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EQ for Zoom voice advice

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EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby peterbrinson » Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:28 am

I'm a professor who believes that the more pleasant and clear my voice is on Zoom, the better.

Here's what I'm using. Would you add some EQ hardware? Or what instead? Is there a weak link here? I'm up for paying under $300.

Tascam US 322
https://tascam.com/us/product/us-322/download

Art Tube MP/C
https://artproaudio.com/product/tube-mp-c/

Shure SM58
https://www.shure.com/en-US/products/microphones/sm58

Thank you.
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby James Perrett » Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:46 am

Keep things simple but appropriate. I'd plug the microphone directly into the audio interface and forget about using a separate preamp at the moment.

The most important factors in this situation are microphone choice, microphone position and room acoustics. The SM58 may not be the best choice because it is designed to be used close up and may sound too thin if used at a distance.

Can you link to a video showing the results from your current set up? If we can hear the issue it would make it much easier to recommend a solution.
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:49 am

... and I'd go even simpler...

A decent USB mic straight into the computer - coupled with making sure you're environment is as 'echo'/reverberation free as possible will be all that's required.

I'd suggest either a Rode NT-USB or a Rode NT-USB Mini as being excellent mics.

But if you really prefer the mic/preamp combination then I'd recommend the Rode M3. An excellent mic for voice work IMO. (I tried one again this week and was reminded how good it is) Hugh R really rated it in his review too: https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/rode-m3

But whatever you decide... I agree with James that you should avoid the SM58 - not really the mic for this application... and however you do it don't get too close to the mic... I find a minimum distance of 8" (preferably a bit more) with the mic above and to the side of the mouth, pointing at the mouth, gives a good, natural sound.)

PS. I don't work for Rode! :lol:
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby adrian_k » Fri Oct 09, 2020 9:56 am

As a student currently getting a lot of my teaching via Zoom or Collaborate the thing I notice most is room sound. Even a built in laptop mic can work fine if the room is ok. But a good mic in a boxy reverberant room sounds horrible and no amount of EQ will sort that.

Edit - people using iPads/tablets seem to get a better sound than those using laptops when relying on built in mics
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Oct 09, 2020 10:04 am

adrian_k wrote:As a student currently getting a lot of my teaching via Zoom or Collaborate the thing I notice most is room sound. Even a built in laptop mic can work fine if the room is ok. But a good mic in a boxy reverberant room sounds horrible and no amount of EQ will sort that.

Edit - people using iPads/tablets seem to get a better sound than those using laptops when relying on built in mics

Yup, absolutely! The 'sound of the room' is key. I've noticed how good comparatively the sound is when people are wearing USB headsets compared to the too-often 'speaking from my bathroom' sound we hear these days on news bulletins when people are just using built-in mics.
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby James Perrett » Fri Oct 09, 2020 12:01 pm

Mike Stranks wrote:... and I'd go even simpler...

A decent USB mic straight into the computer - coupled with making sure you're environment is as 'echo'/reverberation free as possible will be all that's required.

While a USB mic is good for the current application, it will be more limiting once the pandemic is over and he wants to use the mic for other purposes. Given that the OP already has an audio interface I'd say that your suggestion of a Rode M3 is a good one.
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Fri Oct 09, 2020 1:05 pm

peterbrinson wrote:I'm a professor who believes that the more pleasant and clear my voice is on Zoom, the better.

Here's what I'm using. Would you add some EQ hardware? Or what instead? Is there a weak link here?

It's impossible to know what to recommend without hearing what you're starting from and what problems you're having that is prompting you to seek an improvement.

The SOS forums don't host files, so you'll need to upload a clip to Soundcloud or similar as a private file, and then provide a link to it here for forum members to access.

However, I'd share the view of others in that there's probably little to be gained from the ART Tube preamp -- the preamps built into the Tascam interface are probably entirely adequate. That said, it's not going to be an impediment either, provided you have optimised the gain structuring appropriately.

The obvious weak link is the SM58... although that too is perfectly capable of delivering a 'pleasant and clear voice' if used appropriately, and it does have the advantage of helping to minimise room sound a little....

But I suspect the biggest impediment to clear, good quality speech is the room sound itself. We tend not to notice just how reverberant and resonant most typical rooms are, because our brains are very adept at processing the signals from both ears to focus on the wanted sound. Sadly, mics don't have that capability...
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby peterbrinson » Sat Oct 10, 2020 12:40 am

Wow, what quality feedback!
I'm likely going to get one of those microphones Mike recommends if nothing else so my morning setup is simple.

But since you all talked about the room and because Hugh recommended an upload, here goes:

http://peterbrinson.com/temp/brinson_ampTest.mp3

Thank you.
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sat Oct 10, 2020 1:10 am

I'll leave advice on the specifics of microphones to my esteemed colleagues who know far more about it than I do but speaking as someone who spends a lot of time on conference calls, often internationally (and often with US and Canadian parties), in your example recording I much prefer the section that starts around the 7-second mark where I believe you are talking close to the microphone with a tube amp.

I hear little evidence of room noise in either of the 'closer to the microphone' segments, The 'close to the mic' section without the amp sounds fairly good to me as well, but if I was a student I think I'd struggle with either of the distant ones after a short time.

On a related note, I think your desire to improve the audio experience of your student audience is admirable :thumbup:
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby Mike Stranks » Sat Oct 10, 2020 9:44 am

I've just revisited my earlier post about mic positioning...

What I've said works fine in a good acoustic environment. If things are at all 'iffy' then I've found bringing the mic in closer and pointing it up to the mouth with the capsule just below the point of the chin can work well. In that scenario you're effectively speaking across the top of the mic.
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby CS70 » Sat Oct 10, 2020 10:40 pm

peterbrinson wrote:I'm a professor who believes that the more pleasant and clear my voice is on Zoom, the better.

Here's what I'm using. Would you add some EQ hardware? Or what instead? Is there a weak link here?

All that's been written is golden advice and will give you the best possible representation of your natural voice in the conditions you have.

But to answer your question, you _can_ change a little the timbre (making it more or less pleasant, to you at least) with an EQ.

You don't need an hardware one - a system-wide software EQ, something like NCH's DeskFX for example if you work on Windows - will do just that, processing anything that's presented to the software outputs and giving you the possibility of shaping your voice. Software EQs are often better than inexpensive hardware EQs, which is an added bonus.

Within reason (and given that you have a reasonable room with not too many reflections) increasing the HF a little at places like 1K, 2K or 5K can give better intelligibility, while raising a little the lows somewhere between 80-150Hz will make your recorded voice sound more like you hear it where you speak.
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby peterbrinson » Sun Oct 11, 2020 2:26 am

Great, thank you.
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Re: EQ for Zoom voice advice

Postby Tim Gillett » Sun Oct 11, 2020 3:08 am

To my ears, your voice close to the SM58 sounds fine. Far clearer and better sounding than many podcasts people have to suffer through.
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