Thursday’s Thoughts -Audio Annoyances

Anyone familiar with my blog knows about my fondness for my listening library. While I am a self professed biblio-audiofile addict of little repent, I have to confess to being a bit of an audio snob. Having studied audio engineering before majoring in design only adds to my annoyance of horribly produced recordings. Things like bad productions, plosives, horrible acting really stand out in an audiobook because there’s nothing but the narrator and the story. I know, I know I go on and on about audiobooks, but they really fit my lifestyle, so I’m not always just lounging around reading a book, which is an absolute possibility if I had the time.

Some pet peeves of mine are:

  • Bad Castings – Nothing ruins a reading more than a narrator whose voice just doesn’t fit the character. I hate getting a book about a teen, 20, or 30-something character and the reader sounds like my grandma. Or like in the case of Twisted ,which has a main male lead for some unknown reason was read by a female. Most times the narrator is really good at acting out the book, but a too mature voice is not only disorienting it’s distracting.
  • Speech Impediments – It’s difficult to listen to someone play out a book with a lisp. I bought a copy of Witchling because it was a great deal. Only realizing I got what I paid for when I couldn’t stand the bad recording and horrid pronunciation the narrator had. Any and all sexiness of  certain scenes are lost when they’re played out with a lisp. It’s a bit like being sweet talked by Daffy Duck.
  • Plosives and Other Unsightly Sounds – The last thing you want an audiobook to sound like is a creepy heavy breathing phone stalker. Microphones amplify everything. You never notice the odd sounds or the weight of someone’s breathing until you hear it filtered through a microphone. With good mic placement and a few engineering tricks most of these annoyances can be cleaned up. Which makes their presence all the more frustrating.
  • Horrible Recordings – No one want’s to follow a story through a storm of noise or listen to a can of narrator. The quality of a recording dampens the listeners enjoyment and shows how little some publishers think of the format.
  • Awful Acting – I will buy or pass on an audiobook solely based on a good or bad reading of a narrator’s past work that I’ve experienced. Narrating is like a one-man broadway show viewed in the dark. Most of the best narrators are trained actors. I hate getting a dead read or someone who doesn’t put any effort into varying voices. If the reader can’t get excited about the story neither can I.

Fortunately the publishing industry has really started to embrace audiobooks. Just a few years ago recordings were more of an afterthought with a some gems sprinkled in there from the publishers who got with the trend from the start. Overall the gems are becoming less of a rarity with higher production values and better narrators. Plus with the price of audio versions leveling out and coming in around the price of a hardcover book lovers are finding audiobooks a great value as well. So happy listenings fellow audiobook lovers!

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