4 July 2016

Learning by doing: Experimenting with audio

Filed under: The Abolition of Aging — Tags: , , , — David Wood @ 7:47 pm

I keep receiving requests to create an audio version of my book The Abolition of Aging.

That’s a request I fully understand. My own preferred format for books is Audible. I listen to an average of two books a month, from my Audible subscription, usually while I’m walking or driving. When I can’t find an Audible version of a book, I’m disappointed.

So here’s my update.

After researching some options, I’ve created a recording of myself reading the introductory material from The Abolition of Aging. I’ve made that recording available for everyone to listen to, free of charge, here: https://theabolitionofaging.files.wordpress.com/2016/07/01-intro.mp3. The length is 21 minutes.

Before I take the time to record the main content of the book, I’d appreciate some feedback. Which of the following would you endorse?

  1. The quality of the initial recording is good enough. Hurry up and record the other chapters in the same way.
  2. The quality is nearly good enough, but more practice is needed. Consider redoing at least part of this experiment.
  3. The idea is sound, but some of the tools (*) need to be changed.
  4. Don’t mess around. Hire a professional voice artist to read the book.

Books with Zoom recorder 2

(*) I’ve recorded in an upstairs room at home (my house is relatively quiet), with my laptop switched off so there’s no background hum from the cooling fan. I recorded to a Zoom H2n Handy Recorder, before switching my laptop on again and using Audacity software to edit the files. I found I put more spirit into the recording when I was standing up, rather than sitting down.


  1. Hi David, I think option 2 is fitting; the recording sound itself is a little hollow – I used a ‘Snowball’ recorder with a filter when I tried recording myself and Audacity software and the quality was good (however I couldn’t stand the sound of my own voice and immediately shelved the project!). The room has just a little echo, it’s not too bad but still evident. So I’m not sure if it is the microphone or the room.

    I think that whilst you have really tried to put some life into this recording, (even imitating Feynman!), I still feel that the recording falls well short of your normal speech. You speak really well and engagingly at meetings, both authoritative and interesting is how you come across. This recording seems a little stilted as you make extra effort to speak clearly. As it goes on it gets better and ‘more like you’, but still it came across as someone reading as opposed to someone talking, and of course the latter is what the audience wants.

    Overall, I have to say that I missed much of the content as I seemed to keep zoning out. But the content was interesting! I’m trying to put my finger on it, but this sounds more like a boring academic thesis than the engaging subject that it is; it just didn’t flow.

    Please don’t take the above as too damning; I would think that just a little more work and we will be listening to your dulcet tones as we bomb up and down the M1 or whilst we iron our laundry.

    Best wishes,



    Comment by Reece . — 6 July 2016 @ 8:23 am

  2. Hi, I really enjoyed the recordings, and would strongly petition for #1. The quality is fine. I listen to many audiobooks, and whilst they may have professional sound quality, it is the intonation and rhythm that is most important for actually understanding and engaging with the content (which is also excellent). Really hoping this project hasn’t been shelved. Regards.

    Comment by Alex — 20 March 2017 @ 11:14 am

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