How to Record Yourself Reading a Book on Your iPhone

First, you need to make sure your face is at 7-8 inches from your iPhone, to avoid air pop noises. For that purpose, I like to recommend placing a handkerchief on the iPhone, just an unfolded piece. Then, open a voice recorder app. Have the book you want to record at a comfortable distance at which you can read, and you are ready to begin: tap the recording button (a big red dot in most of the apps).

If you want to get very good results using non-professional equipment, keep reading to learn about:

  • Recommended voice recorder apps to record books
  • Built-in iPhone microphone: pros and cons
  • External USB microphones
  • Reduce unwanted noises from the beginning
  • The closer your face is, the better your voice will sound
  • How to avoid air pops: a handkerchief or air pop filter
  • Extra tips to get a really nice voice recording
  • If you are not the copyright holder of the book: dos and don’ts

Recommended Voice Recorder Apps to Record Books

Most of them can do a good enough job to record a book. Many of them are free and some others are going to charge you if you want advanced editing options like splitting the audio track or applying a reverb effect, or compression, among many others.

The following chart shows my favorite iPhone voice recorder apps (2021) and their basic options to get a good result:

AppFree Version Editing Tools and EffectsWill it be enough to record a book?
Voice MemosYes (trim, insert, replace, )Yes
Voice Recorder and Audio EditorYes (playback speed, trim)Yes
Voice Record ProYes (echo, distortion, volume, gain)You can choose the type or recording file )I recommend AAC-Yes
This chart presents three good voice recording apps that will be enough to get a good result

Built-in iPhone Microphone: Pros and Cons

The first positive aspect is that current built-in smartphone microphones do a very good job for voice recording. 

What you need to consider (con) is that they are designed to pick up sound from any direction; therefore, your voice might not be the only sound being recorded. 

To get very good results and make your recording sound very close to a professional one, keep reading below.

External USB microphones: pros and cons

If you want to obtain a really nice kind-of-professional sound, I would honestly recommend using a USB microphone, which is a type of condenser: the small amount of voltage provided by the USB connection can improve the quality and give a warmer tone to your voice.

The reason why built-in microphones pick up absolutely any sound is because of their omnidirectional pattern design: the farther the source is the lower it will sound, and the closer the source is the louder it will be. 

If you want to spend a little more time choosing the right microphone, I recommend choosing a condenser cardioid, as it will pick up very little of any background sounds.

The cost of each model and brand can indicate the level of quality. If your want to get the best result with a low budget, do consider using the following:

Reduce unwanted noises from the beginning

Before you start recording, decide if you want your recording to be informal, or close to a professional sound. If you go for the second option, this is what I recommend doing:

  • Set your iPhone to airplane mode
  • Do the recording in a room that has no appliances such as refrigerators, washing machines, working printers, and similar devices. In case you have to be in the same room where they are, just disconnect them.
  • Consider closing the windows, in case there is some evident traffic noise that you do not want in your recording
  • To avoid barking noise, make sure your pet has a nice treat that makes it full; it will sure make it sleepy, and take a nap!
  • Carpets and curtains can help to reduce echo sounds
  • Closets are a great space to record, as they have plenty of absorbent materials (clothes, carpet, thick bed covers, etc.)

The closer your face is, the better your voice will sound

This is called the “proximity effect”. The closer you are to the microphone, the louder and warmer sound you will get in your recording. Just make sure that the book you want to record is at a comfortable distance, so you can turn the pages or tap the screen of your tablet without touching the mic or your iPhone.

How to avoid air-pops: a handkerchief or air pop filter

If you get closer than 7-8 inches, you can create air-pop noises with your breath every time you say words that have TH, P, S, F, H, among others.

A really effective way to avoid this is by placing a piece of unfolded handkerchief on your iPhone or external USB microphone. Thicker cloth materials can affect the sound, mainly reducing the low frequencies (the deep voice sound) and lowering the volume of the recording.

If you want to get an air pop filter, it will do a very good job too, as long as you keep the “safety distance”: 7-8 inches maximum.

Extra tips to get a really nice voice recording  

A book being read aloud and recorded as an audio file can be considered an audiobook (read How Does An Audiobook Work: Benefits, formats, and opportunities).

Audiobooks can be fiction and non-fiction, as their physical or digital (ebook) counterparts. 

The following chart shows some tips to be considered when recording fiction and non-fiction works:

Fiction BooksNon-fiction books
They definitely benefit from reading not too fast, but not too slow

Sometimes we confuse reading aloud with reading a book to record it
They definitely benefit from reading not too fast, but not too slow

Remember that the listener might be doing something else, like taking notes or following instructions; if you read too fast or too slow, it will be a reason for distraction
They benefit from making intonation fluctuations, as it helps captivate the listener’s attentionMake sure to check in advance the pronunciation of words that are new to you 
They may have more than one character.

To represent the voice of a man, woman, or child just lower or increase the pitch of your voice 

When doing so, also consider if the character needs to sound funny, neutral, or serious: Use highlighters to emphasize it
In a guide or manual of instructions you need to record the title of each section (the word “chapter” is not used in this case)

Content of this manual
Getting started
1.1 Recording yourself on your iPhone
1.2 Recommended voice recorded apps.
Remember to record each chapter, the same as when we read a book:

“Chapter one: The Day I Began Recording Great Books on My iPhone.”
Each chapter should be recorded separately
This chart shows my favorite tips when recording a book with an iPhone

If you are not the copyright holder of the book: dos and don’ts

  • Every time you want to record any kind of spoken material that has not been written by you, make sure to keep it for yourself and the people (not many) you want to listen to it
  • Do not share it or sell it on social media, Youtube, music or podcast platforms, or any type of website, as their algorithms will recognize that it is not an authorized recorded version of an existing book or audiobook
  • If you are a teacher, you can be protected by the Creative Common License, as long as you record only a small fraction of the book (less than 10% of the entire work) and the recording is made available through the school or university’s own platform (Moodle, or others) and very few people will have access to it. Do not share it, sell it or distribute it on social media, Youtube, music, podcast platforms, or any type of website, as their algorithms will recognize that it is not an authorized recorded version of an existing work
  • Make sure how much time a book is protected by copyright in your country and the author’s country; on many occasions the author’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren still have the copyright of the work and can start legal action against you
  • Check if the book you want to record is copyright free or if the author can grant you his/her authorization to record it (you never know, they may say yes)

Recent Posts