The demand for audio-only entertainment, such as audio dramas, has been increasing these last few years exponentially. With this increase in demand, listeners are more likely to gravitate towards audio drama shows that are immersive rather than static. Cue Boom-it, from HAL. Boom-it is a dialogue tool to assist the user in transforming a treated studio recording into something that sounds more like a movie set production audio. This, when captured properly, simulates how we naturally hear the world around us. In this review, I’ll be putting Boom-it through rigorous testing, and I’ll cover the following:
- What is immersive audio, and why utilize it in audio drama?
- How Boom-it can help
- How to Use Boom-it
- And more!
Read on to see if Boom-it from HAL can assist you with immersive dialogue for your audio drama!
Boom-it was provided by HAL for review purposes.
What Is Immersive Audio & Why Should I Utilize It in Audio Drama?
When most people hear “immersive audio”, they think video games and or VR (virtual reality) headsets. However, any medium can have immersive audio. Immersive audio means that the listener is, well…immersed in the experience. This can be done in various ways. To simply define it, the audio is dynamic rather than static, and best simulates how we hear naturally.
How we hear naturally in a nutshell:
- The tone of the sound changes based on changes in distance from the listening source
- The amount and timing of natural reflections/reverberation based on the physical location
- The tone of the sound changes in how it is absorbed by air and objects it may be travelling through
- How the sound “moves” and how our ears interpret this movement while you are the listening perspective that is moving, and the sound around you remains static.
Dialogue recorded in studio can be tricky to mimic natural acoustics, but, when done correctly, your audio drama’s immersion will level up!
Static: remains the same
“Boom-it, a plug-in designed to transform dull voice-over or ADR studio takes into lively on-set recordings. In the context of editing and mixing dialogue, it dynamically changes the color and perceived position of the voice”, – HAL
What does this mean? Any time you move away from a microphone, closer, or towards the side, the tone changes, and sometimes you get a reduction in perceived loudness (volume). Guess what? Sometimes you DO want this in audio dramas! This is super handy for “found footage” style where there is a set recording device that is static, and when characters or sounds move, it should sound off-axis and or further away!
Key Features of Boom-it
- Easy to use – move the 3D character to change the perceived head tilt and angle of your voice recording.
- The Distance slider allows you to place the microphone at the desired distance from the sound source.
- The Studio Mic module is designed to cancel out the effect of the original microphone, so as to end up with a flat response recording.
- Use the Set Mic module to choose the mic you want to emulate, from famous shotgun mics to standard lavaliers.
Additionally, HAL provides a very simplified manual PDF to help you get on your way with their plugin.
The UI is wonderfully simple. Even if you don’t understand the mechanics of recording, everything is visual, which makes it very easy to figure out what it’s doing.
Boom-it in Action for Immersive Dialogue in Audio Drama
The example below is an excerpt from episode five of Fawx and Stallion, where the character McMurphy needs to “dissolve” into the background, but the listener still needs to hear him to signal that he hasn’t left the room.
As you can hear, the voice actor is upfront and clear, with healthy recording levels. Unfortunately, this is not what the producers want! Let’s see if Boom-it can help.
The majority of the settings in Boom-it are automatable. I was easily (and quickly) able to achieve an effect of the character melting into the back by automating the distance to increase over time. Additionally automating the head rotation angle setting, I was able to simulate a person turning their back from the scene’s main perspective. No messing around with EQ bands needed!
Boom-it Proximity Effect Attenuation Module
For this test, I used a Shure SM 58.
Less is definitely more here. At 18.2%, quite a bit of low-end mud was filtered out and almost on the tinny side.
Boom-it Mic Simulation
I found the Set Mic Module doesn’t have a huge tonal difference. However, it helps using a boom mic as the simulator to lessen the feeling of a close recording. This lessens the amount of manual manipulation needed to recreate placing a character into the scene.
Other Notable Features of Boom-it
The gain compensation is nice when manipulating the distance so that I can make up for the loss of perceived volume within the plugin. Being able to adjust whether the boom is up or down (and its angle) is helpful in achieving movement effects in a timely manner. This effect gives us a sound closer to how we naturally hear.
Boom-it Liveliness Module
This creates fluctuations as if a person is moving around a mic source constantly. Liveliness Module may be helpful for found footage or a character self-recording themselves in-story. It’s also a less-is-more feature, as the tone and volume fluctuations may end up being distracting for a listener. This effect can be better controlled by automating the distance, head tilt, mic tilt, and angle parameters.
What Boom-it Doesn’t Do
Boom-it will not replicate the reverb of a specific location such as a forest, cave, hallway, etc. This will still be up to the user to create, using other tools and techniques. It would be neat to see this added to Boom-it in future releases to allow for a one-stop shop for creating a more immersive dialogue experience from studio recordings.
Conclusion: Boom-it Review
There are a few audio plugins on the market that help the user create natural sounding distance to create immersive dialogue. However, Boom-it adds extra features, such as simulating which mic to use (that has its own polar pattern characteristics), in addition to all the angle manipulations.
If some of these terms seem confusing to you, fear not! The majority of the parameters have a visual correspondent that moves to show you, in real-time, what it’s doing. HAL’s site also breaks each parameter down further on the product page.
It would be nice to incorporate convolution reverb to really create immersion for your dialogue and make it sound as if it’s in a specific location. But, as is, Boom-it can assist in the majority of the work to help a studio recording sound more natural for distance and perspective changes for tone.
It takes the guesswork out while achieving the same results as using an EQ or other means. This software is helpful for those who don’t have much audio engineering knowledge or want to achieve 90% of the distance effect quickly for immersive dialogue for audio drama.
Boom-it is priced at 99€ as an introductory offer for a limited amount of time. The regular price is 149€.
Our Rating: 4.5/5
- Ease of Use: 5/5
- UI: 5/5
- Functionality: 4/5
- Price for Functionality: 4/5