downside of "silence audio?" Negative amplify?

I’m just getting started on narrating an audiobook. I’ve found that “silence audio” works very well for getting rid of breaths and when I listen afterwards it sounds good–not like a bad gate. It seems pretty transparent and it’s easy to use: select an annoying place and hit control+L. However I used the "analyse/contrast tool on a passage I silenced and it came out -172 dB. That seems bizarre and the drop in volume should be obvious, but it’s not, to my old ears anyway. Is this a usable method for getting rid of extraneous sounds? Or will ACX reject it?
Second question. When I “fit project” and then “view/fit vertically,” I can see a couple of peaks in my four minute sample. I selected just the peak and very little space on each side of the peak and used effect/amplify to reduce my selection by -3 dB. It sounds better to me. Is this good practice? Should I then normalize again? Would compression be a better choice here?

“Silence audio” is brutal. Not nice.

You could use “amplify” (with a negative number) on breath sounds and noise, or “noise removal”. That would take some experimenting to get right, but would sound more natural. I sometimes use envelopes to reduce noise, as it is even more gentle, with a fade in before words and a fade out after.

If you need to edit volume anyway, there’s not much extra work in it.

I don’t know nothing about ACX, but be aware that the first hurdle is just an automated test, looking at numbers. After that test, a human ear will judge it and he or she will probably fail you for unnatural sound, like absolute, brutal silence.

-172 dB isn’t even remotely possible in the real world. The theoretical maximum dynamic range of digital audio at 16 bit, 44.1 KHz, is around -120 dB. 24 bits will give you around -140 db. Very good gear will take you to -100 dB. It is an example why silencing audio completely isn’t the right procedure. It will even confuse analysis tools.

There are a couple of Nyquist filters to help with editing mouth clicks, breath sounds etc. But I’ll let other forum visitors comment on those as I haven’t played around with them enough to be a real help to you.

To quickly separate failures from the tons of newbies reading audiobooks, ACX has a “robot” that blindly checks for basic sound values.

There is an analysis tool flynwill developed that you can install and it will tell you all the numbers on your show in one pass.

To your specific point: you can’t just beat your performance bloody and force it to be “robot compliant,” because the very next thing that happens is Human Quality Control. They have a failure called “Overprocessing.” That will crash the submissions with honky, wine-glass voices; compression artifacts; odd, pumping background noises and excessive voice clicks and pops. If you’ve been Control-Lling your voice clicks, you may have odd sounding holes in your Room Tone or background sound.

Are you recording in 44100, 16-bit, Stereo; or maybe Mono, or 32-bit, Mono? Your Analyze > Contrast numbers may come out funny if you’re trying to record in much too high sound standards.

Almost all new posters have trouble with their “studio,” giving them a seriously high background noise for any of a number of reasons.

If you feel like it, record a forum test clip and post it. Only post the raw sound file. No processing.


I’m recording in .wav, 16 bit, 44.1. When I use analyze/contrast on my raw files I get around -35 dB for speech and -65 for silence, for a difference of 30. When I’m recording the bar graph shows -50 silence and -12 peaks. Is this good enough? I’m using an AT2020 condenser through a Focusrite Scarlett interface and I’ve treated my room with acoustic foam. I have to edit out the occasional dog bark and car muffler. I believe that going forward I just need to get rid of the breath sounds. Then if possible figure out a mastering plan.

Those numbers seem OK.

If in doubt, post a short, untreated part to the forum.