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Friends, Room Acoustic Experts, Poets, Lend me Your Ears

Friends, Room Acoustic Experts, Poets, Lend me Your Ears!

It is always interesting to read poetry in a new venue — one that is new to you but has been many things in the course of its 100 year existence, or one that opened its doors last week and has hosted one jumble sale and a campaign meeting. I often record my poetry events so that I can make any necessary alterations to volume, pace and diction in my delivery, not to mention noting any memory slips; this also means that I hear how room ambience varies with venue and audience size.

If I'm reading without a mic then I prefer the smaller cosier rooms where the audience is metaphorically sitting on my knee; if I have a microphone that is nicely positioned, I like a larger venue where the sound hangs around before dissipating into the evening.

I like to hear the room ambience in a live recording, which is making me think about what my audiobook should sound like. There is ambience when I record poems from memory because I stand about 4ft away from the microphone in order to reduce pops and clicks. For the screen reader performed poems however there is no ambience. So I've been playing around with the reverb settings in my recording software to see how well added ambience sounds.

Now bear in mind I listen to these screen reader voices most minutes of most days so I am a bit desensitised to their characteristics, so I'm hoping some of you lovely readers might, as Mark Anthony said in Julius Caesar, lend me your ears :)

Colonel Mustard, with the Ambivalence .. on the Computer

I've recorded the poem All Worlds are Stages which is the 14th of 20 poems in Dressing Up in two versions and I'd simply like to know which you prefer. :. My plan is that I will record half of them from memory and use the screen reader for the other half, though this may creep up to 12 screen reader poems if my memorisation skills begin to struggle.

Version 1: Vanilla

apart from basic amplification, this is the plain vanilla version of All Words Are Stages with the screen reader recording itself as it speaks the poem.

Version 2: The Miss Scarlet Remix

In this second version of All Worlds Are Stages I apply the Auditorium level of reverb which, to me, makes it sound like it is being performed in a school classroom.

Rights and Wrongs

There are no right or wrong answers to this question ... which do you prefer?

There is a larger room setting, that of Hangar, but that to me sounds like it's been recorded in an empty hall at Earl's Court Exhibition Centre, whereas the Auditorium feels like there may be a reasonable-sized audience listening carefully to the poem.


It's 18 months since the publication of these poems and in that time I have made a few performance changes compared to the published texts. In the audiobook I intend to make note of these as an appendix so that people who have also bought a copy of the pamphlet don't feel that I've pulled the rug out from under their feet, and so that anybody who listens to the audiobook knows what edits I've made compared to what somebody else might have read. There is one in All Worlds are Stages and that is in the title itself ... when published in January 2017 by Cinnamon Press I called the poem All the Worlds are Stages, but I thought that first ‘the’ made the title clunky, so I gave it the chop!

... And yes, fairly obviously I suspect, the title is indeed a reference to Act II, Scene VII of Shakespeare's play As You Like It, which you can hear here performed by Benedict Cumberbatch.

#PoetryPerformance #Acoustics #ScreenReader #NVDA #Audiobook

Published inblindnessPoetrytechnology


  1. I prefer the second version, but think that both are OK. Hope this helps.

  2. I definitely prefer the second version. The reverb makes the otherwise flat machine voice seem more embodied.

  3. Giles Giles

    thanks, Kevin … I’ll reveal my preferred one next week 🙂

  4. Giles Giles

    thanks, Dave … that’s helpful 🙂

  5. Susan Susan

    I listened to each one, and then I played until I got them to play together. At that point, an echo sounds, and I think that’s because of the reverb on the second one. I actually like the first one better, because when I listen to people, I’m listening in a room or a car, not in a vast auditorium, and the first is more comfortable on my ears. So sorry to disagree with Kevin and Dave. =)

  6. Giles Giles

    thanks Susan, all opinions are valid on this blog! There has been a slight change of plans since this post … I’ve contacted a local studio and am going to hire it for half a day to record the whole set (the poems I perform and the ones the screen reader does). I’m not sure yet how the screen reader ones will be done, but the result should be a better general acoustic. The cost includes an engineer to take control of the recording process 🙂

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