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Help! Recording an Audiobook

Question...? For owners of a block of kitchen knives

Hello Litopia!

Paul Whybrow

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I’m contemplating recording audiobook versions of my five Cornish Detective novels.

I know that we have narrators on The Colony, so I’m picking your brains for advice. I’ve been looking at microphones for sale. This evening, I opened a newsletter from Yanko Design (worth subscribing to) to see an article on an affordable microphone from Rode:

At just $91, the RODE NT-USB Mini is the the best budget podcasting microphone you can buy | Yanko Design

It’s pricier than the quoted $91. In rip-off Britain traders on eBay and Amazon are asking £109.99, but it looks easy to use and has good reviews.

iu


I live at what used to be one of the noisiest places in Cornwall, during the day, at a petrol station on the flight path to Newquay Airport. In normal times, it’s very quiet after 7.00 p.m. These days it’s silent! I wouldn’t be disturbed by aeroplanes or passing vehicles. My room is compact at 18’ x 12’ with sloping ceilings, so I don’t think I’d need to build a recording booth. But, what do I know?

Will I need sound-absorbing material on the walls, a book stand, a microphone stand or a digital audio workstation to mix and edit?

What can you tell me?

iu
 

Emily

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Hold on!! I have been compiling a pile of info for someone else about this very thing. Give me an hour or two, have to read to kids (I could be a while).
 

Barbara

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Hubby (he's a hobby musician) has a Blue microphone. He uses a compression mic (keeps a consistent sound if you move to or away from the mic a bit - especially good for singers, or so I'm told.) He said you can also get pop shields to go in front. He uses his mic mainly to record guitars and singing, but I've just asked him, and he said it would work for this kind of recording too.


He also says there are some good people (read: geeks) explaining mics on YouTube (and seriously, hubby has probably watched them all. SIGH). I could pick his brain more if you need but it would involve a few hours - he does go on a bit about stuff like that.

A friend of mine (a drummer) soundproofed a room with some strange panels (he had a name for them, but I don't remember. I tend to tune musicians out these days). He bought the panels to stop his noise disturbing his missus, as opposed to other noise disturbing him.
 

Emily

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Okay. I hope this makes sense. There’s tons of info on YouTube etc, but I will just tell you what I did.

Firstly I acquired a Zoom H4n Handy Recorder (I didn’t buy it, I have it on an extended loan from my brother, but as equipment goes, it’s not too expensive: around £199.00 on Amazon). And what a brilliant little thing it is! It’s SUPER easy to use, the quality is exceptional and any reviews I’ve read have all been positive. If ever the day comes where I have to return the Zoom, I would buy another without a moment of hesitation.

The audiobook I recorded was recorded in my bedroom. I thought I’d have to make a booth or something but when I did my initial testing, I found after I did my editing and sound checks in Audacity that I didn’t need any of that. I live on a very quiet road. I recorded at night when, at most, one car an hour would go past. The Zoom WILL pick up on every noise, but if it’s a continuous “white” noise, that can be edited out in Audacity. (For example: I was in a car accident a couple a couple of weeks before I started recording, and did a lot of damage to my face and neck etc. Something tends to “pop-out” in my jaw every now and then. One night I recorded a full hour to realise the pops and clicks from my TMJ could be heard on the recording. Waaaah! I had to get my face sorted and rerecord. Sometimes, it still pops out and I can hear it click on Pop-Up recordings. I don’t think it’s very noticeable, but it does drive me mad).

I used an Ipad to read from as my (ancient) laptop is too noisy and the motor fires up randomly. You can’t use paper either as it will pick up the sounds. Recently, when doing recordings for Pop-Ups, I used an iphone, but when I didn’t set it to airplane mode there was a continuous interference. But, you’ll figure out all that stuff out when you do your testing. I like to stand up to record. I kept the microphone at the same distance and height every time. That WILL make a difference, it will sound patchy otherwise.

I remember @Rich. telling me that for every hour you record, it’s at least 6 hours editing, and I thought: “Surely not!!”. But it surely does. Probably more at the start until you figure it all out. Again, there are acres of YouTube tutorials about every aspect of recording and editing. Audacity is FANTASTIC. Free and simple too :)

So, I would record my files, upload them to my laptop, drag them into Audacity and edit. I did an hours-worth of recording at a time. I edited the whole segment until it read just as I wanted it too, then, in Audacity:

-Reduced white noise (In Audacity: go to Effect>Noise Reduction)

(The next bit I did at the end when I was trying to upload to ACX (more on that in a minute) but I wasn’t fulfilling the quality brief. But now I do it to all my recordings to make them pass the “ACX check”)

I downloaded RMS Normalise for Audacity (you’ll then find it in Effects) (google all this!)

-I applied RMS Normalise [Effects>RMS Normalise]

Then

-applied Limiter [Effects>Limiter]

I also downloaded ACX Check for Audacity and ACX-checked each section.



I set up an ACX account as a Narrator, and uploaded the book (this sounds all very easy, but it took me DAYS the first time, trying to figure out what to do, at this point not knowing about RMS Normalise which took 3 days of digging and reading every bloody thing I could find online, and then finding the ACX Check too), because:

ACX have very clear guidelines: follow them to the letter. They aren’t great at getting back to you with any speed, so you will have to figure this all yourself.

Then, once it’s uploaded, you have followed all the guidelines and checks, it will take about 2 weeks for them to approve it (OR NOT!!) (But if they don’t, and you revise properly, they will sort it quickly).



I fear I’ve made this sound very complicated. It is, but it’s not IYKWIM :) It’s incredibly satisfying. I do like the editing, the splicing and chopping!

And then you are an official narrator! Hurray! Rich also recommended a beer at the end, which I forgot to do. But I will remedy anon.

Anything else….? I can’t think. But you may have questions along the way and if so, I would be more than happy to help you out. There were loads of little things as I went along that I spent time trying to figure out when the answer was very simple in the end. Please do ask.

And just to give the Zoom another plug: I LOVE it. I’m starting a Podcast series once I’m allowed out of the house again, and this is a perfect tool because of the mics and it’s so portable and easy to use. (again, check out the reviews and YouTube stuff about it, so versatile).

But, most of all: Enjoy and GOOD LUCK!!
 

Paul Whybrow

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Thank you so much, Emily and Barbara. Great information! Like explaining any skill, such as riding a bike or baking a cake, it will be easier for me to understand the recording process once I attempt it.

I better start saving my pennies to afford a microphone and a Zoom H4n Handy Recorder.

Can I just ask, have either of you (or anybody else) uploaded your audiobooks to Amazon or your website. What sales have you had?

Wah! Fate has intervened. I just checked eBay and found someone selling a bundle of the recorder and a Rode microphone, so I might postpone paying bills to turn myself into a narrator:

Zoom H4N Pro Handy Recorder, Rode NTG-2 Microphone, Camera Mount Bundle | eBay
 
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Emily

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That looks like a bargain! I also have a muffler thing (can’t remember the name) for over the head of the mics. It would probably help balance sound too.

And I think the only thing for it is to jump in and give it a go. You can read forever about how to do it, but you’ll figure it out in a fraction of the time by just doing it :)
 

Rich.

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Hi Paul, lots of great advice above from @Emily and @Barbara.

The only thing I'd add is to highlight the importance of the room. There are two things to consider: soundproofing and sound treatment.

Soundproofing is when you build a room so that sound doesn't leak in or out. This is beyond the scope of most home studios. It requires thick walls of varying masses and material, special doors and windows, and a silent air-conditioning system so you don't asphyxiate in the sealed box you've just built.

Sound treatment, on the other hand, is about preparing your recording environment so that your recordings sound good. For spoken word, sounding good means that you only want to record your voice and not the room. If you're recording a choir, you might want the natural reverb of a cathedral. But for audiobooks, you want voice and little else.

Practically, this means anything from putting a blanket over your head to hanging expensive acoustic panels around your room. I have a "tent" that I built out of plumbing tubes, thick blankets used by removal companies, and a couple of duvets. It's about the size of a double wardrobe.

I would argue that the sound of your room is more important than the quality of your microphone. Take a thousand-dollar mic and record with it in a shower cubicle and you'll see what I mean.

Do come with more questions as your adventure progresses. And as Emily said...
But, most of all: Enjoy and GOOD LUCK!!
 

Rich.

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Oh, also, this guy's YouTube channel (I'm not affiliated in any way; it's just something I found)...


Very, very useful. :)
 

Paul Whybrow

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Thank you, Rich. Booth Junkie knows his stuff!

I was thinking about how much publishing has changed in the last 25 years, what with eBooks, smartphones and audiobooks. Back in the good old days, a writer would plonk a rough and ready manuscript on his publisher's desk and expect them to knock it into shape. Thomas Wolfe was notorious for doing this, writing his stories on whatever paper came to hand, including restaurant menus. His last submitted manuscript was over one million words long!

These days, we writers are expected to do everything ourselves, including editing, book cover design, formatting, self-promotion via a blog and website and recording an audiobook. Steep learning curves. I've often felt like this:

iu
 

Jonny

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@Paul Whybrow @Barbara @Emily @Rich. Really interesting thread all.

I have been looking into this a little myself and as a musician I know a bit about sound recording techniques. However my current laptop has a crappy built-in mic so speaking into that directly and recording on Audacity is hopeless. My Bluetooth headphones again with their own mic give a much more "present" sound but reading @Emily's great info I am interested in using my Iphone as speaking directly into that gives quite a good result and there are compression settings tweakable too if using mic input on Garageband.


My question is really this - what's the typical length of a practical recording on iPhone? I do have Audacity so could edit it piece by piece I suppose. Is this viable do you think.
 
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Rich.

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These days, we writers are expected to do everything ourselves, including editing, book cover design, formatting, self-promotion via a blog and website and recording an audiobook. Steep learning curves. I've often felt like this:
I think you're right, Paul. The digital revolution has changed our lives immeasurably, and continues to change it at a hectic pace. It is hard to keep up, and it is most definitely bewildering. But... it is what it is, and it doesn't do to dwell on the way things were; I don't think it does, at any rate. :)
 

Rich.

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My question is really this - what's the typical length of a practical recording on iPhone? I do have Audacity so could edit it piece by piece I suppose. Is this viable do you think.
Hi Jonny. Honestly, I don't know the answer. But I'm sure that with patience you could get an iPhone setup to produce something useable, something that would pass the technical specs of ACX (Amazon's Audiobook Creation Exchange). But, passing the technical specs isn't the same as producing something that's comfortable to listen to for eight or ten hours (the typical length of an audiobook).

I'm on this learning curve myself, and it is a steep one.

There's a principle in the creative industries – the fast/good/cheap triangle. You draw a triangle and write one of those words at each corner. In any project you embark on, you can have two out of the three. If you want to produce something quickly, for example, but you want it to be of high quality, then it's going to cost you a fortune. You get the idea. :)
 

Jonny

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Thanks Rich and I know what you mean. I have some very expensive guitars and amps so really get exactly what you're saying.

Funny enough in the time between these post exchanges I did a one-take 2 min segment into the iphone. I then converted the file format so Audacity could handle it and although the performance wasn't quite up to dear dear Jonny Gielgud's Hamlet, darling :), it was quite encouraging inasmuch as the quality was clear and with a bit of practice could be honed into something usable (perhaps).

I was toying with the idea of recording just the opening chapter of something and using it to try and get publishers / agents interested.

Although I think doing a full 8 hours in dribs and drabs on a cack-handed makeshift studio might take its toll... and yet with all this time on our hands :):):)
 

georginaK

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I did an audio book for a non-profit agency recently—wow! It’s quite a commitment! And obviously I didn’t get paid (good job I loved the book as that was my primary motivation after a while). The thing that totally put me off doing it again though, was they didn’t acknowledge my effort at all—no thank you, no “check out this new addition to our library” on their web page. For all I know, they stuck it in a box in a dark corner somewhere. So...I’m out:confused:
 
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Rich.

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I was toying with the idea of recording just the opening chapter of something and using it to try and get publishers / agents interested.
I know book trailers on YouTube, etc have become a thing, but I've not heard of using an audiobook excerpt to pitch a novel (which doesn't mean it doesn't happen of course!). Do let us know if this tactic pays off.

I did an audio book for a non-profit agency recently ... For all I know, they stuck it in a box in a dark corner somewhere. So...I’m out:confused:
That's just rubbish. You were right to be put off – put off working with these people again, at least. Perhaps next time you could try for paying work?
 

Paul Whybrow

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It’s commonly said that we’re surprised by how our voice sounds when we hear it on the playback of a recording. Usually, it sounds higher than we think it does. This article discusses the problem:

The real reason the sound of your own voice makes you cringe

I’ve been told several times over the years, that I have an attractive talking and singing voice, which gives me a little confidence to narrate my books. At the moment, I’m researching microphones and such things as polar patterns. It looks like I need a cardioid pattern mic.

I remember reading advice that it’s best to slow down one’s narration, as it’s easy to gallop through a story.

For those of you who’ve created audiobooks, were you surprised by the sound of your voice? What about the dilemma of imitating foreign accents? I get the impression that extraneous noises can sometimes be edited out. But, what about the microphone’s sensitivity—can it pick up the sound of the narrator sipping water?

I know that book narration isn’t making a radio play, but have you ever included sound effects? Way back in the 1970s, I worked as a motorcycle dispatch rider. One of the regular clients was a Foley engineer who added sound effects to films and videos. Her recording studio could be a surprisingly messy place. I was shocked one day, when I arrived with a package, to find her slashing a pumpkin to pieces with a machete, the pulp flying everywhere. This was to simulate a stabbing scene in a horror film. I’ve never looked at pumpkins in the same way since!

I’ve also been investigating affordable video cameras. This assumes that I can bear the thought of appearing online.


Who knows where I’ll end up?

tumblr_nfv9h9VJz11qknrlao1_400.gif
 

Rich.

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I’ve been told several times over the years, that I have an attractive talking and singing voice, which gives me a little confidence to narrate my books.
Go for it! Such comments should indeed give you confidence.

At the moment, I’m researching microphones and such things as polar patterns. It looks like I need a cardioid pattern mic.
Yes, broadly speaking, that's right.

I remember reading advice that it’s best to slow down one’s narration, as it’s easy to gallop through a story.
Also true. Audiobook narrating is acting, which is why so many actors do it.

For those of you who’ve created audiobooks, were you surprised by the sound of your voice?
I wasn't, but that's only because I used to work in TV (behind the scenes). It was a surprise the first time I heard it recorded though, about thirty years ago now.

What about the dilemma of imitating foreign accents?
Convincing impressions are almost always enough; perfect studies aren't necessary.

I get the impression that extraneous noises can sometimes be edited out.
Sometimes, yes, if you're lucky, though it's always preferable to avoid them in the first place. One "extraneous" noise you will want to remove, and this is what takes a huge amount of time, is your breath sounds. You won't want to remove them all, particularly in dialogue, but you will want to remove many of them. Have a hunt around on YouTube for more on this subject. Oh, and while you're cutting and trimming those breaths, you'll also be tightening up and relaxing the space between sentences and passages (not all of them of course) to refine your pacing.

But, what about the microphone’s sensitivity—can it pick up the sound of the narrator sipping water?
A good mic will pick up the sound of a dog barking four streets away. Check out the difference between condenser and dynamic microphones. Condenser mics are better at capturing the full range of the human voice and are what the pro studios use for audiobooks, but dynamic mics have better unwanted sound rejection. I don't have a perfectly quiet recording space, so I use a dynamic mic (which still picks up all my mouth and breath sounds – getting rid of unwanted mouth sounds is a question of performance technique, while breaths can be tackled in editing).

I know that book narration isn’t making a radio play, but have you ever included sound effects?
No, I haven't (I've only done one audiobook). But I understand that sound effects in audiobooks are generally frowned upon, precisely because they aren't radio plays.

I’ve also been investigating affordable video cameras.
Or a smartphone? You can do an awful lot with a phone camera these days.

Who knows where I’ll end up?
Bring on the Empire of Paul! :)
 

georginaK

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It’s commonly said that we’re surprised by how our voice sounds when we hear it on the playback of a recording. Usually, it sounds higher than we think it does. This article discusses the problem:

The real reason the sound of your own voice makes you cringe

I’ve been told several times over the years, that I have an attractive talking and singing voice, which gives me a little confidence to narrate my books. At the moment, I’m researching microphones and such things as polar patterns. It looks like I need a cardioid pattern mic.

I remember reading advice that it’s best to slow down one’s narration, as it’s easy to gallop through a story.

For those of you who’ve created audiobooks, were you surprised by the sound of your voice? What about the dilemma of imitating foreign accents? I get the impression that extraneous noises can sometimes be edited out. But, what about the microphone’s sensitivity—can it pick up the sound of the narrator sipping water?

I know that book narration isn’t making a radio play, but have you ever included sound effects? Way back in the 1970s, I worked as a motorcycle dispatch rider. One of the regular clients was a Foley engineer who added sound effects to films and videos. Her recording studio could be a surprisingly messy place. I was shocked one day, when I arrived with a package, to find her slashing a pumpkin to pieces with a machete, the pulp flying everywhere. This was to simulate a stabbing scene in a horror film. I’ve never looked at pumpkins in the same way since!

I’ve also been investigating affordable video cameras. This assumes that I can bear the thought of appearing online.


Who knows where I’ll end up?

tumblr_nfv9h9VJz11qknrlao1_400.gif
Paul, why don’t you do some Litopia Popup narration as practice? You’ll get a feel for answers to many of the questions you have. I reluctantly came to the conclusion recently that I can’t do the audio for my book (which I was really looking forward to). Mostly it’s because it’s set in a rural coastal area of Texas, and I have an awful “Texas” accent (I’ve lived here for ages and still can’t do an authentic one). Another surprising reason is that I know my book so intimately that I don’t feel I do it justice orally—it’s missing that freshness. (I was going to look over the galley proof that my editor sent me—they have a professional proofreader, of course, but another set of eyes never hurt). But no—I just can’t do it! I love my book, but I don’t want to read it again for a very long time!!
 
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Emily

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I was toying with the idea of recording just the opening chapter of something and using it to try and get publishers / agents interested.
So was I! I meant to ask @AgentPete about this on the last Huddle, perhaps you got an answer today?? :)
The thing that totally put me off doing it again though, was they didn’t acknowledge my effort at all
That's really AWFUL Georgina. It's horrible to feel like you have been taken advantage of. I am sorry that happened, leaves a bad feeling in your mouth...
and this is what takes a huge amount of time, is your breath sounds.
^^^Yes, agree 100%
But I understand that sound effects in audiobooks are generally frowned upon
Ditto
Paul, why don’t you do some Litopia Popup narration as practice? You’ll get a feel for answers to many of the questions you have.
Also ditto.
Paul, I would jump straight in. Start with your phone first, get a feel for it and go from there. Peter posted a YouTube tutorial on recording with an iphone, hold on I'll get it >>>here's the YouTube link. Try basic stuff first. Figure out the pacing, editing stuff etc on small projects.
I've taught painting for years. My beginner classes have the barest, minimal materials and equipment. And yet, there are always the people who buy ALL the equipment, all the paints, build themselves a studio and then come to a class to realise that this is not their thing. AT ALL. And spend the next ten classes begging me to paint their paintings for them.

Because it mightn't be your thing. Or you might like reading but can't bear editing:
>>>And if so: maybe you could find someone willing to skill-share;
>>>or a college kid who would like to do that aspect as part of their college course/project.
>>>Or, ask at a local technical college (not sure if you have them over there, here, they are colleges who run short one/two year courses in specific skills, usually as a stepping stone to university) who are doing courses in sound recording: maybe they would like to take your audiobook on as a project (with you reading it)? They would have ALL the equipment and the know how and expertise. And might be delighted to have a "live project" in you :)
 

Rich.

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Paul, why don’t you do some Litopia Popup narration as practice?
Paul, I would jump straight in. Start with your phone first, get a feel for it and go from there. Peter posted a YouTube tutorial on recording with an iphone, hold on I'll get it >>>here's the YouTube link. Try basic stuff first. Figure out the pacing, editing stuff etc on small projects ... there are always the people who buy ALL the equipment ... build themselves a studio and then ... realise that this is not their thing. AT ALL.
This, by a country mile, is the best advice in this thread. :)
 

Paul Whybrow

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What about listening to your audiobook? Which headphones or earbuds do you favour?

I listen to music while writing. For years, I used cheap earbuds, favouring those that fitted into my ear canal, rather than models which perched in my ear as I found them uncomfortable, and they allowed too much sound leakage in and out.

Such budget plastic earbuds don’t last forever—one earbud fails—I’m a decent solderer, but the wires are finer than human hair and difficult to connect if you’re thinking of joining two working earbuds.

Frustrated by their short life, I decided to splash out a tenner on a pair of wooden earbuds. This sounded like a gimmick to me, but, to my astonishment, the sound quality was brilliant! Playing songs, I could hear notes I didn’t know existed with the cheap earbuds. They also have a long lead, which makes moving around easier. Best tenner I’ve ever spent.

ZIOFEN Premium Earphones - Wood Design - Noise-isolating Ear Buds - Storage Bag. | eBay

I like them a lot, but wonder if over-ear headphones would be better for creating audiobooks.

Do you have any recommendations?

201d65ac7324c0ecb48fad8e89bbc10d--tangled-headphones.jpg
 

Paul Whybrow

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Phooey! I was outbid on the microphone and recorder bundle, which went for £248.08...£5 more than my final bid. I have a feeling that the winner hates me, as I drove up the bidding by £58.08! Naughty me.... :rolleyes:
 

Paul Whybrow

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After missing out on the eBay auction, I decided to bite the bullet and buy new. I investigated alternatives to the Zoom H4N Pro Handy Recorder—it’s a brilliant device—but stretches my budget. I found good reviews of the Olympus LS-P4 Hi Res Audio Recorder, which an eBay trader was selling for £99.99...new, but in an opened box.



iu


I bought it, along with the Rode NT-USB microphone for £105 and a clip-on suspension boom mic holder for £9.95 (reduced from £24.95).

Goodbye £214.94

I feel faint!

I’ll let you know how things go.
 

Rich.

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What about listening to your audiobook? Which headphones or earbuds do you favour?
My preference is for closed-back, over-the-ear headphones. Beyond questions of leakage and quality, which of course are important, you also want them to be comfortable if you're going to wear them for extended periods.

I'm glad you've found some gear you think you'll be happy with. But as @Emily said above, don't get too bogged down with equipment just yet. Concentrate on the process, and see if you like it. Very good luck! :)
 

Emily

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I'm with Rich on the headphones, earbuds don't cut it for me at all!

And brilliant re the gear, a great investment. And if you don't use them as much as you had hoped... you can sell them on again :)
 

Paul Whybrow

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Losing my virginity as a narrator is proving to be a costly business. I bought the Rode microphone and Olympus audio recorder under the misapprehension that I could use the former as an external mic for the latter. It turns out that I don’t need to. It is possible to attach an external mic to the recorder, but to do so with the Rode would need a strange lead with a 3.5 mm jack plug on one end and a mini USB plug on the other.

I’m happy with both bits of kit and have made test recordings with each of them. From advice, I read, it’s thought to be risky to record onto a laptop hard drive, as the fan noise will intrude. It hasn’t, so far, but the temperature in my flat reaches 90F/36C in summer, so it’s likely to.

As a way around this problem, I bought a cheap tablet. I intend to use it for reading the manuscript too, to avoid making scrolling noises with my laptop mouse or paper sounds from turning pages. The Ibowin 10.1” tablet is made in China and cost me £58.99. It’s the first tablet I’ve owned, and I was impressed with the quality of it. What didn’t impress me, is how damn difficult it is to connect to the internet using my GiffGaff dongle. The tablet uses the Android operating system and is designed to connect to Wi-Fi. I’m not alone in having difficulties—try Googling it. Apparently, there’s a way around the problem by ‘rooting’ the device, but this may not work and it voids the one-year warranty.

Feeling frustrated, I did more investigating and found that what I needed is a Mi-Fi router, a portable Wi-Fi hotspot, into which I insert the GiffGaff SIM which will allow me to connect my tablet and the laptop and up to six other devices. I found a refurbished model on eBay for £18.99. I hope that it works.

My test recordings, which I did without any sound insulation, showed that the ambient noise was surprisingly high. I had a brainwave to make a portable recording booth. When I work, I rest my feet on a black plastic recycling box, which looked the right size. Then, I looked at YouTube to see that a Canadian chap had done just the same thing!



Back to eBay to buy spray adhesive (£5.40) and acoustic panels (£13.88) to line the box with. Experimenting (which is free!), I lined the box with pillows and cushions and made two recordings of the same chapter with the mic and with the Olympus audio recorder. The portable booth worked really well with no ambient noise and my voice sounded fuller and more bass.

This is a very good thing, as in the first recordings, I sounded like a cross between Stephen Fry being haughty and Kaa the snake from Disney’s version of The Jungle Book. I don’t think that sounding like a snobby hissing anaconda is desirable as a narrator. :rolleyes:

I’ll keep you posted on developments.

iu
 

Question...? For owners of a block of kitchen knives

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