Consistent audio levels?

I have a course that includes voice overs, sounds, and imported video. At any time audio can range from too soft to much too loud.

I'm sure I'm not the first to encounter these issues, so I'm hoping there may be some best practices the community can share with respect to ensuring course audio levels are consistent throughout?

Thank you,

a mac

11 Replies
Daniel Brigham

a mac: yes, Audacity (or other external program) will give you more control. But ultimately, it comes down to setting levels as you get ready to record. Do a few test recordings and take a good look at the wave form (all the while making sure you are not distorting). Have the voiceover person be consistent with his/her volume.

Of course, you can always go into the Articulate audio editor and make things louder or softer, but ideally you would do this in an external program. I do a lot of voiceover and audio editing, so feel free to PM if you have any questions.--Daniel

Adam Mac

Thanks for the responses folks, and Daniel I may very well take you up on your offer.

I realised my question is 2 fold.

A: How best to ensure levels are consistent for my existing content.

B: What best practices should I be enacting now to ensure future content doesn't require this touch up post work, at least to the same degree.

Thank you.

Andrew Sellon

Hello, "a mac"!  Here's my two cents, following on the previous good advice you've received:

A: For content that already exists (and in different formats, like video, sounds, and voiceover), I think your best bet is to work with the limited audio editing tools within Storyline itself.

B: For future content you create: I'm not a tech guru, so I don't know what control you'd have over recording a video, except to say you should check the camera's mike level and make sure it's consistent while speaking.  Editing it in iMovie or whatever, you should be able to adjust to a preferred audio level--assuming you've established one for yourself as a target.  For a standalone sound file--if it's in a format you can edit, then you could tweak its level either in an audio tool like Audacity or just within Storyline.  With regard to voiceovers, whether it's you or a hired pro like me or Daniel, the keys are:

  • Maintain a consistent distance from the pop filter/microphone setup while speaking.
  • Maintain a consistent audio level and vocal energy while recording (watch the readout monitor on your audio tool--Audacity or Audition or whatever you use).  As part of watching your audio levels, make especially sure you're not "spiking" (overly loud) or vanishing (too soft).  
  • Typically, using the audio software's Normalize feature on all your voiceover files should put them into a good "middle of the road" audio spectrum.
  • Do use a pop filter between you and the mike to minimize "popping" sounds from plosive consonants like "p" and "b."

I hope this helps!

Andrew

www.sellonsolutions.com -- My blog sometimes has voiceover tips & tricks

Bob S

Hi A Mac,

What you are asking about is called "normalizing" the tracks. There are lots of software options out there that do that. Audacity is a good basic one, and has lots of fans (me too). Another low-cost option is the AVS4YOU tools; specifically the audio editor.


Their normalize function has a great "batch" option for multilple files. Check this out...

http://www.avs4you.com/guides/How-to-normalize-volume-level-for-a-group-of-audio-tracks.aspx

Hope this helps and good luck!

Adam Mac

Thanks Bob,

You were right, it's the batch normalize that I was looking for. I do have Audacity, however the ability to batch my audio files and get them all normailzed would be an amazing time saver, so I'll look into AVS4YOU for sure!

Thanks to everyone else as well for the helpfull advice.

Jack Himmelman

I realize this is an old topic but I wanted to share my findings on this since it appears a lot of people post about this.

Audacity can import multiple files at once, and this is actually good because Audacity will sample every stream in order to normalize across all of the tracks. The Normalize function in Audiacity can be found under the "Effects" subscreen and is about halfway down the list.  

The only pain during this process is that you then have to export each track individually. You can do this by clicking the track you want to export first, click "File" at the top and then select "Export Selected Audio". This works as a "Save As" function in that you get to rename the file you are exporting to as well as selecting the location to save it.

All you have to do then is repeat for as many tracks you imported and boom: Normalized audio tracks.

 

I hope this information helps!!

Kim Hofmann

Is there a normalize or compression to use withing Articulate?  I recorded my audio in Articulate.  There were 150 slides in the training, all audio recorded at different times and the volume on each slide is different.  I also noticed when I when into audio editor sometimes it was on low and other medium (I think that is what it was called, not in the program now).  Why did it change settings?  Is there a default somewhere that I'm missing?

Thanks.

Jack Himmelman

There is no baked in feature within Articulate Storyline 1 that can do the normalization process. It's a bit of a pain, but the free program Audacity can do this. You just need to export each voice track from Articulate, import and select all tracks in Audacity, normalize to your given sound level, then export multiple to an output folder and then import back to Storyline.

Thank You,

Jack Himmelman
Catalog and Training Specialist

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James Bedwell

I appreciate that I'm probably a little bit late to this thread, but I thought it's worth mentioning that there is a way to easily normalise the audio in batch.

You simply Publish the course, and then use a free utility called MP3Gain (Or MacMP3Gain), targetting the 'content' folder within the exported course files.

It will automatically normalise all of the mp3 files in the folder, without you having to manually update/replace each file in the editor once they have been processed.

Just bare in mind you will have to normalise the audio each time you export the course.

However this is still much quicker than updating/replacing each individual file!