The Speed of Narration

Forums are such an interesting place to hang out (when you have the time). This week I participated in an interesting thread about listeners who speed up their audiobooks. It’s a good topic for me to think about as I edit The Body In The Bathtub, due out at the end of this month.

Some people love the chipmunk effect.

Others want it faster than normal, but still sounding like a human.

When I “Accuracy Check” on my recordings, I listen at 1.85x. This is a comfortable speed for me to hear the words on the audio and also read along, seeing every word on the page, just to hear that I read ’em right.

Editing happens at 1.0x of course so that the timing sounds right to someone straight-up-listening. It is during this editing pass that I catch “acting” errors. Those happen sometimes when I choose bad interpretations of the words and only realize just how bad it is when I hear it on the recording. Then as the director, I have to send me, the actor back to the microphone to do a “pickup.” I also catch timing errors here (which I can fix easily).

But when I do my final QA, or “Quality Assurance” check, I listen at both 1.0x and 1.5x (because I know I’ve certainly sped up audiobooks before).

What speed do you listen at? Does it change depending on genre, topic, or narrator?

I would NEVER speed up Zachary Quinto reading The Dispatcher because I can’t get enough of his voice (The book, by Scalzi, is great, BTW).

I couldn’t get through On Writing by Stephen King without a speed change (it has nuggets of wisdom, but parts of that book are not fun to slog through).

Martha Stewert’s The Martha Rules is only palatable at higher speed rates. It is so monotone at regular speed that it is hard to believe she isn’t an android.

Do you have audiobook hits or misses that you love, in whole, or in part because of the speed of narration?




Once in a while, the speed of the narration wrecks a story for me. I’m more sensitive to high pitched voices, whiny voices, breathing, and accents. Sometimes, I listen to a sample, think it’ll be good, and buy it. Then, after listening a short while, I’ll switch to reading because I’m irritated by vocal issues.

Most of what I listen to are cozy mysteries. I like a lower tone of voice and a great performance.



Thanks for your comment, Flo! If you listen to The Viola Roberts Cozy Mysteries, I would love to hear where in the love-to-irritation spectrum my performance falls for you.



I’ve listened to all 3 narrated books in the series and read 2 others. I held off on The Body in the Bathtub when I discovered a narration was in the works. I’m looking forward to it.

That’s how I discovered your website. I was looking to see if you’ve narrated any other cozy mysteries.

I think you’re an excellent narrator and performer. You have a nice tone of voice that, for me, is easy to listen to. You either don’t take loud breaths or you filter them out, which I appreciate. I like how you’ve interpreted the characters and bring the story to life, and you are consistent with your character voices.

In one of the books, Viola gets stuck in a small window. I laughed my head off as I was listening. I don’t think I would have laughed so hard if I had been reading it.

I think you are very well-matched to that book series.

What do you think?