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 good as possible in your conditions (especially if you are going to publish your stuff on major platforms like 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 either! Here we go.

#001 — When 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 waste your money on them and 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 be aware of other noises produced by you (clothes and pages rustle, chair squeaks, etc). 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 may 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.

By the way, it’s always a good idea to read from the electronic device (instead of a paper copy) when you narrate the audiobook. Why..? It doesn’t rustle!! Check this out.

#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 is necessary to record as dry (free from room 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 make sure that the quality of your microphone is good enough! There’s a lot to say on this topic, but you can just record a test sample and send it to your engineer. If they tell you that you are safe to proceed, then you are safe to proceed 🙂

#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 you money! Again, this step is very very important, so don’t ignore it.

#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). Don’t know how..? Ask your engineer.

#011IMPORTANT if you are a rookie, do not hurry… do not record the entire project at once! Accomplish first 2…5 minutes as a test sample and send to your audiobook editor or mastering engineer for assessment. Get their 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 the 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