I’ve been practicing with Audacity for a few months and can get all my audio to pass the ACX Check with 2 or 3 mastering steps. That being said, I’m new and would like to submit audio for review. Are you still accepting the 10 second test with no effects? (even though without normalization and filter curve it won’t pass the ACX Check?) If so, where can I submit it? If not, should I submit a fully prepared, edited, and mastered clip that passes my ACX Check? Maybe if its passing the ACX Check I don’t have any worries…? Thank you in advance for any and all info. I’m delighted to be here and love learning all I can about Audacity and the voice over business in general.
should I submit a fully prepared, edited, and mastered clip that passes my ACX Check?
No. That’s not useful. We can’t take effects out. If there’s something wrong, all we can do is shrug and say, “Yup. It’s broken.”
Produce a completely raw reading and post that. Don’t help it.
This is a raw audio clip using Windows 10 and Audacity 2.4.2
Its at 44100hz and 16 bit pcm. Ive been using a few different approaches to get it to pass the ACX Check. (usually just RMS normalize at -22 and then Filter Curve with low rolloff for speech) If there is a bit of A/C noise going on, I sometimes need to use a limiter, as well. Thank you for any and all advice, feedback, etc! Getting this this dialed in has been fun, and I hope I’m on the right track.
Extra marks for making it all the way on one breath. I thought about that after I wrote it.
I applied all three mastering tools. It passes ACX technical conformance, and sounds exactly like you.
Audiobook Mastering is a Suite. A harmonious grouping. Use all the tools in order, don’t add any, and don’t leave any out.
If somebody had a gun and said I had to improve something, I would add super gentle noise reduction. But it’s not required. If you can pass noise by at least -65dB, that should be good to go.
You sound like you’re reading a technical manual. Is that your storytelling voice? Do you have a storytelling voice or will you actually be reading a service manual?
ACX Acceptance is in two parts. First comes the Robot which tests a lot of the same things that ACX Check does. We wrote ACX Check based on ACX’s published specifications. But then it goes on to Human Quality Control who judges theatrical quality. You have to pass everything.
First, I’d like to say that I’ve read numerous responses on this forum and I always find your posts polite, thorough and very informative. It’s an honor for a newbie like me to receive feedback from you. I’m so glad that now I know the 3 mastering effects to use (for some reason I thought it was a lot of trial and error) and I’ve made a macro of the ones you shared.
I wasn’t using my storytelling voice, but for several months I’ve been working on character voices in preparation for an audiobook, but don’t feel like I’m ready yet. I’m also very interested in reading medical/science related material as I have a background in medicine. I have not produced any demos or submitted any auditions yet. Would you be willing to share with me what you think my next step should be? Thank you very much.
I’ve made a macro of the ones you shared.
Can you share the Macro? I don’t believe there is a current one for Audacity 2.4.2.
I bet you’re wondering why here isn’t already a Macro. Because under certain conditions, Filter Curve may not launch and use the right curve. You might master a whole book with the wrong corrections.
Try it. Open a sample speech. Effect > Filter Curve > Flatten > OK. The show shouldn’t do anything. Now run your Macro. When it gets done, Effect > Filter Curve and see which curve you have. If everything worked, you should have Low Rolloff, that sloping down to the left thing. If you have anything else, chances are good it failed and you will be doing everything manually.
Let us know.
I tried what you said and the macro still seems to work. I made the macro by clicking new, (naming it ACX) , inserting filter curve with low roll off, RMS normalize and then the limiter.
I made a raw audio and MANUALLY applied filter curve FLAT, then RMS normalize and limiter and the noise floor was too high and it would not pass the ACX check. I undid that back to raw audio. I then applied the macro (with filter curve, RMS normalize and limiter) and the noise floor was low again and it passed the ACX check. I tried to submit a picture but it was too big a file. I can type out the parameters of the macro I made if you think that would help.
When I go to my ACX macro and click edit on filter curve, it shows up as being low roll off like it should.
I’ll keep checking to make sure it works after the info you shared! Thank you again for your response.
Is the next step submitting a 1 or 5 minute test to see if I’m ready for audiobooks? Thank you.
I’m sorry, I had one other question:
should mastering be done after each chapter or section of a book, (first I would save the raw file then I would save an edited file then I would save a mastered file) or should the entire book be mastered at once, after editing? Thank you.
I made a raw audio and MANUALLY applied filter curve FLAT,
“Flatten” doesn’t do anything to the sound. It resets or clears any previous settings so you can start-over and make a new filter curve. There’s no need for that if you are using presets but it can be helpful if you are drawing curves or experimenting.
should mastering be done after each chapter or section of a book,
One chapter/section at a time. The same volume adjustment is applied to the whole selection so if you make one big file and RMS normalize some chapters may still be louder than others.
I used filter curve flatten as you suggested, to compare it to the macro with filter curve low roll-off:
“Try it. Open a sample speech. Effect > Filter Curve > Flatten > OK. The show shouldn’t do anything. Now run your Macro. When it gets done, Effect > Filter Curve and see which curve you have.”
Fortunately, the macro worked.
I will master one chapter at a time, as you suggested. Thank you again.
“Flatten” doesn’t do anything to the sound.
Correct. The goal is to throw a “foreign” curve in there, apply it, and then see if the Audiobook Macro sets the curve to Low Rolloff. Some early Macro applications wouldn’t.
That’s the reason there is not an officially sanctioned Audiobook Macro. Efforts up until now have not been reliable. Picture half of your book failing acceptance “for some magic reason.” The reason is the Macro got it in its head to pick the wrong curve and not tell anybody.
That Low Rolloff filter is way more important than it looks. In most conditions you can’t leave it out.
I completely understand and will use the macro after each chapter and then check to make sure it passes ACX check. If it does not I will apply the effects manually. That’s valuable information! I’ve learned a lot from you in a very short time and I appreciate it more than you know. I can proceed with confidence, knowing that I’m doing the right thing.
Correct me, but you can export the Macro as a text file for safekeeping and sharing with others? This is another place that sometimes magic happens.
Export and post it here. Thanx.
I would gladly export it as a text file if I could but when I open the macro window, it won’t let me copy anything.
I’ll keep trying…
All I did was open macro, click “new”, name it, and then insert each effect with the parameters you listed earlier.
Filter curve-set to low roll off for speech
Loudness normalization- set to -20db
Limiter- set to soft, 0.00,0.00,-3.5db,10.00, NO
So far the macro had worked every time I’ve tried it.
ACX check results:
Peak level passes@-3.50db
RMS level passes@ -20.21db
Noise floor passes@ -65.45
That was my last result on about 30 mins of reading…
Hope that helps!
I remembered that you mentioned there was no macro in Audacity that used the three effects recommended by ACX because there were problems when setting them up. I was fortunate that mine worked when I set them up as instructed. HOWEVER: I have since switched computers ( almost the same innards, but different brands, still Windows 10 laptop, 8 gigs RAM, intel Core i5, etc) and the macro no longer works as it should!
It runs through each effect and then repeats some or all of them. So, I wanted you to know you were of course, correct. I guess now I’ll have to master my audio manually, step by step…? Thanks again for the help!
I deleted the macro and reinstalled the components…It seems to work again but I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on it.
** Question RE Audacity Mastering: I have been recording and saving the raw recordings, without edits. Then, I edit the audio (chapter, usually) and save a copy of that (in at least 2 places).
After that I apply a high pass filter set to 80Hz and roll off 36 db per octave, which improves the noise floor and makes editing easier, as well.
After that I apply the 3 effects: Filter curve with low roll off, Loudness normalization, and soft limiter.
Sometimes, after that, I need to use the noise reduction (gently) at 6,6,and 6. The resulting audio is excellent. The peaks are usually -4, RMS at -20, and noise floor -65 or better. My big question is this: Even though the audio passes the ACX check and the “Audio Lab” on ACX, the audio now shows all the tiny unwanted noises, blips, etc, and since they are easy to see, I cut them out. Is that OK? Sometimes I even replace noisy parts with clean room noise and the result seems excellent. I’ve read that you shouldn’t edit after mastering but I can’t see the mistakes UNTIL I master. So I’d like to know definitively if the process I’m using is ok (especially in relation to ACX and recording audiobooks, which is what I’m striving for and practicing for). If I’m doing this wrong I’d welcome and appreciate any advice.
Thank you, again.
There is currently no Import/Export for Macros - there should be and there is an ENH enhancement request for that:
In the meantime there is a workaround. Macros are storied a simple TXT text files in a folder called Macros in the audacity settings and configuration and settings folder - so you can just make a copy of one that is there or add another Macro TXT file.
Soooo, Can anyone tell me if its ok to do some cuts AFTER you use one of those macros? Because again, they say not to edit after Mastering but After mastering is when those tiny mistakes show up…Thanks