It’s been a long time coming — well, it seems like it has been a long time. Four months of production and post production really isn’t that slow of a turnaround, especially when you are producing an entire audiobook yourself.
It was always my intention to narrate my novel CYBER FIGHTER. So there really wasn’t a question of whether or not to get someone to read the book out loud — it was always going to be me. The tricky part was to learn all the ins and outs of audio production and mastering so that I could also edit and produce the finished product.
Setting up an in-home recording studio doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. The trick is finding a space shielded from outside noise, and using whatever you have available to help with the acoustics. Turns out, if you have a walk in closet (or hallway in my case), you have a pretty good setup for a sound booth!
Coats, jackets, and other hanging clothing items make good acoustic dampeners to help eliminate outside noise and “audio bouncing off the walls” when you narrate. Many audiobook narrators like to sit when they record. In my case, I chose to stand, because the jackets and clothes didn’t reach down far enough to cover the walls.
For recording, I found the Blue Yeti mic to be fantastic. Yes, there is an issue with some high-pitched “mosquito” noise with any USB mic, but Audacity has a great plug-in called “Mosquito Killer” that eliminated all of that interference in post.
A lot of audio professionals will tell you that you need a higher-end mic, but in my experience, you should use what works. I actually have a very high end professional Rode mic with a shock mount and a mixing board that I used to use with voice over recording, but somewhere along the way that hardware developed a low hiss that I couldn’t get rid of no matter what I tried. Since the Yeti and other Blue mics were favorites among vloggers and other live-stream creators, I decided to give it a try.
One thing you should do is mount it on a stand. The desk stand that the mic comes with is notorious for transmitting any vibrations or noise right into the soundtrack, should you accidentally bump it. By putting it on a stand, I was able to stay far back and adjust the gain very low so that only my voice would be picked up. There were many times that a car would go by or a dog would bark outside and I’d pause, but when I brought the audio file into Audacity for editing, I couldn’t hear the noise pollution! But holding and pausing for any disturbance that you hear when recording is best practice because you never want to assume that audio didn’t pick it up.
Here’s a cool DIY tip — regarding a pop filter. Because the Yeti is so thick, you can’t really get a standard pop filter to fit. So you either need a foam cover, or you can actually use a sock! Save all those mismatched socks that lose their partner in the laundry — you can use them for your VO work!
Audacity is a great FREE digital audio editing program. Many Audible VO narrators use it, as there are specific plug-ins you can use when editing/mastering to make sure that your audio conforms to ACX (the company behind Audible) standards. I’ve been using it ever since the mid-2000s, and I keep learning more and more awesome things!
You can check out a 5 minute audio sample on Audible, and you can also get the audiobook there too! Check it out here! Hope you enjoy it!