Session Templates

Want to Save Time in the Recording Studio? Use Presets and Session Templates!

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Does preparing for a recording session take you longer than it should? How do you know if you’re making the most of your time in the studio?

Already being familiar with the process of auditioning for a job on Voices.com helps. But it’d be great to be able to fly through the process, and audition faster and for more job opportunities, right? Developments in recording software allow you to do just that!

Getting Started with Audio Recording Software

For some voice artists, the realm of technology can be intimidating. Deciding how much money to invest in your home studio and what gear to get can leave you with your head spinning (but, if you’re in that place, don’t worry. We’ve created a post on Home Studio Recording Equipment that makes the process painless!).

Once you’ve acquired and set up your recording equipment (including your favorite free or purchased audio recording software), the next challenge is setting up your daily routine to be productive and successful.

On this front, making the most of recording software templates and presets can help!

Benefits of Audio Recording Presets and Session Templates

Audio recording presets and templates can be designed to pre-set:

  • The EQ
  • Set the amount of Compression  
  • Diminish sibilance. De-essing takes out those pesky Ss mostly at the beginning of words and also reduces lingering Ss on the end of pluralized words.

These settings depend on the equipment and program you’re using, and the plugins you have acquired.

Some of the key benefits of having session templates and presets is that you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you go to record or edit a session. Understanding the nuances of audio recording and how easily you can replicate basic settings in a session template will save you an enormous amount of time. Allowing you to do what you love best: stepping up to the mic and giving a read all you’ve got.

Another unsung beauty of working from a template is that you will have a more consistent sound from audition to audition and project to project, which is perfect for keeping repeat business happy with your performance!

How to Work with Audio Presets and Session Templates

Most if not all recording software manufacturers include starter presets and templates! However, because each voice is unique (yours included), there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. A preset or template that makes your voice sound great, may not hit the mark for another voice actor. Therefore, it’s recommended that you try out as many of the presets and templates as possible,  to understand the power they hold in affecting your recorded voice – from one extreme to another.

Whatever sounds good, sounds good! You can play around with the settings depending on your preferences and the role you’re taking on. For instance, if you want to sound younger, you can EQ out some of the low end.

At the end of the day, you’ll want to:

  • Find a collection of settings you like and that work for you.
  • Make a session template, which includes:
    • Your preferred number of tracks
    • Plugins and templates – configured to your preference to enhance your unique sound
    • Naming conventions (for tracks, files, etc).
  • Save your template
  • If you have several templates (e.g. commercial vs. narration) label them accordingly (don’t forget this!)

Do this, and your digital audio workstation (DAW) will be so much more efficient.

Recommendations for DAW Templates

With the above in mind, there are still some general settings that tend to bode well for most voices.

4 Recommended settings for DAW Templates:

  • Have an empty track ready to go with preset plugins already set up
  • Presets may include some light EQ to bring out the best qualities in your voice
  • Light compression to ensure your voice isn’t varying too much in volume
  • Perhaps even a little de-ess if the sibilance in your voice comes off a little intense after some light compression

Settings and Templates for Popular Audio Recording Programs

Joe Albano from Ask.Audio says “If you tend to have a consistent approach to most projects (at least projects of a certain type), a template can let you get right to work on creative tasks, instead of having to continually devote energy to configuring the workspace.”

The most commonly used recording softwares that voice actors use for processing files includes:

  • Pro Tools
  • Adobe Audition
  • Logic Pro

All of which provide a selection of predetermined session templates and presets. Here’s a bit about how those session templates and presets can be used to improve the quality of your vocal recordings and make you more efficient!

Pro Tools

Adobe Audition

Logic Pro

Joe Albano explains how templates in Logic – and any DAW – can save you a bunch of time setting up and let you get straight to the business of recording.

Limit the Amount of Audio Editing You Do

As you’re creating your perfect audio recording presets and templates, keep in mind that casting directors and producers are looking for clarity and depth of voice. You should be recording in a good-sounding space, and using adequate equipment. However, mild and tasteful EQ and Compression can also help elevate the quality of your voice without making it obvious that any effects are being used.

Keeping the “less is more” approach in mind, limit the amount of doctoring you do to the files. You don’t want it to sound like you have effects on your track.

Presets should only bring out the best in your voice. If it sounds overworked, then you’ve gone too far!

Make sure to limit yourself to just the bare necessities, especially when auditioning. The use of Compression and EQ is perfectly exemplified in this video on how to make your voice sound better in Audacity. Note that the engineer specifies limiting the amount of editing to only remove what’s necessary.

What’s Been Your Experience with Audio Recording Presets and Templates?

Do you have a go-to template that you use? What sort of presets do you include?

Looking forward to your reply!

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Comments

  • Howard Ellison
    December 4, 2015, 12:56 pm

    What excellent tips for speed. We happy souls in Mac-land have the option of the very affordable and nimble Twisted Wave recorder/editor. It lets you set up a preset ‘stack’ ready for any particular need, as Stephanie indicates, and then applies all in one go.
    For example, one of my go-to narration stacks is set to apply slight (very slight!) Apple noise reduction, then a touch of their EQ; next compression – mine’s a delicious plugin by FabFilter which can also be adjusted to de-ess – and finally peak normalising to minus six, minus three or minus one dependent on destination. One click, takes no time at all.
    Of course, it’s a good idea to keep an unprocessed copy.

    Reply
  • Rob Mayzes
    January 14, 2016, 1:38 pm

    Some solid advice here, Stephanie!
    Even as a professional engineer I use templates as a starting point.. a short-cut of sorts.
    The thing you need to avoid is just sticking to the settings of the templates that come with the software. Instead, loads up a template as a starting point and then tweak the settings to suit your voice.
    You outlined this well in the article, and creating your own templates that work for your voice is a great way to improve productivity.

    Reply
  • Richard Averell
    May 18, 2016, 2:03 pm

    Hello and I enjoyed reading your posts. I have Ableton Live 9 Lite recording software, along with others. Would you be able to advise me if that product includes presets?
    Any help you can provide is greatly appreciated.
    All the best,
    Richard Averell

    Reply