Wijs provides some excellent advice on what steps you can take to make your recording setup so squeaky clean you barely hear anything beyond the sounds you want to hear.

Maximum clarity with minimal time wasted—that’s the goal!

Improving Your Space

Environment actually has more of an impact on your final sound than your equipment! A USB mic in a well-treated space produces much higher-quality audio than an XLR mic with extensive background noise. Regardless of your equipment, the first step to improving your audio will always involve deadening your environmental sound using as much porous material as you can get.

Walk-in closets, PVC booths, and blanket forts alike all benefit from additional “reflections” that you get from using absorptive materials. These valuable acoustic upgrades can be any of the following:

  • Moving blankets or sound dampening blankets
  • Acoustic treatment foam
  • Thick curtains
  • Pillows
  • Weather stripping
  • Door sweeps
  • Interior upgrades are the easy part. It’s the keeping out annoying city sounds out of your recordings, such as traffic, construction, and leaf blowers. Most of the time a good condenser microphone should work just fine even in these intense situations. However, if you’ve already deadened your sound as much as you’re able and still pick up loud noises you can’t control, you may want to invest in a dynamic mic or a shotgun condenser mic. These are often used in cities like Beijing and Tokyo where actors contend with a near-constant barrage of external environmental noises.

    Make sure you do not set up your microphone near a window. The closer you are to a window, the more likely you are to accidentally pick up sounds wafting in from outside.

    If worst comes to worst, you can always record in your car. It’s an insulated space that offers better sound dampening than a poorly-treated studio.

    Improving Post-Production

    Although your primary focus when boosting your sound quality should be upgrading your space, you do have the ability to improve things after the recording wraps up. Remember that too much processing can degrade your audio quality, so the goal is to make the initial recording as close to perfect as possible. Luckily, there are tools to help with creating a clear sound that won’t result in an overly “processed” file.

    Tony highly recommends the iZotope RX products for their de-noise feature. It’s available through both their standard and their elements options, and the company runs heavily discounted specials throughout the year. RX possesses the sensitivity needed to parse your voice from subtle background noises, and users can toggle with the degree of de-noising they desire.

    Tony also speaks highly of Waves NS1 as a great tool for post-production noise reduction. Not every digital audio workstation (DAW) program possesses a de-noise function, so you may need to purchase and import RX or Waves NS1 as a plugin. They’re both handy tools for crafting clear, crisp audio and reducing any lingering issues that may arise after you’ve invested in sound-reducing measures in your studio space.

    Improving Audio with Closing Credits

    The Closing Credits community offers a plethora of different resources to help you give your audio a boost, no matter your budget or space! We offer audio engineering classes (including one specifically for voice actors) as well as a Discord server where you can connect with other audiophiles to trade tips or ask advice. No matter if you’re looking to explore your gifts with music, voice acting, sound design, video games, audio dramas, or other mediums, our community is happy to help you with whatever you need to achieve your goals.

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