Originally Posted by firby
Hi. Whenever I hear old movie previews their is a certain sound its bassy and sounds like makeup gain from some old compressor or another. Maybe it is the sound of tape or the sound of tape on a movie reel hitting a compressor. Anyways it is a common sound. It sounds like the way they used to make stuff pop up in the mix.
Anyways. What is it ?
Having recorded a lot of voice-overs for radio and television, I can tell you that you are asking the wrong question if you believe that sound (or any vocal sound) is due to just a particular compressor. You will never hear the sound you are looking for without considering ALL the following factors:
1) The 'talent' - a person who's voice has all the qualities required ALREADY IN IT - snappy, crackly, bright, bassy, warm, energized, engaging. A person who also has an excellent sense of modulating all these traits into the microphone, consistently.
2) The microphone - matched to the persons style and voice. Anything from an RE-20 to a high end Neumann to an AKG C414 to an SM-57. Again, it depends primarily on #1, and MOST of 'that sound' has to do with the 'talents' ability to work a microphone.
3) Precise and clinical EQ - while not difficult to learn, it is an artform getting a voiceover to be the only thing of any interest over all the backgound material. Usually the mids are mildly scooped, and lows and highs/high mids slightly emphasized, and sibilance is actually emphasized to some extent. Experienced voiceover people will almost never need a de-esser...
4) Finally, the compressor - what you are shooting for here is a good squashing, almost any compressor pretty much at overdrive levels will do the job - tubes are a little more retro sounding. You are attempting to get a sound at the monitor as though the voice is INSIDE the listeners head or whispering right at the listeners ear (even if the talent is yelling!!!). You run the EQ FIRST, to control proximity effect and other frequency artifacts. The voiceover track uses all of the dynamic range available, and should be the track that is setting the limiters off and driving any ducking.
What you are hearing on the older recordings is broadcast style over compression / over limiting to make maximum use of broadcast wattage and bandwidth - just get everything else right and compress the snot out of the result so that the final signal pumps the limiter...
So, the steps REALLY are:
1) Write a script.
2) Practice reading the script, paying attention to diction and detail in your voice.
3) Find a mic you like and learn to work it. Headphones help.
4) Record, rinse, repeat until you have found your particular formula...
5) Do bad, naughty things to the audio the way BROADCASTERS do, not STUDIO people...