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Audiobooks – Part 9

In Part 8, I talked about my old audio editing process, emphasising how time-consuming it was, and my acquisition of RX 9 editing software. Here’s the follow-on: my new process.

This involves running various editing routines in RX 9. For instance, I’ll run the ‘Mouth De-click’ routine on a 34-minute track. The routine counts how many clicks it has fixed. Typically, for a track that long, it will fix more than 25,000 clicks. Yep, you read that correctly. 25,000 clicks, that previously I was removing by painstaking fades, consigned to the ether in only a few minutes while I sit and watch with a goofy grin on my face.

There’s a lot of trial and error involved. There are many editing routines in RX 9 and each one has its own settings that can be adjusted to suit your voice. I fiddled around until I found the routines and settings that eradicated most of the extraneous noise without adversely impacting the narration I want to keep. It’s pointless laying out the settings I use because what suits my voice might not suit yours. You’re going to have to experiment until you find what works for you.

When I’ve finished running the various routines in RX 9, I end up with a track that’s significantly cleaner than when I started. Most clicks, pops, overly sibilant esses, slaps, breaths, etc. have disappeared.

Any tenuous excuse to include a dragon

Though not all. A few still remain, which I will remove as before using fades, masked by the Ambience track. And I still need to adjust pauses between sentences, paragraphs, scenes, etc to make them more uniform. However, the time it takes me to edit in Audacity has, at a conservative estimate, been halved. The time I’m saving has made every penny I spent on acquiring RX 9 worth it. Without reservation.

There’s one more change I’ve made to my editing process (from another tip picked up from the Facebook group). Occasionally, RX 9 is too keen and removes a sound I didn’t want to be removed, usually from the end of a sentence. Maybe it will take out an ess sound or remove the final hard syllable at the end of a word like ‘chuckled’ so that it sounds as if I said ‘chuckle’. I could adjust my settings to avoid this possibility, but I’d rather lose the occasional sound I need to keep than keep sounds I want to eradicate.

A simple solution is to add the unedited track as a third track and mute it. On those occasions when I come across a bit of over-vigorous sound removal by RX 9, I find the original section on the third track and simply copy the missing portion of the word back in to the edited track. One or two crossfades to mask the join and I’m good to go.

Here’s a screenshot of what my editing process in Audacity now looks like.

This is a chapter from The Reckoning—I’ve labelled the tracks in red to make it clearer. Track 3 is the original recording which has only been edited to the extent of removing the mistakes as described in Part 6 under Step 1. It’s greyed out because it’s on mute. Track 2 is my track of ‘good silence’ as described in the postscript to Part 6. Track 1 is the original recording, minus mistakes, that has gone through the editing routines in RX 9. Essentially, Track 1 is my master track to which I’m making final edits. When I’ve finished, Track 3 will be deleted, and Tracks 1 and 2 will be mixed together. The resulting track will be mastered and, when the audiobook is complete, uploaded to Audible and Findaway Voices for distribution.

This, in summary, is my new editing process:

  1. 1. Record as normal in Audacity
  2. 2. Export raw recording as WAV file (for back-up; also save it to the cloud)
  3. 3. Delete error sections and resave track (Track 3 in the screenshot)
  4. 4. Export as WAV file and import it into RX 9
  5. 5. Run RX 9 editing routines. These are the ones I use, though there are others:
  6. ‘De-plosive’
  7. ‘Mouth De-click’
  8. ‘De-click’
  9. ‘De-ess’
  10. ‘Voice De-noise’

6. Export edited track as WAV file and import it into Audacity (Track 1 in screenshot)

7. Import ‘Ambience’ into Audacity as second track (Track 2 in screenshot)

8. Import Track 3 (original recording minus mistakes) into Audacity – mute it

9. Edit Track 1 in Audacity as before, using Track 2 to mask fades and Track 3 for restoring any clips overzealously removed by RX9; delete Track 3 before mixing and mastering

Thanks to RX 9, the task of producing the rest of my works in audio has become significantly less daunting. And big thanks to the Facebook group Authors Who Narrate Their Own Audiobooks, whose members are generous with their advice and knowledge sharing.

I’m not sure whether there’ll ever be a Part 10. If not, for the final time, happy listening!

Audiobooks – Part 8


This post in its entirety turned out to be quite lengthy so I’m splitting it in two—there will, therefore, be a Part 9 along shortly.

It’s been a while since I wrote about producing audiobooks. Part 7, about mastering the edited track, was posted on 2nd April 2021. Part 6, about editing, was posted on 21st January 2021—this is the process I want to talk a little more about. As usual with these posts, they’re primarily aimed at writers who are considering producing their own audiobooks but don’t know how to go about it.

This is what I said in Part 6:

I am not claiming this to be the only or best way to edit audio using Audacity. On the contrary, it is not even an advisable method because it is massively time-consuming.

If you managed to wade through the rest of that post, you’ll know what I mean when I said my editing method was massively time-consuming. Although I managed to speed up my process a little by importing a second track of ambient room noise, it took me almost a year—a year!—to edit The Beacon, a novel of 104,000 words.

I took a much-needed break from producing audiobooks. When I returned to them, I procrastinated over embarking on the final novel in the Earth Haven trilogy, The Reckoning, since it’s the longest of them at 106,000 words. I couldn’t face taking a year to produce it. Instead, I finished producing the rest of my short stories in audio format.

Then, in mid-November, I couldn’t put it off any longer; it was time to begin recording The Reckoning. But I was mindful of what I’d also said in Part 6:

There must be quicker, more efficient ways of achieving the same outcome.

I needed to find those ways, and sharpish.

A few months back, knowing I’d eventually need to pick the brains of other authors who produce their own audiobooks, I joined a Facebook group: Authors Who Narrate Their Own Audiobooks. (I’m not sure what their policies are on linking to the group so I’m not going to post a link—if you want to find it, typing the group’s name into the search bar in Facebook should take you there.) I’d kept an eye on posts about editing and noticed discussion about a mysterious (to me) editing tool by iZotope called RX 8. It was time I looked into this in greater detail.

Long story short: RX 8 has now been upgraded to the latest version RX 9, and it was the standard version I needed because it contains a useful little tool called ‘Mouth De-click’. At the full price of $400, it was a little too costly for me. However, by first purchasing RX Elements (a basic package that doesn’t include ‘Mouth De-click’) as part of a Black Friday bundle and then waiting for an upgrade offer, I was able to purchase RX 9 for a combined total of $198 plus taxes, a decent saving.

That was the easy part. Next I had to learn how to use the software. RX 9 contains various editing routines, some (maybe all, I’m not sure) of which can be imported into Audacity as plug-ins. After much trial and error, I decided not to go down the plug-in route, but to edit tracks in RX 9 and then import the edited track into Audacity for fine-tuning.

It’s the editing process in RX 9 where the time saving comes in. And how! The chapters of The Reckoning are fairly lengthy and the unedited recordings are typically over 30 minutes long. Due to my deficiencies as a narrator and the limitations of my daughter’s bedroom as a recording studio, they contain a lot of extraneous noise: clicks, breaths, slurps and slapping and other moist mouth sounds (yeah, I know, eww), creaks, rustling, the occasional sound of distant traffic, mysterious little bangs, and so on.

My old process involved removing each sound in Audacity manually, using a combination of Crossfade Clips and Fade In/Fade Out*, and pasting in a short clip of ambient room noise to mask the fades—as set out in Part 6. That part also mentions the time-saving idea of using an entire track of ambient room noise, which I still do and is indeed a great time-saver in itself. That process, even with the Ambience track, was still massively time-consuming. To edit a 36-minute chapter might take me 30 hours or more. You can see why I needed to find a better way.

And I’m glad to say RX 9 is that better way.

In Part 9, I’ll talk a little about my new process. See you then.

* another way to speed up the editing process is to make use of Audacity’s shortcuts. By assigning two keys to each function, I can employ fades from the keyboard without having to use any dropdown menus. This, too, has helped speed up my editing times significantly.