I get asked regularly about what it takes to create an audiobook. Before you start recording, you need to get some training. There are a good number of online classes available at a reasonable cost. I used “Gravy for the Brain” which taught me what I needed to know and got me some discounts on equipment. Speaking of equipment, you’ll need:
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software. There are many different software packages, so keep in mind what your end goal is – Audiobooks. Many of the packages are geared to recording and mixing music. One of the most popular for audiobooks is Audacity (because it’s highly functional though not so easy to use and it’s free). Another is Adobe Audition, which you can rent for around $20 per month.
- A computer that runs your selected DAW software. (Duh!)
- A quality XLR (not USB – they’re geared more toward the podcast market) microphone with microphone boom arm, shock mount and pop filter. A cardioid type mic is best as it will pick up a fuller sound than one that designed for singing or interviewing. I use a Sennheiser MK 4 which is a large diaphragm condenser mic that you can get for about $300. Figure another $100 or so for the boom arm & shock mount.
- An audio interface. An XLR mic can’t be simply plugged into your computer like a USB mic can. It requires an audio interface which converts the analog sound into digital information. I use a Focusrite 2i2, which you can get for under $200.
- Headphones. You want quality (preferably “over-the-ear”) headphones so you can hear the full range of the sounds in your recording with as little background noise as possible. I’ve been very happy with my Panasonic MDR 7506 headphones which are available for less than $100.
- Sound treated recording studio. Notice I said “sound treated” not “soundproof”. You can get professionally made soundproof studios starting at around $8,000, though as a new narrator, you probably don’t want to invest that much until you know if you’ll like doing the work and can make money at it. Most new narrators put together their own homemade studio. There are lots of YouTube videos showing various ways to do it. I built mine by extending a 3’ x 2 ½’ foot closet to 3’ x 5’, putting in a false ceiling and false floor, fiberglass insulation, Styrofoam insulation, carpet and acoustic foam panels. It cost less than $400.
Once you’ve got your training & equipment, you’re ready to get started.
Coming next – Step #1 in the 4-step recording process.
BTW – Chapter 1 of “The Chase of the Golden Plates” is still available free – no credit card required. Check it out.