Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Narrating and Producing Audiobooks.
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Ianto
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Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by Ianto » Sat Aug 29, 2020 3:13 pm

My apologies in advance for a long, rambling query! I know so little that I don't really know where to start or how to break this up. But this is Part 1- I'll leave part 2 until after, and if, I get some feedback on this, I think!

I've recorded a few stories of my own for friends, and was wanting to produce them - and a bunch out of copyright stuff - for a Youtube channel, but after coming across this Very Useful And Informative forum, I thought before really putting the hours in, I would see if I can produce them to ACX standard with the equipment I have, so that I would have the option of rearranging my aims and trying stuff for ACX - (and producing them to a higher quality if not!)

So, I have a Roland R-1 Edirol recorder. The right hand microphone is more than a bit dodgy, but when set on "mono" for recording, its default is apparently to only use the left hand microphone, so that doesn't seem a problem.

A recording on it - in a bedroom, the Edirol is battery powered, with record mode as WAV 24 bit (whatever that may imply)- gives a WAV file as shown below. (Roland3). Well, actually I had to load the file into audacity and cut out a bit of it, then export it as WAV again to get it small enough to be an attachment, if that makes a difference.

After doing an "audiobook mastering" in the suggested way, It passes Peak level and RMS level but fails Noise Floor (-58.49 Db). A section of this is Roland4.wav

Now, after a noise reduction effect based on a few seconds silence at the start, it passes Noise Floor (-61.43). The Noise Reduction set at 3Db, sensitivity 2, and smoothing bands 3 - the latter two values chosen *completely* at random, as I have no idea what I am doing. A portion of this is Roland5.wav

So- well, does this sound OK? It barely passes the Sound floor, should I alter it more? Differently? Give Up? Sorry to be vague, looking for feedback on whether I would be able to produce to ACX quality with this equipment.

(Part 2 is I find it far better to record straight to Audacity - firstly for editing, and secondly because the batteries can give up on the Roland recorder with little obvious warning [a bit of a design flaw in my opinon!] leading to a lot of recording being lost if you haven't taken a break in a while. I can connect the Edirol to my computer to do that, but I'll wait for feedback before starting on that, if at all.)

Thank you for taking the time to read this disorganised ramble, and thanks in advance for any responses.
Attachments
Roland3.wav
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Roland4.wav
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Roland5.wav
(1.96 MiB) Downloaded 37 times

kozikowski
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Re: Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by kozikowski » Sat Aug 29, 2020 4:56 pm

whether I would be able to produce to ACX quality with this equipment.
It's been my experience we can produce good quality voice work with remarkably modest equipment as long as it's all happening in a quiet, echo-free room.

Image

The ACX Check tools look for quiet portions of the performance to measure for background noise or Room Tone. If there aren't any, it takes what it can get. In Roland3, the first second or so of work has you shuffling, breathing and gasping. So you are making a lot of your own noise.

We can't take effects and corrections out of a show, so if you post again, you only need to post the raw reading.

True. You can't post a book chapter. If you have a mono track (one blue wave) the forum is going to max out at 20 seconds.
I find it far better to record straight to Audacity
It would be enormously more convenient, but not a good idea. We spend the most forum time solving people's computer recording troubles.

"What's that ticking sound? Why do I sound like I'm talking into a milk bottle? Where is my new microphone?"

All troubles you are not going to have by recording on the Roland. There may be a half-way point. It's possible the Roland will run from the computer battery power with the cable connected and still record the show to its internal memory. That would be the way to go.

You have low volume. Nobody is shocked. Most home microphone systems have low volume, but it would be good if you could bump up the volume a bit. That should help with noise, too.

This is your file.

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This is more like where it's supposed to be.

StandardRecordingLevels-650w.jpg
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Can you get a little closer? You can't get too close because the microphone will start picking up tongue ticks, lip smacks, and P-Pops.

Generally, a Hawaiian Shaka spacing.

Image

Do you know where the front of your microphone is? That can affect volume. Most microphones like that are directional and if you're not in "front" the volume will be reduced. I can look at the instructions, but you can, too.

Don't fall in love with the ACX Audiobook -60dB noise restriction. You need to pass it by at least -65dB and even quieter is better. Before Noise Reduction.

If you just run out of tricks for increasing volume, you can try moving the recorder to one side a bit and get closer.

ObliquePlacement3.png
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Post another sound test when you get done messing with it. Use this format.

https://www.kozco.com/tech/audacity/Tes ... _Clip.html

As I posted, you can go out to 20 seconds, and use your words. Forget Catskill Cows.


There is one theatrical note. I've never heard an audiobook in a burr. That doesn't mean there aren't any, but ACX can be sticky about that. You have to pass technical restrictions and voice and theater quality.

Koz

kozikowski
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Re: Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by kozikowski » Sat Aug 29, 2020 4:57 pm

Don't tell anybody what equipment you're using. "Stand alone sound recorder" is good.

Koz

Ianto
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Re: Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by Ianto » Sat Aug 29, 2020 6:35 pm

Thank you. The room I've been using generally is our small spare room, used as a Library/box room/study, so he walls are lined with bookshelves and boxes, so seems not too echoey.

The volume on the inbuilt speakers of the recorder I just can't seem to improve - even using a pop screen made from a cut out plastic lid and a pair of my partners tights to get as close as possible! It just comes out as in the "inbuilt" file attached.

However, on plugging a microphone into the recorder, the volume immediately went up - "extmic" file attached. It's louder, but I can not speak for its quality.

Maybe the microphone on the recorder is simply very bad, either to begin with or as a result of being years old?

(And thanks for the insight re "burr"- taken on board, but any action taken on that will be later.)
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inbuilt.wav
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extmic.wav
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Ianto
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Re: Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by Ianto » Sat Aug 29, 2020 7:36 pm

Oh, and I know how things can come across differently to how they are intended on the internet, so just to make it clear that "(And thanks for the insight re "burr"- taken on board, but any action taken on that will be later" wasn't meant to be flippant - I have some idea how your input on such matters is valuable.

It's good to have sensible, specific advice on the matter.

I was in a job where I appeared sporadically on television, and some advice from a BBC specialist was "you have a very good speaking voice, but sometimes speak too fast for your accent" - which left up in the air whether she meant I should be adjusting my speed or my accent! "I'll try it in a Scottish one.." ;-) not to mention the fact my Welsh accent isn't as pronounced as many people I know!

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Re: Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by kozikowski » Sat Aug 29, 2020 8:13 pm

sometimes speak too fast for your accent
Oh. That's good (writing that down).

I'm not dismissing it out of hand. You can match your speaking style with the material. There is nothing like the Mark Twain stories read in a region appropriate accent.
the walls are lined with bookshelves and boxes
Perfect. I had a storage area like that at work for a while and used it to good affect...until somebody moved their office in there and I had to time share. You should worry about opposing surfaces. The bookcases will take care of the sides, but you can't have a bare floor and ceiling at the same time. Slap echoes. You don't appear to have any of those problems. I was listening for room effects and I didn't hear any.

I need to go for a while.

Koz

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Re: Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by kozikowski » Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:28 pm

Inbuilt is the Roland by itself sitting on the desk and ExtMic is the Roland plugged into a laptop and recorded in Audacity. Right?

We may get to play "where's the microphone." They're different enough that I don't think both of them came from the Roland.

You can find out yourself with the scratch test. Never blow into a microphone, but you can gently scratch it.

https://www.kozco.com/tech/audacity/cli ... hTest2.mp3

There was another note up the thread a bit. Do Not go off reading a book until we get all the problems fixed. A number of people got refused acceptance and it turned out their weeks of work was only their first reading.

The technical tests are the first and most obvious hurdle, but there's some new restrictions in the last bunch of months.

Can you certify you have rights to read and publish? Can I buy the book on Amazon? Those two can be Full Stops for some readers, particularly if you're not already published. There's also a list of poor choices. Scroll down.

https://www.acx.com/help/200878270

One of the forum posters was planning on reading a cookbook. No word on how it came out.

Stories are good. Something I would want to listen to as I hiked around the neighborhood with my portable music player and tasteful lavender bandanna mask.

Koz

Ianto
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Re: Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by Ianto » Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:42 pm

Inbuilt is the Recorder sitting by its own on the desk, yes. Ext mic is a microphone plugged into recorder sitting on the desk, still not connected to anything else. The computer (desktop) was off at the time, and not connected. I had to take out the memory card and plug it into a converter to move the recording onto the computer with both recordings, so absolutely sure on that one.

Thanks for advice on reading material. Oh, I'm reading/have read my own stuff, plus stuff I've looked into I know is out of copyright (most Sherlock Holmes, old horror stories, the sort of stuff which has already been done a thousand times and more before)- but I'm looking on it as practice as much as anything, so haven't started reading a book specifically for ACX yet - and will get this sorted before I do.

Ianto
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Re: Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by Ianto » Sat Aug 29, 2020 11:48 pm

Yeah, just double checking, the initial name of "Extmic" was "R1_0027", which is which is what the recorder defaults naming files as. "Inbuilt" was "R1_0026", funnily enough. So both from the recorder. I just plugged the microphone in for the second, and spoke through my partners stockings with both of them. (You are supposed to put them over your head, right?

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Re: Complete ignoramus re audio stuff, trying to do audio books. Part 1

Post by kozikowski » Sun Aug 30, 2020 1:30 am

See how easy this is to go off the rails?

About six messages back, you introduced a separate microphone and it went right by me. So you weren't plugging the Roland into a computer as a microphone device instead of as a recorder. You used the Roland built-in 'Left' microphone recorded on the Roland, versus a mystery external microphone plugged into and recorded on the Roland. Did I get that?

What's the mystery microphone? There are handy tricks for using microphones. Step one. Never use the little tripod desk stand that comes with many home microphones.

You should leave out Dacron fabric pop and blast filters until we're totally sure they're needed. That just throws mud in the game. We need microphone evaluation to be "clean" without any help. Same reason I'm not interested in patching, filtering, effects, and corrections. Lets get the microphone to work, first.

Koz

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