Another audio experiment. This time it’s an experiment with the voice of a human reader, rather than a generated TTS robo-voice.
Text: Robert E. Howard’s “The Hyborian Age” (c. 1930s), in which Howard recounts the historical background for Conan.
Source: A full reading of “The Hyborian Age” in the form of the April 2018 public-domain Librivox recording. The Librivox reading was done by a young reader named ‘Klaatu’ whose voice I felt was not quite suited to the weight of the material. I added some pauses to this audio, for pacing, and I also had to remove one section in which a few lines of text had been repeated twice but not excised.
Task: To use the free audio software Audacity to try to change this higher Librivox voice down to a more suitably deep “Wayne June” style, if possible. Listeners to H.P. Lovecraft audiobooks will be familiar with Wayne June’s deep gravelly voice. More bass could of course be approximated on-the-fly in real-time with the likes of AIMP and its pitch-shift and bass-boost options, but here I wanted to see if a better result could be had by using the power of Audacity and its specialised plugins.
1) I added a “Wayne June” effect in Audacity with the free RoVee VoiceChanger plugin. Settings used are seen on the screenshot…
2) The result was certainly rather “Wayne June”, but was slightly ess-y in my high-response headphones. I then de-essed in Audacity, with the free Spitfish De-esser plugin.
3) There was some “bass bubble” on the pitch shifted reading. I tried the addition of suitable background music, as a subtle form of masking.
Conclusion: Successful, but not entirely so… mostly due to a little ‘more bubble than gravel’. A slightly lighter touch on the RoVee VoiceChanger settings might be tried next time. However, the level of the success suggested that longer audiobooks on Librivox could be “Wayne June-ised” with relatively little effort, and with more aesthetic success than pitch-shifting and bass-boosting in AIMP.
The result: A reading of R. E. Howard’s “The Hyborian Age” on Archive.org. 55 minutes.