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Archive for the ‘audiobooks’ Category

Why use Punch and Roll? Check out this video.

I sure am glad I switched to Punch and Roll myself. I make a ton of mistakes, and this technique is a lifesaver. It’s really nice for those few of us who make MULTIPLE mistakes over the same bit of dialog.  Once you set it up to punch in, you can repeatedly screw up and all you have to do is his space bar to stop the record, and control space bar to take another whack at it. Those are the shortcut keys for Pro Tools, but as Don and Amanda point out, there are other programs than Pro Tools to use for punch and record.

The Refrigerator Liberator

I wasn’t sure at first, but I’ve got to say, I love my new mic, the Shure SM7B. I think my refrigerator does, too.

See, I went from a Condenser mic to a Dynamic mic. That condenser mic was bothered by the refrigerator, the furnace, the mbox having electricity to it, maybe even the buzzy light in the next room. It was quite a production getting ready to record. I turned out the light, unplugged the laptop, switched off the furnace and threw the breaker for the fridge. I always felt bad doing that last because invariably, when I restored the power to the fridge, usually some hours after, it would begin to wail. My determined little fridge must have been working like the devil to get the temps back where they should be, no break. When it was just about there, it sounded like a low key banshee.

But now, I don’t have to mess with any of those things. I just set up my recording gear and go. I’m starting to feel like a pro…

Here’s a sample from the new mic, though, I mastered it myself, and my skill is not as great as Jared, my engineer. Still, it don’t sound too bad…

Vocales Interuptus

I finally settled down to a routine of just calmly punching and recording my mistakes, absolutely no increase in stress or heartbeat, just place the cursor, hit control spacebar and try again. Even, thanks to a facebook group link, found out how to automatically crossfade all those errors. Got a nice app on my ipad to read my documents from and make notes of all kinds as I go. And then

waveform 1

What you see to the left of the picture is what a normal wave form looks like, hitting at about -6db. I can’t explain what happened just to the right of center and to the far right. I’m told low frequency rumbles could have that effect, but I have my doubts. I have seen jumps like that when I have knocked something and jarred the mic, but that didn’t happen. I was just reading along and then bam! the sound cut out.

After conducting some experiments, subtracting elements from my sound booth, I determined that this was just something random occuring. I wanted to talk to the microphone manufacturers to see what they thought. When I went to find out about the warranty process, I was advised to contact the seller, which was Amazon. Actually, it was a third party selling through Amazon, but I couldn’t find any information about them on Amazon, so I contacted their help person.

He decided the thing to do would be to send it back for a replacement, but they didn’t have a replacement in stock. I couldn’t get a firm idea of when that would happen, though. I was just to wait for an email confirmation. After some thought, and the inability to record anything, I decided maybe I should have a spare mic. I spent a lot of time on the internet, but finally ended up calling Sweetwater, to talk to Justin, my sales engineer.

I didn’t just get me a spare mic, I got me the next step up. I laid out a significant chunk of change, but Justin gave me a deal on expedited shipping, so it will come to me in just a few hours.

I’m willing to believe all this happened for a reason, and that reason is to get me into this new microphone and I can start recording better than ever.

It would be nice to get a paying gig soon, because unemployment wrote to me today, telling me they weren’t going to pay me until they could figure out whether this narration business of mine would get in the way of accepting and looking for work. Oh joy.

Look for samples soon from my new mic.

Mouth Noise (the persnickety editor)

She may have been being snarky, sometimes it’s hard to tell on facebook, but my sister-in-law asked me, isn’t a mouth supposed to make noise? Well, yes, of course, but most of the time, we want those noises to form words, or music. When we refer to mouth noises in narration, we are definitely talking about the unwanted noises our mouths make.

Some people get it worse than others. Sometimes, the noise occurs when you open your lips to take a breath, or some other random place where there should not be any noise. This is bad enough. But if you are truly plagued by it, you will sometimes get noise right in the middle of a vocalization, such as

 The Culprit click this to listen, and listen closely. (There’s only so much you can do with free accounts)

Sure, it doesn’t sound like a huge deal, all by itself, but when there are a lot of these in the overall sound, it makes an impression. And not a good one. So, for someone like me, anal enough to give a shit, there is a program that is just perfect for dealing with these issues. Not all programs are created equally, I can tell you. I’ve worked with Reaper, Pro Tools and Audacity, but the one that deals with this issue the best, and in my opinion is the easiest to deal with overall, is Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio.

It’s the only one I’ve seen so far that breaks the wave form down into the single line you see in these images. They are really super zoomed in. This is what the wave form looks like in a less anal view.


But in order to correct that little clicky sound you hopefully heard in my example, you have to focus in really tight, zero in on the offending wave form, select it

zeroing in  be very precise about this selection. You must start and end at the infinity line. Do this by zooming in even closer

exactly make sure to hit that point on both ends of the selection and then

hit control “x”! Voila!

that's better have another careful listen.

Now imagine going through these steps 50 or 60 times a session! I gotta quit eating dairy!!

Vote! To FX or not to FX, that is my question

<p><a href=”″>Comparison Vimeo</a> from <a href=”″>Elaine Cramer</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

Word among professional audiobook narrators is to skip the effects. They belong in radio plays and full cast productions. But I have heard subtle effects put to good use in audiobooks, as in a slightly tinny sound when a character is listening to a voice on the phone. In the story I am reading, the characters are listening to a voice over the phone that has been altered to disguise it. In this video, you will hear the audio with the effects first, immediately followed by the audio with no effects. Vote for your favorite, please.


<p><a href=”″>Rain Circles</a> from <a href=”″>Elaine Cramer</a> on <a href=””>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

When we built our first deck on our house, we didn’t know to space the slats a little apart so rain could get through. It’s the sort of thing that seems obvious in hindsight… But the material is a composite, so it doesn’t hurt too much, and I quite like the effect when we get serious rain here. It can be mesmerizing, watching the circles the rain makes in the standing water.

I think Oregonians should develop, or maybe we already have developed, a vocabulary for all the different sorts of rain we get. After all, the Eskimos are supposed to have a vast capacity for naming snow.  Until recently though, I wasn’t all that concerned. I found it interesting that some days there could be a light rain that could soak you faster and more thoroughly than gigantic plopping rain drops. When I was a teenager, I hated the rain that was barely more than a heavy fog which would float up underneath my umbrella to destroy my carefully crafted hairstyle.

And then I created an audio studio in my home. My home of the vaulted ceilings. I soon found out that I had issues during a storm. And there was a big storm today, making me worry that I wouldn’t be able to record today. I was going to look at it as a sign from the universe to give my voice a break and just do a lot of editing, but I caught a break. Now, a caller just now thought he had a bad connection because he could barely hear me.

Maybe I should have just edited today…

Studio Upgraded!

So, things may have arrived in a trickle, but the final result was a nice…mess.


After putting everything together, and seeming to encounter every last little obstacle, my new set up was looking like this.

old stand My goal is to stand while I record. I put my laptop outside my studio (obviously my closet) and ran cords through the wall.hole in the wall and brought the audio interface (mbox), and external monitor, mouse and keyboard into the booth with standThe new stand is much sturdier than the old, though I had to cover the beautiful cabinet with a towel to keep down echo. Our most awesome carpenter neighbor, Todd Casey, was asked to just quickly throw something together, and he just out did himself. Thank you Todd!

The only bummer about my new set up is, in order to edit my file, I have to be plugged into my interface. I have this nifty laptop table and I can be oh so comfortable editing in my reclining couch. But, I rigged the next best thing.edit stationedit station occupied

It’ll do in a pinch! Now, my laptop battery is all charged up, so I can get back to work. Now, to unplug the laptop, turn the furnace off and shut the refrigerator off, and hopefully get another hour and a half before I need to charge up again.

Studio Upgrade Nightmare

Tomorrow, I should have all the elements of my new studio in my possession. I should be excited, but I feel more like dread. I’ve already received a few pieces, and it’s always something.

First and foremost, I plunked down a very pretty penny buying these nifty in-ear headphones to give good quality playback to equal that of a good pair of closed over ear headphones. At nearly four times the cost, I justified it in my mind because when I wear over the ear phones, my TMJ begins to pain me.

Guess what? My TMJ is killing me anyway!

It all started when I read a very convincing article on being more productive and decided to take the plunge and upgade so I could punch and record on the fly. And with a PC, that seems to mean Pro Tools.

I had a sort of instinctive dread about using Pro Tools, seemingly baseless. I do like my Sony Sound Forge for ease of editing, but here was this vague resistance to the idea of Pro Tools. I squashed it, consulted with my honey and my sister and made the plunge. I bought an Mbox audio interface that came bundled with a Pro Tools, a new condenser microphone which will hopefully lessen my sound floor ( Mbox won’t work with my USB mic I already have. I’m betting it’s responsible for a lot of the hum I’ve been getting anyway) an XLR cable to connect the two, revered for it’s  oxygen-free copper construction meant to cancel out noise and interference, a portable hard drive to record to, as recommended by Pro Tools and various other resources, an HDMI cable to connect an external monitor (I have no idea how that will work) and my fancy-dancy headphones; all purchased late one night after a few days of researching on the internet.

That night I woke up in a panic because I realized I forgot about the fact that I need an external keyboard, all so I can place my laptop outside my studio (again, to keep the noise down) (and I may just do some quick research about using a gaming keyboard with programmable keys…) which was close followed by the thought of needing a hub to plug in all this shit.This was before I realized that Pro Tools requires me to plug up a USB port with a special dongle that gives me license to use Pro Tools.

No sooner did I unbox my Mbox did I realize I need a longer USB cable. Either that, or we need to poke a hole in the wall. That might not be a bad idea…What am I saying!?!?!?

My brain might be a little fried because of all the hoops I had to jump through to get Pro Tools to install. I wasted a day thinking that I had not received the activation code. I tore the box apart looking for it, I searched the cracks of my couch just in case it made a miraculous leap into there, I went through all the paper and bits and pieces and styrofoam and packing materials and was convinced I didn’t have it. So today a brilliant tech person calls me on the phone and helps me realize that yes, in fact I did have it all along. They had stuck it on a covert flap, a black card with a beautiful company logo stuck to a black background. If it was a snake, it would have bit me.

But okay, I very calmly followed the online guidance step by step to install Pro Tools. I got a few error messages, but still, I was dumbfounded as to why the program hadn’t downloaded. I searched online and read the readme file which said I should not plug the ilok key into a USB 3.0 port, just use a 2.0. Wait! What? My laptop only has USB 3.0 ports. What now?

I felt like crying, which I really need to get a clue means I am not thinking clearly. But I made a call to the lovely people at and spoke to a guy who was baffled at my claim that the USB ports were incompatible. But he did some checking, and suggested I just plug the dongle into a USB 2.0 hub. I wasn’t real thrilled with that idea, because why hamper my ports like that, right?

My lovely guy lent me his hub and I went about reinstalling the program. I got some error messages, but I pressed on, telling Windows to ignore all that and Voila! program installed. I tried to launch the program and got an error message. So, I got wise and copied that error message into google. That’s when things started to turn around, but I wasn’t nearly out of the woods yet!

I was told to uninstall the program, but it didn’t seem like I could, so I told it to repair itself, and took careful note of all the errors it shot out at me.  Then I googled some more and found out that I needed to change the user account controls (google how to do that) and disable my virus protection (What?!?!? Had a bit of a nightmare googling that one. Found some really intricate esoteric advice that made no sense to me, but luckily kept scrolling, and found an easier solution with a little trial and error) Had to restart my computer. Finally figured out the right things to press to get the dang program to uninstall. Tried to re-install program and googled the first error message I encountered, found out I had to unzip the file first and then Voila! Program installed. Launched it and it looks good. At last. I didn’t even need to plug the dongle into the USB hub. Now to quickly change back the user account controls and get that virus protection back on!

Oh, and while all this was going on, I had to deal with continually running out of our download allowance and buying restore tokens so I could do all this stuff. I should have known the Coyote was out walking. The only reason we’re are short on our download allowance is because I had read another article and accompanying comments and was convinced to try BackBlaze in order to have a third backup in the cloud. Now backblaze is a really cool deal, a set it and forget it, affordable solution….that totally sucked down our download allowance without even fully backing up my computer. I don’t recommend it for you satellite internet users out there.

In any case, tomorrow I venture out into the world to purchase my keyboard and USB hub. Then I will come home and unbox my new mic and hard drive, hook up my laptop to my Mbox, plug my mic into the Mbox and my portable hard drive into my laptop. I’ll run the HDMI cable into the studio and hook up the monitor. I’ll hook up my keyboard and my ilok key to my USB hub then I’ll fire up Pro Tools. I’ll make sure it’s recording to the portable hard drive and then I’ll do the testing to get everything dialed in right. I’ll make a short test and listen in on myself doing it with my ungodly expensive headphones.

What am I forgetting? If it weren’t for needing another port for my external mouse, I wouldn’t need that hub, I don’t think. Ah well. I’m really starting to fantasize about cutting a hole in the wall…My head is spinning!


I decided to upgrade my equipment last week. It cost me a pretty penny at a time when not a whole lot of money is coming in. (I don’t have a day job anymore) So, I didn’t pay for any shipping. I figured it would take about a week, but, turns out, I have a whole nother week to wait. So I hunkered down to do a lot of research about recording and editing, until John says to me, “Why don’t you practice?”

Well, that didn’t appeal to my more anal side. After all, I wouldn’t be able to use anything. I should have a much different sound after my upgrades, and I’ve read all about consistency. It’s hard enough to achieve using the same equipment, let alone replacing nearly everything.

But John was right. Why not practice? I had the idea of reading “Cats Have No Lord” by Will Shetterly. Okay, some of the advice I’ve read lately says to read something by an author the same gender as you, but the main character is female. But I also read, maybe stick to non fiction if you don’t have a lot of acting experience. Umm, that totally accurately describes me, but…

It’s for practice, right? So, I got down to it today. No prep. I’ve read that book at least four times. Though it’s been several years. Never mind. How many different major characters are there? (How many of those are female?) Never mind. It’s practice. And it will be good practice, to have to figure voices for all those characters.

I’ve been pushing myself to read for longer periods than I have yet. Not that this means I am going for any great lengths, just more than I’m used to, and my voice is feeling it, despite doing the warms up recommended in the article of my previous post. Is it just that I am using a lot of character voices? And may I say, unusual characters? Demons, Wolfs, Cats, Dragons! When it comes time to voice an elderly character, my voice falls so easily into those patterns…

Leave it to me to choose something very difficult to practice with. Nevermind. Hopefully, my vocal stamina will increase…with practice. I’ve done more today than yesterday, but boy, is my voice ready for a rest!

Blog Makeover

Last month, I got laid off from a job as a Process Tech for an Optical Manufacturer 35 miles from my home. The company began to flounder a few years ago, and ever since the first round of lay offs, morale began sinking. I had experienced a three week furlough some time back and things started looking up after they asked me back that time…business wise. Morale wise, it was still sinking.

To be honest, I wasn’t very disheartened when they firmly laid me off last month. Although I dearly love my former coworkers, it’s hard to work around dissatisfied people. And, more importantly, it gave me the opportunity to start up my own business, a business which follows my passion. Books. Audiobooks!

So here it is, the inaugural post of my newly named blog, a blog that reflects my new business name, Coyote Monster Audio Productions. Here you can follow along my quest to become a successful voice actor. I hope to attract fellow voice actors and audiobook lovers, but all are welcome. And if you take a mind to, wander over to see what’s happening at my website.

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