ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23 RMS

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ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23 RMS

Permanent link to this post Posted by WillNuessle » Fri Aug 11, 2017 5:44 pm

Hello forumers and thank you for being out there! Using Windows 10, Audacity 2.1.3 (the .exe version) and after the past 90 minutes of applying filters over and over and reading forum posts am about to go stark raving mad.

I fear my problem is similar to others but have not been able to find a solution. Stop me if you've heard this one: I'm attempting to comply with the blessed ACX requirements of the Devil so that my audiobook (read by the author) can go up for sale. I'm new to Audacity but not completely a rookie; I have successfully recorded/loaded projects for Librivox. (I thought their requirements were tough, but that was pre-ACX!) I use an inexpensive lavaliere microphone in a quiet room (noise floor, at least, has not been a problem.)

I load my sample WAV, apply Noise Reduction (20/6.00/3) and then ACX Check. Two fails: the Peak level is at -0.0 and the RMS level is -24.9.

Then the madness begins. While I can/have successfully applied Normalize to establish an acceptable Peak level, and can/have successfully applied Compress dynamics 1.2.6 for an acceptable RMS level, whichever one I correct throws the other one further out of whack, and no amount of seesawing has been able to bring them into alignment.

If the original recording space/equipment is the issue I am willing to accept that. BUT if there is a way, a filter, a voodoo ritual that will allow me to work with things as they are, I would be greatly appreciative.

Sample audio attached: kidsample

Blessings on one and all
Will Nuessle
Attachments
kidsample.wav
four seconds of the file I can't get ACX compliant on
(1.49 MiB) Not downloaded yet
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Re: ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:43 pm

Isn't that the most fun?

We published a technique to help with that. It uses some custom tools, but more importantly, it starts with a raw reading. We can't take effects and corrections out of a performance.

viewtopic.php?f=64&t=96103

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Re: ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23

Permanent link to this post Posted by DVDdoug » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:53 pm

Then the madness begins. While I can/have successfully applied Normalize to establish an acceptable Peak level, and can/have successfully applied Compress dynamics 1.2.6 for an acceptable RMS level, whichever one I correct throws the other one further out of whack, and no amount of seesawing has been able to bring them into alignment.
Compression and/or limiting (which is a kind of compression) IS the way to reduce the range between peak & average (or RMS).

The difference between peak & RMS is not affected by regular-linear volume adjustment.


-0.0 and the RMS level is -24.9.
Try the hard-limiter at -5dB. That will push-down your peaks to -5dB with little or no effect on RMS. That will give you the ~20dB difference you're looking for. If the RMS drops too much, try a little more limiting. Once you've got a 20dB difference, you can normalize (or Amplify) for -3dB peaks (and the difference will remain the same).

Hopefully limiting won't damage the sound quality too much, but getting that peak-RMS dB-difference established (with compression or limiting) is the key.

Compression is less predictable than limiting because of the attack time. With limiting, you can precisely limit the peaks.
Last edited by DVDdoug on Fri Aug 11, 2017 8:02 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:53 pm

Please note this will only get you past technical compliance. If you can't read out loud, then we can't help you. ACX has a separate test for that.

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Re: ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Fri Aug 11, 2017 7:59 pm

Also note the the DVDDoug process is different from Mastering 4, and you shouldn't cross them.

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Re: ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23

Permanent link to this post Posted by WillNuessle » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:04 pm

Wow! I go on a long lunch to regain command of my soul, and return to find several posts--thank you for the quick replies!
Koz suggested: "Try the hard-limiter at -5dB."
...I would love to, but find no 'hard limiter' effect in Audacity (or on Nyquist's plug-in list.) Is Limiter or Limiter 2 what I want, or am I looking in the wrong place?
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Re: ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23

Permanent link to this post Posted by WillNuessle » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:07 pm

HOWEVER, I had not yet clicked on the excellent "How to get your stuff on ACX" link you were so kind to send, and had not been able (prior to that) to find the RMS normalizer plug-in. Have found, have installed and am about to go play. I'll come back either way and report progress--either way, thanks again for being such excellent people!!
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Re: ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23

Permanent link to this post Posted by WillNuessle » Fri Aug 11, 2017 9:14 pm

EXCELSIOR!!!!!

I followed the instructions and "for the first time in forever", or really at all, had complete ACX requirement except for my noise floor. Applied the one thing I knew about when I woke up this morning (Noise Reduction) and had full compliance. Peak -3.3, RMS -22.4, noise floor -72.7...and my dulcet tones are still right where I wanted them in the first place.

THANK YOU so very much--it seems cheesy but I'll ask anyway, would Koz or anyone on this wonderful forum like a copy of "The Kid", the book in question, gratis? (I can provide a PDF anytime, and hopefully an audio version within a short time...)

It would be the least I could do--you have saved me and my loved ones much frustration.

Will the grateful Ninja
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Re: ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:34 pm

I posted a private message (PM).

A note about Noise Reduction: Mastering 4 is designed to keep you sounding normal and natural even though it's doing all the heavy lifting of horsing your voice into compliance. But you can still get into trouble with too much Noise Reduction. ACX has a failure of Excessive Processing if they can hear you messing with the voice quality. Listen on headphones (if you're not already) and make sure you can't hear any "cellphone voice" artifacts, gargling, honking or other damage.

This is harder than it appears, because people are so used to cellphone damage, they tune it out. You can't tune it out with an audiobook. You are producing a paid theatrical work, not calling your sister in Schenectady.

Also fair warning, ACX wants your chapters to match, so once you settle on your corrections, you should keep doing it the same way over the course of the book.

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Re: ACX requirement hell - seesawing between -3 Peak and -23

Permanent link to this post Posted by WillNuessle » Fri Aug 11, 2017 11:55 pm

Noted and greatly appreciated--and how'd you know I have a sister in Schenectady?
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