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Audacity or Articulate

Joe Deegan

202 posts

Posted Monday, March 21, 2011 at 2:49 PM  

Do you prefer Audacity or Articulate for recording narration and why?

 

I normally use Audacity but I'm not sure if I have a good reason why.  Mainly force of habit.  I'm wondering if I should just use Articulates recording features and save myself a step in the development process.  Opinions?


All Replies

Shelly Cook

56 posts

Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 5:54 AM  

Not really a preference... more like a matter of convienence.  I mainly use Articulate.  It was easy to learn and super easy to use.  If I'm being really honest, recording audio is my least favorite part of the process so I'm always happy when I get approval for professional narration!!!  But when it is something that needs to be recorded in-house, I use Articulate.  Besides, it's not the software that makes or breaks the narration (well, I guess it could break it) but for me, it's the voice... I'm the one who hears myself on the answering machine and says "Is that REALLY what I sound like?" 

 

Audacity does come in handy when I need to mix audio files - layering background sound with narration or combining two audio files.  Overall it is pretty easy to use - but it has a lot of functionality that I've never used and I haven't taken the time to experiment to learn.

 

I do think using Articulate would save you a step - unless you are a mix master with your audio, then it might not fully meet your needs.


Joe Deegan

202 posts

Posted Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 3:22 PM  

Hi Shelly,

Thanks for your feedback.  I'm definitely no mix master so like you I feel like Audacity may do more than I need and why bother.  Just finished a small project where I only used Articulates recording and it went great.  I think Audacity may be the choice for more complicated projects whereas Articulate is more than enough for basic recording.


steve mcmillen

47 posts

Posted Sunday, April 03, 2011 at 7:20 AM  

I always prefer to use a stand alone audio editor, partly for the greater ability to mix and edit the audio, but also because I like having the separate audio files outside of the Articulate file structure as a sort of backup, I've know too many people who have had issues with their Articulate files and lost all their audio.  Now I know what tends to contribute to that issue, but I just feel safer having the mp3/wav files.


User Rank Bruce Graham

6,641 posts

Posted Sunday, April 03, 2011 at 8:42 AM  

When I used Audacity I always liked it.

I originally recorded straight into AP09, but have lost too many audios now, and would always record externally, (now using NCH Soundwave Pro).

@Joe - basic mixing is not hard, most software just allows you to put one track under another at a reduced %, VERY like the "Soundtrack" feature already in Articulate. The other thing that AP09 does not have, (tho' I did make a feature request...) is the ability to e.g. remove background noise. Of all the editing features I have ever used, that is the one that has added significant quality to my recordings,

Bruce


Shelly Cook

56 posts

Posted Monday, April 04, 2011 at 6:30 AM  

I also have learned my lesson about having a back up of the audio... however, I simply export the audio out of the audio editor once I have it like I want it - if needed, I can run it through Levelator and reinsert it.


Will Findlay

128 posts

Posted Monday, April 04, 2011 at 11:20 AM  

I usually don't even use my computer to record audio at all. I use a Zoom H2 audio recorder. Then I copy the file off the Zoom's SD card and edit it in Audacity.

 

Audacity -

 

If you use the beta version of Audacity (1.3.12) you can chop up the recording using Audacity's label track (Press Ctrl+B while in Audacity to create a label). I label each segment 01,02,03,04,05, etc...

 

Then with Audacity's  "Export Labels" command you can export the sound file as separate clips. Then you can import your separate audio files in batches directly into Audacity.


Andy Bowyer

137 posts

Posted Monday, April 04, 2011 at 11:44 AM  

I don't work with Audacity, but like Bruce, prefer the idea of a stand-alone audio editor.  Primarily because once the narration files are recorded, the sky's the limit when it comes to what you can actually do with the files.  In addition to noise-reduction/removal, you can ramp up the amplitude, level everything out quite nicely, and even, where appropriate, compress it for a fuller and richer sound.  Want to add emphasis?  Filtering can help with that...as can reverb, or any other handy gizmos you'll find in a stand-alone editor.

 

A word of caution:  it can be tempting to *over do* it when it comes to adding effects to a narration track.  I'd only suggest such a thing if the script warrants (or even asks) for it.  For example:  got a thought-bubble?  A touch of reverb can give the perfect effect.

 

At any rate...there is my .02 for the day.

 

 


User Rank Phil Corriveau

65 posts

Posted Monday, April 04, 2011 at 11:53 AM  

I'm in the standalone audio camp as well.  In addition to the number of functions/effects that Andy points out, many audio apps allow for batch processing--where you can have the software apply effects across multiple files--which is a huge timesaver.  Adobe Audition is one app that does this.


User Rank Steve Flowers

3,496 posts

Posted Monday, April 04, 2011 at 11:56 AM  

Wow. Didn't know Audacity added that function. The export ranges function was my favorite feature of SoundForge. It was so easy to take a single or layered track and hotkey chop it into segments while maintaining the single file. So much nicer to consistently process that way.


Will have to give Audacity another shot. Have been using Adobe SoundBooth which is pretty nice once you get used to it, or Garageband on my Mac for real quick file surgery. The new version of Garageband is pretty nice to work with..


User Rank Mike Enders

2,002 posts

Posted Monday, April 04, 2011 at 12:57 PM  

I can't say that I've ever lost audio when recording directly into Articulate, but do find myself mainly recording with Adobe Soundbooth. This makes for quick audio editing and exporting and provides the bonus of the backup.  Given the stories of lost audio, if you do choose to record directly into Articulate, I would recommend exporting your Articulate audio after you record (just in case).


Leah Hemeon

100 posts

Posted Monday, April 04, 2011 at 3:19 PM  

I'm with those who prefer stand-alone audio. I too have "lost" audio from Articulate and don't want that risk. Also, I like the extra editing features (background noise removal especially) that come with a stand-alone editor. I'm using Audacity right now but only because my company hasn't sprung for a real editor and I can run Audacity using Portable Apps off a USB stick.

 


User Rank Natalia Mueller

684 posts

Posted Thursday, April 07, 2011 at 2:37 PM  

Leah's post just reminded me of something. I used to work with Camtasia and Audacity was my go-to for audio. I recently discovered Articulate at a new position (love it) and I was editing with Audacity, used the Background Noise Removal, exported the file as an MP3 and then when I published everything in Aritculate it sounded terrible. Like there were two of me talking into a can. I tried again with Mono Track and I still sounded "canny". I'm sure it was user error. Does anyone know what I did wrong?


Leah Hemeon

100 posts

Posted Thursday, April 07, 2011 at 4:45 PM  

Hi Natalia,

I used to run into this and although I am the first to admin that I am no expert in audio editing, I learned a couple of things:

 

1. Don't record in stereo. Record in mono. It just seems to turn out better. Someone more an audiophile than me can probably explain why I find this to be true.

2. Export to .wav format from Audacity instead of .mp3. Articulate just converts them to .mp3 on publish so you end up converting them twice causing a loss in quality.

 

Check out this knowledgebase article on the subject for more information:

http://www.articulate.com/support/presenter09/kb/?p=547

 

This is about all I can offer as suggestions. Who can add to this one?


Andy Bowyer

137 posts

Posted Thursday, April 07, 2011 at 6:36 PM  

Ah the great debate:  To record your voice in MONO?  Or in Stereo?

 

Some audio types INSIST that in order to get the best clarity and such from your audio, you must always record in STEREO.

 

To this, I say POPPYCOCK!

 

Stereo voice tracks, in my estimation, accomplish one thing, and one thing ONLY:  They chew up your hard-drive/storage-space TWICE as fast.  I would be inclined to suggest that a MONO voice track will give you more "presence," but I'm not entirely sure that's more than opinionated nonsense, to be honest.

 

IF however, you're going to try to do some cool little tricks with your audio, say, to match your video...let's say for example that "Karen" is on the left side of the screen, and "Ralph" is on the right, you might want to mix the track so the character audio is dominant to one "side" or the other.  If this is the case, it's easy enough to convert a MONO track into STEREO, and play with the "Pan Volumes" from there.  You can actually create some nice effects.  However, you don't want to put ALL of your audio to one side or the other...it really gets weak and sounds "far away" or "low volume" if you do that.  Rather, mix it so that it's....oh...probably 65% dominant in the proper channel, and 35% in the weaker one...here's an example of such an approach:


Stereo-Split Demo Track

 

If you listened with headphones, you'll notice a definite difference in the "sides of your brain" voices versus that of the "announcer" voice.  But while the two "sides of the brain" were mixed in Stereo, the two voices weren't EXCLUSIVELY assigned to one side or the other.  It may sound like it, but trust me--you'd know the difference.

 

For voice...as a narrator who makes his bread and butter (as it were) from this very thing, MONO is the way to go.  You can do a great many things in post-production if you have the inclination.  In fact, the sky's the limit.  If you need pointers, regardless of software, let me know...I'll be happy to share my experience with you.

 

Best of luck!

 

ab


Andy Bowyer

137 posts

Posted Thursday, April 07, 2011 at 7:06 PM  

Incidentally...it's also noteworthy that the link to audioboo that plays the audio took an .mp3 file from my computer and RECOMPRESSED them into a "smaller" .mp3...thus the "ringy little artifacts" that you hear.  Another reason why you should import .wav files into your eLearning modules--it's been discussed before, but the truth is:  "Garbage in, garbage out."

 

ab


Will Findlay

128 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 8:16 AM  

Natalia Spurgin said:

I was editing with Audacity, used the Background Noise Removal...



The culprit may also be too much Background Noise Removal (unless you already ruled that out). You have to be careful not to go overboard on removing too much background noise or it can make things sound really thin. I usually reduce some of the background noise, but end up having to leave a little to avoid this.


Andy Bowyer

137 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 8:21 AM  

I'm not sure if Audacity supports VST plug-ins, but there are several "freebies' out there that I've tried with Adobe Audition 3.0, one being a "Noise Gate" that works pretty well.  You have to be careful with it, and it requires a *lot* of tinkering, but it can be more forgiving than noise-reduction in many ways.  I typically don't have the patience for it, but can see where it would be useful.

 

Here are a few I've acquired.  The one you want is the "ReaGate" which is the sixth one down on the page.

 

Good luck.

 

ab


User Rank Natalia Mueller

684 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 8:39 AM  

Thanks, Will. I'll make sure that's not what's happening.

We have Sound Forge too, but I couldn't find anything to remove background noise. Does anyone know if I'm just missing it or if it doesn't have that feature? Maybe it does and it's just too advanced for my editing skillz. I also love how Audacity let's you replace a selection with silence in once click. That makes it so easy to clean up little sounds like taking a breath.


User Rank Steve Flowers

3,496 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 9:16 AM  

When Sony Acquired SoundForge I believe they began distributing a separate noise reduction plug-in. SoundForge supports VST plug-ins in most versions. The noise gate will help. Noise reduction is helpful as well, but you're essentially removing frequency patterns. Natural warm sound contains some of these patterns. So overusing noise reduction will end up ruining your tracks.  Any method you need to use to apply excessive processing is going to destroy your track and make it harder (or impossible) to get right.

 

Best bet is to start clean The inside of a car makes a dandy sound booth if you are away from traffic and city noise.


User Rank Natalia Mueller

684 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 9:20 AM  

Thank you, Steve. Very helpful. I don't know why, but the company I work for set up a lovely studio to use for audio and green screen...and it isn't remotely sound proof. I'm ready to bring a blanket to work and throw it over my head to record.


User Rank Steve Flowers

3,496 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 9:31 AM  

You might do well setting up a pop screen (coat hanger and a nylon stocking works) and something to mitigate standing waves (something setup behind the microphone can work wonders. You don't necessarily want to surround your mic with deadening foam. Depending on the mic you can ruin the mechanics and end up with hollow sound. You want to capture all of the rich soundwaves including some reasonable bounce for acoustics, just not the excess bounces from your room.

 

We've used these with some success:

http://emusician.com/news/primacoustic_voxguard/

 

This setup is nice since it mounts to a microphone stand. This allows you to use it standing or sitting, mounting a pop filter and makes it portable. It's not perfect and you still need a quiet room, but it performs better than eggshell foam and still allows all of that natural goodness to shine through.

 

We picked ours up at musician's friend for around $200 for the entire setup (Shure SM58 microphone, stand, pop filter, cable, Fast-Track usb audio component). We keep the stand in a portable all in one kit. When you're ready to use it you just grab a laptop and find a quiet spot (or go to the person you're interviewing) and it all works The Fast Track converter requires a driver installation. But it's a pretty great setup for the money and expandable if we need to in the future.

 


User Rank Steve Flowers

3,496 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 9:33 AM  

At my last job we setup a three section piece of cardboard with some deadening material affixed behind the microphone. This worked OK and was relatively portable. Same concept, but more than a little ghetto and not as effective.


Andy Bowyer

137 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 10:22 AM  

Check out the microphone demos page, and listen to Stephanie Harnett's demo of the portabooth:

 

Demo

 

 


Mike B.

97 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 10:29 AM  

Thanks, Andy. Not too bad at first listen, although it would be interesting to hear a before and after in a noisy office setting.


User Rank Bruce Graham

6,641 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 10:29 AM  

I use Harlan PortaBooth all the time, (now that I have managed to persuade the cat to live elsewhere ).

Has make a huge difference IMHO to my voiceovering (sp?)

Bruce


Andy Bowyer

137 posts

Posted Friday, April 08, 2011 at 10:34 AM  

Mike--no problem.  I'm on the fence about it.  On the one hand it does cut down on sound-reflection quite a bit.  On the other, I think the result sounds too "muffled" to me, and there's still a bit of reflection going on.  Probably it comes down to where the mic is placed within the portabooth...probably requires some "playing around with."

 

Bruce--Good for you, but don't let the Humane Society find out about you kicking the cat out of its home...you may be fined.

 

ab


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