Audiobooks – narration technique – part 2


I am currently finishing up my fifth and most recent project – The Last Roundhead, by Jemahl Evans – and as ever, it is a good opportunity to reflect on the production process, to identify issues and improve performance.

Here’s a plug for the book:



I’m hoping that the audiobook will get on sale before Christmas – on Amazon, Audible and iTunes.

I have noticed that my voice has changed, compared to my earlier efforts this year. I think this may be due to several things:

  • Microphone technique – having spent (too) many hours in taking out mouth noises and inappropriate breaths in post production, I’ve had to take a serious look at being properly prepared for a recording session and have settled on taking a mug of hot water into the booth with me. This prevents a dry mouth and dry throat producing strange noises that only the mic seems to pick up. Rumbling stomach noises are another matter, however.
  • Rehearsing the script – where possible, I now read the script out loud before recording, to identify tricky emphases and phrases, and mark up the script accordingly. This saves a lot of time during post-production.
  • Being more relaxed – one crazy misapprehension I had when I first started recording was that, once the ‘record’ button is pressed, an imaginary red light went on in my head and I was nervous of disturbing the performance. True, it is a performance but in the booth I am the audience and the performer and I have control – if I need to, I’ll have a drink, burp, cough, clear my throat and carry on.
  • Practice – the production of five books on the trot has been great practice in breathing, relaxing, enunciation and pronunciation, as well as stretching my abilities. With each book, I can only aim to improve.
  • Pauses and pacing – I am more aware of this, having compared my current with my former efforts. This is an aspect that I am still getting used to, but I have to constantly remind myself to listen to the recording from the point of the view of the customer. Is the production pleasant to listen to? is a question that is separate from enjoying the story, in that the narration should not get in the way and should, as far as possible, serve the story and honour the author.


I also thought it might be interesting to include a couple of pics of the recording space I currently use (I hesitate to call it a ‘studio’ for obvious reasons). It’s basically an awkwardly-shaped cupboard under the stairs. Here is a ‘before’ pic:



With a bit of carpeting, acoustic tiling and some decent kit (Rode NT1 condenser mic, if you must know), I now work with this:


It seems to work fine for me but I’d like to replace the screen at some point. A larger recording space would depend on either moving house or one of the children moving out

I’ll have to think about raising the rent….

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