Tip 1 - Microphone Basics
It sounds very obvious, but before you start recording your voiceover, it’s a good idea to know where the active front of the microphone is, and where the diaphragm is located inside the microphone. Why? Because you should normally focus your voice on that part of the microphone.
Also if your microphone has a choice of pickup pattern, make sure to use the appropriate setting. For example, for voicing into the front of the mic on your own, 'cardioid' would be a typical pattern to go for but if there were two of you in the studio and you wanted to record face to face with one microphone in between, 'figure of 8' would be a good choice. But remember not all mics have a choice of pickup pattern.
Neumann U87 microphone set to cardioid.
Tip 2 - Use a Pop Shield
Plosives, caused by a rush of air when you say words like ‘popping’ or ‘quickly’ can cause that dreaded popping ‘thud sound’ and ruin your recording. Say the word ‘popping’ into the palm of your hand and you should feel a little blast of air on your skin, and it’s this rush of air hitting the diaphragm of the mic that causes the problem. It affects some people more than others but the best way to deal with it is to use a pop shield placed in front of the microphone.
Tip 3 - Positioning Yourself
It can sometimes help to imagine the diaphragm of the microphone as someone’s ear. So if you move very close to the mic it’s a bit like whispering a secret into someone’s ear. As you get closer you are adding intensity and intimacy but actually speaking in a quieter voice.
When you are very close to the microphone, be careful not to ‘blast’ and distort the signal, and be aware of not moving your head to the side as you can quickly come off axis and lose tone and volume. It’s all about controlling your voice and your voicing position.
Imagine reading a new car commercial as you see stunning tracking shots of the car shrouded in mist on top of a mountain, there’s inspiring ambient music and effects and you have to say the line…“This car will change your life forever…” Instead of shouting it from the rooftop you could move up close and personal on the mic, reading intensely and directly into the viewers ear… less is more as they say.
For a more relaxed, natural and conversational style, move further away from the microphone—try about an arm’s length to start with. At this sort of distance, the microphone becomes much less sensitive to changes in your position and the volume and tone of your voice. The best advice if you’re new to this type of recording is as always experiment, record and listen back.
For corporate and commercial styles I tend to voice approximately 6 to 10 inches in front of my Neumann U87 microphone set to cardioid, but experiment and see what works best for your voice and microphone.
Tip 4 - The Marquee Tool
For editing audio and voiceovers in Logic, the Marquee tool is my standout favorite little helper. Get to grips with this tool, and editing audio quickly becomes a breeze.
So what is it—and what does it do? The marquee tool looks like a crosshairs, and makes selecting a segment of audio easy. With the tool selected, just click and drag to select your audio and then you can delete it, copy it, move it, or apply a volume change to the selected area for attenuating breaths and mouth noises.
I find it useful to set up the marquee tool as my Command-click tool, so all I have to do is hit Command and the crosshairs are there ready to go to work.
Having made your selection with the crosshairs by clicking and dragging, hit the Space bar or press Play and Logic will play just the Marquee selected area—great for auditioning your selection. If you need to adjust the start or end points, hold down ‘Shift’ and then you can drag the start or end points of your marquee selection and audition again.
Power Tip for an even faster editing workflow.
If you find the marquee tool useful then there is an even quicker way to select it automatically.
In the ‘General’ section of Logic’s Preferences click on the ‘Editing’ tab and look for an option that says ‘Marquee Tool Click Zones’. With this option selected, you will automatically find the pointer turns into the marquee tool as soon as you bring it down into the lower half of a track or region. Very cool and very quick for editing.
Tip 5 - A Template for Recording Voiceovers
It may not be the most exciting prospect, but setting up a template for recording your voiceovers will mean a faster, more efficient workflow.
The idea here is that before your session you load up a template packed with all your favorite settings, so you're ready to start recording and editing voiceovers immediately with everything set up for you. Here are some ideas of what to include in your template.
First of all make sure you have Logic’s Advanced Tools turned on in Preferences and then open up the project settings from the File menu.
- Under the general tab in Project Settings, uncheck ‘Use Musical Grid’ (unless you want to work in bars and beats). This will set up Logic to work to ‘time’ rather than ‘bars and beats’, so the ruler and help tags etc. will give you minutes and seconds rather than bars and beats. I also prefer to set the display mode in the LCD display to ‘Time’.
- In the ‘Metronome’ section turn off ‘click while recording/playing’.
- Under the ‘Recording’ section, set the count-in to ‘None’ (unless you like a count-in click to get going).
- Turn off ‘Snapping’ from the menu just above the tracks area by setting it to ‘off’. This way you will be able to make smooth edits to region start and end points with the mouse.
- Drag Mode. I find it most useful to set the drag mode to ‘X-Fade’. You’ll find it just to the right of the ‘Snap’ menu above the tracks area. With this setting, when 2 regions of audio overlap, Logic will automatically write a crossfade for the overlapped area. In other words Logic will fade out the first region whilst fading up the second region in equal power. It’s very handy for seamlessly joining regions.
- Customize your Control Bar by Control-clicking it and selecting the controls and options that you most commonly use.
- Open up and use the Toolbar by selecting it from the ‘view’ menu or click the Toolbar button in the Control Bar. Again, customize it by control clicking the Toolbar and selecting your favorite and most useful options.
Once you have made some handy selections to the project settings save them as a project template from the File Menu and next time you will be ready to roll straight away.
Learn more essential voiceover recording and editing tips and tricks in Logic Pro X here: