If you are contemplating recording your own audio books just know that the process is very tedious. I think it’s harder than writing the book in the first place, and for some of my books, it takes me just as long to record the audio as it did for me to write the initial book.
1. Figure out where you need your mic
You want to minimize echo and breathing while maximizing sound. This may mean that the mic is not directly in front of your face. You may need to put it off to the side. You test this by moving the mic and recording a paragraph and listening to it. When you get it to where you want it, leave the mic alone.
2. Do the opening and closing
It’s just best to get the opening and closing out of the way. These are both like 10 second files. The opening is the title of the book, any subtitles, the authors name and the narrator’s name. If you want, you can put in your book blurp. The closing is just – The end. Thank you for listening. If the book is part of a series, I list the title of the second book.
3. Record the chapters.
Every chapter has to be its own file. It’s an ACX thing and has something to do with the way the books are indexed so that listeners can jump back and forth.
4. Fix problems Immediately
You said slister instead of twister. Stop the recording. Delete the sentence. Rerecord it. This is the only time you get to rerecord individual sentences and words. Once you do any processing to the file, you will NEVER NEVER NEVER make an individual sentence sound like the rest of the file.
5. Get rid of the noise
Your air conditioner, furnace, whatever it is, run noise reduction on it. I run my noise reduction on -12. for audacity. Also, you have to do noise reduction twice. Once to get the noise profile and once to actually get rid of the noise.
6. Now, get rid of everything that’s annoying.
The easiest way to do this is to switch from Waveform to Waveform dB. It’s in the track menu for the individual track, not the main menu. This allows you to see all the junk inbetween your words. Get rid of all that junk. If it’s a small blip, you can probably cut it out. If it takes up the whole gap or most of the gap, it’s best to deamplify it. I deamplify on -12.
7. Run ACX check
Where’s your sound floor? If it’s above 105, run Equalizer on the bass boost. You have to bring your sound floor back up. This will also get rid of any minor tin sounds. AKA: It sounds like you were recording in a tin can.
8. Compress it
You have to run compression. You will never record straight audio within ACX’s parameters. Also, the reason I say to get rid of everything unwanted is that compression makes everything louder, including the background noise.
9. Put the headroom back in
Run Amplify on peak at -3.5. This puts the headroom back in so that ACX can process it.
10. Run ACX check
Did you pass? If you did, you’re done. If you didn’t, you can undo your amplify and compressor and try the bass boost again then redo the compressor and amplify. SOMETIMES, this will get you within parameters, but it can also result in making your audio junk. A good rule of thumb is minimal processing.
11. Listen to the file
Is it good or bad? If you hate the file, you’re going to rerecord it in most cases. Now, let’s say you found one bad patch in a 2 hour chapter. That’s a judgment call on your part. You can rerecord that sentence or paragraph, cut out the garbage passage and paste the new one in, knowing that it will never sound like the rest of the file, or you can leave it. The truth is that you and I don’t have the knowledge, skills or equipment to fix crappy sections. The choice is basically to let the file stand as it is or rerecord it.
12. Export as an MP3
File- Export - MP3
13. Upload to ACX
Upload the MP3 to ACX and make sure it passes. If your RMP was above 22.5, you won’t pass. The MP3 conversion process lowers the sound by about .5 of a decibel.
I want to reiterate that you want to do minimal processing. You are not going to make a bad file good. You are going to make an ok audio file terrible. The more you play with your audio, the worse you are going to make it. You can think of it like movies. You're a cult film, not a major, big-budget production.