DIY Audiobook: Recording, Editing, and Mastering Tips

audio editing
DIY Audiobook: Recording, Editing, and Mastering Tips

Do you have a story to tell but struggle to find the time or resources to turn it into an audiobook? In this comprehensive guide, I’ll walk you through every step of creating your very own DIY audiobook. From recording your narration and editing the audio files, to mastering the final product for a professional sound. Bring your words to life in the form of an engaging and captivating audiobook recorded at home. Grab a cup of coffee and settle into your favorite recording space, and let's embark on this exciting DIY recording journey!


Recording Setup: Software, Microphone, Audio Interface & Pop Filter

Choosing a Recording Setup:

There are a few key components you'll need to consider: Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software, a microphone, an audio interface, and a pop filter. These elements all work together to help you capture high-quality sound and record a professional sounding final product.

Software Selection:

Choose recording software that is user-friendly and compatible with your computer system. Popular options include Audacity (free), Adobe Audition (paid), GarageBand or Logic (Mac users) and Ableton Live Intro ($99USD). Look for software that allows for easy editing, mixing, and exporting of audio files.

Note: Ableton Live and Logic X both offer free 90-day trials of their full versions.

Microphone Selection:

Invest in a decent quality condenser or dynamic microphone specifically designed for voice recordings. Condenser mics capture the natural nuances of speech while dynamic mics sound deeper and are used for most podcasts. Shure makes 3 dynamic mics worth looking at: SM7B, SM58 and MV7. The MV7 can even connect to your computer directly via a USB-C cable meaning you wouldn’t need an audio interface.

Audio Interface:

An audio interface converts the analog signal from your microphone into a digital format that can be processed by your computer. Choose an interface with multiple inputs if you plan on using more than one microphone at a time. The Focusrite Scarlett series is a popular affordable choice that can be found on Amazon.

Pop Filter:

A pop filter is a foam or nylon wind/air diffuser essential in reducing plosive sounds such as "p" and "b" noises during recording sessions.

Remember, selecting the right combination of software, microphone type, audio interface, and pop filter can greatly enhance the quality of your DIY audiobook project while capturing clear and professional sound in every recorded chapter.


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Setting Up Your Recording Space: Creating the Perfect Environment for Clear and Professional Narration

A quiet room free from background noise is the key to recording clear audio. Find a space with minimal echoes, such as a small closet filled with clothes or a basement with soft furnishings. Use acoustic foam panels to further reduce any echo.

Position the microphone at the correct height and distance from your mouth (approx 6-8 inches from your mouth). Place the pop filter between the mic and your mouth. Adjust the input gain on your audio interface so that it captures your voice without distorting it (green lights, not red).

Use proper lighting in your recording space to prevent eye strain during long recording sessions. Consider using a desk lamp or natural light sources positioned away from your face to avoid casting shadows on the page or screen you are reading from.

Remember to take breaks as needed during recordings to rest and maintain vocal clarity. Stay hydrated by sipping water throughout the session, but be cautious of loud swallowing sounds being picked up by the microphone.

Tips for Creating an Optimal Recording Environment:

  • Choose a quiet room free from distractions and external noise.
  • Use acoustic treatment materials like foam panels to minimize echoes.
  • Position your microphone correctly, ensuring proper height and distance.
  • Utilize a pop filter to reduce plosive sounds.
  • Adjust input gain on your audio interface carefully.
  • Maintain good lighting conditions in your recording space.
  • Take regular breaks and stay hydrated during long sessions.


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Recording Your Narration: Techniques and Tips for Capturing Voice Takes


Using a Dog Clicker for Edit Points:

Click a cheap dog clicker (that you can get on Amazon) whenever you make a mistake. This will cause a large visible peak in the recorded audio that will make it easy to see where you need to make an edit and crossfade later.

Backtrack and Continue:

After each mistake and dog clicker click, repeat the last 5-10 seconds of the audiobook chapter so you have enough overlap of your 2 voice takes to find a place to transition the two during the editing stage.

Tips for Recording Your Narration

  1. Warm Up Your Voice: Prioritize vocal warm-up exercises like humming or speaking tongue twisters before starting your recording session to improve clarity and vocal range.
  2. Speak Clearly: Enunciate each word distinctly, paying attention to pronunciation, pauses between sentences, and inflection while maintaining naturalness.
  3. Take Regular Breaks: Allow yourself short breaks every 30 minutes or so during longer recording sessions to maintain focus and energy levels.
  4. Mind Your Breathing: Be conscious of your breathing technique throughout the process; take deep breaths quietly through your nose before beginning a sentence.
  5. Edit Out Mistakes: Instead of stopping every time you make an error, mark any mistakes with brief pauses (or a dog clicker) in the audio file so they can be easily located during editing later on.


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Editing Your Audiobook: Polishing Your Recording and Removing Background Noise

First, listen to your recording from start to finish, taking notes of any areas that need improvement. This could include issues like mispronunciations, stumbling over words, or inconsistencies in vocal delivery.

Next, use audio editing software to refine your recording. Trim any unnecessary pauses or extraneous noises between sentences and paragraphs. Pay attention to the pacing and flow of your narration – aim for a natural rhythm that keeps listeners engaged.

One common hurdle in audiobook production is background noise. To remove unwanted sounds like humming fans or clicking keyboards:

  • Use noise reduction tools available in most audio editing programs or 3rd party plugins like Waves Clarity VZ or iZotope RX Elements.
  • Apply filters specifically designed for removing hum or hiss.
  • Consider using a noise gate plugin to automatically suppress low-level background sounds when you're not speaking.

By reviewing and enhancing your recordings and eliminating distracting background noise, you'll be creating an impressive DIY audiobook experience for your audience.


Mastering Your Audiobook: Enhancing the Sound Quality and Achieving a Professional Finish

To enhance the sound quality of your audiobook, follow these simple tips:

  1. Equalization (EQ): Apply EQ to balance the overall tonal quality of the audiobook. Use a spectral analyzer or your ears to identify and address frequency imbalances. Reduce any low-end rumble and tame any harsh frequencies. Enhance the clarity and presence of the narration without making it sound unnatural.
  2. Compression and Dynamics: Apply gentle compression to even out the volume levels and dynamics of the narration. This ensures that softer parts are audible while preventing louder sections from clipping or distorting. Adjust the attack, release, and ratio settings of the compressor to achieve a natural and smooth-sounding result.
  3. Volume Leveling and Normalization: Create a consistent volume level across the entire audiobook. You can use automation or volume leveling plugins to achieve this. Normalize the audio to a target level (e.g., -18 LUFS) to ensure it meets industry standards and provides a consistent listening experience across different devices.

By following these guidelines for enhancing sound quality and achieving a professional finish during mastering, you can create an engaging, polished audiobook experience for your listeners without breaking the bank on studio expenses!


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Uploading your Audiobook Audio Files: ACX Reference

ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) is a platform by Audible, an Amazon company, that allows authors and publishers to upload audiobooks for distribution on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes. Here's a quick outline of the ACX guidelines for uploading audiobook audio files:

Format Requirements:

Audiobooks should be in a digital audio format, preferably uncompressed WAV or AIFF files with a 44.1kHz sample rate and 16-bit or higher resolution.

Bitrate: Use a minimum of 192 kbps and a maximum of 384 kbps.

Audio Specs:

Mono or Stereo: ACX accepts both mono and stereo files. However, most audiobooks are submitted in mono format.

Peak Level: Ensure that your audio peaks do not exceed -3dB.

RMS Level: Maintain an average RMS level of -23dB to -18dB.

File Naming:

Name your audio files logically and consistently, preferably with a numbering system. For example, "Chapter_01.wav," "Chapter_02.wav," etc.

Audio Processing:

ACX requires that you do not include additional audio elements such as music or sound effects, unless it's a part of the original book content.

No promotional content or solicitation for reviews should be included in the audiobook recording.

 Audio Rights and Quality Control:

Make sure that you have the rights to distribute the audiobook worldwide and that the content adheres to copyright laws.

The audio should be free of any errors, such as repeated lines, background noises, or excessive mouth noises.

 Opening and Closing Credits:

Include opening credits that state the title of the audiobook, the author, and the narrator.

Include closing credits that mention the copyright holder and copyright year.

Audio Validation:

Before submission, perform a thorough quality check to ensure the audiobook meets the ACX technical standards and guidelines.

Metadata and Cover Art:

Along with the audio files, provide accurate metadata, including the title, author, narrator, and other relevant information.

Upload high-quality cover art that adheres to ACX specifications.

Submission Process:

Submit your audiobook through the ACX platform, and await the quality review process. ACX will ensure your audiobook meets their requirements before making it available for sale.

It's essential to follow these guidelines carefully to make sure your audiobook is accepted and available for distribution on the ACX platform. Always check the ACX website for the most up-to-date guidelines and specifications.


Also read:

The 7 Steps To Recording Your Voice At Home

Editing Audio is Just like Editing a Text Document

The 6 Steps to Editing Vocals & Music

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