Voice acting, singing vocals, narration… just about any flavor of recorded human voice can benefit from signal processing. I’ve developed some typical things I do whenever I’m taking a raw voice recording toward a finished audio product.
I heard Alex U. Case wisely suggest that audio practitioners not seek recipes, but strategies instead. Each voice and project may need different approaches so there is no perfect EQ setting, no perfect compression preset that can be used every time. So consider this a set of strategies – ideas worth your consideration to use or omit with a great sounding voice as the goal.
1 CUTS – Remove parts of the recording that won’t be audible, or that you don’t want audible. I am more likely to apply cuts to a voice recording than any other process. This seems to work much better when applied early, if not first, in the processing chain.
2 MISCELLANY – If a gate or de-esser is needed, I prefer to apply before compression.
3 COMPRESSION – Most voice recordings benefit from manipulation of the dynamic range. A range of audible effects can be achieved with compression, and there are various techniques for applying it. Most people get better and better at using compression over time, with a lot of trial and error in the early days. But the benefits are worth the effort.
4 BOOSTS – More obvious than cuts, EQ boosts can bring out parts of the spectrum the might otherwise be missed. Boosts are a double edged sword that can cause as much damage as benefit. It’s good to consider the larger audible context to use boosts effectively.
5 LIMIT – Voice may not need a limiter. They seem to work best when used judiciously, and last in the processing chain. True peak limiters are especially useful for finishing audio and avoiding distortion.