Ditching Bad Echo In Any Room

Echoes and delays can sound amazing when used in the right context, but what do you do when they’re muddying up your source audio track?

Record a few minutes of yourself talking in any given room with high ceilings and you’ll know exactly what we’re talking about.

And while this clean-up technique is something that is geared toward live audio & video work, there’s nothing to say you can’t use it on a particularly muddy room or overhead mics for similar problems.

Transforming The Room

You’re not going to be able to do much in a lot of larger rooms to limit the influence the room has on your sound. It’s not even that a particular room sounds bad on it’s own, but any larger room (especially stadiums & warehouses) will have echoes naturally that will find their way into your microphone.

So rather than hanging a bunch of blankets or isolating yourself in a corner, how do we transform the room without killing it’s vibe? We do it in post-processing.

As long as your voice isn’t completely drowned out, there’s hope for your audio recording. Multi-band transient processors like Transify can give you detailed, accurate control to single out the problem frequency bands and treat them without mangling the audio you’d like to keep.

In Fluff’s example below, the room he recorded in had a decent amount of low-mid build-up (this is actually a very common issue). Watch how he uses the Attack & Sustain controls on the plugin to dial-out the room from another one of his videos:

What to Use Around Transify

If you’re really looking to step up your audio quality, you’ll notice Fluff used another plugin in combination with Transify: a compressor.

For music work, compressors can be used for many different functions and effects, only a handful of which are desirable in the video world.

That’s not to say videos don’t use compression just as much, if not more, than we do on the music side. Any thought out, professional video will have some compression on a narrator’s voice. It adds presence, perceived volume & consistency to the narration, just like you’d want from a lead vocal in a song.

Whether you choose to couple your compressor before or after doesn’t matter so much; experiment with it and see what works best for you. For Fluff, putting the compressor first made the echo in the room more noticeable and easier to treat.

Pro Tip: When working with heavily treated source audio, it may be necessary to add a compressor before AND after Transify.

What Else Would You Like To See Us Clean Up?

In these video-focused tutorials from the In The Studio series, we really try to focus on some of the most common issues audio professionals run into when working in the video post-production realm.

We do this because an increasing number of engineers are supplementing their music income with video work, but few have ever worked with audio outside of the music space. While the tools are the same, the techniques aren’t always translated as easily.

If you’ve got a particular audio problem you’d like to share with us, please shoot us an email or post it on the Joey Sturgis Tones Forum. If you’re struggling with a particular problem, there’s a good chance hundreds of your fellow engineers are too.