A Brief Checklist for Newbie Voice Actors

If you record your voice beyond the special studio, please keep in mind these simple rules to get your recording as qualitative as possible in your conditions (especially if you are going to publish your stuff on such major platforms as Audible, iTunes and so on).

IMPORTANT — places I marked with this word I consider as really important to be aware of… but it doesn’t mean that others aren’t important! Here we go.

#001 — If possible, choose the room full of furniture (sofas, armchairs, shelves, etc). It would be great to cover the windows with thick curtain. If you have a special vocal booth (something like this or this DIY or purchased), that is perfect! By the way, if you were going to purchase one of those fancy curved shields, don’t miss this brilliant demonstration.

#002 IMPORTANT please use that same environment for all the parts of one audiobook. Meaning, it isn’t a big problem if you were using different rooms for different stories/books… the problem is if you are using different rooms with different acoustics in one project. That could be pretty hard to match.

#003 — Shut the doors and windows, so you were protected from outdoor noise. Also please switch off all the noisy appliances (fridges, air conditioners, other computers and such). During the recording session please remember of other noises produced by you (clothes and pages rustle, chair squeaks and so forth). All these things are going to be considered as a defect (by ACX QA team, for example). From the perspective of post-production stage (editing, cleaning, mastering) they are totally okay if they sound in between sentences. In such a case they might be removed easily. But, if they sound along with your voice, sometimes it’s pretty tough challenge to remove them without residual artifacts (and eventually, it’s all about the time and money). So, please, keep your recording free of extra noises.

#004 — Keep your microphone (whatever you use — standalone mic or integrated with your smartphone) at about 5…10 inches from your mouth. The reason behind it is that it’s necessary to record as dry (free from reflections) signal as possible in these conditions. In other words, the mic shouldn’t be too far from you. Just 5…10 inches. If you tend to be too close to the microphone, please consider using the pop-screen.

#005IMPORTANT again… for the sake of consistency, please keep the equal distance between your mouth and the microphone. Fluctuations caused by active head movements might be hard to fix.

#006 — It’s obvious, but nevertheless — make sure that your mic is not covered by anything.

#007 — Also please be aware of the quality of your microphone! For example, some models of microphones integrated with headsets for gaming sound awful. The thing is that they have pretty narrow frequency response and it’s not something you are going to offer to your listeners.

#008 — Check your software settings (just in case).

#009IMPORTANT during the recording session please don’t forget to give your engineer clear sonic cues where s/he has to do cuts. It speeds up the process and literally saves your money!

#010 — Export your files as Mono/16 bit/44,1 kHz WAV or AIFF (when it comes to MP3, choose higher bitrates — 256…320 kbs).

#011IMPORTANT if you are a rookie, do not hurry… do not record the entire project at once! Accomplish first 10…15 minutes as a test sample and send to your audiobook editor or mastering engineer for assessment. Get his/her confirmation that everything is fine.

I hope this helps. And by the way, perhaps, you’d like to get some brief estimation (how much does it cost to get your audiobook mastered to ACX standards). Here’s the calculator.

What else..? In order to save some money at latest stages, please use a Corrections Template (or any kind of similar doc) and you both — you and your audiobook editor or mastering engineer — will be pleased with a smooth workflow.

I wish you all the best and please… only work with those you wanna hug ツ

— Stan