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How can I keep a Voice Actor screaming into a mic from peaking and distorting the sound?

Asked 1612 day 3 h | Viewed 8884 times | Updated 1611 day 9 h |

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Gravatar photo Josh

I'm having trouble with screaming into my mic for animated lines. When I scream or yell or say things too loud, the mic peeks and distorts the sound. Backing up creates too much ambiance from the room and lowering the mic sensitivity only quiets it instead of getting rid of the distortion. There has to be a way to do this. I'm using an MXL990 condenser mic and using Audacity to record. Thanks in advance for the help. This is really important.

4 Answers

  1. Answered: 1611 day 17 h (0) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoMartin Swain

    I think all you need to do is to back off the level on your preamp a bit more to a much more quieter volume before recording the takes and just do a couple of test shouts to make sure it isn't clipping. This way you're giving yourself more headroom which ultimately makes it less likely for you to distort the signal going in. You'll still be getting a loud enough signal going through because instead of relying on the preamp for your volume, you're making up the volume by shouting instead (this goes for all loud instruments).

    That's really the only way you're going to be able to shout into your mic without the signal clipping. If you find that after you've recorded a successful shouting take the levels look a bit quiet, just raise the volume of the .wav file to a higher volume, but remember by doing this, you're going to be raising the self-noise of the mic itself which you can get away with depending on how much you raise the volume by.

    I hope this helps you out a bit, let me know how it works out for you.

  2. Answered: 1611 day 8 h (0) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoJustin Vencel

    You might also try switching from your sensitive condenser microphone to something like a Shure SM57.  

    Most dynamic microphones are much less sensitive to pressure level changes. They send to work very well for screaming vocals.

    Here is an older post that talks a bit about recording screaming vocals.

  3. Answered: 1611 day 6 h (1) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoguest

    Or get a preamp compressor

    • I can agree with this. It is an excellent idea to have a compressor in the signal chain before it hits the A/D converter in your interface. This will allow you to catch any crazy transients that might otherwise ruin your vocal track. You can then put another compressor plugin (or two) on the track during mixing.

      Justin Vencel | Aug 31 at 03:08

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  4. Answered: 1607 day 15 h (0) | Permalink

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    Gravatar photoRecMixMas

    use a dynamic mic instead of a condensor mic. dynamic mics can handle great spl (sound pressure level). position the actor 8 to 12 inches from the mic. Move the mic around the room until you find a spot that minimizes room ambience. definitely use a compressor to control the transients. here are some useful articles which will help:

    How to use a compressor properly:

    Tips for recording vocals:

    Microphone placement:

    Microphones explained:

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