Question about waveform in Audacity

kickingtone

New member
Hi! I often notice when recording my vocals (using Audacity) that the dark blue trace is not symmetrical. Does anyone know what would cause this? Is it anything to do with centering the pitch?

It would be really useful if I could understand the effect enough to be able to control when it happens.

Thanks!



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ashcat_lt

Well-known member
IDK what you mean by "centering the pitch", but it's really just the way human voices work. If you think about it, the air passing you vocal cords is usually only going one direction. Yes, they vibrate back and forth, but with that pressure in the one direction one can imagine how they might move a little further one way than another. That's not to say anything about the actual air that hits the microphone. Especially when you're really close, you're kind of blowing the diaphragm away from you. So...

Some male voices can be extremely assymetrical it's not really a "problem", but can sometimes steal headroom. I think you can see how if it peaks higher on one side than the other, that side is going to "hit the rail" and clip while the other one still has some room, so it can't get as loud as if it was centered better. Theoretically a high pass filter should remove anything approaching a DC offset like this, but in practice it's not always easy to find an appropriate cutoff frequency without destroying the tone of the voice.

In radio they pretty much always run through a "phase rotator" which is basically one or more all-pass filters which don't actually filter anything, but rather just delay different frequencies by tiny (inaudible) amounts relative to each other. That has the effect of redistributing the energy in the waveform and usually causes it to be a lot more symmetrical. Then you can turn it up louder without clipping so it's almost like a really transparent and subtle compression, but it also affects the a compressor or limiter will react, and makes it feel (more than actually sound) a bit more full and musical. It's an important part of the "radio announcer" voice thing, and I use a similar trick on most of the vocals in my mixes.
 

RFR

Well-known member
Why in the hell would you even care what the wave form looks like. It has no bearing on this subforum.

Btw, didn't listen to the soundcloud. I think your post is just to suck people in.
"Oh, don't worry about the wave form, your voice sounds great". That what you're looking for?
:D
 

kickingtone

New member
Why in the hell would you even care what the wave form looks like. It has no bearing on this subforum.

It is not a processing question. So it goes in this forum.

The important thing is that ashcat_lt says that it is not something to worry about; he has seen in on many male vocals. He also explained why it happens. As a result, I have been looking at the effect of mic position. :thumbs up:

Waveforms are very handy. For example, you can reduce the amount of compression you need to apply, by practicing producing an even waveform. (An even siren is a very good exercise.) On a normal clip, you can see if intensity drops off on certain vowels, too. Then you can work on those vowels. Other things, like trouble with particular consonants or intervals, can cause notes to waver or chatter.

Waveforms are good for looking at onsets, as well. Bad onsets show up straight away -- they are spiky or misshapen.

When I notice something recurring in a waveform, I question it. For this thread, I did actually look first at example traces in the Audacity help, and they didn't show the asymmetry. So, I thought something may be wrong. Some problems you hear first. Others you can see first, before you know what to listen for. And if you manage to eliminate them (if they are actually a problem) from the waveform, you can be sure you've honed your technique, and not just dampened the effect to below hearing threshold.

So, you see, your beeg crusade complex against people posting clips of vocals is misplaced. :)

Btw, didn't listen to the soundcloud. I think your post is just to suck people in.
"Oh, don't worry about the wave form, your voice sounds great". That what you're looking for?
:D

Anyway, thanks for listening to the clip. :laughings:

How do I know?

Well, the first thing somebody like you does is go listen to the clip with the intention of ripping it to shreds. ;)

Just thought I'd mention that. :rolleyes:
 

gecko zzed

Grumpy Mod
I've deleted all the mutual insults.

Now it is possible to resume the discussion.

I'll start by asking what does this mean: "Bad onsets show up straight away"?

I'll also observe that a waveform drawn on a screen is a graphical representation of the sound, not the actual sound itself, and you cannot depend on it being totally accurate.

The best tools you have to determine the quality of your sound are your ears. Critical listening to your own and other material is the way to train your ears to be better at detecting subtleties and nuances in the sound.

Sound is intrinsically audio, not visual.
 

ashcat_lt

Well-known member
I've deleted all the mutual insults.
Thank you! I was about to delete my post because I didn't want to be a part of this thread at all anymore.

I'll also observe that a waveform drawn on a screen is a graphical representation of the sound, not the actual sound itself, and you cannot depend on it being totally accurate.
I can dig the idea that all that really matters is how it sounds, but if the waveform displayed is not an accurate representation of the actual sample levels in the file, then you need a new DAW. "Approximated" wave displays are completely unacceptable.
 
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