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Step 7. Record Your Sample

Previously: Microphone Set-up and Using Audacity

You only have to go through this process once, and you're going to learn so much!

By practising, recording, and then editing and uploading a sample, you will become familiar with the computer, the Audacity software, and the entire production process.

Your sample will help us check your recording levels and make sure you are ready to record your first book. Once upon a time, we didn't require sample recordings and ended up with a large number of recordings that were all far too quiet. If we had known that the recording volume was so low, and fixed it before people recorded their books, we would have saved a lot of stress and heart-ache.

Once we receive you practice session audio, someone at NNELS will listen to it and let you know if there are any problems.

What you need:

  • A computer with Audacity installed.
  • ARK headset or your own microphone if you're not volunteering through a library.
  • A good sense of the Audacity instructions.

Save Early and Often

Before you record, check the Audacity settings, then save your Audacity project to the USB as: your-lastname_sample_YYYYMMDD (see "Save Your Work"). Also see: save your work.

Recording Tips

The line of audio recording you will see in Audacity is called a "track".

Make sure you always leave about 3 seconds of silence at the beginning of any track in case you need to do noise removal: the "silent" time lets you build up a profile of the background noise without interference from your lovely voice. More on noise removal.

Make sure you have water with a resealable lid nearby while you’re recording. No coffee or snacks.

If you need to pause to cough, catch your breath, answer the phone, wait for a train to pass — whatever — either keep the track recording or press pause (not stop). It’s easier to delete long pieces of a track than to splice tracks together and make them sound consistent.

Read more slowly than you would ordinarily read. Not like a boring sloth, but just more slowly and carefully than what feels natural. More people read too quickly than too slowly.

Text for Sample Recording

Please record the following paragraphs. If it makes sense to do so, you can print off this text and mark it up before you record:

Sample recording made by [your full name] on [date] at [location] for NNELS.

Read rhymes with lead, and read rhymes with lead, but read and lead don’t rhyme, and neither do read and lead.

I will be done in a minute, after I add a minute amount of salt into this soup.

The soldier decided to desert his dessert in the desert.

Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.

Alice was beginning to get very tired of sitting by her sister on the bank, and of having nothing to do. Once or twice she had peeped into the book her sister was reading, but it had no pictures or conversations in it, "and what is the use of a book," thought Alice, "without pictures or conversations?"

So she was considering in her own mind (as well as she could, for the day made her feel very sleepy and stupid), whether the pleasure of making a daisy-chain would be worth the trouble of getting up and picking the daisies, when suddenly a White Rabbit with pink eyes ran close by her.

Completing Your Sample

Edit and export your recording according to the Audacity instructions.

Export the MP3 file as: your-lastname_sample_YYYYMMDD

Upload Your Track

Upload your sample recording to our Sample Recordings folder (the password to upload: sample).

You will see a Sync page open (Sync is like Dropbox, but hosted in Canada). Click on the "Upload File" button or drag and drop your MP3 file onto the screen (click on image to enlarge):

Wait for the file transfer to finish (sometimes the last 1% takes a little while), then close the window.

What We Check

Here's what we'll be looking for in your sample recording:

  • microphone placement;
  • speed and enunciation;
  • ability to read and pronounce words for context;
  • recording volume and background noise;
  • correct editing:
    • no unedited mistakes;
    • no mouse clicks or other computer noises;
    • approximately 1.5 seconds of silence at the beginning and end of your track.

Notes for Those Prone to Hesitation & Self-Criticism

  1. Your voice is just fine. Someone will absolutely love it. No matter what.
  2. Plan to re-record your track a few times when you're starting out, so avoid recording at the last minute or when you’re in a hurry unless you’ve had a lot of practise.
  3. If you wait for the perfect circumstances before you begin recording, you’ll never begin. If you’re wary (or, perhaps, completely terrified) by this whole idea, know that completion is a worthier goal than perfection. If you wait for everything to be perfect, you’ll find yourself up against a deadline, feeling rushed and stressed. If you’re desperate for audio counseling or just need someone to hold your hand by phone for a few minutes, please call our emergency helpline.
  4. Finally, here are some wise words from Librivox founder Hugh McGuire:

You record a story, play it back, and decide it could be better. The previous sentence is true of all readers regardless of skill. There will always be room for improvement in your recordings no matter how many takes you do. You should strive for perfection but realize it can never be achieved. Learn when to let go.

Next Up

Wait to hear feedback about your sample recording from NNELS, but if you want to look ahead, here's Step 8: Record and Edit Your Book.

public/nnels/recording/7_record_your_sample.txt · Last modified: 2019/03/08 08:01 by sabina.iseli-otto