Tag Archives: audiobooks

Review of Noiseless Mice for Audio Work

Voice actors use all different kinds of setups for recording. Especially for audiobooks. I’ve heard of some narrators who run their computer in a separate room and stream the audio from their microphone to it by bluetooth, to avoid picking up the computer’s fan noise. And while some want to narrate audiobooks under a pseudonym or conceal their identity, I’ve even heard those who literally record in the closet – including one who accidentally got locked in a walk-in closet during a recording session!

Personally, I use an eeePC that is in the same room as my microphone to record. The eeePC is small and quiet, placed as far away from my microphone as I can get it, and I also use a noise gate on my compressor, so computer noise is minimized to the point of not being an issue. You can read about my entire studio setup here.

I’ve experimented with different techniques of recording audiobooks, too – including “punch-and-roll,” which means you hit record once and continue recording through the inevitable mistakes, perhaps making a noise like a finger snap to mark the flubbed lines, and edit the recording later; and “edit-as-you-go,” where you get a perfect take of each line before moving on to recording the next line, deleting the bad takes as you record.

For most of my audiobooks, I’ve preferred the “edit-as-you-go” method, which means that I do a lot of mouse clicking and audio editing tasks as I am recording. I had to find a solution that would let me stop the recording without making an audible click… and a way to scroll through pages of the script during recording without making any noise that would get recorded. Some narrators use a tablet with a touch screen to read their scripts from, but I prefer to look at my monitor, which is already at eye level at my standing desk. That way, my chin is not tucked, kinking up my neck and affecting the sound of my voice, as I look down at a tablet.

Standing at my standing desk, looking at my monitor which displays the script and my audio recording software, with my microphone placed in front of my mouth and not blocking the field of vision, editing as I record an audiobook has proven to be the best and most ergonomic solution for me. The tool that has really made this possible, though, is a noiseless mouse. I’ve used a couple of different types over the years, and over time I came to like them so much that I switched all of my mice to noiseless ones.

Noiseless USB Optical Computer Wheel Mouse 800 DPI Super Quiet JNL-006K Black Silent

The first one that I tried was this one – the Noiseless USB Optical Computer Wheel Mouse 800 DPI Super Quiet JNL-006K Black Silent. It was quiet enough to not make any noise that got picked up on my recordings, and it really convinced me on the benefits of noiseless mice. However, it didn’t last – the scroll wheel broke after about 6 months of daily use, and I couldn’t repair it myself.

Kinobo - Silent Click Blue Wireless Mouse with Scroll Wheel 2.4GhZ Laptop DesktopFor my next noiseless mouse, I decided to go with one that was wireless. I was a little wary of the reviews claiming it wasn’t the highest quality product, but I ended up going with this – the Kinobo – Silent Click Blue Wireless Mouse with Scroll Wheel 2.4GhZ Laptop Desktop. I’ve had it for about a year and it’s still going strong. In fact, it was quieter than my previous one, the JNL-006K, and even slightly quieter than the mouse that is now my main noiseless mouse, the JNL-101K (more about that below). The Kinobo gets great battery life, has not broken yet, and just… works. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the size. It’s a bit too small for my preference. So, I use this one for my non-audio work (I’m using it to write this blog post right now, in fact!) For my main noiseless mouse, I went to a different model.

Noiseless USB Optical Gaming Computer Wheel Mouse 1600 DPI Super Quiet JNL-101K Black SilentThe Noiseless USB Optical Gaming Computer Wheel Mouse 1600 DPI Super Quiet JNL-101K Black Silent is now my main workhorse for voiceover and audio work – including podcasting – very handy when you need to click on something during the recording without creating a distracting noise! It has lasted through about 6 months of daily use at this point with no problems. The last JNL broke after about 6 months, so I’m watching out for that, but this model does seem to be higher quality than the JNL-006K. Paying the extra $4 in price differential does seem to have made a big difference. The JNL-101K is larger (which suits me better), has a more ergonomic design, and feels more solid in my hand. And it’s very quiet (the Kinobo is slightly quieter, but the difference is barely noticeable and the JNL-101K does the job quite well). The only real downside to this mouse is that it’s wired, and occasionally the wire can bump or scrape against something and create a noticeable sound.

I’m happy with the value that I’ve gotten for the money out of both the JNL-101K and the Kinobo. If you’re looking for a wireless model and have small hands, the Kinobo can’t be beat. If you have larger hands or want a more substantial mouse, or if you prefer something wired so that you don’t have to mess with batteries, the JNL-101K would be a great choice.

As a final word, I guess I should say that although noiseless mice are marketed as “noiseless,” they are very quiet but not 100% noiseless. You probably get a 95 – 98% reduction in noise compared to a conventional mouse, but there is still some sound. If you have a good quality microphone that zeroes in on the nearby sound of your voice relative to far off background noises for your voiceover or podcast work, and especially if you use a noise gate, they will suit your purposes just fine.

After a while, you may find that you want all of your mice to be noiseless. That’s the conclusion I came to. I don’t see much of a useful purpose that loud clicking sounds serve, and they can be really distracting sometimes!

I’d love to hear your feedback on whether you found these reviews helpful, or if you have a favorite noiseless mouse, so please feel welcome to leave a comment on this post if you have something to say!

“How do I turn my book into an audiobook on Audible.com?” – An Overview of ACX

I received an email today from an author and scientist inquiring about having me produce an audiobook for his book. He was curious about how to make the audiobook, and once it was finished, how to go about getting it listed on Audible.com.

Fortunately, now it is very easy for authors to get audiobooks produced, and distributed through Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes. You don’t have to have a contract with a major publisher, either. Even self-published authors can easily coordinate audiobook production, and retain a lot of autonomy and choice over how their work is translated into audiobook form in the process.

Authors can even do this without making any up front investment in the audiobook production process. It doesn’t cost thousands of dollars up front to make a professionally produced audiobook. In fact, there are many audiobook narrators willing to work for royalty sharing, provided they feel confident that the book will sell well enough to justify their investment of work.

Here is an excerpt from the email that I sent in response to the client’s inquiry:

It would be very easy to get the audiobook on Audible.com, Amazon, and iTunes. ACX.com is the “Audiobook Creation Exchange.” It allows authors to post their books, where audiobook narrators can then see the postings and audition to narrate the book. Then, the author awards a production contract to their favorite narrator, they agree on a timeframe for getting the book finished, and the audiobook files are uploaded to ACX where the narrator/producer, author, and ACX can all collaborate to review them and make sure the audiobook sounds as desired. Once finished, the audiobook is automatically distributed on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes, and all payments are disbursed by Audible.

Instructions for authors on how to do this are on ACX.

Another interesting aspect of using ACX is that, as the author, you can choose whether you want to do a pay-for-production contract or royalty sharing.

  • Pay-for-production means that the author pays the audiobook narrator/producer a specified rate per finished hour of audio.
  • As a rule of thumb, a finished hour of audio is approximately equal to 9,000 words of text.
  • Good quality audiobooks usually cost $200 – $400 per finished hour of audio to produce, if done as pay-for-production. (To give some perspective to this cost, it can take approximately 6 – 10 hours of work to produce each hour of finished audio, render and format the audio, review/screen it for mistakes, and upload it).
  • Royalty share means that the author pays nothing, but the audiobook narrator/producer receives royalties from the sales of the finished audiobook.
  • Royalty payments are handled by Audible, so no administrative work on the part of the author is required.
  • In an exclusive distribution arrangement, Audible takes 50% of the sale price, the author gets 25%, and the narrator gets 25%. That breakdown is on the first 1000 copies sold. The more copies sold, Audible’s percentage decreases and the remainder is split between the author and narrator. More details about the payment breakdown.

I have recently produced four audiobooks through ACX, so I am familiar with their system, and all of the projects I’ve done there so far have been positive experiences for me. I also currently have a couple of other audiobooks in production on ACX which will be finished over the next several weeks. You can see my ACX profile here.

Some of the authors I’ve worked with in the past on other audiobook projects chose not to distribute their audiobooks through Audible/Amazon, because they take a large percentage of the royalties (50%). That left them with the option of distributing the audiobook through their websites, or through sites like NoiseTrade, CoinDL, or giving the audiobook away for free as a bonus or gift to their blog followers.

I hope this blog post is helpful! If you’re interested in having me narrate your audiobook, please don’t hesitate to contact me.