Audio Dodo needs help please

OK. Here we go. I scrambled my tools and references and lost my continuity. I just hate it when that happens.

Attached is a picture of the automated test and a copy of the v1.3 analysis tool acx-check.ny. It’s a Nyquist type program.

Copy that filter into the Audacity Plugins folder. Restart Audacity.

Open the show and select the whole thing by clicking just above MUTE. Analyze > ACX Check.

That will only tell you the technical standards, not theatrical. You can produce a show with terrible sounding audio and still pass ACX Check. If you fail submission enough times, I suspect they start testing for both.

Screen Shot 2015-06-26 at 11.53.31.png
acx-check.ny (5.6 KB)

It sounds like you’ve used a noise-gate , but it’s settings are chopping-off the ends of words.
Solution: increase the release-time, ( aka decay time ), of the gate, and/or increase the threshold of the gate, so that ends of words are not lost.

The word “village” has overload-distortion : distorted because it’s too-loud , ( not fixable in post production ).
Solution: move further back from the mic , ( any reverb from the walls of the room will become more obvious when you do that ).

IMO sibilant sounds are too loud : it needs de-essing . If you’re using a Windows computer a free de-esser plugin is “Spitfish”.

Thanks Koz
I understood some of your great advice. I use Audacity 2.0…6 and Windows 7. I saved as I went along I am afraid, so didnt keep original I have done a test sample as per instructions. I am using a different microphone my other one gave up, due to my stompimg on it
I downloaded and opened this acx-check.ny but it came up not recognised file. Do I do something else with it first.
Thanks a lot for the help and hope you can help me sort out this headache.
Thanks Trebor
How do I do this Solution: increase the release-time, ( aka decay time ), of the gate, and/or increase the threshold of the gate, so that ends of words are not lost.

It’s a Nyquist file and I think I’m going to start sending it out as a Zip rather than the raw file. Some systems convert it to acx-check.ny.txt and then Windows hides the .txt part making you think you have something you don’t.

You shouldn’t be using a noise gate at all. Those are very difficult to make sound natural. The object of recording is to simulate somebody sitting across from you over cups of hot tea telling you a story.

Overprocessing is a frequent ACX complaint when people try to fix bad recording techniques with post production effects and tricks.

This is a slide from one of the ACX publications.

I need to get to a computer with a good sound system and have a good listen.


You don’t “open” the file. The file needs to be copied into the “plugins” folder of your Audacity installation. Under windows this is usually (but not always) “C:\Program Files (x86)\Audacity\Plug-Ins”. Detailed instructions are here:

I’ve never encountered files getting renamed to “.txt” on download but if that happened then yes you’ll need to fix that as well.

If you’re going to use the noise-gate, my suggested settings for the Noise-Gate are highlighted in Yellow on the image attached to this post , ( you’ll have to click on the image to see it ) , those settings don’t chop-off the ends of words.

Screengrabs showing settings of NoiseRemoval, NoiseGate, De-clicker, & Limiter used.png
You can get the de-clicker plugin here …
and the Limiter plugin here …

PS I don’t know about “ACX” criteria : the plugin settings shown are just to my personal taste.

PPS I forgot to add de-essing. Paul-L who made the DeClicker also made a DeEsser plugin , but the SpitFish DeEsser plugin I mentioned previously in this thread is less complicated and easier to use for the novice. There are YouTube videos on how to use SpitFish in Audacity, e.g. …

Old Fossil

I prefer “voice with character.” I think I could listen to a story in that voice. Let me make a cuppa…

“Did I ever tell you about the time your aunt Minnie and I decided to liberate a pumpkin from Old Man O’Brians pumpkin patch one Hallowe’en? It was a dark and stormy night…”

In an effort to make this as complicated as possible, do you have any way to post a longer clip? The forum will only allow you to post 10-20 seconds, so that’s good for testing, but not longer analysis.

My email poops out at 20MB which works out to be about 200 seconds. Anything longer? Many people use file posting services like DropBox.

I got the clip to pass ACX compliance without too much pain (attached - see last sentence) and I’ll post how I did it, but if you listen very closely, you can hear the echoes of your room. You’re clearly presenting from your office, kitchen or other room with bare floor and/or walls. If that’s your thing, then we can go with it, but there is a tiny risk ACX quality control is going to have words about it. I don’t know. Now you’re in their QC “Shadow Zone.” There’s no button to kill echoes and you can’t buy your way out with expensive microphones.

Your microphone does have an odd, soft buzz, but it’s not severe and I got it down far enough with gentle noise reduction. Please note you still sound human complete with “body noises” and you do not have chopped off words and cut phrases typical of a noise gate. Some presenters freak out when they hear themselves the same way others hear them, but unless their audience runs away with their hands over their ears, it is what it is.

I’ll post how I did it when I get back into the house. No exotic tools.


Screen Shot 2015-06-28 at 14.45.36.png

Sounds smoother after Paul-L’s De-clicker …

If only 4 bands are selected on Paul-L’s De-clicker the audio is processed in about half the playback-time.

Sounds smoother after Paul-L’s De-clicker …

Wouldn’t surprise me. I’m not processing for theater awards, just to keep the ACX Robot asleep.

Drag-select between .5 and 1.5 seconds.
Effect > Noise Reduction Profile.
It’s stunningly important to get a “clean” profile. Room and microphone only. No body, breath, or mouth noises. But you have to be there.

Select the whole clip by clicking just above MUTE.
Effect > Noise Reduction: 12, 6, 6 > OK.
This is the frying sound of your microphone. “Normal” is the compression of the beast: 6, 6, 6, but you need a little more help with that microphone.

Effect > Amplify > OK (don’t change any settings).
This step sets you up for the compressor.

Effect > Compressor: -20, -50, 3:1, .2 sec, 1 sec. > OK
This step increases the density or energy of your voice, but pushes the overall volume down a bit.

Effect > Normalize: [X]Remove DC, [X]Normalize to -3.2 > OK
Brings the overall volume up (hopefully to spec) and puts the blue wave peaks in the right place (-3.2).

Did you get straightened out how to apply the testing tool? You should get slightly better numbers than the first test. I increased the overall loudness a little.

Then run the de-clicker if you think it sounds better. This is where you find out the quality of your speaker or headphone system. If you can’t hear what you’re doing perfectly, this could be a very difficult journey. There is no “Pleasant Sound Button,” or “Run this analysis tool to see if you sound pleasant.”

At the end of the day, you need to listen to it and decide you like it. If you’re half-way good, the next test will be between you and the rights-holder.

Oh, right. The echoes. People have converted their broom closet to a studio and filled it with acoustic foam. I’ve been known to prop up furniture moving blankets to help cut down echoes and noise.

That only shows one of the two blankets.

That looks like a simple shoot, but that’s a completely soundproofed conference room.

Obviously, it would be cool to get rid of that microphone frying, but we can live with that.


Thanks everyone
Still fllumed though. I hope you can help Koz when you have a listen/
I didnt know I had used a noise gate. I dont know what one is. I just followed advice from the web and Ytube tube that said Equilise Compress and normalise. I just used the setting already on there. I also used the de clicker which you mentioned Trebor.
I wish I had seen the advice about mastering - what to avoid sooner. I am very green when it comes to computer stuff. I did get the ACX checker working (well my mate did, he said it was simple and It was…For him)
I hope you can help me fix the errors in audiobook and pass ACX check as it is 60 chapters long and I dont fancy doing it over it took me months to do
Thanks again

I hope you can help me fix the errors in audiobook and pass ACX check as it is 60 chapters long and I dont fancy doing it over it took me months to do

There’s no way to warn people not to do that and it happens all the time.

Do you have the raw, unprocessed chapter readings? In other words do you have show readings in the same form as the last short test you sent us—no processing?

A very common mistake is to save new work on top of old work instead of making whole new corrected sound files. That wipes out the original shoot. The first time you use an active processor like Compression or Noise Reduction, you’re stuck because you can’t easily take those effects out of the show later. If ACX rejects you, that could be the end of the world. There is no recovery from “Overprocessed.”

Production in Audacity Projects instead of sound files is not going to help you because Projects will not save UNDO. Once you save a Project and close Audacity, you can’t go back any more.

So was the last pass through ACX the “overprocessed” complaint? All 60 chapters? Do you have the original shoot sound files?


I didnt know I had used a noise gate

Because of the correction damage you submitted, it sounded like you had used a Noise Gate.

We can’t see what you’re doing. We can only go by what the clips sound like and historical knowledge of what the effects do. That’s the kind of sound quality that ACX was complaining about. Yes, you may have achieved ACX technical compliance, but you damaged the sound quality to get there.

It’s not that unusual.


I know you’re hoping to just snap to and wrap this up, but the current longest message thread on the forum, 39 chapters and over a year is Ian who just wanted to record his voice for an audiobook in an apartment in Hollywood. It worked, too. He’s a paid presenter now.

The previous champ was Bruno who just wanted to record his Flamenco acoustic guitar in an apartment somewhere in Portugal. I don’t remember how many chapters that went. I can look it up if you want…

In both cases they were trying to produce paid-quality work, not “Home Recording.” That can be a challenge.


Thanks again Koz and Trebor

I did not keep original before I tinkered
Some chapters passed ( attached file) but I dont understand why passed or failed
Would it be worth sending a full chapter that failed and see if you can tell me how to fix?

I asked way up at the beginning if there was a way for you to send us, or make available longer sound files. The forum doesn’t support that and email attachments won’t do it. That may be helpful and please include any comments ACX made in association with the work so we’re not flying blind.


Thanks Koz
I wonder if there is any way to send a full chapter. a mate suggested a dropbox?
I have copied, pasted and attached all the emails sent by ACX. I hope that may help.
I am not sure if the doc file is attaching I keep getting choose file and when I press add file it goes back to choose file.


No your doc file did not attach, I don’ t know if is because the file is too big, or if the message board refused to accept .doc files due to the virus risk.

I would suggest just cutting and pasting the text from the ACX emails into your next post.

a mate suggested a dropbox?

Dropbox is a company. The metaphor is a large wooden box along the roadway that you put something in and then somebody else comes along later and picks it up. You never meet. Many doctor offices use medical testing drop-boxes behind their offices.

The internet version of that is a server company that offers a digital wooden box.

As I recall, the early versions offered a modest amount of storage for free (to get you hooked) and larger storage is available on payment.

You can restrict access to your own home or office (friends of mine do that), or you can make the work available to anybody on Earth who wants it.

The company doesn’t have high interest for me because I’m a dot-com but for normal humans, it can be very helpful.


Sorry just found the replies

Here is from the ACX team.

Solorz, Brendan <>
Mar 24

Hello Robert,
The ACX Audio QA Team has encountered a problem with your recently-completed audiobook, “TRILOGY: Siam Storm”.

Title does not meet ACX Noise Floor Requirements.
Files have uneven noise floors, contain buzzing distortion and show signs of both gating and noise reduction. If possible try to isolate and solve any noise issues like hum/hiss/background noise/etc. in the recording stage. Once your voice has been recorded it can be difficult to remedy the issue, and noise reduction software can sometimes reduce the quality of the listening experience.

How To Submit Corrected Files:

Your title has been reset so that you may once again upload, replace, or delete files. Please be sure that only the final files are uploaded and appear in the order they are to be heard. Once you have uploaded corrected files, please be sure to click “I’m Done”.

Please be sure your submitted audiobook meets our requirements, outlined here:

The ACX Blog has a new section lead by Andrew The Audio Scientist, called “How to Succeed at Audiobook Production”.
Click Here for Part 1, which is all about Warm-Up and Recording.
Click Here for Part 2, which is all about Editing and QC.
Click Here for Part 3, which is all about Mastering.
Click Here for Part 4, which is all about Encoding and File Delivery.

The ACX Team


Brendan Solorz
Hello again,

The files all show signs of heavy gating. A more prominent example would be the Opening Credits file, you can hear buzzing and high noise floor issues only during area of narration, and then it cuts out in the spaces between words.

I hope this clarifies the issue a bit more. Thank you
Brendan Solorz
ACX QA Engineer

Hello Rob,

Here is a link to an ACX blog post on gating that includes audio examples.

Thanks for getting back to me and feel free to let me know when new audio has been uploaded and I will check it out.

Brendan Solorz
ACX QA Engineer

Hello again,

I have reviewed the resubmitted files but found that they still contain heavy buzz, “Chapter 1” and “Chapter 2” for example. This combined with what sounds like noise reduction artifacts makes the audio difficult to understand in areas.

I have unlocked these files for further revision. If you let me know what steps you took when revising your files previously, I may be able to offer more targeted advice, but in general noise floor issues should be resolved before recording, not in post-production, as the processing can sometimes further damage your audio. Unfortunately, the most likely solution would be to review all files to identify any areas that contain this buzz, then replacing the affected areas with new takes.

Brendan Solorz
ACX QA Engineer
Here is a link to an ACX blog post on gating that includes audio examples.

Thanks for getting back to me and feel free to let me know when new audio has been uploaded and I will check it out.

Brendan Solorz
ACX QA Engineer

to me, audio-team

Hello Robert,

I have reviewed your resubmitted files but still find that many contain buzz and other interference. One example would be “Trilogy - Chalice - Chapter 8”, which has high pitched buzz. Many of the newly submitted files also contain artifacts due to noise reduction that make the narration difficult to understand in areas. As I have said before, the noise floor of your submitted files varies in level from chapter to chapter, and so noise reduction affects each file differently as your signal to noise ratio shifts from section to section.

The only way to truly resolve these issues would be to adjust your recording setup in order to resolve buzz issues before recording, then replacing any areas with high level buzz with clean files.

I have unlocked this title for further revisions. Thank you

Brendan Solorz
ACX QA Engineer

Hello Robert,

The following files either have noise floors with high buzzing or other noise issues, or damage and artifacts due to noise reduction.

Trilogy - Siam Storm - Chapter 2
Trilogy - Siam Storm - Chapter 7
Trilogy - Siam Storm - Chapter 10
Trilogy - Siam Storm - Chapter 19
Trilogy - Siam Storm - Chapter 21
Trilogy - Siam Storm - Chapter 22
Trilogy - Siam Storm – Epilogue
Trilogy - Chalice - Chapter 2
Trilogy - Chalice - Chapter 7
Trilogy - Chalice - Chapter 8
Trilogy - Chalice - Chapter 18
Trilogy - Chalice - Chapter 19
Trilogy - Chalice - Chapter 21
Trilogy - Bimat - Chapter 2
Trilogy - Bimat - Chapter 3
Trilogy - Bimat - Chapter 4
Trilogy - Bimat - Chapter 7
Trilogy - Bimat - Chapter 10
Trilogy - Bimat - Chapter 12
Trilogy - Bimat – Epilogue

All files contain pops and clicks due to editing. Please also keep in mind that I have not listened to each file in full, so there may be additional files that contain buzz or other artifacts, which is why I recommend that you or someone you trust perform a QC check of your entire title.

We knew that ACX doesn’t listen to the whole production because they said so. This confirms that they do spot check manually. A couple of seconds listening to a buzzy voice is enough.

I’m going to go up and see the new video instructions. Andrew Grathwahl is “Andrew the Audio Scientist.” He appeared briefly on the forum but we fell out of love when our obsessive need for specific details exceeded his ability or willingness to provide them.

The older videos were helpful in a very general sense but tended to be short on If/Then instructions particularly in the studio. “Get rid of the buzz” isn’t helpful when you both know you have buzz and don’t know why.

We should remember that you are taking the place of a recording engineer who does know how to get rid of recording buzz.

They did provide a separate series of videos by John McElroy who does illustrate a studio and recording setup and has a specific list of hardware and software.

We will note that he’s fine right up to the end of the last video where he describes his recommendation for post production processing. I don’t agree with his ideas because of sound problems, and because they would be very difficult to achieve without a professional microphone in a studio. Maybe that was the idea.

I’m pleased they provided a chapter list of failures. Sometimes a company will get as far as the first failure and bounce the project. You fix that and the second one fails and then the third giving you the suspicion that they’re all going to fail and the project is far larger and more complicated than you thought.

One of Grathwahl’s videos stressed chapter-by-chapter matching. Nothing like flipping between the chapters and have them sound different. Past the odd surprise, sometimes it can be bad enough that the listener assumes the change is significant in the story. A theatrical plot point.

And it’s not.

So if you have a list of problem chapters, it may not be enough to just clean them up. They will then not match the unclean ones.

See? They thought you were using a noise gate, too. That’s just what it sounded like.
It’s really rough to take buzz and hiss out of a voice without affecting the quality. Just removing buzz from between words can have a choppy quality that they didn’t like and I probably wouldn’t like, either.

So it does seem we need to clean up the studio and record them again.