Newbie Guide to Recording

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Revision as of 00:40, 12 February 2009 by Jc (talk | contribs) (Software)
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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 1.3.6 without encountering any problems. Recommended: download both and use 1.3.6 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

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


Improve Your Recording



Editing After Prooflistening

After Your First Contribution