RECORD YOUR AUDIOBOOK AT HOME FOR $300 OR LESS

It’s easier and cheaper than it ever has been in the history of the Earth to record your books at home. If you are a writer, I HIGHLY recommend creating audiobook versions of your words, be they fiction, non-fiction, poetry, or short stories. You’ll pay far less than you would if you hired someone to record your book for you or went to someone else’s studio. Going into someone else’s studio might cost you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars, depending on the length of your work. Typical recording studio prices are $60 per hour, but considering the mammoth amounts of time that go into recording a book, it’s not even worth it at $30 an hour.

For instance: Forever Fifteen is over 15 hours of listening. Imagine if I had paid for this out of pocket–$60 per hour x 15 =$900, not including editing & other corrections! Forever Fifteen could have easily run into the thousands of dollars at a recording studio!

Besides, recording your book at home makes everything seem easier, putting you in a great frame of mind to deliver the perfect oratory. I prefer having the tea and scones less than 20 feet away at all times.

The problem is that most recording and audio magazines, online and off, only exist for one reason: TO SELL YOU EXPENSIVE EQUIPMENT. Sadly, very few will tell you the truth–that you can set up a basic recording studio in your home for $300 or less if you already have a computer. Don’t believe the hype, you can do this affordably without being an audio computer guru!

EQUIPMENT NEEDED:

  1. Basic computer, PC, Mac, Linux
  2. Recording software $60
  3. USB Audio interface box $100
  4. USB cable $2
  5. Condenser microphone $75
  6. Cord for microphone $25
  7. Stand for microphone $25

So you’ve already got a computer and you know it makes sound because you listen to MP3s on it. Next step is getting some:

RECORDING SOFTWARE

Recording software is extremely cheap nowadays. If you have a regular Dell PC, go to any computer store, including office stores like Staples and Office Max, and you can find home recording software for under $100.

Software for PCs

For PC, I recommend something like Sony’s ACID, which is easy to install and use. Like most recording software, you can download a free demo of ACID online. It retails for about $55.00 US.

Sony ACID Music Studio, $55.00

Software for Macs:

If you own a Mac, you probably know about the iLife suite of programs like Address Book and iWeb. There’s an awesome program that is part of iLife called Garageband. If you have Garageband, you can record audio without even buying anything. Look in your Applications folder or on your desktop for this icon:

Garageband icon

Now, open Garageband and click on Track > Create New Track. Choose “Real Instrument” and click on the little microphone icon. You are ready to record! The microphone being used is actually somewhere on your computer. Even though it’s a really cool feature, you’ll probably want to use a real microphone for your audiobook, which brings us to the:

MICROPHONE

Microphones turn your voice into electricity. I know that sounds weird, as if you were speaking in little lightning bolts, but it’s true. Microphones actually convert your voice into voltage which in turn is sent down the microphone cord.

You’ll want to get a microphone and a microphone cable (also known as mic cable). The microphone will cost about $100. You want a “condenser” type microphone, which captures crystal clear nuances of speech or singing. Condenser mics are commonly used for indoor recording and have a chubby look to them. One great brand that has a huge range of affordable condenser mics, many well under $100, is Samson.

BREAKING NEWS: I’ve just heard that Samson has a new condenser mic that has a USB cable, meaning it can plug directly into your computer with no extra equipment. I have not bought and tried it yet, but the reviews look good.

I used a RØDE NT 1 condenser microphone to record Forever Fifteen.

Rode NT-1 Condenser Microphone

Once a microphone is obtained, you’ll notice that it connects with a mic cable, a round plug with 3 blunt-edged pins in it. Unfortunately, there is no microphone outlet in the back of your computer. So you need a special box to help the microphone get your voice into the computer, which is called a digital audio interface.

AUDIO INTERFACE BOX

Audio interface boxes convert your voice, which is a real live human-created sound wave, to digital information, which is a huge bunch of zeros and ones that only computers understand. Nowadays, these boxes hook up to your computer with a USB cable. Yes . . . the same connecting cable you use to transfer photos from your digital camera can transmit your voice into the computer. Awesome! It wasn’t always this easy, but technology has come a long way.

The company M-Audio makes fantastic little audio interface boxes. The design is very minimal, so you can easily see what connects to what without being frustrated by a million features you will never use. I recommend the very small, very basic M-Audio FastTrack USB:

The M-Audio FastTrack USB, approximately $100. So cute!

SETUP

Once you buy the right components, set up is a dream. Install the recording software on your computer, then the install any drivers for the digital audio interface. Connect the USB cable from the digital audio interface to your computer. Connect the microphone to the digital audio interface with the mic cable and set the mic in the mic stand.
Begin a new session in your recording software. Turn the digital audio interface on and you’re ready to record your audiobook!