Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Narrating and Producing Audiobooks.

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Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by robing34 » Tue Feb 07, 2017 11:32 pm

I have Audacity on my main computer (Windows 10), with the ACX plug-in. However, the laptop I was going to use to produce my audiobooks just died. So unless you guys can recommend a good Windows ultrabook or laptop for around $200, I'm stuck doing the recording on my Chromebook - which may not be such a bad thing, since it's really quiet. Having searched the forum several times over, I've concluded that I can import a .wav file recorded elsewhere into Audacity and still get ACX Check to give me a baseline on quality, and do the editing. I've also done some searching and found out that there are several online recording sites that should be able to produce a decent recording that will meet specs. But which one, if any?

So my questions are:
1) Can I edit and check a .wav file recorded via other software/equipment?
2) Can you recommend a good alternative to Audacity that will run on Chromebook or Android (since I also have a very old tablet, too)?

Thanks for any help.
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Re: Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Wed Feb 08, 2017 2:42 am

there are several online recording sites that should be able to produce a decent recording that will meet specs.

You...... What?

Nobody wrote that you have to shoot and process your voice on the same machine. I've been able to shoot respectable voice tracks with Zoom and Olympus recorders. I have almost all the parts to test record voice on an iPhone. I've done temporary voice tracks with the built-in microphone on a laptop.

A quiet, well behaved room with no echoes is far more important than the recorder or microphone.

A cousin posting is trying to produce good quality voice work with a special-purpose communications/close-talking microphone in a noisy household with yelling kids. It's amazingly difficult. I probably wouldn't do it that way.

Koz
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Re: Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Wed Feb 08, 2017 3:06 am

It could be said that using one of the stand-alone recorders is preferable because they have no fans and make 0.00 noise.

There was recent theatrical radio production of a woman who dragged her small, personal recorder and a duvet/quilt into a hotel closet to record a chapter or two...and locked herself in...and left the recorder running. Anything she was going to do with her readings was just floor-sweepings in comparison to the drama of listening to her trying to get someone's attention to let her out.

I thought it was entertaining but all I really saw was someone recording an audiobook in any random hotel closet with a bunch of bedding. And she apparently does this all the time.

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Re: Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by robing34 » Sat Feb 11, 2017 6:18 pm

Thanks for the reply. I do have a stand-alone recorder I could play with. The nice, quiet room is taken care of. Now, what, if any, advantage is there to recording into the .aup format as opposed to .wav or even .mp3? I mean, just because you *can* produce a good audiobook from a .wav file doesn't mean that there are not significant advantages to using .aup. And, hell, I've got the interface and condenser mike.

I do appreciate the time and effort you guys put in.
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Re: Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by robing34 » Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:18 pm

And I'd like to add thanks for suggesting the stand-alone (okay, maybe it wasn't a suggestion). As it happens, I have an old Alesis Palm Track 24bit/mp3 recorder. Still trying to figure out how to set the gain, etc., on it, but here are two test clips I recorded today. The recorder has a setting for AutoGain, which I have turned off. It also has a switch for Mic Gain High/Low, plus another switch for Record Volume that has a numerical scale labeled gain on the display. Test clip one is with the Mic Gain set to High, Test clip two is with Mic Gain set to Low. Both have the Record Level set about 2/3 of the way up the volume scale (set at 20 out of 30 steps). Both failed ACX check for Peak levels and RMS levels. But at the very least, you will hopefully be able to tell me if the room is quiet enough, whether there are echoes, and it does sound a touch tinny to me, so if I"m not going to get the good sound I need, then I'm back to finding a cheap laptop.
Attachments
FR.Bannon.Test1.wav
Mic Gain set to High
(1.79 MiB) Downloaded 6 times
FR.Bannon.Test2.wav
Mic Gain set to Low
(1.75 MiB) Downloaded 6 times
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Re: Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sat Feb 11, 2017 10:59 pm

AUP is not a sound format. It's the legacy Audacity project format. That can be handy if you want to save a multitrack production with all the positions and offsets retained, but less reliable for a simple recording.

MP3 always adds sound damage. Full stop.

So WAV it is.

I need to get back home to listen.

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Re: Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:10 am

there are several online recording sites that should be able to produce a decent recording that will meet specs.

While I'm doing that, can you talk a bit about the above? People routinely go to a lot of effort to avoid sending show sound down the internet pipes because of instability, damage and quality problems.

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Re: Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sun Feb 12, 2017 12:44 am

Write down how you did the second clip.


Open the first clip in Audacity and View > Show Clipping. All those red marks are permanent sound damage from being too loud. So that's that one. Isn't there some sort of volume indicator on the recorder that changes color or flashes or something to indicate what you're doing?

The second one is good for submission with a couple of simple corrections. Since I was being obsessive, I used three (attached, corrected).

Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 4.17.38 PM.png
Screen Shot 2017-02-11 at 4.17.38 PM.png (47.5 KiB) Viewed 119 times


I guess step one is the sound quality which is pretty much perfect after I got done. ACX has a failure called "Overprocessing" where they can hear what you did to your voice. I don't think you're going to get that failure.

I applied a custom filter called SetRMS to force the presentation to meet ACX RMS (Loudness) standards. Then I applied Effect > Limiter to clean up any damage SetRMS may have done (there was a tiny bit). After I did that, the corrected piece meets AudioBook standards.

However. You also have a tiny fan whine or other odd "insect" sound way in the background that I personally didn't like, so I also applied Effect > Noise Reduction at the most gentle settings and that got rid of it.

So now we're down to theatrical reading standards and I think you're pretty much good to go there, too.

I can listen to a story in that voice.

I don't remember where this thread is, but I wrote down the steps in an AudioBook Mastering document.

http://kozco.com/tech/audacity/ACXMaste ... ering.html

I did the process all the way through Noise Reduction. I personally would recommend Noise Reduction, even though the reading passes technical standards without it. It just sounds better without that whine.

Have you ever used Effect > Nyquist? It's a tool that just opens up a window and invites you to program your own tool. Conveniently enough, Steve has already written SetRMS and it's up to you to copy and paste the program into the blank window. No, it's not a formal filter or tool yet.

You already have ACX-Check, right? So go down through that process and see where you get stuck. I can't think of a good way to re-write it to be simpler. The top block is comments and notes, the second block is tools and how to install them and the third block is actually doing it.

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Attachments
FR.Bannon.Test2Patched.wav
(1.75 MiB) Downloaded 6 times
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Re: Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sun Feb 12, 2017 1:33 am

Oh, right. There was another problem. The original voice capture was MP3. MP3 is not recommended for original entertainment recording. MP3 is intended for the end product. Make an MP3 for your Personal Music Player to take with you to the beach.

MP3 produces stealth problems. MP3 gets its tiny, convenient sound files by very cleverly hiding sound damage. As long as you stay in uncompressed, perfect quality WAV files after recording, there's no trouble. ACX wants you to submit your work in MP3.

Oops.

They want 192 mono (not stereo) quality. What you're going to get is a quality reduction as a combination of the two MP3s. You won't be sending 192 quality even if that's what it says in the tools.

Then, ACX is going to make other MP3 products and services out of your submission and the quality is going to go down again.

They have some leeway in the production tools and you may get away with it if you capture in the very highest quality the recorder will do, and submit higher than 192. MP3 quality specifications are minimums.


If this was easy, anybody could do it.

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Re: Checking For ACX Coimpliance

Permanent link to this post Posted by kozikowski » Sun Feb 12, 2017 2:15 am

The Alesis can be set to deliver in WAV instead of MP3. Do that.

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