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Narrate Your Own Book for Audiobooks - ACX? Feedback?

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Al Stevens:
You'd do well to look into the USB microphones on the market now. The mic input jack on home computer
sound cards does not always capture best-quality sound. Plus, with USB you don't need impedance-matching
or plug-adaptor widgets in there producing noise. The SM-58 is a great stage mic. I have several. But it's
low-impedance XLR. The typical sound card is high-impedence minijack. That's two adapters plus a cable
that you must buy in addition to the mic itself.

The Blue Yeti USB microphone should be acceptable. http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Microphones-Yeti-


USB-Microphone/dp/B002VA464S/

Here are my recommendations.

1. Buy or build a pop screen. A fragment of nylon stocking wrapped around a circular wire frame (coat
hanger) works ne. If you don't have a pop screen, you'll wish you did.

2. Build a portable vocal booth. Here's the one I built. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTeUeRxAS7M.


Works well in my environment.

3. Minimize ambient noise. Turn off the air conditioner, fridge, orescent lights, etc.. Get as far away from
the computer as possible. Put the cat out. Anything that hums, buzzes, rattles, or meows is not your friend.

4. Learn how to use your audio application to clean up oor noise. The free application Audacity works well.

5. Record at night to minimize interfering trafc sounds. Nothing like a helicopter to require a re-take.

Have fun.

Shei Darksbane:

--- Quote from: LyraParish on December 09, 2014, 12:42:50 AM ---Neil Gaiman records his own, and I think
it's pretty cool!

--- End quote ---

Neil Gaiman's voice is incredible. I could fall asleep to him talking about anything. He's just so gentle and
melodic.
If my voice were as great as his, I'd record my own books for sure.

I actually think it would be possible for me to narrate my book because I'm pretty good at doing voices. I had
already considered I might do that eventually, because to me, voices are very important. I can't imagine
nding someone who would do my MC's voice the way I do it.

daringnovelist:

--- Quote from: Al Stevens on February 01, 2015, 04:37:59 PM ---You'd do well to look into the USB
microphones on the market now. The mic input jack on home computer sound cards does not always capture
best-quality sound. Plus, with USB you don't need impedance-matching or plug-adaptor widgets in there
producing noise. The SM-58 is a great stage mic. I have several. But it's low-impedance XLR. The typical
sound card is high-impedence minijack. That's two adapters plus a cable that you must buy in addition to the
mic itself.
The Blue Yeti USB microphone should be acceptable. http://www.amazon.com/Blue-Microphones-Yeti-
USB-Microphone/dp/B002VA464S/

Here are my recommendations.

1. Buy or build a pop screen. A fragment of nylon stocking wrapped around a circular wire frame (coat
hanger) works ne. If you don't have a pop screen, you'll wish you did.

2. Build a portable vocal booth. Here's the one I built. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UTeUeRxAS7M.


Works well in my environment.

3. Minimize ambient noise. Turn off the air conditioner, fridge, orescent lights, etc.. Get as far away from
the computer as possible. Put the cat out. Anything that hums, buzzes, rattles, or meows is not your friend.

4. Learn how to use your audio application to clean up oor noise. The free application Audacity works well.

5. Record at night to minimize interfering trafc sounds. Nothing like a helicopter to require a re-take.

Have fun.

--- End quote ---

That's a great guide to get people started. Thanks for posting it.

It happens that I already know all of that. I was a lm major, and did an awful lot of recording in my youth.
I do not want a USB mic. My computer is, of necessity, in the noisiest part of the house, and it makes a lot of
noise itself. And my old, crappy electret condenser mic is doing a better job off-computer than a good USB
does on it. (Although I do have a dampened corner of the room, which I can use at certain times if I put the
computer to sleep.)

A portable soundbooth is one way to deal with reverberance, especially if you can't redo your entire sound
room. (Don't forget to deaden the area behind you, though.) It does not deaden ambient sound however. It
dampens echoes to make your voice sound richer. (It can deaden sound if it surrounds and isolates the source
of the sound -- which is why you can put insulating material inside a computer case, or inside a car's engine
area -- but to keep sound out of an area requires work on a construction level.

(However, imho, you CAN do more to deaden ambient sound than the experts would have you believe -- just
not as much as the salesmen of sound proong products will tell you.)

And for that reason, your #3 is the key item. It's a matter of learning to listen, and of testing your recordings.
Everybody's recording environment is different, so there is no advice that is true for everyone. Furthermore,
every thing you do will have an upside and a downside, and which solution works for you will depend on
what you can tolerate.

I dislike what post-processing does to sound, so my goal is to minimize the need for it. However, I nd that I
can tolerate "white noise" background which is made up of multiple frequencies -- because it is
psychologically less noticeable -- than I can any form of hum (such as an electrical buzz, or many computer
fans). Other people, though, don't care what kind of noise, as long as it's below their overall noise oor. But
to me, hum needs to be even lower, and you can't use noise reduction on it because that just makes it more
noticeable. (NR works on the silences, but the noise is still there underneath your speech.)

So my solution is going to be different from someone else's solution.

Camille

daringnovelist:

--- Quote from: Arshness on February 01, 2015, 05:32:28 PM ---Neil Gaiman's voice is incredible. I could
fall asleep to him talking about anything. He's just so gentle and melodic.
If my voice were as great as his, I'd record my own books for sure.

I actually think it would be possible for me to narrate my book because I'm pretty good at doing voices. I had
already considered I might do that eventually, because to me, voices are very important. I can't imagine
nding someone who would do my MC's voice the way I do it.

--- End quote ---

Yes. One of the reasons I started back into audio is because I nd that many audio book narrators have
grating "voice over" voices, and not good storyteller voices. Authors who do a lot of readings are often the
best tellers of their own stories, but as with everything else, people only have so much time and money and
energy.

I don't know that you actually have to do "voices" -- not the way impressionists and cartoon voice over artists
do it -- so much as you have to be able to delineate character. And with audio, sometimes it's actually more
important to just make one character sound different from another than it is for both characters to be
"accurate."

Of course, it's best if you can do both -- and that takes practice. I think many authors who read so well
simply do a LOT of readings. And many have had some sort of acting experience, or at least performance
experience. (Even experience as a teacher, keeping the attention of 30 kids, and controlling them with your
voice....)

It also takes a tremendous amount of energy. I lose weight when I'm recording, even though I tend to eat a
whole lot more high calorie foods.

Camille

Al Stevens:
I don't use "noise reduction" to eliminate background noise. You're right. That can also reduce voice
frequencies. Record a few seconds of silence with the mic open. Use that sample to remove the matching
noise from the full dry recording. The results are quite satisfactory with voice. After that you can add effects
to warm the dry sound. Not all audio processing software has the neccesary lter, though. The version of
Sonar I use lacks it.

About doing voices: I'm a ventriloquist, so voices are easy. Just have to be careful that my detective doesn't
sound like Charlie McCarthy. :)

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