Audiobook Recording: spoken word in the project studio presents a different set of challenges to most music productions.
It’s tricky to be a specialist in Project Studio Land. Once people in your local area find out that you can record stuff, they’ll tend to come to you for anything audio-related, regardless of whether you’ve had experience of their specific task. I’ve turned down quite a few requests to handle live sound, for instance, simply because I know my woeful ignorance of that field would make me more a liability than a help! That said, I think there’s something to be said for stepping outside your comfort zone once in a while, because there’s nothing that expands your skillset quicker than fresh challenges.
It was in this spirit that I agreed to help out with recording an unusual audiobook for children, a project which involved interweaving a capella choral recordings with spoken narration. As regular readers will know, I’m fundamentally a music-production guy, so I was fairly confident I’d be able to handle recording and mixing the choral sections. However, my experience of recording voiceover amounted to nothing more than doing a few self-produced screencasts. Fortunately, the choir were happy to give me a shot at recording the narration as well, on the understanding that I wouldn’t charge them for it if they later decided to redo it at a specialist voiceover studio instead.
Compared with vocal capture for music production, recording speech for an audiobook presents additional technical challenges. First of all, audiobook narration is typically presented extremely ‘dry’ as a final product, so it’s extremely important to minimise reflected sound within the recording room. Yes, with pop vocals you’re normally trying to keep them pretty dry while tracking, but it’s not quite as critical, given that a touch of room sound will, in...
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