Best Workflows for Recording Audiobooks

Enhanced Media
4 min readSep 5, 2023
Photo by Karolina Grabowska from pexels.com

Audiobook creation is an art that combines narration, performance, and sound design to provide listeners with an immersive experience. In today’s digital world, the demand for audiobooks is constantly growing, which has led to the need to develop efficient and effective workflows for their production. Therefore, if you want to discover how sound design professionals use innovative tools and techniques to ensure exceptional quality in every production, read on! Whether you’re interested in getting started in audiobook creation or looking to improve your current process, here you’ll find valuable tips and strategies to take your audio projects to the next level.

Let’s start with something important: audiobook editing is a painstaking process that relies heavily on the quality of the audio files and the organization of the script. It is no secret that the initial quality of the sound depends on whether or not the need for subsequent corrections can be minimized, thus ensuring a pleasant listening experience for the listeners. For this reason, when receiving the files, it is essential to distinguish between the direct and the complementary recording, as this will affect the amount of work required — the complementary register usually demands more time due to prior corrections.

Also, keep this always in mind: before entering the booth, pre-production work is critical. The first step is to enjoy a pre-reading of the book to get to know the story, its characters, and its plot. This allows narrators to be prepared and avoid unexpected discoveries during filming. A useful tactic is to assign colors to the different characters to facilitate identification during narration. In addition, notes are made on the desired tone, pace, and pauses. These annotations are guidelines that help in the characterization of the characters. Try listening to similar audiobooks or different versions of the text to learn from other narrators and improve. Taking care of your voice through vocal warm-ups is crucial to maintain performance during long recording sessions.

On the other hand, along with the audio files, the book manuscript becomes an invaluable resource for audiobook editors. Marked-up scripts play an essential role in providing critical clues that streamline the editing process. These scripts are often adorned with markups that point out repetitions, errors in the narration, and additional takes, making it easier to identify and correct problems during post-production. Similarly, it is important to note that, although not mandatory, incorporating time stamps is a beneficial practice during audio pickups. These marks facilitate the precise location of segments within the recording, which significantly speeds up the correction process and ensures a smooth narrative without unnecessary interruptions. By allowing quick and precise access to specific points in the recording, editors can identify and resolve problems more efficiently. This results in improved narrative cohesion, as discontinuities that could arise when making corrections without a time reference are minimized.

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A vitally important element in audiobook production is the quality of the original audio, a factor that significantly influences the final result. It is strongly recommended that the recording be made in a quiet environment for at least 30 seconds, allowing a clean room period to be captured. This time is essential to detect any unwanted noise that may affect the final audio quality.

Another crucial aspect is to pay attention to the sibilant sounds of the narrator. In this case, it is beneficial to adjust the microphone position and use a pop filter to reduce the unwanted effects of “s”, “ch”, and “sh” sounds. And, by the way: if you want to record an audiobook, you need a good microphone. Which one? Well, first, think about where you’ll be recording — do you have a soundproof studio or just a room at home? That matters. Next, consider your equipment: audio interface, computer, etc. Everything counts. Big publishers have strict standards, including quality microphones. For instance, check out these:

  • Neumann U 87 AI: It’s high-end and used in professional studios. It is versatile and clear.
  • Rode NT1-A: If you’re on a tight budget, this one is great. Quiet and accurate.
  • Electro-Voice RE20: It is dynamic and robust. Ideal for less ideal environments.

Finally, keep an eye on the following mistakes. It is common not to rehearse before, omitting the pre-reading of the book, which can result in errors and a shameful lack of fluency during recording. Also, an inadequate recording environment, such as a noisy or unacoustically conditioned space, can introduce unwanted background noise into the recording. Be prepared: Choosing a low-quality microphone is also a critical mistake, as it can negatively impact the final audio quality. Furthermore, a lack of vocal preparation, such as not performing proper warm-ups, can lead to vocal fatigue and ultimately affect audio quality. Finally, not spending enough time editing and correcting audio can result in the presence of errors, repetitions, and annoying noises in the final product, diminishing the listener’s experience.

We hope you found this information useful. If you need further advice for your audio projects, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Enhanced Media Sound Studio: We’ll be happy to take your work to the next level of quality!

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Enhanced Media

We tell stories through sound. We specialize in creating a complete audio post-production and sound design experience. https://enhanced.media/