Best Harry Potter Audiobook Narrator: Jim Dale vs Stephen Fry

Best Harry Potter Audiobook Narrator Jim Dale vs. Stephen Fry

Why trust us? Check out Fiction Horizon’s Editorial Policy.


Usually, there are plenty of things regarding a certain franchise that the fans don’t agree upon. The Harry Potter franchise is no different, of course. From the justification for the change of Hermione’s dress for the Yule Ball to the exclusion of certain elements of the book series, there are a plethora of subjects the fans are divided on. Perhaps the biggest one of those subjects is the battle between legendary narrators, Jim dale and Stephen Fry. So which one of these two is the better narrator?  

There is actually no right answer to this question. Both narrators do an amazing job as far as narration goes which is why this ultimately comes down to the listeners’ preferences. If you want a more dramatic narration you’ll prefer Jim Dale’s audiobooks ad if you want more raw emotion you’ll prefer Stephen Fry’s version.

If you want a more in-depth comparison of the two narrators and their styles of narrating make sure to keep reading since the article is full of useful information if you yourself are trying to find an answer to this question.

Who narrates Harry Potter audiobooks?

Best Harry Potter Audiobook Narrator Jim Dale vs. Stephen Fry
Jim Dale

Harry Potter series is narrated by Jim Dale and Stephen Fry. Both of them are beloved British actors best known for their narrator talents. Both Jim Dale and Stephen Fry narrated the Harry Potter series in its entirety and their audiobooks are available on both Amazon and Audible. 

Jim Dale is an English actor, singer, and songwriter but he is best known for narrating the Harry Potter series. He started his work on the series and is praised for his work in the field.

He received two Grammies for his work as a narrator as well as seven nominations. For his work on the Harry Potter series, he received the “Audio Book of the Year” for his narration in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and a Benjamin Franklin Award for his work on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Stephen Fry is one of the most popular British actors today. Besides his extensive work in the film industry, he is also famous for his work in the theatre industry, radio, and perhaps most notably audiobooks.

He was chosen to narrate the Harry Potter series targeted for the UK. He continued his work with many other popular titles such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and even different titles from J. K. Rowling since he narrates her children’s books The Ickabog.

Who narrated Harry Potter books in the UK? 

Best Harry Potter Audiobook Narrator Jim Dale vs. Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry

There are many other audiobook narrators who narrate the Harry Potter series, but these two are the most popular by far. This is also showcased in how their audiobooks are distributed.

Jim Dale’s audiobooks are more popular in America and the rest of the world, while the distribution of Stephen Fry’s audiobooks is focused on the territory of the UK.

Despite this strategy set for marketing the audiobooks both narrators also have fans in different parts of the world based on which style of narration the fans prefer.

This at first glance seems like an ordinary enough statement, but it actually describes a division and constant debate between fans focused on finding the answer to one of the most controversial questions regarding the Harry Potter fandom; who out of two narrators is the better one.

Best Harry Potter audiobook narrator: Jim Dale vs. Stephen Fry

Best Harry Potter Audiobook Narrator Jim Dale vs. Stephen Fry

As it was previously mentioned this question always seems to divides the fandom. Both of the narrators are extremely talented and bring the characters to life. The cause of this division seems to lay with the fact that Jim Dale’s audiobooks are more present in the UK and Stephen Fry’s in the rest of the world but primarily in America. This is why fans are usually biased towards the narrator which was more present in their area. 

Jim Dale is often dubbed more a performer than a narrator. Many who prefer him over Stephen Fry often mention that listening to Jim Dale’s audiobooks feels like listening to a stage performance.

This is one of the big positives attributed to his narration since it allows the listeners to immerse themselves in the universe of the books much easier. This effect is further amplified by his ability to create unique voices for the characters.

He is best known for his vocal range while narrating and is praised for it by different audiences. From the ability to create different voices to his impeccable application of different accents, Jim Dale is recognized as one of the most talented voice actors.

However, this can be a bit over the top for certain listeners. Many people point out that Hermione’s voice is a bit over the top which makes it annoying for some people. Another example of this is the way he plays Draco since he can sound a bit cartoonish rather than evil or even mean.

This style works really well with the magical background of the book series and it lands well for all comedic moments throughout it. This works extremely well with the first two books but as the story gets a bit darker and starts dealing with darker themes this approach loses its appeal. 

While this still works for some moments, for example, he manages to bring out the pain and vulnerability Harry felt during the last stand, however on the flip side, this approach takes away from Voldemort and his state during the same scene.

All things considered, even if some people find Jim Dale’s performance a bit over the top in the end he takes more risks and it pays off with people who are able to enjoy his style of narration. 

Stephen Fry’s narration on the other hand feels like a dramatic reading of the novel. He paces himself really well and doesn’t exaggerate his voice when it comes to the different characters, which allows the listener to independently imagine the world in which the narrated story takes place.

This also easily builds suspense and often makes the reader feel like they are at the center of the action. Many moments which hold a lot of gravity and suspense carry the tone those scenes moments were written with.

This makes it easier for the listener to follow along with the story and switches between the characters, which is a great alternative for people who find Jim Dale’s narration a bit too much.  

Best Harry Potter Audiobook Narrator Jim Dale vs. Stephen Fry

The overall slower pacing and less dramatic changes in between different characters throughout the narration allow for the serious and emotional moments to lend perfectly and convey all the emotion they were written with.

As much as Jim Dale’s portrayal lands perfectly with certain characters who have a lot of comedic moments, Fry perfectly captures the more serious characters like Snape, Dumbledore, and Lupin. 

Besides the main characters, Fry is often praised by fans for his delivery of the less important characters. One example which gets mentioned often is Stan and Earnie, throw-away characters that Harry meets during his ride in the Knight Bus during the Prisoner of Azkaban.

Instead of focusing on different voices to convey the personality of characters who he narrates, he presents them by conveying some of their most prominent characteristics 

However, his proficiency with the more serious characters doesn’t affect the way he delivers on the more comedic moments.

After this consideration, it is clear that both of the narrators do a fantastic job of bringing the world of Harry Potter to life through different methods. 

Jim Dale gives an immersive performance that transports the listeners right into the center of the plot. The characters described in the books are further emphasized by his excellent use of different exaggerated voices and different accents.

Stephen Fry on the other hand provides a tamer but equally entertaining look into the world of Harry Potter. His narrating expertise makes it extremely easy for the listeners to feel the emotions that were written into the characters and scenes.

Most fans make an opinion regarding this question based on who they were exposed to first. Hearing the book series from one narrator points first will have a certain sentimental value for some people especially if the book series was a big part of your childhood. 

Since there is no objective way of determining which one of the two is better it ultimately comes down to your preferences regarding audiobooks. 

Notify of
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments