Audiobooks

Adventures in narration Part Two: What do I need? (material, home studio & software)

So you’ve decided you wanted to start as an audiobook narrator.

But what do you need? Microphone? Stand? Software? And why do you need all this material?

Well, you want the sound to be as clear as possible before you start editing and mastering your tracks. ACX frowns upon and rejects over-edited tracks.

You can see ACX’s requirements of the files here: ACX Audio Submission Requirements.

Material

This is the material I’ve been using:

(please note that those links are Amazon affiliate links – I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com)

  1. Blue Yeti Silver Edition
BLUE Yeti Silver Edition, Mic Only (988-000103)
Purchase on Amazon

I’ve searched and read lots of reviews for microphone, and hesitated a lot. But I ended up buying this BLUE Yeti Silver Edition for less than $150 (if you decide on this one, please note that sometimes they have different prices for different colors).

Krystal Walcher also has a list of material on her website, which I found very useful when I was looking and looking and looking…and I thought about going with her microphone.

Others said you absolutely should not use a USB mic to record audiobooks, that it wouldn’t be good quality enough. However, I read a lot of other reviews and posts promoting USB mics for audiobook narration.

What you definitely shouldn’t use is your computer build-in mic or a bluetooth microphone. Trust me, the first time I tried recording (before actually researching) I used my computer build-in mic. Talk about wasted hours 🙂

The price for this Yeti mic is one of the factor that tilt the balance in its favor. At the time of its purchase, I was also receiving 15% back on such purchases with my Amazon credit card…so I went for it and have not regretted it. One of the downsides is it’s a bit difficut to adjust the pop filter on it and it didn’t fit right in a sound box I had also purchased, but except that it has worked perfectly for me. I also bought a pop filter and a foam windscreen to ensure even better sound quality.

2. Professional Foam Windscreen

It helps filter out hard “p” and “t” sounds and helps keep unwanted noise out.

Professional Foam Windscreen for Blue Yeti (less than $15 on Amazon).

3. Pop filter

Microphone Pop Filter For Blue Yeti and Any Other Microphone Dual Layered Wind Pop Screen With Flexible 360° Gooseneck Clip Stabilizing Arm By Earamble (Less than $10 on Amazon).

(from their description):  Banish the dreaded hissing and lisping sounds that come when pronouncing the letter “”S”” and blocks those ugly “”plosives”” that follows “”B”” and “”P””.Swivel mount for easy installation.

4. Headphones (mine are Tascam TH-02 Closed Back Studio Headphones, Black)

Headphones help you during recording to notice if your mic is picking up any unwanted noises and they are definitely a must when you master and edit your tracks.

Personally I chose the Tascam TH-02 headphones because the reviews were pretty good and they weren’t very expensive (less than $30).

Home studio

I set up my home studio in the closet of a guest bedroom, using blankets to put against the wall, and soundproofing foam squares against the door. I added pillows above. And I also put blankets by the windows in the room. This didn’t cost much at all.

This is how my home studio looks like 🙂

Again, I got my inspiration from Krystal (I mention her a lot but I actually never interacted with her :-), I just found her site super helpful when I first started out narrating audiobooks).

I used those panels on the doors as I couldn’t seem to put blankets on that side :-): Foamily 12 Pack- Burgundy/Charcoal Acoustic Panels Studio Foam Wedges 1″ X 12″ X 12″

I used the command tape to attach it, you know the one that you can remove without any traces. I need to readjust them now because they are starting to fall off. So, this mounting tape did last about a year.

Software

I personally use Audacity. It’s a free software. And I find it very easy to use.

Audacity® software is copyright © 1999-2019 Audacity Team. Web site: https://audacityteam.org/. It is free software distributed under the terms of the GNU General Public License. The name Audacity® is a registered trademark of Dominic Mazzoni

You can download Audacity on their webpage here.

I have read a lot in forums on how to use Audacity for narrating books and complying with ACX and other platforms’ requirements.

And would you be surprised if I told you Krystal Wascher is thinking about doing a tutorial on how to meet the ACX audio submission requirements using Audacity n January 2020 ? 🙂 If you scroll down at the end of this link, you should be able see more information.

Personally, on top of the forums, I used this book:

The Stressed-Out Writer’s Guide to Recording Your Own Audiobook (Stressed-Out Writer’s Guides).

The ebook is only $3.99 (and is in Kindle Unlimited).

I found Kirk’s chapter on how to set up your settings for Audacity recording and editing/mastering very very very helpful.

In my next post in my “Adventures in Narration” series, I’ll go a bit deeper into what it has been for me to be a narrator. I’ll share some bloopers, how I organize my days, and answer a few questions I’ve received.

Do you have any questions for me? Don’t hesitate to ask them in the comments or send me an email at: authorelodienowodazkij@gmail.com

1 thought on “Adventures in narration Part Two: What do I need? (material, home studio & software)”

  1. I love seeing pictures of other narrators home studios! (I should update on that in my blog) I feel like a kid comparing tree houses, ha ha! I use the Rode USB microphone and I think it has fantastic sound quality for the price (I can’t remember the price but is was around $200). It came with a pop shield and a small table stand, but I had to change that for an arm stand instead (less vibration from the table, plus it does not move as much so it’s easier to record fixes). As for editing, I learn (and am still learning) by trial and error and reading a lot of articles (specially that one: https://wiki.audacityteam.org/wiki/Audiobook_Mastering ).

Comments put a smile on my face :-)

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