Pro Tools includes many useful effects called plug-ins. I recommend using the ones that can be found under the Audiosuite file menu.
I’ll go over a few of the most useful plug-ins, but feel free to research other plug-ins included in Pro Tools, as well as additional plug-ins that can be purchased separately and added to your Pro Tools arsenal.
With each Audiosuite plug-in, you’ll need to instruct Pro Tools on where to apply it by highlighting any regions or parts of regions in your session that you’d like to modify. Once you have chosen the appropriate settings on a given plug-in, you may preview the effect by clicking the preview button in the lower left-hand corner of the plug-in window (If a preview option is available for your plug-in of choice). When you’re ready to apply the effect, click the process button at the lower-right-hand corner of the plug-in window.
Audiosuite: Pitch Shift: Pitch Shift
Pitch Shift can be used to adjust the pitch of your voice up and down. To make drastic pitch changes, use the “coarse” fader. You can use it adjust the pitch of your voice by 1 or more semitones (or 1 musical pitch) up or down. For more minor pitch adjustments, use the “Fine” fader. Pitch shift has the capability of making your voice sound like Darth Vader or Alvin & the Chipmunks. Unless you’re going for that effect, use it tastefully.
Audiosuite: Other: Gain
The gain plug-in can be very useful for fixing volume issues that are present within a recording. If one part is too loud or too soft, highlight the area that you would like to modify and adjust the gain percentage up to raise the volume or down to lower the volume. Be careful when raising the volume, because it is very easy to blast your ears or blow your speakers or headphones with this effect! It’s possible to increase your recorded volume many times over.
Audiosuite: Other: Time Compression/Expansion
Oftentimes, when you’re doing voice-over work, you’ll be asked to record a spot that is exactly 30 seconds. You also might be asked to read one part at regular speed and then squeeze in a long disclaimer at the very end. The Time Compression/Expansion plug-in can help. Let’s say you have a spot that you have recorded at 33 seconds, but you need to get it down to 30 seconds for your client. In Time/Compression Expansion, adjust your destination length time to your desired time, and Pro Tools will make the adjustment. I would recommend that you use this tool primarily only for minor tweaks, especially if you’re trying to stretch out the timing, as you will lose quality. However, if you are doing a disclaimer, speak normally, and use time compression/expansion to speed up your voice by shrinking the length of your disclaimer speech. This technique works great!
All of the plug-ins that have been mentioned thus far can be used in any order. The following plug-ins are designed more for post-production work (final finishing touches), and not so necessary for basic dry voice-over recordings. Many of your clients will want to have their own studio take care of all of the post-production work, but if they do request that you do some post-production, you may want to play with the following plug-in options. Use them in the order listed.
The equalization plug-in with the most flexibility is the 7 band EQ, which can be found under Audiosuite: EQ: EQ III Seven Band.
EQ allows you to modify the volume of certain audio frequencies within your recording. Looking at the frequencies of the 7 bands above, you’ll see 20.0Hz (so low you can’t even hear it), 100.0Hz (lows) 200.0 Hz (low-mids), 1000.0 Hz (mids), 2.0 kHz (high-mids), 6.0 kHz (highs), and 20.00 kHz (so high you probably can’t hear it). Want more bass? Increase the gain of the 100.0 Hz frequency. Want less treble? Decrease the gain of the 6.0kHz frequency. Want a thicker, stronger sound? Increase the gain for the low-mid and high-mid frequencies.
Experiment with different settings to find the EQ that best compliments your voice for a given spot.