You are here

Session Notes: Audiobook Recording - Dec 2016

For feedback and suggestions about the SOS magazine, app, web site or forums.

Session Notes: Audiobook Recording - Dec 2016

Postby Mike Stranks » Fri Nov 18, 2016 11:19 am

Hi fives to Mike Senior for an excellent article.

I've been doing this sort of stuff for over 40 years and found myself nodding in agreement throughout the piece.

A few 'amplifiers' if I may...

The importance of excluding extraneous noise cannot be emphasised too much. Mike's highlighted important areas, but I'd add the possible need to turn-off the central heating/hot-water system. Working with the noise-floors needed in this type of work, pump noise can be an issue as can 'clicking' radiators. I've solved the problem of computer noise by not using one! For many years I've used a solid-state recorder for this sort of work with everything else in the room physically switched off.

You really do need a good, dead room. What passes as 'acceptable' for music/vocals really won't cut it for spoken voice. My room is pretty dead anyway, but when recording voice I'll usually augment it with a couple of duvets - one hanging immediately behind me/the talent and one cot-size one covering the desk and (switched-off) computer screen.

Your signal to noise ratio is crucial. Mics with a highish self-noise are not good enough and nor are preamps that get hissy when you wind up the gain. Be ruthless with system hum and groundloops.

This isn't the place for 'character' mics. As neutral as possible. (There is a bigger debate to be had about using 'flavoured' mics to help with certain voice features, but I won''t start that here!)

Talent-management is vital. Inexperienced people need a lot of reassurance, coupled with a refusal to adopt a 'that'll do' approach. All sorts of strategies are required depending on the person, but I think the most common problem is 'keeping going come what may'. A speaker will make a slight slip, but won't want to cause trouble so will keep going. Getting the inexperienced to stop and do it again - and again - takes some time to get-across. In that connection a little anecdote to close.... I regularly self-record and am now well-accustomed to retaking until I get the word or phrase just right - sometimes over 10 times before I'm happy. I sometimes do readings in church... I have to be very self-disciplined NOT to do retakes in that context if I make a 'fluff'! :lol:
Mike Stranks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6926
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 1:00 am

Re: Session Notes: Audiobook Recording - Dec 2016

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Nov 18, 2016 3:19 pm

All good advice there - thanks Mike (you have certainly earned your Jedi posting status 8-) )


Martin
User avatar
Martin Walker
Moderator
Posts: 14847
Joined: Wed Jan 13, 2010 9:44 am
Location: Cornwall, UK

Re: Session Notes: Audiobook Recording - Dec 2016

Postby Mike Senior » Tue Nov 22, 2016 7:33 am

Thanks, Mike, for the kind words -- glad your experience tallies with mine in many respects. Also great to hear some of your additional observations, especially the idea of avoiding computer noise by using a hardware recorder, which appeals to me! Fun also to hear that duvets remain as indispensable in your studio as in mine! SOS really should brand its own...
User avatar
Mike Senior
Frequent Poster
Posts: 1037
Joined: Fri Aug 08, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Cambridge, UK
Mixing Secrets for the Small Studio | Recording Secrets for the Small Studio

Re: Session Notes: Audiobook Recording - Dec 2016

Postby The Elf » Tue Nov 22, 2016 9:48 am

Of all the recording tasks I've ever taken on, spoken word remains the most challenging. I've never been 100% happy with any that I've done. All guidance and advice is most welcome, so thanks to you guys!
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 13302
Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am
Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: Session Notes: Audiobook Recording - Dec 2016

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:33 pm

Mike Senior wrote: Fun also to hear that duvets remain as indispensable in your studio as in mine! SOS really should brand its own...

Oi! Don't you start... we've been around that loop... ;-)

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 25551
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Session Notes: Audiobook Recording - Dec 2016

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Tue Nov 22, 2016 1:35 pm

The Elf wrote:Of all the recording tasks I've ever taken on, spoken word remains the most challenging.

Yeah -- that and recording pianos! ;-)

It looks like it should be trivially simple, but I guess because we are all so intimately knowledgeable about what a human voice does and doesn't sound like we can spot 'problems' in voice recordings in an instant.

H
User avatar
Hugh Robjohns
Moderator
Posts: 25551
Joined: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:00 am
Location: Worcestershire, UK
Technical Editor, Sound On Sound

Re: Session Notes: Audiobook Recording - Dec 2016

Postby Mike Stranks » Tue Nov 22, 2016 4:18 pm

I agree about pianos.... I find them VERY difficult to get 'just so'...

But I s'pose in the end it comes down to how many times one's been around a particular loop... hundreds (thousands??) for me with spoken voice... far less for piano.
Mike Stranks
Jedi Poster
Posts: 6926
Joined: Fri Jan 03, 2003 1:00 am


Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users