Constant static/line noise

there’s no Fast Track mike to select

Where did you do that? You have to enable the microphone in Windows (and see the little sound meter jumping) and then, after that is working, open Audacity and look for it there. If you launch Audacity before you plug the microphone in or Windows recognizes it, Audacity won’t see it.

which picks up the sound of the hard-drive clicking.

I could not place that sound. Yes, that and the recording sounds like a good day in a boiler factory which is also typical of a built-in microphone.

You can do a simple test to see what you’re doing. Launch Audacity and start recording. Scratch each microphone and announce where you are. Only one microphone will explode in high volume. Do you know where your laptop built-in microphone is? Mine is just left of the left-hand shift key.

I bet you thought this was going to be easy.

There is one New User assumption that may not be a particularly good idea. Everybody Knows you have to use a computer to record Audiobooks, mostly because they already have one. There are a number of readers using small personal recorders rather than computers.

As you are discovering personal computers come with their own problems, noise being right at the top of the list. ACX requires you to pass loudness, overload and noise before you submit for publication. Loudness (RMS), overload (Peak) are usually a piffle compared to then passing noise.

No problem, you can park the computer outside of the room so the fan and vent noise isn’t as intrusive. Fine, as long as you don’t get farther away than about seven feet because that’s the distance USB cables start becoming unstable. You’ll need to see the screen, too, so you can judge your performance.

And on, and on, and on…

You do have the location going for you. Even though I have a good quiet room, I still have to stop recording when a MetroBus goes by.

There are a number of readers using small personal recorders rather than computers. I’m doing experiments with an iPhone/iPod as the recorder. The down side there isn’t the recorder. That works fairly well. I have to go through iTunes services to get the sound file. iTunes is the clear evidence that Apple doesn’t do everything well.

Audacity has tools and processes you might find handy for AudioBook production. I wrote a mastering process which will most times get you past the first layer of ACX testing. It’s three tools even though the instructions read like an encyclopedia.

Buried in there is ACX-Check which is a simple, one-pass tool that will tell you what you passed and what you didn’t and by how much.

This is a little Olympus hand-held sound recorder in my quiet third bedroom.

Note the loudness of the background noise in the lead-in.

See sentence 2/3 down.
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We do pretty well getting people published; this can be done. The joke is you still have to be able to read out loud. If people run away when you speak, nothing we do is going to help.