I’m going to try to group responses so this doesn’t sprawl all over the place.
1. Oh no! OK, you won’t believe this. Before I submitted the files I went through and processed them to clear the ACX Check. But I did not go back and listen to the results. I listened just now to what I sent them, and it’s awful! The spaces where I’m not talking are utterly silent. It’s terrible!
Sample of the overprocessed mp3s I sent ACX (this sample is from my MD home office):
2. About using the Audiobook Mastering Tools…sigh. I did not do any mastering, at first. I finished recording in March, and sent all the wav files for processing to a musician friend who has a high-level home studio. He did this for my previous 6 books, and they were all accepted right off the bat (I didn’t know that was unusual).
So, last March, I got the mp3s from him and submitted them. That time through, the ACX review email said that the RMS was too low and the noise floor too high. My friend re-processed them, but I decided to hold off on re-submitting, because I’d rather have it go on the market around January-February.
Then I decided to divide the chapters a different way, so I opened the mp3s he’s sent me, split em up, and saved them again as mp3s–not ideal, but I didn’t have the processed wavs, only the raw files and his processed mp3s.
But before sending the files, as I checked them. Even though my friend had processed them, there were problems. The files were failing the ACX check. Some of the opening and closing silences weren’t the right length.
So that’s when I started this forum thread, a few weeks ago. Then I processed all the files to clear the ACX check, and got this review email a couple of days ago. Its lenient, though, and passed the robot only. A human would say that the files sound pretty bad.
3. Original wavs
The original wavs I sent my friend sound pretty good to me. Here are samples, recorded, in the two houses (both on the Behringer C-1U)
4. Windows mic settings Yes, I had the Windows mic gain/boost setting as high as possible, and the Audacity gain as well (perhaps the two are correlated, I don’t know). Even with both set as high as possible, my soft voice was still failing the ACX check. I Amplified it, and then tried to suppress the peak and room noises.
5. Zoom H2 I also have a little hand-held Zoom H2, and last week gave that a try, wedging it in the desk mic stand (w spider shock mount). I think it sounds better than the C-1U, and it gives more options in terms of gain; there’s a 3-way switch on the mic itself. This recording is set on Medium:
Zoom H2 sample wav
6. Publicans Thanks for creating the comparison clip. It’s so much better. It’s funny; my original sounds like the HVAC is blowing air in the background, but I had turned it off for the duration.
7. Here’s the review email I just received from ACX:
The ACX Quality Assurance Team has reviewed your recently-completed audiobook, "The First Fruits of Prayer: A Forty-Day Journal through the Canon of St. Andrew ". We have found 2 issues that must be corrected before we are able to process your audiobook for retail sale.
Below, we have listed the requirements not met, the files affected, and our recommended solutions:
Issue: All files contain excessive background/ambient noise and do not meet our noise floor requirement. Please revise all files.
Requirement: a maximum -60dB noise floor
Solution: In post-production, you may use noise gating or reduction to help reduce the noise floor. Please be mindful that incorrect use of this kind of software can lead to poor sound audio. The best way to go about lowering your noise floor is to identify and eliminate the source of the noise. Often it could be the microphone picking up a loud sound from within the room or it could be a gain staging Issue with your recording equipment. Please be sure that any noise emanating appliances (air conditioner, computer fan, fluorescent lights, etc.) are turned off or isolated so the microphone does not pick up the sound. Our recent ACXU seminar Studio Gear Series goes over the importance of sound proofing your recording area. The Mastering topic in our Video Lessons & Resource section contains samples of what a noise floor should sound like.
Issue: Several files contain noise at the start and/or tail end. Please revise all files to be sure none of them contain any noise, loud breaths and/or mouse clicks at the start (before narration begins) and at the end (after the last spoken word).
Requirement: files free of extraneous sounds
Solution: Please remove any extraneous sounds that are found in these files. We have several resources on how to do Editing and QC passes on a production. Learn the Audible Studios method for Quality Control of extraneous sounds and watch a tutorial on audio editing for assistance. Learn Editing and Spacing with Alex the Audio Scientist. Visit our Recording & Editing page to learn about cleaning up your recording.
After you have corrected the issue(s) above, follow these steps to submit the project for review:
Log into your ACX account, navigate to the In Production tab, and select Title from your list of projects.
Select “Edit” next to the files listed above to delete, replace, and upload corrected .mp3 files.
Confirm the files appear in the order they are intended to be heard.
Click “I’m Done”.
Please be aware that the ACX QA review is not an end to end review of your production and you should always do a full edit, QC, and mastering pass before submission. This is important because errors in the audiobook could garner negative reviews on Audible, Amazon, or iTunes which could result in fewer sales.
The ACX Team