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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!

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