The Art of Audiobook Mastering

18 Jul 2018 5:51 PM | Neil Gardner (Administrator)


Audiobook mastering is a fine art, ensuring good technical quality whilst allowing the narrator’s voice to enjoy a full dynamic range. Too often this part of the production process can cause problems, with audio being overly compressed/limited, too much gain added and distortion and other processing artifacts creeping in. So, here’s a brief, handy guide to how to get the best out of your mastering stage. It’s what we do every day for our clients, and our own audiobook titles. Remember…We Love Audio!

Here’s how NOT to master an audiobook chapter. Notice the over use of gain leading to an aggressive dynamic range and a lot of transient peak distortion:

Whilst not overly compressed or limited, the excessive use of gain when mastering has caused the peaks to go way beyond 0dB. Adding a limiter to this output process (e.g. -3dB) the end result ends up as this…squashed, distorted and muddy:

Audiobooks need subtlety when mastering. Dynamic range and subtle EQ and limiter/compressor useage. Also, -3dB is a peak max, not an average.

So, here we have taken that first file and put it through extensive restoration, de-peaking and tidying:

As you can see we have a much nicer looking AND sounding wave form. The editor should have de-peaked a bit more as they edited the file, but overall it is healthy and sounding much nicer. The distortion is gone and the overall sound is less tiring on the ears.

From this point, we can apply soft mastering processes. A slight EQ to remove some low end, plus a tiny bit of high end for brightness (these will change depending on the source recording, the studio/mic sound and the tonal quality of the narrator). After that we apply some soft compression and a maximiser (if required) with a -3dB limiter. THEN we experiment, bouncing down the file and checking the mix to ensure good quality throughout…no distortion or compression sounds, engaging but not noticeable EQ, etc…

Once the files look/sound good, we go ahead and master the files, checking each as we go. Here’s the same file, now correctly mastered:

As you can see we have good range up to the peak -3dB allowing for an engaging narration WITHOUT compression artifacts or distortion. NB in this instance we have mastered to the max level required by Audible UK, but you will need to adjust this to fit your or your client’s requirements.

So 'mastering 101' for audiobooks:

[1] subtlety in use of gain/EQ/compression/limiting

[2] less is more, allow for dynamic range

[3] Monitor the file after EVERY process…check your files

[4] Use your EYES and your EARS

[5] Use gain increase BEFORE editing not after

And that’s it folks. Hope it was useful. We are here to help with any of your audiobook needs – from advice to production. Just drop us a line anytime.



Neil Gardner is the managing director of leading UK audiobook production house Ladbroke Audio, and audiobook publisher Spokenworld Audio. He has 30 years experience in radio and audio, is an international award-winning producer/director/writer and loves nothing more than making audio for all ages.


  • 6 Apr 2019 4:21 PM | Lesnido
    Levitra Maker Kamagra En Farmacias <a href=>buy generic cialis</a> Como Tomar Compra Kamagra Metformin Without Prescr Amoxicillin Online Pills
    Link  •  Reply
  • 17 Nov 2019 9:28 AM | Anonymous
    Life is incredibly dear to everyone and everyone can effectively live alive. Thusly, proximity without unfathomable physical and mental achievement is horrendous and isn't stunning. Unprecedented achievement is tremendous to regard the closeness well thusly, people should keep doing morning walk.
    Link  •  Reply
  • 6 Jan 2020 11:47 AM | Anonymous
    Before reading this article, I was unaware about Audiobook mastering but reading this article meticulously taught me everything about it. Students should visit to know how to write essays. Now, I can explain easily about Audiobook mastering in front of anyone so thank you so much for sharing its information in this article.
    Link  •  Reply

Audiobook Creators Alliance (UK) - a non-profit collaborative organisation run by volunteers.

E:    T: @A_C_A_UK

Powered by Wild Apricot Membership Software