The best way to use plugins on your Voice Over audio. Part 2
Release Date: 11/20/2023
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WAVES director of training and development Michael Pearson Adams (Gomez to his Aussie mates) joins us in part 2 of a chat about plugins for Voice Actors.
A big shout out to our sponsors, Austrian Audio and Tri Booth. Both these companies are providers of QUALITY Audio Gear (we wouldn't partner with them unless they were), so please, if you're in the market for some new kit, do us a solid and check out their products, and be sure to tell em "Robbo, George, Robert, and AP sent you"... As a part of their generous support of our show, Tri Booth is offering $200 off a brand-new booth when you use the code TRIPAP200. So get onto their website now and secure your new booth...
And if you're in the market for a new Mic or killer pair of headphones, check out Austrian Audio. They've got a great range of top-shelf gear..
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“When the going gets weird, the weird turn professional.”
Hunter S Thompson
In this episode of The Pro Audio Suite, we dive into part two of our discussion with Michael Pearson and Adams Gomez. We kick off by tackling the prevalent issue of hearing loss, exploring how it affects professional audio and the struggles people face in finding headphones that suit their hearing capabilities. Pearson expresses his ambition to build a chain for monitoring, specifically for those with hearing loss. We also delve into audio tools like the C Four Multiband Compressor and F Six Dynamic EQ, discussing their features, capabilities, and best applications. The conversation emphasizes the importance of tailoring preset tools to individual preferences, supporting efficiency in producing quality and personalized sound._QMARK
#HearingLossSolutions #ProAudioSuite #TechForHearingLoss
- (00:00:00) Intro: The Pro Audio Suite
- (00:00:39) Building Hearing Loss Monitor
- (00:07:36) Volume & Monitors in Mixing
- (00:11:29) Multiband Compressor vs. Dynamic EQ
- (00:12:12) Development of C Four Plugin
- (00:14:01) The F Six: Parametric EQ & Music Dynamics
- (00:17:16) Discussing Presets
- (00:22:10) Quality of Presets
- (00:28:24) Podcast Recording Technique: Source Connect & Voodoo Radio Imaging
Speaker A: Y'all ready? Be history.
Speaker B: Get started.
Speaker C: Welcome.
Speaker A: Hi.
Speaker C: Hi.
Speaker A: Hello, everyone to the Pro audio suite.
Speaker C: These guys are professional and motivated with tech. To the VO stars, George Wittam, founder of Source Elements Robert Marshall, international audio engineer Darren Robbo Robertson and global voice Andrew Peters. Thanks to Triboo, Austrian audio making passion heard source elements George the tech Wittam and Robbo and AP's international demo. To find out more about us, check ThePro Audiosuite.com line up.
Speaker A: Learner. Here we go.
: And don't forget the code.
Speaker C: Trip a P 200.
: That will get you $200 off your Tribooth. Now, this is part two of our conversation we had with Michael Pearson, Adams Gomez, if you like, from waves. This week's discussion kicks off in a different place. We're talking about hearing loss.
Speaker B: I don't know. I don't want to take this off the rails too far, but something that's come up in the last couple of weeks, more than once. So it seems to be. Well, I wouldn't say maybe it's a coincidence, but maybe it's just the sign of the times and the fact that my clients are all getting older, but people are having a hard time finding headphones that work well for them anymore because of hearing loss. The topic came up. One person asked me about having their hearing aids tuned for professional audio. Another person asked me about just choosing headphones that are better for their hearing. And nothing that they tried worked well, probably because they have severe hearing loss.
: I was going to say Friday, but normally ice cream, right?
Speaker B: So what I'm getting at is I've been starting to want to build a chain for monitoring, specifically, especially for those with some hearing loss. And I'm wondering what other tool set you think might be useful. Like, if I was going to build a studio rack for a monitoring chain, is it just EQ or. I'm actually looking at compression and EQ together, because if you've lost some hearing in a certain band and you boost the bejesus out of that band, that could be bad too, right?
Speaker A: Two syllables. F sIx.
Speaker B: F six. Okay.
Speaker A: F six.
Speaker A: Floating bands of multiband equalizing compression gives you the ability to choose the threshold on each and every one of them, move them around, and actually decide how each of those bands is compressed or expanded based on the reaction of the voice coming into it. To me, that would be the best starting place for you to create a chain like that would be that plugin.
Speaker B: Because it's obviously the only person that can decide if it sounds right is the listener. Like the person that has a lot. So the way I would have to do it would be to log in remote source, connect in remote into their screen, load the plugin, put it into a chain, and then just hide everything.
Speaker A: And give them the macros and name the macros appropriately.
Speaker B: Yeah, well, yeah, that would be the end result. Exactly. But to have that ability for them to sculpt the sound of their own headphones in a way they never could before, this sounds like the right tool to attack that. I want to start looking into building those chains for people because hearing loss is an issue.
Speaker A: There is a risk there as well. And I talk about this in a completely different way for this than I would if this was music. So, for example, in the music world, we have the lowest latency, as in zero latency vocal tuning, plugin, wavestune, and Wavestune live. And there's always been a lot of stigma about, oh, you can't have tuning. It's like one of the best things a tuner can do, if it's used properly, is give the singer confidence. Not fix them, but give them confidence. So if it's on in the monsters, it gives them confidence to remember that they are good and they can do a great job. And that in itself, that confidence minimizes any sharp or flat notes because they're not nervous. Now, on the other end of that spectrum, George, is in a voiceover world, the first thing that comes to my mind as a concern by creating a chain that lets them hear it properly is making sure that they're not hearing. To use an analogy, to make sure that they don't think they're in a Porsche when they're in a VW, as far as other equipment, because audio processing can make you sound amazing, but it also could hide multiple issues with the track that you're recording if what they're monitoring isn't what's being sent to the client.
Speaker B: I would never recommend someone who has loss of hearing loss unless they are an actual engineer with years of training. I would never suggest that they go into this thinking that they're going to fix their own monitoring themselves without the ears of another engineer or an engineer with good hearing or trusted hearing that can make a judgment, help judge them on where those settings should be. I know they could dig themselves into a heck of a big hole. It cannot be a replacement for everything else that we talk about. Proper acoustics, noise, floor mic technique, et cetera, et cetera, et know.
: Well, usually with hearing loss, it's the upper frequencies that go first. So my idea would be to talk to Yamaha and get them to build headphones that sound like NS ten s.
Speaker B: Well, the headphones that you have, you're still using the Austrian Audio 55s, right? The X 55s, yeah. Remember when I reviewed those with you and I thought they were too mid range forward? Right. I didn't like the way they sounded. Yeah, correct. But for you, they were a great match. Right? Yeah, that's the thing. And so headphones are, again, extremely subjective, but it can be a maddening process to try out a lot of different headphones. Like this client of mine.
: What was the headphone that rang out your ear from the inside? And then I tried your curve. How did that work?
Speaker B: They were really uncomfortable. Yeah, really? They had in ear plugs that plugged into the inside of your. Like, they literally went into your ears. And then they had a surround cup that went around the outside of the ear.
: It was a little.
Speaker A: That sounds horrible.
: They sound like my in ear, like.
Speaker B: The one they're called Noritones or Nora something. I can't remember what they were called. I returned them. But the idea there being that, yeah, you can make corrections to a point and then eventually your hearing loss is going to be too poor.
: Well, also, you can't correct it when you can't hear at some point.
Speaker B: Right.
: So just cranking it up, you just end up with feedback through your hearing.
Speaker B: That is true, yeah. Well, I mean, my friend is an optometrist or optimist. My friend is an audiologist. And they said the danger is if you do continue to boost, let's say four K, two K, whatever the frequency band, you're still subjecting that SPL on the eardrum or more, you're continuing to cause damage. So it's a tricky situation. But thanks for the F Six recommendation. I'll look at.
Speaker A: So there's a couple of things about that while we're talking about it. I just want to mention briefly, for all you lovely people out there, quick analogy. On my phone, I have a setting on my phone, just in the basic phone settings that limits the loudness that is allowed in my headphones on my phone. And I can change it to whatever DB I want. And I have it set fairly conservatively because I value my tool. That makes me money, my ears. But then on top of that, I also have a pair of very large monitors here in the studio that I have a mark on the output knob on the audio interface that I do not go above because at that point I know that I'm damaging my hearing. So my advice is always get used to listening as low as possible, because you can, and this is something that Jeff Thomas told me Robbo, years ago when I was his student, was if you can hear everything at a low volume, then it'll sound great loud. If you hear everything when it's loud, you won't hear everything at a low volume.
: You do have to stay at the right place when you're mixing within the Fletcher Munson curve to make sure that you're know if you're listening too low and you don't ever check it out up there for just a moment. And I'm not talking about hearing damage level, but you'll just lose the bass in the high end. It's just sort of the way the ear at lower levels loses the outer extremities first.
: I think like anythinG, though, I think checking your mix on different monitors. I mean, I always check at different volume levels. I mean, different levels. Yeah. The dim button is regularly used for me. I'll listen to it in a pass and then I'll dim it and switch monitors and have a listen that way and just flick around. I mean, you could muck around with a mix forever, I guess. But I think they're the two essential things is volume and different monitors.
: I'm constantly surprised when I think back when I was living in Sydney and in excess had Rhino Studios, rhinoceros, and I was there for. They were recording. I think I was there for Kick and X. I can't remember. No, it was definitely kick.
Speaker A: It was kick, yeah.
: So I was in there for Kick and I remember sitting there when they were recording and stuff and it was.
Speaker A: Chris Thomas English showing our.
: Know and then someone, oh, we're just doing a playback of one of the songs I think was going to be the single. I can't remember. Come and listen. So we're into another room to listen to the playback. It was so fucking loud. I don't even know what the song was. I have no idea. I don't know what they were hearing because I couldn't hear anything.
: It's probably what you need. The first single was it?
: I hate it when people, when you're in a room and it's really loud and you're just like, I don't want to be in here and you got to get out. But not. You really shouldn't go above 80 or you should keep that at maybe the top average.
Speaker B: Average. Yeah, maybe peaks of 90 to 100, maybe. It is amazing. The iPhone has the ability now to monitor your surroundings. And it will actually. Or the watch, I think, more so. And that's almost like a reason to get the watch. I keep trying to not buy the damn freaking Apple Watch. I'm like, I don't want another addictive gadget, but the fact that it does monitoring the noise levels around your environment and lets you know, yo, you were in an unsafe noise level environment, just so you very.
Speaker A: That's cool.
Speaker B: It's a really good idea. I mean, it's almost a reason to get one of those things.
: Tipto can't hear what you're hearing in your headphones, unfortunately.
Speaker B: No, it can't do anything for headphones. No, you're absolutely right. Absolutely right.
: I wanted to ask a question a little bit more if Gomez is here. So I love the C Four, and I use it like an EQ, and I use it like a compressor, and it's my deesser, and it's just like, whatever the hell you want it to be. And the F Six is kind of a dynamic EQ. The C Four is a multiband compressor. You see how the different frequency bands work, essentially, like, you're able to tune the F six more precisely. That is very true. But what are the other kind of differences between, say, a multiband compressor and a dynamic EQ?
Speaker B: Oh, boy.
: What uses.
: Wow, that's a can of worms.
Speaker B: This I want to hear.
Speaker A: Okay, so firstly, let's talk about the C Four, right. The C Four was a plugin that we developed, not for studios, but we developed it for live. And it kind of was a mixture of. Okay, so let's deal with something that gives you compression, expansion, bit of limiting dynamic EQ, normal EQ, and then has this one floating band, which we honestly didn't think anybody would use. And then everybody lost their shit over the floating band of the C Four. Sorry, not the C Four. So when we updated it, when we went to the C Six, we put the floating band in because people are.
: Like, that's so funny. Do you know what? I lost my shit over in the C Six? What was the individual key per band? That's so awesome. It's like, automatically duck it. But you don't have to duck the whole music. You can just sort of carve out some frequencies for the voice, and it doesn't sunk the music, like, fell out of nowhere.
Speaker A: Well, the beautiful thing about it is it lets you apply per band, compression, expansion, upward expansion, and to a point, dynamic EQ. This was a tool that, again, is still very much a broadcast person and live person tool. And we found a lot of studio people, not all studio people. I'm not going to generalize, but we found a lot of them were like, we just can'T work out the use case for this.
: Deesser. Yeah. Why have a Deesser when you can just have a multiband compressor with little compression on the high end?
Speaker A: Because it's not the way you're thinking with your broadcast and your post production hat on. Not your music production hat on. So now let's go to one of my favorite products, the F Six. The F Six is literally, okay, so everybody loved the floating bands in the C Six, so let's just give them six floating bands. What we did was we took our best code of parametric EQ and let you boost, cut, define change the thresholds, cues, everything on it, so that your EQ basically flows with the music dynamics. And it's not just a static boost or a static cut. One of the best things that you can do with the F Six is go, okay. Right. So use it as an EQ if you want, but then if you actually, then choose. Okay, cool. So on this one I'm going to make this a mid or a sides processing channel, and on this one I'm going to use this one with an external side chain. So you can have all of these things going on. And every single one can have a different side chain if you want to.
: The F Six has a separate side chain for each band.
Speaker A: Yes.
: Very sick. I kind of think of one of the differences as being the multiband approach where you have the filters that are always going to trade off with the next frequency band. Sort of keeps you in line, keeps you more flat, and you're kind of doing more general sculpting. Whereas the F Six being you got bandwidth, you can overlap things, you can poke a hole in this and not in that.
Speaker A: I use it for poking a hole in the mix all the time.
: I'd say that it's much more possible to get lost in the F Six and it's possible to, obviously with the C four you can do crazy stuff as well, but just that nature where the bands don't overlap and you're always dealing with sort of an equal amount across the board.
Speaker A: Having the crossovers and the visualization of the crossovers between these plugins has helped people a lot, but I actually find more people in user land for us get confused when they're talking to me about, okay, so talk me through the C Four. And this comes down to development and research and design as well. It's like C Four, I find, confuses people on getting the best out of it. Way more in 2023 than the F Six. The F Six, they look at and go, oh, okay, cool. All right. I understand it because we made it feel and look more like an EQ than compression, but it's both.
Speaker B: Yeah. I really like the design of that. I'm going to start exploring it more. I've played around some others, and this one looks more powerful and more flexible. And to be able to set up a deesser that's really precision and de harsher and do all that dynamically, that's very compelling. I can set that up in a chain.
Speaker A: Yeah. I love this plugin. I really do.
: It's the go to plugin in my template, to be honest with you.
Speaker A: Thank you.
: Oh, really?
Speaker A: Thank you.
: Hey, I want to throw one at you, and you could maybe dispel a bit of an argument that I've had with a few people. I want to talk about presets for a minute, because the presets that come with wave stuff are usually very good. There's no arguing with that. But I come across two schools of thought. I come across the people who basically go, I love the such and such preset on this plugin. So I put the plugin on the track and I turn it on and now don't really play with it. My argument would be that, yes, it's a great preset and it sounds good, but it's designed around someone else's voice. A different instrument. A different sounding instrument. Whatever the case may be, it's always going to need some tweaking. Would you agree?
Speaker A: Firstly, when we're talking about presets, I feel like this year, well, actually, in the last two or three years, we've kind of moved across a big bump of discussion, and we've gone from presets are bad, it's like it's cheating and all this kind of crap to presets are great. Thank God these software companies put so many of them in. Let me just take you through for a second. So everybody knows how these presets come about and how much time goes into them. So one of the first things that happens is the product manager and the team at Waves, or whichever other company I'm going to guess they do roughly the same. Clearly not as good, because we're awesome, but it's like the person who knows the plugin best is usually the product manager. And so a lot of those initial presets will come from the product manager, because the average plugin he's in charge of it through development. And that could be up to five years sometimes of living with that tool and working through development, QA testing, beta testing, going back, fixing things back into it again. So you get to know this tool intimately, and through that, you get to create presets because of your intimate knowledge of that specific plugin. But then what we do is we have an artist relations department run by a mate of mine by the name of Gitai. Barack and Gitai will take these software tools, these plugins, and he'll reach out to all of our artists that are waves endorsed to artists, everybody from like the Chris Lord Algis, Tony Maseratis, Eddie Kramer's, through to Manny Marrican and Andrew Shepp's and all the others, Armin Van Buren, Dead Mouse, anybody that's. But he will reach out to the ones that are relevant for the kind of person that will use this specific plugin, and we then ask them to create their own presets. And that's where you end up with the categories of different artists names in those plugins. So in that case, yes, you are dealing with that person working on presets in their room. So if it says Andrew Shepps, it's done in the ceiling space of his cottage in Worcestershire. It's a lovely sounding space. He's got really nice setup. He's got PMCs. The room sounds amazing. That's where those presets come from. And a lot of people will say, well, it's Andrew Scheff's preset. Must be amazing. Yes. For him. For you, it's a starting point. It's a starting point. Take that great starting point from that dude with a lot of experience, and then save as your name and tweak the hell out of it so that it works perfectly for you. They are a starting point. They are a shortcut. They save you hours upon hours of working out how to get what somebody else has already done for you.
Speaker B: Yeah, I tell my clients that, get my custom presets made, this is a starting point. You can use this happily for many years, and some do that clients come back five, six, seven years still using that preset you made or that stack or whatever. I'm like, really? I wasn't a very good engineer back then, but whatever. If you're booking, that's great. But, yeah, I tell people, if you're only going to do one thing, get one preset that's eqed to you, everything's dialed into you, and now you have an awesome stepping off point. To copy or make a duplicate from and go crazy. Now you can always return to home and get back to a starting point that works well. So these presets that you guys have designed.
Speaker A: Yeah.
Speaker B: They're not custom to tuned EQ or whatever exactly to that, to your voice, but you're knowing that the parameters and the ranges of the parameters and such are in musical or tasteful know.
: Yes, perfect. I couldn't put that better myself. I'm going to use that on my next Facebook argument, George.
Speaker A: So we create these presets, and by.
Speaker B: The way, let me say, Michael, not everybody does good presets. I can tell you a very big company whose daw I use, and their presets are horrendous. So you guys really do put in the effort. Sorry, go ahead.
Speaker A: We really do. But what we try and do is we try and make sure that we're giving people a starting point that saves them time. And also take into account presets are there to give you an idea of what the potential power of the plugin is. So a preset might not, if you go through the presets, it might not be what you're after right now, but if you use the preset browser and just flick through them, you're going to find that, oh, my God, it can do that. Fantastic. Save that for later. I save presets that I want to get back to with my initials and that way I can go through them and I can type in MPA and it brings up and it goes, okay, cool, I need to get back and mess with that one or that one or that idea.
: It's funny, isn't it? We talk about presets and things, but it's also choices of microphones and preamps as well. I was doing a session this morning and I said, what do you want? You want me to use a large diaphragm mic with 1073 or do you want me to use 41 six with a grace? And they're like, oh, 41 six with a grace. So it's kind of like an analog preset, if that makes any sense.
Speaker B: Yeah, as long as you know what you used. Like, if you have to come back to that project again, if you've got more than one chain, you do have to do the extra documentation as a voice actor to make sure that.
: Do you know what, though? You don't, George. Because that bloody 41 six, there's no way you're going to miss that one.
Speaker B: Well, no, that mic is distinctive, but, yeah, no, the more chains you have to remember and preset and store the little bit more of a responsibility. You're going to have to keep track of that later down the road. You got to pick up that a year later. Having two distinct options is smart. Having 17 variations, maybe too much to keep track of.
: Sorry about that.
Speaker B: To have this mic and preamp as a combo you use, I have clients that have two mics, two preamps, or three mics, two preamps. What do they want to do? Well, they want to hear every combination of those three mics and those two. I'm like, no, you don't. You don't need to hear and use all three combos of every permutation. Once you have two chains or three chains maybe, that are like, go to. Just go to it.
: You just find things that you like that work, that are convenient, like, they technically work together, they sonically work together, they're packaged right.
Speaker B: There's gear. FOMO, man. It's FOMO. People are like, there's something new, there's something new. What can I make it better? I'm like, I get it.
Speaker A: And this is kind of why, obviously, we've talked about creative access subscriptions from waves before. One of the beautiful things about a subscription is if yoU're on, say, for example, the essential, you've got 110 plugins that you can mess with. And then rather than actually buying them, if you decide, no, I don't need those plugins, then cancel the subscription and go and buy two or three of them instead. It's totally up to you.
Speaker B: Like a mega demo. Yeah, pretty much the ultimate demo of every plugin. Yeah.
Speaker A: There is a very good argument for having an overwhelming amount of tools and finding that it degrades your work because you can't think about what to use at the time. A perfect example is, and I'll take this back to, this is 2008. 2008, I get a phone call from a mate of mine, Brian Gold, who owns a post production studio house in Detroit. Detroit.
: I know him very well. He's a great guy.
Speaker A: Yeah. And he rings me and he goes, mate, we need Mercury bundle for all the rooms. I'm like, I'm happy to help. How many rooms you got right now? And he goes, 13. So he had 13 rooms at Gold Sound. At that point in time. He had just put in decommands, icon consoles, plus HD, six protools.
: Was this when the Mercury Bundle had the TDM pricing? And then the native get.
Speaker A: Don't spoil my story. And Brian says to me, he goes, so I'm going to need mercury bundles for all those, I said, mate, for that I will personally fly in, install them all, give you a huge hug, and then get you drunk. So Brian then drops the bill on this, which is at that time, TDM Mercury was $13,450 each. And he bought 13 of them. And then he rang me and said, give me another one. I'm going to have a floating one. So there's 14 times 13,000. You do the math. So I go into the studios, and by this time, I'd known him and his team for a while. Lovely people. Brian's still a really good friend of mine, and I go in and I install all these mercury bundles and I go, okay, I'm going to come back in three months. I come back in three months. These guys, after I've taken them through all of these plugins before, they were still using the four plugins that they were used to, that they'd been using for the last two or three years. So there is a point where you have to look at this and go, okay, how many tools do I need and which ones am I going to use? And is too many degrading my work or improving my work?
: You're going to use the ones that give you the sound you want, the sound that you want, and the sound that you like.
Speaker A: Yeah.
: Okay, so I get one plugin, and the plugin would be Gomez Avox.
Speaker A: That's it. Arvox. It's one of the most epically simple and productive plugins you can buy for a simpleton.
: I want to go simple.
Speaker A: Well, that was fun. Is it over?
Speaker C: The Pro audio suite with thanks to Tribut and Austrian audio Recorded using Source Connect, edited by Andrew Peters and mixed by Voodoo Radio Imaging with tech support from George the Tech Wittam. Don't forget to subscribe to the show and join in the conversation on our Facebook group. To leave a comment, suggest a topic, or just say, good day. Drop us a note at our website, theproaudiosuite.com.