Librivox: Great Big Treasury of Beatrix Potter - The Tale of Pigling Bland
Beatrix Potter is *exceedingly* creepy. Yet again, I cannot *believe* people read this to children. When we did Grimm's Fairy Tales at LibriVox people were all 'oh noes! the children w1ll have nightmares!' *insert eye rolling here* To start, Fairy Tales weren't meant for children, although later versions were indeed revised and sanitised by editors who indeed targeted parents. But, even so, Grimm isn't that scary, you know what is?
Those are always the sickest thing in the world, and then you set it to this sing-song music and make it a zillion times worse. I read Stephen King as a kid, and I was fine with it, I *loved* it, what freaked me out in the bad way was "Three Blind Mice". I tell you, that farmer's wife is a serial killer, and everyone is so *cheery* about it.
There's nothing like a bright cheery melody to really punch up morbid lyrics where very bad things happen to good people for no logical reason whatsoever. Especially as a lullaby.
*singing* *in translation*
"Somebody puts a baby in tree, and the wind whips it around, and then the branch snaps, and baby crashes to the ground. Cradle splinters, brains everywhere. Sweet dreams!"
This recording was also memorable because I did it several times. I was having mic trouble, and I tried to replace my mic, and it become an Odyssey...
My old mic is a cyber accoustics headset. No idea of the model number, as its prolly ten years old, and I'm not sure it even rated a model number. When I bought it, I was just replacing my desk mic, and the only other choice at the store was that desk mic.
This head set has a number of problems, but I learned to work around them. I could place my mic to get rid of most plosives. Although, I've never popped a P in my life. For some reason, my tricksies are Fs and Vs. But, mic placement and careful modulation usually helped with that.
Background noise, I manually clipped out. Incredibly tedious, but filters would always leave it in, or make holes in my voice, so it was the only option.
This mic was having some problems with clicking. Now, at first, I assumed it was entitely the damn mic. It is, in terms of tech, highly ancient, although before Librivox it spent most of it's life just sitting in a cupboard. Things suddenly really got ugly though with drops. The mic began to just drop out bits of words at random. 'Marlo Dianne' would record as 'Ma...o Di'.
So, my mic was driving me rabidly insane, with the clicking and dropping, making me take endless retakes to patch together a clean-ish recording. Then, of course, getting to the point where I would spend a whole night recording, and have *nothing* I could actually use.
So, though I couldn't afford it, I began to get obsessed with a new mic.
And after much nagging, uh, consulting with the spouse, I got one. I picked up another CA headset. It was terrible. The 'background noise' had peaks nearly the same as the actual audio. Also, my voice sounded like it had been fed through a bad 80s synthesizer.
So Replacement Mic #1 got returned.
But that put me back at taking 6hrs to make a half hour recording, if things went *well*, so I soon was yanking at my hair and bitching and moaning and complusing all over like Hamlet, and the spousal unit took pity and went and bought R.M. #2, after consulting with tech help at work.
Tech help had advised to "Get anything, ever, but a USB." I just about choked on my tongue, both at the price and the advice, but this mic was logitech, so I did allow a bit of hope, just a sliver, to ignite that this one might work.
R.M. #2 also had clicks. Less, but present. This suggested to me that I might make clicks. I mean, I don't *notice* clicks when I talk, and interrogations of everyone I talk with revealed no one else has noticed such a thing, but hey. Either that, or all mics suck. Though, this theory also had a good chance, because the logitech mic had issues too.
A design that was as comfortable as screwing a vice onto my head, a mic arm that was, at the closest possible placement, 6" from my mouth, so that recordings sounded like I had made them from another room, and most bizarrely considering that second bit, plosives in every word. I was popping pretty much every word in the alphabet. Also, if I tried to amplify the recording to make it, say, faintly audible, the 'background noise' to 'actual audio' thing was right back at R.M. #1.
So that one went back, and I went deeper into WTF angst and depression and why is this so frickin hard?
But, the spouse, who is indeed a hero, decided, with this much failure, the only thing left to do to make happy was to be sure you've mucked everything you can muck, and decided to hell with eating this week, and got me a logitech USB (stereo 250) .
I recorded Piglang Bland with each of the mics at one point, because it was so awful each time that I couldn't use it. With the USB mic, I did it in one take. That was kind of sweet. That's the version I upped to Librivox. But there are problems.
Background noise, while not awful, is stealthy and persistent. It's like...a faint breeze in the recording at all times. But that's only if I allow the mic to record at you can sort of see the peaks in audacity without squinting too hard. If I try to get it to record at a basic *good* volume, I get the wind is really howling. Dammit.
So my solution was to leave it at quiet, and them use a very light noise removal filter, then manually cut my breathing, which lingers. Also had to manually cut clicks from where I wasn't talking, so I *know* I'm not all the clicks at least.
Yes, the mic still clicks. Which drives me insane, as it's so damn distracting it's all I can hear when I listen to my own recordings. And I cringe into muscle cramps :P Of course, maybe it's partly my own mouth, who knows, but I hate it. Spouse advises that no one else would ever even hear the clicks, that I am just being my anal perfectionist self.
Anyway, end point, while recording and editing time is shorter, I'm not sure the results sound any better. The new mic sounds *different*, but I'm not sure it's *better* That means I'm not sure I should keep the mic. I'd feel a lot less guilty about its cost if the results were clearly kickass awesome.
Edit: I got advice from Chip, a fellow LibriVox Voice, that told me to stop trying to mess with the background noise, just leave everything as it is. I totally cannot do that. The thought of it makes me sweat and twitch as my stomach goes chompy. The clicks that I can kill, I must, and the breathing has to go too. If you're listening to a classic, do you want to be marooned thinking, "What is that? Crickets?", or "wow, that's some bad asthma", or worse, "what is this? A stalker?" :P So I've changed how I modify, but if I couldn't clean them up, I couldn't use them at all. :P Yes, I'm that must do my best compulsive, even when I'm freakin volunteering. You can't just turn that off, you know. It's hard-wired.
Further Edit: I think the mic may work out. At least, I have had some feedback on the new recordings that seem to approve.