About recording

About Recording for LibriVox

LibriVox is always looking for more volunteer readers.
See How LibriVox Works, or visit our Forum.
On this page:
> Bare Basics of Recording for Librivox
> Basic Advice about Reading (and links to more advice)
> Basic Setup for Recording (and links to step-by-step guides)

The best starting point is The Newbie Guide To Recording.

Bare Basics of Recording for LibriVox

  • All the reading projects are organized on the LibriVox Forum – you can read posts as a “Guest,” but if you want to participate, just register. Then you can post messages, ask questions, introduce yourself, volunteer, and so on.
  • Most readers use a microphone plugged into their computer, record with a free program called Audacity, edit out their mistakes and send their files through the Internet (easy instructions and easy uploaders available).
  • There aren’t any auditions or quizzes.
  • Everyone is welcome!

Basic Advice about Reading

  • Volunteer for texts that you enjoy. Don’t volunteer out of duty, volunteer for the pleasure of reading a particular thing aloud to the world. Your pleasure will add a special quality to the recording and will increase the chances that you’ll read more!
  • Read the text before you record it – it helps to know what you’re reading. If you’re a wonderfully expressive reader who conveys the text well, you’ll also convey your confusion whenever you’re lost. Some folks will read over a page, record it, pause the recorder or save (safer), read over the next page, record that one, and so on. Suit yourself.
  • Allow pauses between sentences and paragraphs; take your time. Let your listener visualize.
  • Most readers need to e-n-u-n-c-i-a-t-e … every syllable, every letter sound. A relaxed steady pace helps you to form the full sounds of the words. But if you’re one of the exceptions, who naturally hyper-enunciates, then relax into a conversational style, as if the reader is there with you.
  • Try for a steady volume level by speaking up, as if your listener is sitting across a table from you, and keeping a steady distance from your mic (not closer, farther, closer). Or if you naturally speak through walls, find the sweet spot in relation to your mic.
  • Modulate your voice — give it life! But don’t over-modulate your voice — give it truth! Here’s a tip: Read from the beginning of the story, and when you reach the end, immediately record the first page or so again. Chances are, you’ll begin a bit stiff and self-conscious, but you’ll soon lose yourself in the story and become more naturally animated. By the end, you’re nicely warmed up, and if you record the beginning again right now, it won’t sound at all stiff or self-conscious.
  • Test first – make sure you’re not too close or too far from the microphone. Every time you record, say a couple sentences and check how it sounds.
  • Put your microphone at an angle to your mouth, so your breath doesn’t hit the mic full on (making p-p-p-plosives).
  • Turn off your phone, and shut your door — enjoy!
  • You might prefer recording in short sessions, taking breaks between, to avoid mental and vocal fatigue. (Combine the pieces into a single file during editing.)
  • When you make a mistake, pause a moment, and start again at the beginning of the sentence/paragraph — edit the mistake out later, after recording. Don’t just repeat a word or short phrase — that’ll be too hard to cut with during the edit.
  • If you want to improve your reading, edit your own work but don’t be a perfectionist, just keep on reading and editing — you’ll naturally begin to make small adjustments in your reading, and the whole process will become more and more enjoyable.
  • For more advice and discussions about reading, check out:

Basic Setup for Recording

> The Newbie Guide To Recording — if you’ve never recorded
> How to Record for LibriVox — if you have
> How to record and submit a 1-Minute Test — highly recommended for all new readers whether you have recording experience or not!

  • Audio software
    LibriVox projects use .mp3 files (mono, 128Kbps), and most folks use the free, open-source audio recording-editing software, Audacity. Our Audacity FAQ walks you through download, installation, and testing. If you already have software that creates .mp3 files, you’re set; you may want to read or even add to our wiki page, Software We Use.
  • Microphone
    Though many computers have built-in microphones, most volunteers find them inadequate. Try yours on short texts (poems, short stories, prime numbers, etc.) if you want to contribute right away while deciding what you think of the built-in mic quality. Most volunteers use USB microphones (headsets or desk mics) plugged into their computers for a balance of acceptable and affordable. Our wiki page on User-Recommended Equipment cuts to the chase.
  • Project Specifics
    Each project spells out everything you need to know in its top post: names for files and for mp3 tags, the intro and outro for your recording, where to get the free, public domain text online — for each book or collection or poem, the top post is the place.
  • Need Help? Got Advice? You’ll find lots of discussion on software and microphones in the back pages of this area of the Forum.
  • These LibriVox Wiki pages (and many more!) are here to help:

A note on copyright etc.

All texts in the LibriVox project are in the Public Domain. All LibriVox recordings will also be in the Public Domain. If you do not wish to liberate your voice recording to the public domain, this is not the project for you.

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