Difference between revisions of "Newbie Guide to Recording"

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== Editing ==
== Editing ==
:<i>Main articles: [[Audio Processing Concepts]] and [[Editing Audio]]</i>
:<i>Main articles: [[Audio Processing Concepts]] and [[Editing Audio]]</i>
You will make mistakes in your reading, there is no doubt about that. Don't worry about the mistakes too much as you're recording, because they can be edited out. You can also make adjustments to volume, and remove small amounts of background noise in the editing process.
You will make mistakes in your reading, there is no doubt about that. Don't worry about the mistakes too much as you're recording, because they can be edited out. You can also make adjustments to volume, and remove small amounts of background noise in the editing process.

Revision as of 20:28, 2 March 2009


LibriVox's objective is "To make all books in the public domain available, for free, in audio format on the internet."

There are three key ways to help.

  • Recording is easier, harder, and more fun than you'd think!

You'll need equipment (usually a $30-50 USB mic) and software (usually Audacity - free) and a computer and time. And an enjoyment of reading aloud to others. Everything created at LibriVox is given to the public domain.

  • Editing help is always in demand!

If you enjoy computers and shaping things, you may enjoy editing. Most folks at LV use the free, open-source program Audacity (Windows, Linux, Mac OSX).

  • Prooflistening may be the best way to understand LibriVox! forum guide

Nearly every LV recording is prooflistened (so we can remove repeats or gaps before a book is catalogued). Even a little prooflistening exposes you to LV's diversity of projects and readers, gives you ideas about your own projects, and makes the LV community come alive as nothing else can.

Welcome! You are now part of How LibriVox Works!

Getting Ready

In order to be able to record, you will need a microphone and a recording software. The typical recording setup used by most volunteers at LibriVox is a USB mic plugged into a computer running the free audio program, Audacity.


In order to record, you will need a computer and a recording device. The latter can either be a microphone that plugs into your computer, or a digital recorder.

  • Desktop microphone: Perhaps the cheapest mic widely used at LV is the Logitech USB desktop microphone (PN 980186-0403) for about $30US - very satisfactory for the price! Opinion: the sound is more digital and not so rich as the Samson mics ($50-90), but it's not so edgy or harsh as the headset models. A recommended first, economy mic.
  • Headset microphone: The Logitech headsets are very widely used (especially the 250 for ~$40US; and the 350 for ~$50US; the models are proliferating). Some models are surprisingly uncomfortable to wear (the 250), but some folks like the headset convenience for keeping the mic location consistent and the hands free. Opinion: the sound is inferior to the cheaper, desk-top mic by Logitech. For the extra money, consider investing in a higher quality Samson mic.
  • Digital recorder: The Samson mic is a popular "upgrade" among volunteers who love recording. (Q1U ~$50US, C01U about $90US)

Other equipment is noted in User-Recommended Equipment.


Most LV volunteers use Audacity -- version 1.2.6 is quite stable (doesn't crash much), but the beta version, 1.3.6, has several improved features, though it might not be as stable as 1.2.6. However, some volunteers only routinely use the Beta version without encountering any problems. Recommended: download both and use the latest Beta only when you need its extra features, and save often.

  • Audacity 1-2-3 is a guide to help you step-by-step: download, install, and test Audacity with a first recording. If you have a built-in mic, try it out. If you have ordered a microphone online and are waiting for it, you can download and install Audacity while you're waiting for the mic to arrive.

Some volunteers use GarageBand, or Wavepad.

See Software We Use for other recommendations and some tips about software you may already have.

NOTE: Many people worry that they are not 'technical' enough to manage the recording side of things. But it isn't that difficult - else there wouldn't be so many of us doing it! The vast majority of LibriVox volunteers do not have a technical background.

Some folks use other recording setups, but this guide focuses on the most direct route to recording for LibriVox -- recording into a computer, editing on a computer, and sending files over the Internet.

Preliminary Test

Main article: 1-Minute Test

Before you make your first long recording, we suggest you either record a 1-minute test, or post a contribution to the Weekly Poetry, or the Short Poetry Collection. This will enable us to give you quick feedback, to make sure everything is correct.

If you need or would like some feedback on your technical setup, it's a good idea to start by submitting a 1-Minute Test to the "Listeners & Editors wanted" subforum for constructive criticism (CC).

Signing Up

  1. Read through the sub-fora in the section "Volunteers Wanted" to find a collaborative project that interests you. There are numerous collaborative projects open and looking for readers at any time of the day or night, in numerous languages:
    1. Readers Wanted: Short Works and Poetry: this usually includes a Poetry Collection and a Short Story Collection, but also things like a Short Mystery Collection, Short Ghost Story Collection, Short Non-Fiction Collection and many many more. For most of these collections, readers can pick a poem, story or essay of their own choice to contribute.
    2. Readers Wanted: Books: whole books being recorded by multiple readers, where you can contribute one or more chapters.
    3. Readers Wanted: Dramatic Works: plays or dramatic recordings of books, where you can contribute in the cast.
  2. Carefully read the first post in the thread of the project that interests you - this contains all detailed instructions specific to this project, and shows you which sections or parts are still available.
  3. Hit "Post Reply" at the top left of your screen. This will add a post to the 'thread.' Leave a message for the Book Coordinator indicating which part you'd like to read, and check back later for the reply. The Book Coordinator will leave a reply for you in the same manner, and tell you that you have successfully 'claimed' the part.
  • Please Note: It is recommended that you do not put any important information in the subject line of your reply to a post. You'll notice throughout the forum, that the subject line is so small that no one sees the subjects of individual replies. If, for example, you put the chapter number you would like to claim in the subject line, and not the post, your book coordinator will likely have no clue what you're talking about.
  • For many of the collections in the "Short Works" forum, you do not need to 'claim' anything. Just follow the instructions in the first post, and pick a poem, story or essay you like (as long as it's in the public domain).


Double check your recording setup

Take a minute (please) at the beginning of each recording session to check your setup. Computers return to defaults (wah!) and microphones move. Usually you have to adjust something a little to get back to your equipment's best recording setup (we are not aiming at perfection, though).

  1. Plug in your microphone before you open your recording software
  2. Open your recording software
  3. Check your input volume and microphone selection
  4. Double-check your settings:
    1. Sample frequency: 44.1 kHz
    2. Sample size: 16 bit
    3. Channel: Mono
    4. Export to mp3 at 128 Kbps with ID3v2 tags for Title, Artist, and Album
  5. Record a wee something ("Peter Piper packed a paper pumpkin. Thank you thirty thousand thanks. Fine fun on the forums, fortunately.")
  6. Look at the waveform:
    1. is it tiny? (increase input volume or speak closer to the mic)
    2. is it clipped? (decrease the input volume or back away from the mic a bit. A clipped waveform is flattened at top and bottom -- clipping causes distorted sound)
  7. Listen to the recording (ideally on headphones)
    1. got plosives? (move the mic outside the stream of breath, above/below/side)

Prepare all your text to be recorded

We recommend you download the text from its online link given in the project's top post. It helps to save the text to your computer and add any information you need to read; it's all in the top post in your project, but it's very very handy to copy and paste all that you need to record into a single document with the text. For instance:

  • Intros/outros: Chapter and title, LibriVox "disclaimer," full book title and author's (and translator's) name, chapter number and title, and any other important intro information. (It's a little different for poems!) ... text ... End of such-and-such, etc.
  • Personal notes, like how to pronounce a word you're not familiar with
  • ID3 tags for your particular reading
  • what to name your recorded file
  • where to send your recorded file
  • It's all in the project's top post; if you can't find or don't understand something, ask the Book Coordinator (BC) or Meta Coordinator (MC).

If you would like to spruce up text from Gutenberg (most of our projects use Gutenberg text), you might like this: Guten Mark


Get a glass of warm water or herbal tea, and enjoy yourself. (Thanks for recording for LibriVox!) If you've followed the steps above, you should have everything you need: all the text and intros and outros and file specs (all from the project's top post).

  • Remember to save along the way -- it is very frustrating to lose a whole chapter because the software crashes (possibly because the file has not been saved and is taking too much temporary memory) three paragraphs from the end. Sad, very sad.
  • Important: read the authorized text only. Other editions may be in copyright and we rely on folks to use the Public Domain versions (as identified in the project's top post).

TIPS: There are a few things that you can do while you're recording to make the editing process more easy later on.
  1. As soon as you make a mistake tap the mic three times, or say a really loud "MISTAKE!". Then repeat the sentence that you goofed up. The point is to create a spike in the sound waves of your editing software. This allows you to more easily find your mistakes in the editing process.
  2. Make a test recording to be sure your mic and editing software is set at the correct volume before recording the text. It is possible to alter the volume later, but raising the volume too much will also amplify the background noise.
  3. Don't stop the recording for anything. If you need to get a drink of water, let it record through that. Need to clear your throat? Keep recording so you end up with one long track. This will prevent inconsistencies in sound or volume. If you stop recording and return later, it will probably be obvious to the listener that you stopped and started again later.

Improve Your Recording


Main articles: Audio Processing Concepts and Editing Audio

You will make mistakes in your reading, there is no doubt about that. Don't worry about the mistakes too much as you're recording, because they can be edited out. You can also make adjustments to volume, and remove small amounts of background noise in the editing process.

The editing step usually involves 2 concepts: Fixing mistakes, and Audio Processing.

  1. Editing Audio: This part usually involves deleting, cutting, copying, and pasting. For instance, if you misread a word, and re-read it, you will need to delete the section with the mistake. Cutting, copying and pasting are used much less frequently. the most common occurrence of which would be to copy and paste silences.
  2. Audio Processing: This refers to filters and other effects applied to the entire track or a selection, and changes how the recording sounds. The most commonly used effects are Amplify (or Normalize) and Noise Removal. More experienced users might further process their recordings, using BassBoost, Leveller, Compressor, etc.

Most readers edit their own recordings. A great benefit comes from that, besides the obvious benefit of having a corrected file: the more you record and edit, the more (almost unconsciously) you'll find yourself making little adjustments to your reading style and to your recording setup that make the whole process more enjoyable.

  • See this great Audacity Tutorial for basics of editing in Audacity, the free recording/editing software used by most LibriVoxers
  • Here are some tutorials for common edits in Audacity: Audacity Tutorials
  • Check the LibriVox Main Wiki Page for other wiki pages about editing and editing software


Editing After Prooflistening

After Your First Contribution