Thursday, April 25, 2013

Audiobook Adventures: Volume 14

Here I am again.

So, before I finished that novel, I promised myself I'd treat myself to a good meal or something nice as a reward for a job well done.  Upon finishing, I ended up just getting a new computer.  The one I'd been using before I got in 2007, and it had its problems, but I kept putting off getting a new one because a) I fear change, and b) money is tight.  But a couple of weeks ago, my uncle got my mom a new computer to replace her ancient one (circa 2010 or so), and I told him to go ahead and snag me one too.  I'm typing on it now, with several programs open at the same time, and a Random button on the Winamp that actually works (I'd had to manually hit Skip for a year now).

My friend Jeff told me that whenever he gets a new computer, he makes a clean break of it, and just starts over, figuring he can go retrieve all his files and documents if he needs to, but if he doesn't need to . . . they won't be around, cluttering things up.  He told me that I should try it, and it could be like a rebirth or baptism or reincarnation or like whatever happened to Jean Grey when she drowned and then came back in an excellent costume and was hotter than ever before.*

I didn't dare do any such thing, so I spent two days not recording or editing, but instead, just taking data from my old computer, and later uploading it onto the new one.  Once I was sure I was done, I put the old computer away, and tossed out the monitor, which had been glitching since 2011 or so.  A day later, I realized I hadn't recovered my two or three most recent stories-in-progress, so I hooked the thing up again, got those files, and boxed it up one last time.

It's neat to have a new computer, even if I have to teach myself to do lots of things that were routine before (editing photos is now a complicated ordeal, and once I open a picture with the default program, there is literally no way to close it, save going to Task Manager and killing that particular program), but I hope I'll get the hang of it soon.  The fan on this new system is so much quieter than the old computer, it sometimes sounds too quiet in the dark of night, as though the power went out.

Unfortunately, all is not rosy with this new system, despite the fact that everything loads faster, and it no longer takes ten minutes to save a recording as a .wav or .mp3.  I discovered that there was some kind of interference or incompatibility when I went to record my first audio work on the new system.  The sound is more terrible than ANYTHING I've had to deal with in my months of struggling with background hiss and clicks and sound quality.  In fact, without even turning the microphone on, the sound it's picking up is nearly in the red.  You can still hear my dialogue, but it's like there's a tornado between us, and the mic is in the eye.

I can't really afford it, as I have to get new tires for my car in order to pass inspection, then pay to inspect the car, then get the car registered, and I broke down and bought a new computer monitor to replace the one I'd had since 2002, but I think I'd better invest in one of those cool portable microphones that Abbie and Renee (and now Big) own.  They're small, way more versatile than a big mic on a stand, and seem to record really good sound.  I'll start saving up.

In the meantime, I borrowed my brother's laptop and simply plugged my microphone and mixer into it.  Its sound seemed crystal clear, so I recorded two auditions and a short story on it, but when I went to edit the audition, I was distressed to hear a tinny, muffled quality to my voice (as though I were at the bottom of a grain silo, surrounded by dead children . . . again).

I'm not sure what to do about this.  I've recorded several times using that laptop and mic now, and I swear, sometimes it sounds totally fine to my ears, and then the next time, grain silo.  My worry is that the sound is even worse than I've noticed, and that prospective buyers are going to stay far, far away from anything I perform.  Worse, they may have put in comments to that effect, which would chase away other potential listeners.

Until then, I continue to record and edit my recordings (including a pretty horrible book I finished up right before getting the new computer), hoping that the sound is, in fact, only noticeably bad to me since I'm hearing it through headphones in uncompressed super-quality.  I finished recording a book of short stories yesterday that I quite enjoyed, and am slogging my way through another story collection that is a bit harder to stay enthusiastic about, because I discovered that three of the stories (so far) have been the same story, and two others (so far) have been another same story.

That's probably a discussion for another time, but there has been a bit of positivity from that, at least toward my own writing.  Over and over, I write stories with similar themes, or similar endings, or characters who talk and act a lot like I do.  And even though almost nobody ever reads these stories, I still feel paranoid that someone will consider me untalented, because a story I wrote in 2000 ends in a way very similar to one I wrote just this year.

But seeing that this (professional) writer wrote three over-long stories that are basically the same tale with different locations and character names, and had all three published (in professional publications), is pretty encouraging.  As long as I keep in mind that I don't want to tell the same story as I did in the past, I think it's alright that the same fears, dreams, and regrets keep coming up over and over again.  My bigger concern should be publishing those damn stories, so that readers can decide for themselves just how much of a hack I've become.

Oh, and then record them in audio.  Had to get back on topic here.

Rish Outfield, Narrator

*Comic version, not movie version.

1 comment:

Abigail Hilton said...

Hey, Rish! Even though I don't always comment, I am enjoying your audio adventures. :)

Your new computer - have you gotten Big to look at your set-up? I would bet money that it's something that could be fixed by changing a setting if you just knew what to tweak. It sounds to me like the built-in mic might be on and picking up sound in addition to the mic you're using. Built-in mics are always horrible.

Alternatively, it could be the computer's fan. If you can step into a closet and shut the door, leaving the computer outside the closet, you can get away from the fan noise. Putting any kind of door between yourself and the computer will help. You just need a long enough mic cable.

Your brother's computer - I've had that sort of thing happen often enough that I won't record on a new set-up without testing ("new" = any set-up that has been altered in any way, including assembling and reassembling it). I Levelate the test-file so that I can hear anything that's evading me in the un-leveled audio. If you do a 10-second test every time you alter something about your set-up, you might save yourself hours of back-tracking.