Recording audiobooks either by yourself or in a recording studio can be hard going. So, it’s important that you have the correct recording set up for this roll and record method.
Trust me, it will make your life a lot easier. The two ways of achieving this are by either following the ‘Punch and Roll’ or ‘Fluff and Repeat’ method of recording. It’s also known as punch in recording.
If you’re a voice actor who is self recording and creating an audiobook from home, then you’re probably best doing punch and roll recording. But if we produce people in our recording studio, we tend to use fluff and repeat. That said, if the voice is really experienced, we’ll use punch and roll. But fluff and repeat is faster, and we’ll explain why later.
In today’s blog we talk about the big difference between these two disciplines when recording audiobooks, why you’d prefer to use punch and roll over fluff and repeat and the benefits to each process. Please note, no video will accompany this blog, as it’s intended to be an overview of the two methods. That said, there is probably lots of videos online showing you how to do this in your specific software/DAW.
What DAW (Digital Audio Workstation)?
If you’re used to working with a certain DAW, be it Pro Tools, Studio One, Logic or even Reaper then the way to record these methods is easily interpreted within your specific audiobook recorder. Better known as a DAW (Digital Audio Workstation).
So, don’t worry too much about what works best. We use Pro Tools, but we would advise you to work with what you’re familiar with. There’s no such thing as the best audiobook recording software. All DAW’s now pretty much do the same thing in a different way.
Firstly, What Is Punch And Roll Recording?
Don’t worry, nobody is getting punched and nobody is rolling over. The term ‘punch’ or ‘punch in recording’ comes from the place in the recording where you wish to re-record – the ‘punch in/out‘ point. The term ‘roll‘ comes from the studio term of recording, also known as rolling or roll and record.
But why the fuss? Surely you just press record and make sure you record everything? Well, this option would also work, but when you are recording audiobooks, you need to be more structured and disciplined, because you’re recording thousands of words over many hours. Meaning, there’s a bigger chance of human error. And, unlike a podcast production, you have to analyse every part of the text as the voice is reading, to make sure there’s no mistakes.
So, if words are mis-pronounced or character voices suddenly change accent, then you need to correct it at your earliest convenience. Otherwise, you could end up telling a story that just doesn’t make any sense. Especially if the facts have been accidentally changed.
Punch and roll recording provides an option to keep the recording clean from start to finish. Effectively, you are cleaning up any fluffs as you go along by deleting the wrong words. Then asking the voice to repeat certain phrases and words where you re-record/punch in.
The way this normally works, is you play a section of the recording before the fluff happened and get the voice to read in from the cue point. Usually you pre-roll 3/5 seconds before the take was fluffed.
This is beneficial as the voice will get to hear the tone and pace, which they can then easily duplicate whilst re-reading the fluffed section.
Benefits of Punch and Roll 😊
- QUICKER TO EDIT: The main benefit to this way of recording, is that when editing is done, you know that the whole recording is perfect. So, there’s no stitching of verses to do later, which can slow down the editing process. However, it does mean that producing can take longer, as you have to stop and play back sections to the voice each time they fluff the read and keep cleaning up the edits as you go along.
- MORE CONSISTENCY IN THE VOICE: When the narrator hears the section played back to them, they are more inclined to match the tone and pace with what was said previously. Hence, deliver a much smoother vocal.
Downsides to Punch and Roll 😢
- MORE INTERUPTIONS: The voice artist will be stopped regularly by the producer to re-record sections, so they might struggle to maintain a natural flow if they are regularly having to stop and speak to the producer.
- TAKES LONGER TO RECORD: Punch and roll is very simple when you have an experienced producer, but it still takes much longer to record than fluff and repeat. All that stopping and starting will eat into your time.
What Does Fluff and Repeat Mean?
This method involves the voice artist stopping whenever they make a mistake and ‘repeating’ the line again, correctly, on the spot.
Unlike punch and roll recording, the voice artist will not stop. They either go back and repeat sections they’ve fluffed or they are told by the producer to repeat a section.
The voice records the whole project in one flow, stopping only to make self-corrections as they go. Meaning, they go back a few words and repeat the section they fluffed and carry on reading. Although the recording is done much quicker, the recording includes all the fluffs that will need removing from the final recording. This means the producer has to make physical notes of the re-record points on the manuscript.
Benefits to Fluff and Repeat 👍🏻
- MUCH QUICKER TO RECORD: If the voice makes a mistake, it’s much easier for them to just correct themselves and carry on, the recording session moves much faster and you can record almost double the amount of words than a punch and roll recording.
- STAYING IN THE ZONE: Due to minimal interruptions, the voice stays in the headspace of the narrator and the characters. Which helps the voice to keep up the consistency of the read for much longer.
Downsides to Fluff and Repeat 😞
- EDITING TAKES LONGER: Even though you save time initially in the recording studio. It will take MUCH longer to edit after using the fluff and repeat method. This is mainly because you then have to find all the sections that were re-recorded. Although these sections are marked up on the manuscript by the producer, it still takes more time to find and correct each section.
- MISTAKES CAN BECOME THE NORM: Yes, when somebody knows they can easily make mistakes and rectify them. They can become their own worst critic and start re-reading large sections of the book. Leading to more mistakes and a larger amount of edits.
Can You Use Both Recording Methods?
Yes, and this is probably what most people do. Even when you have your personal preferences, be open to what works best for the voice actor as well.
The method you choose hugely depends on a couple of factors:
1. How much time do you have to record?
If you only have 2 days to record an 80,000 word book before the narrator has other commitments, then the fluff and repeat method might be the only way to get the recording done on time.
2. How experienced is the narrator?
If the narrator is inexperienced, they might struggle with the punch and roll method and find it easier to re-record their own fluffs. So fluff and repeat. So, always judge each voice based on what works best for them.
Which Option Is Best?
In our opinion… Punch and Roll is the more efficient method. As it delivers a clean edit to work through when everything has been recorded.
However, fluff and repeat gets through the book much faster. Ultimately, it’s a personal choice, and whatever method you choose will be the right method for you.
Recording an audiobook is time consuming and the editing is the part that takes the longest. So, doing as much editing during the recording process will make a huge difference and saves time in the edit suite.
But ultimately, it all depends what you’re wanting to achieve. If you want a quick edit run through then punch and roll will be better, but you might not care too much about the longer edit and prefer to skip through the recording quicker. So, fluff and repeat would be better suited.
Thank you for reading our blog today. We hope that you found it helpful.
STILL GOT QUESTIONS?
We’d love to hear your thoughts and feedback about this blog. So feel free to comment below.
If we can be of any help on a future audiobook, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch.