Author Topic: Drift in narrator audio quality  (Read 3379 times)

mgraves

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on: April 29, 2016, 10:20:34 PM
Hello Everyone,

I've been a listener and subscriber for quite a few years. I like Escape Pod a lot. However, over the past month or so I've noticed a change in the sound of the narrators. I'm not sure if it's how they are being recorded or something in post-production, but in the past few episodes they sound muffled.

The intro music sounds normal, it's the voices that have changed. I'm not sure if the highs are being rolled-off, or the low-end lifted excessively. I've listened on several devices and with various headphones & speakers. Something has changed. Who or what has changed in the production process?

There's another thread where someone suggests the listener merely get better headphones. I spent 20 years working in recording studios and broadcast facilities, mostly installing and setting up technology. I assure you that I have and assortment of decent equipment.

Regards,

Michael



Thunderscreech

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Reply #1 on: April 30, 2016, 12:43:52 AM
I had real difficulty understanding the narrator in the skyscraper firefighter story until I turned my bass all the way down, I've never had to do that with EP.  I figure it's just an artifact of distributed recording; with a bunch of people around the world narrating episodes on their own equipment, it'll sound different each time.  I really respect all the work that goes into producing the show, no complaints here just feedback.  If I miss an episode occasionally because I can't figure out a hack for the audio, no worries, there's the transcript to fall back on so I'm good.  :)



matweller

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Reply #2 on: May 02, 2016, 11:55:29 AM
Nothing has changed in the production process. Every episode, I take the widely varied raw materials and do the best to bring them up to an acceptable standard. You have my apologies if I've missed for you in the past couple episodes.



mgraves

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Reply #3 on: May 02, 2016, 02:59:39 PM
Matt,

I certainly appreciate that EP most typically delivers fine quality product, episode after episode. That's why it's notable when something seems amiss.

Looking at EP528 in Adobe Audition I think I know what may have happened. I suspect that the narrator used a headset that was intended for telephony. The microphone in such a headset will roll-off the high-end by design.

I arrived at this by comparing EP528 and EP518 side-by-side. Audition has a spectrum display mode. In this mode it's clear that in EP528 the narrator's voice has no energy above 3 KHz. (the white line is at 3K)



The legacy telephone network passes only 300 Hz to 3.4 KHz. There are legacy technical standards (TIA-920) that dictate that there be no voice energy above 3.4 KHz to protect the telephone network for creating nasty audible artifacts.

The choice of headset in this case may have constrained what you had to work with to something akin to a telephone call. This most often happens with older headsets, especially older USB-attached headsets. It can also happen with Bluetooth cordless headsets.

Keep up the good work!

Michael






matweller

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Reply #4 on: May 03, 2016, 02:12:30 AM
In that particular case it was the combination of a sketchy mic and a low recording volume. Even a poor mic can yield a decent sound in a silent environment with a solid recording volume, but the opposite combination is very difficult to overcome. You have to choose how much tone to beef up versus how much noise reduction to do.

As I said, the quality of the source varies widely between narrators. Unfortunately, that is always going to be the case to some degree until we grow to where we can record in a controlled atmosphere. We have always taken steps to minimize the effect, and we're working to minimize it further. Your continued patience is appreciated. :)



mgraves

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Reply #5 on: May 04, 2016, 02:54:49 PM
Matt,

Indeed. I understand that the source material will vary wildly. In my business I deal with such matters continually. This sort of thing crosses my desk literally every week. That the quality is on average so very good is testament to your effort and skills.

Michael



matweller

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Reply #6 on: May 04, 2016, 04:07:47 PM
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