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tovarisch
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Post by tovarisch » November 28th, 2016, 2:48 pm

philchenevert wrote:Lurcherlover just brought this up
I know I should shut up, and keep my big mouth shut, but I do question why levels which are only 1 or 2 dB lower than zero dbfs are required? I know we are in the territory of 128kb.mp3 which is less than hi-fi standards (although acceptable for spoken voice reproduction) - but even here it is definitely best to keep levels down to -6dB - well this is the professional standard. (In fact, generally, the accepted level may often be -12dB below zero).
Hope we'll get it clarified. I don't know what he means by "zero dbfs", nor which value he refers to as "1 or 2 dB lower"...
tovarisch
  • reality prompts me to scale down my reading, sorry to say
    to PLers: do correct my pronunciation please

lurcherlover
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Post by lurcherlover » November 28th, 2016, 2:52 pm

To clarify a bit more, the Librivox standard of 89 dB may be -11 dB. So reducing the level to -14 dB may be safer (possibly meaning 86 dB instead of 89 dB in Librivox parlance). I would say that even 82 dB (-18 dB) would be fine. This means that a quieter recording can be normalised to -8 dB quite safely. But I generally avoid any extra processing like normalisation or amplification if it can be avoided as it re-writes the waveform which can degrade the sound. But I suppose I'm splitting hairs really.

I had better shut up!

Peter

P S Zero dBfs is actually 0 dB full scale - in other words 0 dB.

Here is a link to various meters.

http://www.darkwooddesigns.co.uk/pc2/meters.html

tovarisch
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Post by tovarisch » November 28th, 2016, 3:31 pm

lurcherlover wrote:To clarify a bit more, the Librivox standard of 89 dB may be -11 dB. So reducing the level to -14 dB may be safer (possibly meaning 86 dB instead of 89 dB in Librivox parlance). I would say that even 82 dB (-18 dB) would be fine. This means that a quieter recording can be normalised to -8 dB quite safely. But I generally avoid any extra processing like normalisation or amplification if it can be avoided as it re-writes the waveform which can degrade the sound. But I suppose I'm splitting hairs really. ...
When you say "safer", what do you mean? When you say "would be fine", what do you mean? Fine for what? Is 82 dB ("in Librivox parlance") better than 89 dB? In what way?

We've had those "levels" discussions before, I think. There is this Wiki page on setting the level with some explanations, for us non-professionals...

The main question remains: what do you see as the problem with our system/range? Is it simply that you are not used to it?
tovarisch
  • reality prompts me to scale down my reading, sorry to say
    to PLers: do correct my pronunciation please

lurcherlover
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Post by lurcherlover » November 28th, 2016, 11:45 pm

tovarisch wrote:When you say "safer", what do you mean? When you say "would be fine", what do you mean? Fine for what? Is 82 dB ("in Librivox parlance") better than 89 dB? In what way?

We've had those "levels" discussions before, I think. There is this Wiki page on setting the level with some explanations, for us non-professionals...

The main question remains: what do you see as the problem with our system/range? Is it simply that you are not used to it?
82 dB or maybe a little more, say 84dB takes out or lessens the risk of distortion and will make the sound quality a little better in most instances. (We are talking of 85 dB being equal to -15 dB on the dB scale on the meters. So fine means a better sound - at least in some cases.

The wiki article is quite good and more or less says what I have been saying.

It's not that I'm not used to it, it is more that in recording circles it is not the accepted standard. I do agree that keeping the recording level up will reduce the noise level, but there is a compromise where the recording quality is at maximum, whilst the noise level is still very low.

Bear in mind that the things that make a good recording are, in order of importance

(1) the quality of the performer's voice and it's resonance
(2) the room acoustic
(3) microphone placement
(4) the mic used
(5) the pre-amp (If one is used, although all mic inputs use a pre-amp of some sort and of varying quality)
(6) the equipment used as the recorder (stand alone, computer etc)
(7) the computer program used for the recording and the editing (Audacity, Reaper, Pro-Tools etc),

Hope this helps.

Peter

PS

I listened to one or two of Phil Chenevert's recordings, and I hope he dosn't mind me commenting on them. I think they are very good recordings and he is obviously in excellent control of his recordings and reading. If I were to split hairs i would say that maybe (and it's only my opinion) he has a little extra sibilance on his recordings, possibly due to mic placement/closeness/ andgle of mic to the lips. It's pretty minor and can be easily remedied. Too much sibilance can lead to listener fatigue over a long listening period. I saw this on a forum with a professional audiobook reader (which I am not - I hasten to add). He had pretty bad sibilance as well as a boxy sound from his homemade booth. I'm pleased to say that his readings are now excellent and he seems to be doing an incredible amount of work. His name is Jake Urri if you want to google him. There are short examples of his work available.

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Post by RuthieG » November 29th, 2016, 1:01 am

Hello, lurcherlover.

I'm currently inactive for various reasons, but I've been at LibriVox for a long time and have assisted many new readers who are unfamiliar with audio recording. There is a good reason that we have simple technical requirements: too many technical complications are a huge deterrent to new readers.

With regard to volume, we have found a recommendation of 89 dB (or -11 dBFS) to be most suitable for our purposes.
  1. It provides a standard which is particularly desirable for consistency in multi-reader recordings.
  2. It is approximately in keeping with the requirements of, say, ACX (Audible), which requires that recordings measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS. My experiments indicate that 89dB as measured by the ReplayGain plugin in Audacity is equivalent to about -22dB RMS.
  3. You may be aware that Internet Archive, which hosts all our completed recordings, derives further formats from our submitted 128kb MP3 files. For some reason, the derived 64kb MP3 files turn out some 3dB lower than the originals (i.e. an instant reduction to about 86dB or nearly -25 dB RMS).
  4. Many users listen to our recordings in noisy places such as trains, cars and gyms. If we reduced our requirements from 89 dB, we would receive more complaints about low volume from our listeners.
In "proper" professional recording circles, where recordings are post-processed by sound engineers, I am sure your comments would be valid. Here, it is different: there is no further processing after the files are submitted by the reader.

Audio quality of LibriVox recordings has increased beyond measure since I joined eight years ago, but realistically we know that few of us have professional equipment, or even a dedicated recording space. If readers are put off at the beginning, they will never persevere long enough to improve. That is not to say, of course, that readers shouldn't aspire to professional recording quality, but they have to learn the basics first. A few simple rules, such as the desired volume, help to accomplish this.

Ruth
My LV catalogue page | RuthieG's CataBlog of recordings | Tweet: @RuthGolding

lurcherlover
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Post by lurcherlover » November 29th, 2016, 1:44 am

RuthieG - Thanks for that detailed response and I can see now why those extra decibels are needed. I think this is very valid as people listening on trains, in cars and in noisy situations will get better results in those environments. Some playback systems may even give the option of some compression so that the lowest levels are somewhat increased for those listening in noisy surroundings.

So, I will generally increase my recording levels for Librivox by 6-8 dB - and as I do not usually (I hope) speak too quietly I have no need for the use of the compressor. (Let me know if you think otherwise). I'm generally aiming for the best possible sound without compromising the noise floor or clarity (I hope). Even my lousy reading abilities are getting better, I think.

Many thanks for your comments, and yes, i find the general level of recording and speaking pretty good on the recordings I have listened to on Librivox.

Best wishes

Peter (Lurcherlover).

philchenevert
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Post by philchenevert » November 29th, 2016, 5:44 pm

Hey, thank you very much for the feedback on my recordings; Since this is my funnest hobby, I am always trying to make them sound less ameturish. Unfortunately, not having much technical knowledge, I don't think I succeed very well so I LOVE feedback from someone who obviously knows the causes of problems and when things don't sound well.
I listened to one or two of Phil Chenevert's recordings, and I hope he dosn't mind me commenting on them. I think they are very good recordings and he is obviously in excellent control of his recordings and reading. If I were to split hairs i would say that maybe (and it's only my opinion) he has a little extra sibilance on his recordings, possibly due to mic placement/closeness/ andgle of mic to the lips. It's pretty minor and can be easily remedied. Too much sibilance can lead to listener fatigue over a long listening period.
When you say sibilance, you mean my esses are too loud or something else? Is it my pronunciation? Would moving my mic a bit more to the side help? My own major criticism of my recordings is that they seem to be too muddy and not as crisp and clear as I'd like it. I admit to using compression and other effects. Too much bass too but I can't seem to clear it up. I am rebuilding my recording set up after getting flooded last August and this would be a good time to get better equipment or a better 'studio'. I just record at my PC with some sound dedeading blankets hung on three sides to keep the PC fan hum down, that's all. Image

PS. What Ruth said was excellent information and I understand even more now. Ain't life grand?
"I have a split personality" said Tom, being frank. You're welcome
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Post by annise » November 29th, 2016, 6:21 pm

I wouldn't worry too hard Phil, you have a sufficient number of people who take the trouble to give you good reviews on Archive to know that your quality is OK . Making recordings is like driving a car - there are some people who delight in all the technical bits and others who just want to get from A to B in comfort, and if someone offers me a lift I'm happy with either (and from personal point of view prefer the second - otherwise I have to listen and respond to a discussion about engines)

Anne

tovarisch
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Post by tovarisch » November 29th, 2016, 7:04 pm

annise wrote:I wouldn't worry too hard Phil, you have a sufficient number of people who take the trouble to give you good reviews on Archive to know that your quality is OK . Making recordings is like driving a car - there are some people who delight in all the technical bits and others who just want to get from A to B in comfort, and if someone offers me a lift I'm happy with either (and from personal point of view prefer the second - otherwise I have to listen and respond to a discussion about engines)

Anne
I resemble that last remark, Anne! :shock:

On a serious note, would you rather travel across the country as a passenger in a U-Haul truck or in a Bentley? If we have a choice of ther reader, wouldn't we rather listen to one whose recording is made better and has less background noise, fewer (if any) plosives, etc.? That's why those of us who want to give the listener full benefit of our time, do actually worry (not too hard, of course) about the quality. Those who don't, well, aren't listened to as much. Phil is prolific and has read enough interesting books that many listeners encounter him, and like him, and praises are deserved. Does not necessarily mean Phil should "rest on his laurels" (is that the expression?)

Learning how an automatic transmission or a supercharger works is not essential to being a good driver. Knowing what a decibel is or what levels the recording industry prefers in their raw studio recordings that are later made into hits, is not essential to being a good LibriVox reader either. Doesn't hurt, though, I suppose, and that's why Phil is interested.

At the same time, if somebody starts talking combustion and heat dissipation and how it affects my passengers when I'm behind the wheel, I will probably soon enough tell that person to mind their own driving, and let me mind mine... Catch my drift? :wink:
tovarisch
  • reality prompts me to scale down my reading, sorry to say
    to PLers: do correct my pronunciation please

annise
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Post by annise » November 29th, 2016, 7:56 pm

And almost all of our readers do care and get the best they can out of the equipment they have - all I'm trying to say is it is not really the reason most people enjoy listening and we accept anyone whose recording are comprehensible.
I choose books mainly because they interest me . I prefer some readers for many reasons but if I'm interested in the book I'll listen to a reader I don't prefer . I'd prefer my readers to sound like they are interested in the book and as long as I can understand it accents , words said differently etc don't spoil my enjoyment.
Just because we can measure volume doesn't mean that is the most important part of being a reader :D

Anne

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Post by lurcherlover » November 29th, 2016, 11:43 pm

I'm basically in agreement with you all over the "can of worms" that I started!

I just like to help a bit and yes, I did get a bit too technical.

The response from all of you just proves that you care about the readings a lot, and this can only be a good thing.

In answer to phil's questions I would say that he could just experiment a bit by moving the mic and maybe angling the mic up to face the ceiling. This dissipates any high frequencies that cause the "esses" to be too sibilant. Don't worry about the low frequencies - but they can be tamed by either using a low cut filter or in post production by what called "equalisation" which means you reduce the lower frequencies by for example 6 dB. Again - if you try this - experiment for the best result. You can usually undo any changes, but you could try it on a copy of a reading. Also, you may be too close the mic in an attempt to reduce background noises from the computer. Try to keep at least 12 inches from the mic, or maybe 15 inches or so. (And speak across the mic rather than into it.

But your recordings are very good anyway and we are just talking about the final polish. You reading voice is extremely good.

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Post by philchenevert » November 30th, 2016, 10:09 pm

Thanks Lurcherlover for your support of my recordings and style. I am personally not happy with them and will try your suggestions about moving the microphone and seeing what happens. The equalization thing is also easy to apply and I'll mess around with that. My goal would be those crystal clear, amazingly smooth recordings that some of our English admins and other volunteers seem to turn out all the time. With me I feel that after the fun of recording, I have to bludgeon the track into acceptable shape. Oh well.

I looked up Lurcher dogs and am fascinated by them. what an interesting combination of useful traits. Thanks for broadening my knowledge about dogs too. Image

EDIT: I have my new microphone set up now as well as the sound deadening blankets. Wheeeeee!
"I have a split personality" said Tom, being frank. You're welcome
Need Help? Check out these tutorial videos: https://wiki.librivox.org/index.php/Instructional_Videos

lurcherlover
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Post by lurcherlover » December 1st, 2016, 3:53 am

philchenevert wrote:Thanks Lurcherlover for your support of my recordings and style. I am personally not happy with them and will try your suggestions about moving the microphone and seeing what happens. The equalization thing is also easy to apply and I'll mess around with that. My goal would be those crystal clear, amazingly smooth recordings that some of our English admins and other volunteers seem to turn out all the time. With me I feel that after the fun of recording, I have to bludgeon the track into acceptable shape. Oh well.

I looked up Lurcher dogs and am fascinated by them. what an interesting combination of useful traits. Thanks for broadening my knowledge about dogs too. Image

EDIT: I have my new microphone set up now as well as the sound deadening blankets. Wheeeeee!
Hope the mic idea works!

I too am having problems over in the short story projects as I am having to compress and increase (amplify) the gain and occasionally use compression as well, which all goes against the grain of good sound. The trouble is, we are having to provide audio which is often listened to in noisy surroundings, so the dynamic range has to be squashed and the gain pushed up to nearly zero dbfs. I'm undoing years of high quality sound training! Anyway, I'm having the "Last Writes" administered as I'm going down with 'flu. (I think).

lurcherlover
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Post by lurcherlover » December 13th, 2016, 4:25 pm

I've been getting some feedback from a forum where a lot of professional recordists and readers post. The general consensus is that I should not use any reverb on my readings. I have in fact been reducing the amount of reverb by quite a bit, but I'm coming round to their opinions that I should avoid all reverb and keep the recordings as dry as possible. This will aid maximum clarity and sound better especially when listening on speakers.

So that's what I will aim for on all of my new recordings. We all continue learning, and I will concentrate also on getting my readings a bit better too.

Peter

annise
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Post by annise » December 13th, 2016, 6:39 pm

You'd have got this advice here :D . It's fun pressing all the buttons but my rule of thumb is if you can tell the buttons been pressed , its been pressed too hard.

Anne

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