Acx newbie - Budget acoustic treatment?

Hi folks.

New to Acx and wondering will budget options for room sound deadening suffice?

I was thinking :

Hobo fort (Thick cushions in a V shape surrounding the mic)
Portable DIY sound booth
Maybe even a blanket over the head!

Will that be enough to meet their requirements?
I have the other gear: Rode Nta1, pop shield, mic stand and Scarlett interface.

Thanks :smiley:

Scarlett interface.

Stopped one short. Plugged into what and does it make noise? If you can tell your computer is on just by listening, it’s going to be a long day.

To bring the ACX standards to earth, -60dB background noise means your room has to be a thousand times quieter than your voice. No home reader passes noise the first time. A recent poster failed noise and after some back and forth put it together that even though their computer made no noise, they had a small humidifier chugging away.

Hobo Forts work as do the other possibilities, but you may want to put some thought into actual process. Whatever you do, you will be doing it for weeks and ACX needs all your chapters to match. Oddly, the blanket on the head works fabulously … until you run out of air.

There was a presentation where somebody started recording his voice in a noisy, echoey room and threw a blanket over his head as he was talking. Boom! Instant Glen Glenn Sound Studios … until he started gasping and his glasses fogged up.

How are you going to read the work? You do have to be careful that your tablet/phone/other doesn’t put electrical interference into the microphone. That’s way easier to do than you think. Do you know what it sounds like when a phone’s radio negotiates a connection to a cell tower? You will.

I print my scripts on paper.

Do you have a car? Drive somewhere quiet and record in the back seat. That can work amazingly well at no cost.

When you get close enough to cut a test, post one here.


Thanks for the info.

Have people had much luck reading off their phone in airplane mode? I can read off paper if need be.

I have a closet about 6 by 4 foot.
Would a pvc pipe build with moving blankets inside that be enough? I have tons of extra blankets/ comforters to hang on the walls if need be.

If not - What is the best minimum budget option for recording at home - gear involved and cost?


Have people had much luck reading off their phone in airplane mode?

I don’t know. They posted on the forum with a strange noise and we tracked it back to 4G connections. Typically, if the poster solves the problem, they don’t come back. I guess if Airplane mode turns off the radios, that would work. You can get electrical radiation from the screen, too, but that’s much less likely. I think we had one poster whose iPad screen was getting into the microphone.

What is the best minimum budget option

I don’t think it works like that. I moved into a house with a sound proofed room (one of the sons played drums). I wait until the last metrobus goes by and I can crank out a good voice track on almost any microphone. I do have an evaluation for the future to see if I can make a good voice recording on my phone. It should not be that hard with a few tricks.

People always go for the microphone first when the room is the big deal, and you don’t have to record on the computer, either. That can create more problems than it solves.

Do Something and post a sound file. We can play guesswork forever.

ACX is running in overload. Everybody with a pulse is trying to read for audiobooks and they posted a banner message that their usual snappy testing and evaluation is way behind.

Are you the author? The microphone thing is only the first test. You should pass ACX Check in Audacity, then ACX will test it again and then they have Human Quality Control where a real human figures out if you have theater problems (sucking your teeth) and can read out loud. And all through this, they sort through ownership and copyright information.

They’re a business and don’t like surprises.


Both Audacity and ACX have provision to submit a sound sample for testing. ACX calls it their “Audition.” Do that first before you read through a large book and make permanent, non-recoverable mistakes.


To try and be more helpful. I wrote this Kitchen Table Sound Studio.

That’s the idea, except in the closet, you can cover all four sides and don’t forget one folded up on the floor. For extremes, double it up. That’s what this is.

Each of those walls is two layers of blanket. On the upper left, you can just see there’s another blanket back there. That was a sound shoot for animated movie voices. That’s probably overkill for you. I was shooting in an industrial park.

You can hear this happening. You walk from the house into the “studio” and listen to the natural noises vanish. Most people never have to get good at that, so when they record, they have big room echoes and the refrigerator in the background.


Thanks for the info.

Just wondering about the moving blankets.
Are there a preferred type - Quilted?
I’m in the UK.


Are there a preferred type - Quilted?


The pads are 72" by 80". They’re heavy. Each of mine weighs 17 lbs. Lighter is not good. We’re not after comfort or low shipping weight. We’re after dead weight. The sound has to move those pads to get in.

Over 7Kg each. If yours are a lot lighter, get two.

This is another place where misunderstandings abound. “Real” acoustic tiles are expensive. I saw a recording space where somebody bought enough to put three or four on each wall, tastefully arranged. That may look grand, but it doesn’t do anything for the sound. You have to cover the walls.

There was a posting from someone who covered the walls with egg cartons. That does work, but you have to use the heavy cardboard ones, not plastic foam. If you can put an empty carton on the table and easily blow it off with your breath, you got the wrong stuff.

There are other engineering tricks, too. If you have enough room, put a little gap between the blankets and the wall. 5-6cm. Don’t jam them right next to each other. The deadening effect goes way up if you do that. I think that effect is named after somebody and if I thought about it long enough, I’ll remember.

We should remember that the echo-suppression soundproofing is so you can pass the second ACX inspection. Human Quality Control. That’s the test that cares if you sound like you’re a kid recording in the kitchen.


Nice info.

Ok, here’s my Audacity test.



There is a simple format issue. See where you produced two sound tracks (stereo) and only one of them has anything (wiggly blue lines) on it?

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Use the drop-down menu from the little black arrow on the left and Split Stereo To Mono.

Delete the silent tack.

Screen Shot 2020-07-05 at 10.06.43.png
See where it says Mono on the left instead of Stereo? It’s perfectly desirable to work in Mono for voice work. It’s efficient, easy to edit and ACX doesn’t insist on it, but prefers it that way. Mono automatically appears on both left and right of stereo speakers or headphones.

I’m going to go looking for other problems.


Ah great. Thanks for the feedback. Hope it passes the technical.


Failure to follow instructions. The panel is very clear you need to leave a healthy silent portion at the beginning of the reading. Read down that blue link. It’s very short.

You may think that’s a piffle, but ACX doesn’t. They will reject a book that has the wrong amount of silence at the beginning or end of chapters.

If you submit a mono (one blue wave) reading to the forum, you can read up to 20 seconds and not have to stop at 10. This is the sort of interdependency that drives new readers nuts.

As we go.


Ok. Will do.

Other than that it’s ok?

Other than that it’s ok?


There is a tone behind you that doesn’t correspond to wall power or any other conventional source. That usually points to the computer fan or some other ventilation system. Is the computer in the room with you?

This is where we critically analyze the silent portion…except you didn’t submit one.

Post another test with the silent portion at the beginning and, if in mono, longer to get all the words in. We’re not fixated on a theatrical reading. You don’t have to get to the end of the script, but what’s there does have to work proper.

There is another interdependency here. Some microphones will let you read directly into a mono (one blue wave) track. Some will reduce the volume slightly if you try. That’s sometimes enough to fail noise because of poor volume.

Eagerly awaiting.

Side note. Do Not start reading a book until you get these issues sorted. History is soaked with people reading a book twice because they burned in permanent defects by accident the first time.


Ok. Test 2. Yeah, there is a computer fan - It’s in the other room.
I’ve tried to block it out some more. It’s annoying as I with my current setup I have to trail a couple of cables from one room to the closet.
Maybe file a groove under the doors to fit the cables under and block it with blankets?

Anyway, See how this goes and I’ll go to some higher lengths to block it if need be. (Managed to close the closet door fully without damaging the cables on this test!)


Whatever you did that last time worked well.

I applied simple mastering and the clip made it past technical testing, enough so you don’t need any other patches or help.


How close are you to the microphone, and/or are you using a pop and blast filter? That’s the black tennis racket.

In my opinion, you’re slightly too close to popping your P sounds because you’re too close. But. If you back up much more, your volume is going to fall and that may create other problems.

Is there any air circulation in there?

Which microphone? Does it have volume controls? Are you using headphones as you speak? That can help keep your volume even as you perform.

Nobody will shoot you if you don’t wear headphones, but it makes things a little easier. You have to plug them into the microphone or microphone interface, not the computer. If there’s no provision for that, then don’t worry about it.

I need to come back in a bit

This is the published Audiobook Mastering Suite of tools.

It is a suite. A harmonious grouping. So don’t do them out of order, add any tools, or leave any out.

Scroll down to Process.

As we go.


One other note. Don’t overdo the silence, either. That can throw off some of the other tools. 2 seconds is about right.

That’s called Room Tone. The sound the room makes when you don’t make any sound.


Start with your posted sound clip and see if you can get the same results I did. Post where you get stuck.

If you succeed, you may want to try submitting a test to ACX.

ACX starts with The Robot who automatically tests about the same things Audacity ACX Check does. Are you overloading, how loud is it, and where’s the noise.

This is a thing on how dB works.

Then your Audition goes on to Human Quality Control where an actual human evaluates and tests your submission for presentation, emphasis, reading style, oral defects, and theater. You can look at this as someone coming in off the street and paying real money to hear you read in a pleasant room. This isn’t the “good enough” podcast stuff.

Also down at this level, they start to worry about things like who wrote the book you’ll be reading and can you produce documents that give you rights and permissions.

– This isn’t a tidy web page yet. –

ACX Audition

Also Known as ACX Test Clip and ACX Sample.

An Audition is a short reading you can submit to ACX to prove your performance quality before you submit longer works. ACX will review your work and post comments. The work does not have to be produced using Adobe Audition.

Works must be perfect and ‘Retail-Ready’. ACX will not change any work once you submit.

Auditions should be around three to five minutes long.

Auditions should be mono (one blue wave). Stereo is accepted, but your production must be consistent.

Auditions should have 0.5 to 1 second of Room Tone at the beginning and 1 to 5 seconds of Room Tone at the end.

Auditions must be in MP3 sound format with constant bitrate of 192, minimum.

Auditions must have sound peaks no louder than -3dB.

Auditions must have a voice RMS (loudness) value between -18dB and -23dB.

Auditions must have Room Tone (natural background room sound without you performing-or moving-or breathing) quieter than -60dB.

You can submit this audition to ACX after filling out a questionnaire.\

Audacity has tools to help you meet the technical requirements.

Audacity Forum has a section for Audiobooks. You have to register to post. New Posters may have a delay before posts become visible.\

Audiobook Mastering.\

Audiobook Testing - ACX Check.

ACX has posted messages that they are running in overload and it may take a while to get to your work. That’s one reason submitting on the forum first is a good idea. We’re faster.

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