Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Audiobook Week: Sound Effects in Audiobooks

Celebrating Audiobook Week with Devourer of Books:

Love them? Hate them? Take them or leave them? How do you feel about sound effects in audiobooks?
Alternate suggestions: Single narrator vs. multiple narrators vs. full cast, audio dramatizations, etc.

Sound effects: Ick ick ick … I’m racking my brains to come up with a book where they didn’t sound completely cheesy. Wait! They are OK for picture book read-alouds, since a creaky door, a bawking chicken or the ticktock of a clock would be something I would do were I reading aloud. If I’m reading a “chapter book” (kids or adults), I’m not making those sound effects in my head and I don’t need them “vocalized” (as it were) when I’m listening to someone read to me.

Some bad examples: A and B. And a great use of sound effects is here, as well as that peripatetic chicken, Louise, where the effects were fabulous.

Music, on the other hand, can add a great deal to an audiobook, as long as it doesn’t overwhelm the reading, or repeat itself ad nauseum.

Full cast narrations: When these are well thought out and properly edited (none of the “s/he saids”), a full-cast audio can be terrific. Here are links (A and B) to two I’ve enjoyed. Be wary of the not-so-great narrators lurking in the small parts though … they can bring down a production with a thud.

Multiple narrators: When a book calls for this – two or more first-person narratives, a narrative that alternates between two perspectives – bring on the dual narrators. Here are links to some (A and B) I think are good. Here’s a link to one that desperately needed two readers. Hearing more than one voice read a story that has more than one voice is one of the things that make audiobooks special.

Dramatizations: I’ve only listened to one and I hated it. Cheesy sound effects and expositional dialogue. Yuck.


Sheila (Bookjourney) said...

Great thoughts.... I currently have a dramatization in the kitchen audio player and I am not really enjoying it... trying to... but eh...

LOVE your blog name.

Jen - Devourer of Books said...

I've never listened to a dramatization, but it is so interesting to see how different people react to sound effects. I've never listened to any that I thought sounded cheesy, myself.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised none have heard of the Star wars audio books. Mainly the ones read by Marc Thompson. If only more audio books had such amazing sound work I think they'd be more popular. It's like a movie in your head. I suggest the thrawn trilogy and kenobi