[CQ-Contest] Improving voice recordings for phone contests

Pete Smith N4ZR n4zr at contesting.com
Thu Mar 7 07:30:44 EST 2013

As a diversion from the debate about which contest is better....

Before last weekend's contest, I had a chance to experiment a bit with 
my voice recordings.  One of the problems I have always had is that when 
I try to enunciate clearly I always slow down, and the resulting 
recording lacks the urgency you expect in a contest situation. I also 
always notice stations whose recorded and live audio don't sound 
anything alike, and wanted to minimize that as much as possible.

I use Audacity, excellent freeware recording software, but this time 
around I "discovered" its "Change Tempo" function, which speeds up 
speech without changing the pitch or timbre.  The results are wonderful 
- you can speed up any recording 10 or 20 percent at a time, and it 
sounds completely natural, just faster.

So what I do, for whatever it is worth, is the following.  This may be 
old hat for the SSB pros, but judging from what we hear on the air, it 
could be useful for a lot of other people.

*make a recording.

*trim it (in Audacity) so there is no dead air.

*amplify (without clipping) in Audacityto set peaks at 0 dB.

*listen and adjust the tempo (on the same Enhance menu) for the effect I 
want.  Repeat these 4 steps for each recorded message.

*adjust my sound card's microphone gain (I run my microphone through the 
sound card) so that it produces the same peak level as the recordings.

*adjust my transceiver's TX equalizer, mic gain and compression to give 
me the sound I want on the air.  It is much easier to do this with a 
recorded message, so you can really listen to yourself.  The nice part 
of having done the preceding steps is that you only have to adjust your 
transceiver controls.


73, Pete N4ZR
Check out the Reverse Beacon Network at
blog at reversebeacon.blogspot.com.
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