Adventures in … Audio?

Have you ever been working with the iPad and your articulation app had the wrong word to go with the picture? Or what about the time we discussed on twitter whether the audio on a word sample for an app had the schwa at the end of the sound… and all you can think about is how lame that is? How you could do it better? … too.

I have to admit though, that’s changed a bit lately lately. Probably because I’ve spent the last several weeks (no, not at once!) splitting audio files for my soon-to-be-released-and-otherwise-unknown-but-not-a-complete-surpirse app.

My daughter will tell you, recording audio is just no fun. My Girl agreed to do the audio for Categories Learning Center and when that was well received she agreed to do the audio for the new app. I was very thankfully as I had done a few recordings and realized that 1) I hate the sound of my voice on the recorder and 2) I have a tendency to have a slight whistle in my /s/. It took a LOT of concentration to get rid of it. (Ooops. I bet I know someone who can help me with that!)

Now, splitting audio files is kind of fun…for the first 200 or so. After that it just gets challenging to make sure the words are complete but no extra lag time, the right intonation, the right … well, you get the picture. I am ashamed to admit that there have been a couple of times with this app that I’ve split files (without headphones) only to come back later and realize that I’ve clipped it a bit short. Thankfully the original recordings are still there so I can redo it – but still. I can just imagine what it must be like for someone with 1000s or hundreds of 1000s of words. One of the #SLPeeps (Hi Dean!) is one of the co-owners of 2Gals Speech Products and mentioned one of their products has 22000 audio files associated with it. My hat is off to her! I can’t imagine listening to that many.

I honestly don’t know how many words I have in this app…Yes, I could figure it out, but I’d much rather write this blog, or … you know, actually split the audio files I have remaining (youย  know, so I can actually send the app to the developer and it can get released before school starts). Actually, I think I can see the end…but sometimes it seems that just when I manage to be almost done, someone puts new folders with more files in there. Either that or word files breed like bunnies – and if that’s the case this app is gonna ROCK!

Anyway…the point of this post is two fold…Hopefully you’re just a little bit curious about the new app that’s coming. I’m sure it will be out soon…and secondly, to create a bit of thinking. Sometimes we, as humans, tend to become overly picky about little things. I’ve learned through my adventures in audio to still expect perfection – but when it doesn’t happen (and it frequently doesn’t) to recognize the human element.

So…I’ll let you know now, when this app comes out there most likely will be a few things that don’t sound exactly the way YOU want them to soundย (don’t worry – remember I said expect perfection – I’m trying very hard for perfection). Heck, there are days they don’t sound exactly like I want (thankfully audio will be optional) …but they will be real . If for some reason there’s something you just can’t stand, I hope you’ll send me a gently worded note that I can keep to add in an update (rather than say nasty things about the app in general)…and that you’ll forgive the human element that comes into play. Be careful though…I may just recruit you to do it for me next time!

Until then…Adventure on!


8 thoughts on “Adventures in … Audio?

  1. I feel your pain. We had 9 different people (including 4 different kids) record 110 different phonemes and syllables for my app; SpeechStickers. Splitting the audio took forever and then we had to do dozens of re-takes for sound files that weren’t good enough. I’m proud of what we did but it was A LOT of work!

    • It is a lot of work. I sincerely doubt that My Girl will be willing to do another one in the near future. Doing the audio for two apps in 6 months was a bit much. Maybe if I give her a break in between the next one ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. We creators of speech therapy products can feel your pain. I know the SLPs who purchase our materials/software/apps appreciate that we DO IT. I know because they tell me so ๐Ÿ˜‰ but they really have no clue as to the amount of work that goes into creating a speech product. It truly is a labor of love. We hired a professional voice over artist who was a young 10 year old girl and trying to explain over the phone or in a email that you want the target word enunciated clearly and the target sound emphasized but not exaggerated was a near impossible feat. So after listening to over 2000 clips several times for several days one tends to not hear the mistakes anymore. It was a good life lesson for me on humanness. I’m not nearly as critical when I find a typo in a published piece anymore…..after all it is the content not the mechanics that we are after, right?
    PS Thanks for the mention!

    • You’re very welcome Dean! I love your products and will be doing a review on my favorites in the not too distant future. It is hard to get the enunciation down. I think that was the problem with my /s/. I kept over enunciating it and being hyper-critical (I was in therapy for it for a long time! But that’s another post). The audio files I have are good. They don’t stress the target sound a lot – but sound very natural which for this app is appropriate (and no, I’m still not telling!). ๐Ÿ™‚

      We’ll see…Hopefully I won’t end up just re-doing the whole thing!

  3. So, I know I already shared these thoughts with you, Mary, but I thought your readers might like a couple of tips on Audio creation/editing.

    First, the free software Audacity ( ) is quite good, and worth checking out. It’s Free (as in beer) and “Open Source” (which for your purposes means little except that it’s safe and likely to stay free). There are better options for the Mac, but on the PC, there’s nothing better for free.

    Another tip that you’ve seemed to figure out is that you should get a good set of words/phrases ready, write them down and read them all in at once. If you screw up a word, just make a tick-mark on the page and say it again. Then, when you go back, you’ll know that the “3rd BAKER” is the one you want. This saves lots of opening files, etc.

    Finally, I highly recommend the Blue Systems mics. I use their Snowflake ( ) which is <$50 online or $60 at your local GuitarCenter. You plug it into the USB port, it "just works" on PC or Mac, and honestly you can't get better sound for anywhere near that price.
    Here are some samples with:
    and without the good mic:

    BTW, I love how the blog is coming along! Great work (what took you so long ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Thanks Bill. I love that you mentioned Audacity. That’s what I’ve been using to split the audio files. It is super easy and can do a lot. I’m surprised..(and you have to love open source things!).

      I am going to have to break down and buy the Mic. I’ve been recording on the iPad which works…but I think the mic will definitely help. Since the apps seem to keep comng – I think it’d be a good investment. ๐Ÿ™‚

      Thanks for the compliment on the blog…I wanted to be sure I had the time/energy to do it right – not just fill it with drivel. I am enjoying it ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. holy moly that sounds intense! Definitely a good insider point of view…we can all be a little hard on products when we aren’t the ones having to do the nitty gritty. I can’t wait to see the app ๐Ÿ™‚ Side note: I love playing with Audacity!

Comments are closed.