Created too many versions after changing audio to meet ACX requirements sound quality is terrible now

I recorded using twisted wave and audacity. I then preferred audacity as I could add the declicker easily. Once done recording I went through and edited the audio for mouth noises. However, after watching a few videos I see that it’s recommended to record with 44100 Hz and 24-bit PCM. Initially I recorded with 48000Hz and 16 bit. I am now being consistent with 44100Hz and 24-bit. I’m wondering why the sound is so distorted once I get it to meet the ACX requirements- I’ve been using the ACX check tool that I added to audacity. This is my first time doing an audio book and honestly I didn’t expect to get a contract so quickly. I’m using an Audacity 3.5.1, a MacBook Air, Rode AL-1, and the audio technical AT2035 mic. I’ve included the edited (distorted version) recorded in audacity at 44100Hz 24 bit. Can someone advise what I may be doing wrong?

The macro I setup and am using
Normalize - Remove DC offset checked and Normalize Peak checked and set to -3.0
Compressor - Threshold -20 db, Noise For -40 db, Ratio 2:1, Attack Time 1.79 secs, Release time 11.0 secs
filter curve EQ - 40,000Hz and 9db
filter curve EQ - 100Hz and 9db then 500Hz and 0db
Normalize - Remove DC offset checked and Normalize Peak checked and set to -3.0

A change from a 48,000 to 44,100 sample rate shouldn’t make any noticeable difference. That sounds (to me) a lot like either over-aggressive Noise Reduction or Windows Enhancements. I suppose editing out mouth noises might cause distortion like this if it has too extreme settings (like if you used a de-clicker with some setting too high).

How does the recording sound straight from the microphone? You can post a raw WAV file (without edits) here to the forum. That will help us see if the problem is with the recording itself or with the processing.

Hello Christop,

I attached a clip with my macro applied that meets ACX requirements.

Thank you,

here is what the ACX check tool shows for the wav audio clip I just sent.

Peak level: -3.00 dB Pass

RMS level: -20.91 dB Pass

Noise floor: -38.62 dB Fail (too noisy - Noise floor must be below -60 dB)