The audiobook cover

Sound Advice

Recording an audio book was… a lot more work than I thought it would be

History

Home Studio

Most (not all) of the equipment used to record the book.
  • Microphones: I initially started (and recorded most of the book) with an Audio-Technica AT2020 USB microphone. This is what I use when recording the Android Developers Backstage podcast from home, and it works well for that. But it does not work well enough for an audiobook, which needs a *lot* higher quality. After recording and editing many hours, I realized that I was dealing with far more audio artifacts than I should, so I asked an audio engineer family member for some advice. She pointed out that I needed dedicated recording equipment and an XLR microphone, rather than USB to my laptop. So I picked up the Electro-Voice RE20 XLR mic and Zoom recorder shown above, and started it all over again.
  • The manual for my Zoom recorder (lower left, above) was useful until my dog got hungry. I should be thankful that he didn’t eat the entire thing, since he did exactly that with 2 different rubber coasters and a rubber watch band. Our dog is always very hungry (and never very bright).
  • The water bottle was useful for minimizing (though not eliminating) the pops and clicks that naturally come from a dry mouth. I didn’t realize how much my mouth did that until I listened to many, many hours of myself in the recordings. I was already using a pop filter by this time. I’m sure it helped, but there were still plenty of pops and clicks left over. Oh, so much editing.
  • I built a Faraday cage in a desperate attempt to eliminate what I assume was electronic interference. I picked up an EMF detector to get some read on what was happening (though it wasn’t terribly useful in figuring out where those signals were coming from or what to do about them). When the cage wasn’t fixing the problem, I grounded it with the homemade grounding wire shown in the picture. When all of this still didn’t fix it, I just carried on recording, opting to fix the artifacts by sheer editing force instead.
  • There are two pairs of XLR cables above. I bought a higher-quality set in another attempt to eliminate electronic noise interference. The shielded cables seemed better… but still didn’t solve the problems I was hearing.
  • Shock mounts are useful for reducing the noise that can come from bumping the mic, stand, table, etc, to avoid passing that noise along to the mic and the recording. But the mic was so sensitive that I found it better to just not bump those things to begin with.
  • The Cloudlifter mic activator was necessary to boost the signal of my XLR mic.

Random Thoughts and Notes

Random Tips

The Result

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