STRATHMORE AUDIO CHARTER
1. Audiobooks capture a performance by a narrator, and are a continuation of the tradition of oral communication that is as old as human society. They are a medium in their own right, not a substitute for printed books but an alternative expression of content comparable to adaptation for film or theatre. The scripts performed or read may be adaptation or abridgements, or may be original works written specifically for the medium. The over-riding consideration is that an audiobook shall be a complete coherent satisfying whole for the listener.
2. If adapted, audiobooks shall be skilfully abridged to appropriate lengths by those experienced in the craft, or else original material shall be written for audio. In all these cases, consideration shall be given to signposting and sequential clarity so that the reader/listener is guided readily to the desired point.
3. The script shall be read by an appropriate voice or voices, capable without strain of achieving an appropriate range of characterisations to enhance the text and make it clear always who is narrating or, in dialogue, speaking.
4. Recordings shall be made in a dedicated space which ensures there are no background noises such as traffic, air-conditioning, weather, animals, etc., and that the recording is not reverberant.
5. During the recording, an engineer shall maintain technical standards, including minimising noises such as intrusive breathing and script and clothing shuffles, and shall ensure an appropriate dynamic range for comfortable listening.
6. A producer, who shall have read the script prior to the recording, will be present in the studio, and will have researched in conjunction with the reader(s) the correct pronunciations of words and names and accents necessary to the proper interpretation of the material.
7. The recording shall be edited to ensure the best possible flow and clarity of performance, with appropriate pauses to indicate scene and section changes. The over-riding principle is that the listener shall not be surprised (unless for deliberate effect).
8. Music and sound effects shall be added if appropriate, but never at the expense of clarity of the text. They shall be mixed such that the balance is as far as possible satisfactory whether the listener is using loudspeakers or headphones and at whatever sound level. The recording shall be mastered with appropriate use of expansion, compression, equalisation and limiting.
9. The final recording may be released through any sound-carrying medium including internet download, but the end-user experience shall always be considered. Appropriate mechanisms shall be introduced to allow listeners to resume interrupted listening, and sufficient information shall be provided by printed booklet with physical product or by appropriate metadata and supplementary files with digital delivery platforms.