It was brilliant! It's a pretty sophisticated place with masses of equipment in the large, high-ceiling room. I expected to see a control panel with all of those little sliding levers, but I hadn't expected to see a few guitars hanging on the walls (yes, they get used), a keyboard, and really comfortable big sofas and armchairs - much more like someone's 'cool' basement. the process is a bit like an electrophysiology experiment: you get all of the equipment set up, make sure there's no errant 60 hertz interference, and spend the rest of the time closely examining a trace on a screen (in the old days it was an oscilloscope) and manipulating it. I was working from a small adjacent room where I could see the sound engineer through a window. I stood at a microphone, a stand in front of me on which my computer sat open to the book. I had earphones on and could hear his instructions as well as the play back of my own voice when he edited the recording.
As I read a letter, the sound engineer would be staring at a computer screen, examining the trace, and jotting down notes where he 'heard' a glitch, a mispronunciation, or a stumble. Although the room was sound-proofed, snow plows made a lot of noise on the street outside, enough to be heard with my voice, and so at times we had to stop for them to finish their work. When I finished a letter, he would play back the recording to both of us, getting rid of 'pops' (the noise of opening my lips, saliva or lack of it), normalizing the gaps between sentences so that it sounded fluid, evening out the volume and timbre. Occasionally I'd have to re-read a section, and rather like a conductor, he would raise his hand to bring me in on time.
It surprised me how exhausting the process was. In some ways it's like giving a major lecture at an important scientific meeting...but in this case a talk that is 6 hours long! You want it to be perfect. And I'm out of practice, not having lectured in a few years. At the end of the first day I went home and slept for 11 hours!
But it was so much fun! I can't wait for Val to come in June and record her part.