What you will need for this tutorial
- A sound editing software. I use soundforge (a bit expensive) but you can use the excellent and free Audacity. If going the Audacity route, remember to add the VST enabler.
- A couple VST effects. The one's we'll be using in this tutorial are all available for free. You'll need a compressor, EQ, reverb, chorus, vocoder. Freeware, all of them. I'm using mostly effects from Kjaerhus Audio here, but you can use whatever brand you want.
- A microphone that will let you record into your computer.
Before we start, remember that no amount of effects will make your voice sound good if the recording was not done the right way.
Quick tips for a better voice recording:
- Get a good mic and soundcard. Don't have much money? Try the M-audio soundcheck. Should be around 60$. M-audio also make a voice studio kit that includes everything you need. It's cheap but sounds kinda good for it's price. It's around 100 bucks. Just make sure it's compatible with the rest of your hardware.
- Still, if you are broke and stuck with a cheap-o PC microphone (or the mic under your laptop's keyboard) you can still try this tutorial.
- Put a mic windscreen in front of the mic. (Should cost you about 1.79$ at the music store) A mic windscreen will reduce or even eliminate the "pop" sounds of the "p" consonant and reduce "shhh" sounds (sibilance). Don't have one? Be creative. I use a nylon stocking mounted on a coat hanger. Been using that for years, even in a pro setting.
- Can't get a windscreen? Still hearing pops and hisses? Try not speaking directly into the mic. For instance, try recording while your face creates a 90 degrees angle with the microphone.
- Speak loud. This will improve signal to noise ratio and generally make you sound better. Can't project your voice? There are ways to improve that.
- Now that you have a clean signal with no pops or hisses, try applying some mild compression. Kjaerhus Audio are a pro company and they have free versions of some "classic" plug-ins. Try them out. (Altenate link).
Tip: Only have a little bit or audio? Wanna make it louder? You need to normalize the sound wave. Every audio editing software has a normalizing function. Find it, use it :) Remember you are working with digital audio. Once the wave is normalized, you cannot make it "louder" without applying compression, thus modifying the audio.
The "reverse spooky effet".
A classic effect, and usually the first thing people try out once they learned how to use an audio editor. Often used for "evil" characters of magical nature. It's spooky because you have the impression that the audio is coming at you before the character speaks.
- Reverse the voice sample.
- Apply reverb.
- Reverse the audio again.
- That's it.
The "radio" effect
People often mess up this one because they try to create the effect by using their hand or changing their voice. That wont do it. You'll need EQ for this one. The principle is that you remove all frequencies below and above a certain range.
- Apply a high-pass filter. Try around 700 Hz.
- Apply a low-pass filter. Try around 1200 Hz.
If the filters are "resonant" (or "high Q"), then it's even better. Try a Q of 3, then adjust it.
For added radio-ness, you'll want to add a little white noise at the end of every voice sample. Most audio editing software can generate white noise. Or you can create some with a synth. Or (why not) record a radio tuned between two stations. Insert half a second of that at the end for that "Enemy flag carrier is here TSSSSHT"/"Roger that TSSSSHT" effect.
The robot effect
The robot effect is usually done with a vocoder. Sonicism vocoder is OK. There's also TAL-vocoder. Let's try it with Sonicism.
By default, the plug-in will use several frequencies. You can deactivate some by clicking the red squares. Leave one or two active.
Now, play with the plug-in a bit. Try changing the fondamental notes of the bands that are active. Sounds good? Now apply the effect, and you're done.
The "demon" effect
The "demon voice" effect is usually a simple pitch shift. Any audio editor can change the pitch. Make it a bit lower. Done.
Wait... that's not what you wanted? You may want to have several voices with different pitches. Try a pitchshifter (here's a free one). A pitchshifter will duplicate the voice into several bands, each with its own pitch. Try leaving a "clean" version to make the words easy to understand, then mix in a bit of slightly detuned voice and a really low one.
Tip: when messing up with pitch, you may want to record at a higher quality. Time to use that 96khz mode that's usually not that useful.