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How to Make Audio Sound Like a Phone Call Using Effects in Fairlight (DaVinci Resolve)

Editing your dialogue to sound nice and clean is an important skill to have when creating any sort of spoken-word recording, whether it's for your podcast or video work. But what about more creative applications? In this tutorial we'll show you how to create a classic phone call effect in DaVinci Resolve's Fairlight panel. Let's jump in and start tackling this fun project.

What Does a Phone Call Sound Like?

Anytime I'm trying to create an audio effect from scratch, I find it useful to try an understand what exactly I'm hearing so that I have some direction. So, what are we hearing when we think of a phone call? A phone call can sound pretty different depending who's talking and whether or not the person is listening through the receiver close to their ear or on speakerphone, and the qualities of the hardware and network connections. I think the first thing that comes to mind is a slightly distorted signal and a general lack of range in frequencies that we hear when we are speaking face to face. Where does that leave us? This gives us a great starting point. To accomplish effect were going to use Fairlight's Distortion and a little bit of Equalization. 

Note: Since this is a creative process there are no real rules — use less or more of any setting to accomplish the sound you are after.

Creating The Phone Sound

Steps 1 and 2 replicate speaker phone. Add step 3 for a phone-to-ear sound.

Step 1: Distortion and Settings

Up on the top left of Fairlight you should see the Effects Library. Click on this to open up the panel and select Audio FX. Now find Distortion and drag that on to your clip. An effects panel will pop up, but go ahead and close it using the X on the top left. 

The next thing you'll want to do is open up the Inspector, located on the top right-hand side of the screen. In the inspector tab, navigate to Effects, This is where you'll find the distortion you've applied to you audio. It's time to change your settings!

Settings:

  • High Cut: 20k
  • Low Cut: 25
  • Mode: Distort
  • Level: 90
  • Ceiling:0
  • Dry/Wet: 76
  • Output Level:0
  • Auto Level: Checked

Step 2: Vocal Channel

The Vocal Channel is located within Sound FX. Go ahead and open it up. This probably looks familiar if you've done some light editing in Fairlight. It's pretty much a equalizer, compressor, and a high pass filter, all of which are perfect for making this effect. We're going to approach this exact same way and close this panel and head back over to the Inspector.

Settings:

  • High Pass: On
  • High Pass Frequency: 20
  • Equalizer In: In
  • Low Gain: -17
  • Low Frequency: 330
  • Low Shape: Low Shelf
  • Mid Gain: 16
  • Mid Frequency: 8200
  • Mid Q: Wide
  • High Gain: 18
  • High Frequency: 5000
  • High Shape: High Shelf
  • Compressor In: On
  • Threshold: -25
  • Ratio: 1.5 
  • Reaction: 0
  • Compressor Gain: 3

At this stage, your clip should be sounding pretty close to a speaker phone. 

Step 3: The Final Eq

Let's tackle the last step to bring the phone sound to something closer you'd hear with your phone to your ear. To do this go to the mixer and open up your Equalizer from the channel you're working on. This time we're working straight from this panel.

Settings:

  • Turn off Band 1 and Band 6. 
  • Band 2 - Frequency: 350, Gain: 11.5
  • Band 3 - Frequency: 173, ML, Gain: -0.2 Q Factor: 2.3
  • Band 4 - Frequency: 1K5, MH, Gain: 0 Q Factor: 2.3
  • Band 5 - Frenquency: 707, ML. Gain: -12.3

That's it!

This should sound pretty good but we always encourage you to fine tune the setting settings to your taste.

Thanks for following along!

More Fairlight Resources:

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