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How to Enhance an Audiobook: Halloween Horror Story  

In this example we improve the audio from a Halloween horror story reading and add spooky sound effects

Check out the video below, featuring an excerpt from a recording of a horror story. Be warned, the story isn’t the only scary part – the audio is pretty gruesome too, and needs to be enhanced to make it more listenable. As well as that, there’s an opportunity to add some sound effects from SFX Cellar to give our recording an eerie Halloween vibe. To find out how we enhanced the audio, read on if you dare!

→ Download this free pack for a whole host of ghastly sounds. From eerie wails to demonic chanting, it's a quick way to add some royalty-free magic to your project!

What’s wrong with the video?

The audio in this video was recorded with a condenser microphone, hooked up to a Zoom H4n handheld recorder. Condenser mics are a good choice when recording softer sounds like the voice, but unfortunately the audio has been captured with a slight hum coming from the input gain on the Zoom H4n. This type of background noise makes the recording sound very low quality and unprofessional, so we’ll need to reduce it as much as we can. 

Another way we can really improve this recording is by enhancing the actor’s voice. We want our storyteller’s voice to be engaging and enjoyable to listen to, and at the moment, it’s a little thin and lacking some clarity. Although the actor made an effort to speak directly into the microphone, the fact that he was reading from a script meant that there was a little inconsistency, which has resulted in some uneven volume levels. It could do with being louder, so we’ll make sure to beef it up.

How to Enhance an Audiobook: Halloween Horror Story  

Scary stories call for scary voices, so it makes sense to try and define the dialogue in the reading with special effects. Thankfully, we won’t need to spend ages building an effects chain on our audio – our creative voice modification plugin Voice Changer is more than up to the task.

Removing things like mouth sounds and background noise is one thing, however we can also add some extra sounds to create a Halloween atmosphere. SFX Cellar, our royalty-free premium sound effects library, contains all sorts of sounds that we can add to the video to enhance key moments in the story and make things extra spooky!

How to Enhance an Audiobook: Halloween Horror Story  

Repair strategy 

Before we get into the fun stuff, let’s do a bit of work repairing the audio and making it more enjoyable to listen to. We’ll load up the Audio Clean-up Assistant on our audio track, so that we can easily combine plugins from the ERA bundle into an effects chain.

The first thing we’ll do here is to de-ess the vocal. Let’s stick De-Esser into the first slot in Audio Clean-up Assistant, and set the processing to 70%. Most of the sibilance is instantly knocked out of the recording. Because this is a story reading, we’ll add Voice Deepener at 74% to beef up the narrator’s voice. Lastly, we’ll use Voice Leveler to even out the inconsistencies in the volume levels, and normalize the audio.

How to Enhance an Audiobook: Halloween Horror Story  

Let’s use Voice Changer to add some subtle effects to the character in the reading, ‘Benson’. We want his dialogue to stand out from the rest of the narration so we’ll use all three of the slots on the plugin, Character, Effect, and Environment. We’ll use the Ghost preset in Character at 24% Processing, and add a Radio Effect at 21%. The combination of these two presets changes the tone of the character’s voice, defining it from the narrator. To finish off, we’ll give his voice some atmosphere with the Next Door preset in the Environment slot. 

How to Enhance an Audiobook: Halloween Horror Story  

The final thing we can do is add spooky sound effects from SFX Cellar. There’s a free Halloween pack available in the library, containing a variety of creepy SFX that will add atmosphere to the video. We’ll grab a ghostly drone and some evil whispers to add into the background, and the sound of a door slamming and an evil laugh as diegetic sound that syncs up with the events of the story, For more information on diegetic sound see our helpful guide to video game sound effects. All in all, these sound effects combine to create a sense of growing terror in the video, that rises to a climax with a well placed riser sound effect at the very end.

Final result

If you think you’re brave enough, check out the finished Halloween story reading video below. When compared with the original version, we think you’ll agree that it’s now much more likely to make you flee for cover behind the sofa! We created some scary character voices with Voice Changer, and added in some suitable sound effects from SFX Cellar to make for a more immersive listening experience, while also enhancing the quality of the recorded audio. 

October 25, 2021
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