The Booth

In the previous post, I explained that I will be undertaking voice overs and presenting some of my books as audiobooks. Great, awesome, let’s get cracking.

Not so fast.

After a practice run of about five minutes using my phone as the microphone, it was evident that there were issues with simply reading out a book.

  • There was too much background noise
  • I was inconsistent with the distance to the microphone
  • The quality was ok, but not brilliant
  • Every stuff-up kind of got lost
  • I was mumbling a lot
  • I was interrupted even more

What I needed, I decided, was a proper place where I could lock a door and do the recording in peace and concentrate solely on getting the words right. For that, I needed a room. The bedroom didn’t work out, nor the loungeroom, nor the laundry or toilet. Echoes and funky acoustics. Noisy neighbours. Running water pipes in the walls. On top of that, I wasn’t keen to slap a bunch of foam on the walls and get yelled at by Wifey.

A few solutions on the net, like making a foam-encased shroud, came up and I got some materials to make that happen – the top of an arch, some foam and baffle boards. The end result was not so great. Ambient sound still polluted the recording, and my phone was just not up to scratch.

Nope, no good. A room with a phone wasn’t going to cut it.

I needed to build a booth.

I had space in the garage. It was all over the place. A little bit here, a little bit under there, lots of it toward the roof. The hard part was consolidating it all, sticking all the space together to form a cohesive area. I rearranged shelves, threw out a bunch of junk, packed half-finished craft into boxes and got to the stage where I had enough space to knock up a wooden frame.

Now, I was going to buy some lengths of wood to make the frame, get it square and right, make it a little hut inside my garage, only at that exact time I came into a lot of scrap wood from the side of the road. Armed with a bunch of screws, a saw and a pencil, I made a fairly decent frame, using an old desk as the base of the booth.

To block out the noise, I used fibreglass insulation bats, sandwiched between masonite on one side and this funky white plastic sheeting. On top, more insulation, some plyboard and masonite. It has a door with a lock and a handle. When I close the door – it’s a lot quieter. Not dead silence, but a heck of a lot quieter.

His Master’s Voice

I’m in this writing game and it’s a lot of fun, it really is, and it’s very stressful and it’s eye opening and all sorts of things. I’m happy that I took the plunge, even though some days I want to just switch it all off and forget I ever began. There are many, many ups and downs, so many times when I think I’ve got the hang of it, only to realise I’ve been doing it all wrong.

Embarrassment, shame, elation and triumph. Success and failure in unfair measures. That’s the gag. My skin has grown in thickness from the paper-thin cling wrap in the early days to its current, Gold Coast leathery hide. I’m not a pachyderm, just yet, but I’m getting there.

So when there comes an opportunity to go one step further, to stick my arm in a bit deeper and stroke the Wood Beast, I’m up for it. That opportunity comes in the form of… wait for it… audio books!

That’s right, yours truly has (reluctantly) decided to put his voice on the line.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m sure that there are many out there who wouldn’t think twice about getting behind a microphone and reading aloud. Me? Yeah, nah, I’m good. No, really. I like doing the writing bit, that’s fun, I’m not sure that, er, yeah… can we not?

Writing affords the opportunity to correct mistakes, to really ponder over just how you wish to communicate with the audience. You can get your magical red pen and make marks and adjustments and go back to edit them at your convenience.

Speaking is a on a different level. Sure, the matter is already written, so that’s the hard part done, right? And you’ve got editing software to help out so you can correct mistakes and adjust volumes and things like that. It’s not like it’s actually live or anything. But there’s a definite difference – no longer am I an author, I’m now a narrator. As the Author, my words go into your head. As the Narrator, I’m putting my voice in your head. It’s one step closer to me actually sitting next to you, talking with you.

I’ve already been told that when people read my books, they hear me in their head. Well, in the words of Gomer, “Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!”

You’re going to be hearing a lot more of me.