Am I Doing This Right?

I could listen to a book in that voice. If you used the sock, you may not need as much correction—or any at all.

Sometimes excessive Noise Reduction causes harsh peaking, essing and sibilance problems. So solving air conditioner fan noise problems turns out to solve voice quality problems down the line. That’s what was so darn much fun making the new audiobook suite. Where do you even start?


Thanks Koz, your contributions here are amazing. I wish I would have found this before I recorded! I’ll post a raw voice sample tomorrow. I did submit a sample to ACX but haven’t heard back from them in weeks, so I went ahead, regrettably. My process is so tedious, I think I can actually re-record in less time rather than do the rest of the book this way. I’ve already been reading the threads here about the new tools and installed them, so I’m ready to go. That’s what my weekend will consist of! Do you recommend also using the declipping tool mentioned above for lip smacks? I have been able to improve my technique to lessen those (and using lip balm, etc) and breaths.

But what do you do if you are toward the end of a long chapter and suddenly make a mistake in a sentence, say pronounce a word wrong? My previous technique would be to just re-read the sentence, and then when in the edit/review phase just clip out the bad one. Is that still the way to go or just re-start the whole track and chapter from the start if a mistake happens?

My process is so tedious, I think I can actually re-record in less time rather than do the rest of the book this way.

That’s what wearing the Producer’s hat is like. Isn’t this fun?

Do post the test clip.

re-read the sentence, and then when in the edit/review phase just clip out the bad one.

That’s how I do it. You can leave a little of a gap so you have room to cut and still make the sentences sound natural. You can also post a label right there with a keyboard shortcut if you do that in the middle of a long chapter. If you do it quickly like that, you can maintain your theatrical rhythm and expression much better.

Windows would be Control-B to set a label… I think.

Of course, just as I said that, the labels on my machine failed. ~!@#$%^


Here’s my raw sample. I noticed when exporting this that there seems to be a new setting in the mp3 export, a box that says ‘force to mono’ or something like that. I assume that should be checked going forward? Thanks for all the help, let me know if there are any changes I should make to the environment or settings based on the raw sample attached. I’m looking forward to doing this right! So happy I found this forum.

We’ll listen to that in a bit, but forum test clips should be in perfect quality WAV, not lower quality MP3. There’s no way to know if any sound damage we find is caused by the MP3, or something you’re doing wrong.

And don’t convert the MP3 to WAV. Once you have MP3 quality damage, it’s permanent.

Yes, ACX requires delivery in MP3, but if you read the instructions, it’s nose-bleed high quality, Mono, minimum. It’s a business, not sound quality decision.

All production before submission should be in WAV.


These are the DeClicker settings I suggest for that …
Declicker setting used on ''the glare of the rising sun''.png

BTW you have some distortion on that : e.g on “ammunition”, you’re a bit too close to the mic IMO.
(If you back-off a bit there will be less click-type noises too).

Here’s the WAV version (exported, not converted). I had to shorten it up to get under 2Mb. Thanks!

I think your voice sounds great! I agree with your solution to upgrade Audacity and start over. These guys did a great job reworking the mastering process. Once you use it, it could very well cut your workflow by 60 to 80%. I also noticed your RMS level was around 29dbs. Your noise floor is great! You have plenty of headroom for your 3db max. Once you upgrade and if you can keep your levels the way they are, you will simply need to adjust your normalization for your 3db max to come into ACX compliance. If you are not doing so at this time, try and keep your mic no more than 2 to 3 inches from your mouth. This will help your with your RMS levels.

While playing back or recording on Windows at least, Ctrl-M can be used to set a point-in-time (rather than a range) label. Pretty useful, so thanks for the heads up on labels! When I flub a line and have a do-over, I can just hit Ctrl-M, re-read it, and keep going. Perfect!

Ctrl-M can be used to set a point-in-time

Totally. I got the control codes mixed up.

I had to shorten it up to get under 2Mb.

Correct. No, you’re not welcome to post a novel chapter or small book.

Here’s the WAV version

You’re sure that’s your raw reading? You missed the part where you included two seconds of freeze/hold-your-breath Room Tone at the beginning of the clip. That’s not an accident. There’s a lot going on in that two seconds.

There is a brief silent snippet at the top of your clip, but it’s suspiciously perfect. Did you by any chance create that little snippet with Control-L/Create Silence? Nobody can record that work at home and most laboratories can’t do it, either.

What’s your microphone and how do you have it connected to the computer? You don’t have to use a computer to record your voice. About a quarter of my sound tests don’t originate in a computer and we’re finding a number of AudioBooks don’t either.


I did submit a sample to ACX but haven’t heard back from them in weeks

Apparently, it’s required on your eighteenth birthday to submit a test to ACX, so they have several million New Submissions to crank through. The technical standards can be handled with a computer program (the way we do it), but they also have a second pass where they test for theatrical conformance. That one is very likely a human and that’s where you get killed if you can’t read anything longer than a stop sign and your mouth hasn’t worked right since you were 9.

This is also where some computer noises get flagged. There are a couple of noises that will pass ACX Noise, but still sound like fingernails on blackboard. Such as fingernails on blackboard. Those will fail the second theatrical test.

Then there’s a test they call overprocessing. That’s when they fail you if the only way you can pass ACX is beat your voice with a stick until it bleeds. Cellphone voices need not apply.

The goal, they say explicitly, is normal, pleasant, conversation voices. That’s why our goal was to see how few corrections we needed.


I’m using a ATR2100-USB Audio-Technica mic plugged into the Ausus laptop via USB. I have the laptop just outside the walk-in closet when I record from inside. I think I remember now (recorded this a while ago) that I copied my processed room silence into the beginning of every track/chapter, so the beginning is processed. Hence, the only true ‘room noise’ is what’s between words or sentences. Sorry about that, I completely forgot I had done that back when I started.

processed room silence

I believe that.

We can’t use the spaces between words because they’re all taken up with human breathing.

That stupid 20 second voice test is harder than it looks.

I Expect that first two seconds to have some noise in the -60dB to -70dB range. What kind of noise depends on a million variables, but sound goes up and down by half and double every 6dB, so -60dB is really tiny.

Drag-select a chunk of that two seconds (avoid the extremes) and Analyze > Contrast: Measure Selection > Write down the Volume number. That should be the same noise number that ACX Check is going to give you. > Close.

Each time you use this separate test, you have to press Measure Selection again. It’s not automatic.


A side note to the side note:

they’re all taken up with human breathing.

Do Not go in and carefully excise all the breaths. ACX expects normal humans to be reading this stuff and normal humans breathe.

Given if you have verbal ticks or other annoying noises (holding up hand), then yes, you might need hand-patching or the DeEssing and DeClicking tools. Worse, Noise Reduction seems to make these traits worse.


Ok, I’m finally back to re-recording (sigh). Here’s a clip of my new, unprocessed real room tone and recording if you guys can have a listen and let me know if I’m on the right track before I get too far into it. Thanks!

Hey Diver, your input level needs to be between a -6 and -12dbs. I do not think your lap top is capable of supplying the needed gain. Your RMS requirements are off to much to bring it into ACX compliance. You may want to try moving closer, 1 to 2 inches from your mic. If you can get your input levels to a -6 to -12 while keeping your noise floor close to the -60db max, you should pass. Check out the pic below.

“your input level needs to be between a -6 and -12dbs. I do not think your lap top is capable of supplying the needed gain. Your RMS requirements are off to much to bring it into ACX compliance.”

Crud. No way to fix that? I recorded a few chapters already. The moving screen shot goes by too fast to really capture what’s going on there. Can I fix it with RMS normalize like I think that’s showing? You said the laptop maybe can’t supply the gain, is it perhaps because I have the laptop sitting outside the closet I’m recording in, and a 7 foot USB cord? The laptop is very quiet so perhaps I could get away with having it in the closet with me. I could get a little closer to the mic though, a little more than a “shaka” away to avoid pops/clicks as much as possible. Do I have to start over?

If nothing else works, you may have to invest in a preamp for around $100.00.

OK. That will do it.

I didn’t need the first step because you have no rumble—which is suspicious…but OK.

I applied Mastering steps two and three, RMS-Normalize and Limiter.

I did cut off one of the three seconds of room tone you supplied at the beginning. Too much Room Tone isn’t good, either. Two seconds.

The second patch is applying just a delicate Noise Reduction 6, 6, 6, but technically you don’t need it to pass ACX technical conformance. I just did it because I’m obsessive.

So you’re done. I’m going to go make tea.


Screen Shot 2017-07-29 at 11.20.55.png

If you’re playing along at home, I would apply all three steps including Low Rolloff that I left out. It’s easier to keep consistent chapter to chapter if you do that.