Help with background noise please

Hi everyone

I’ve used the forum a lot recently and found very helpful information so far but I still have a problem I need your help with.

I am recording an audiobook for ACX. I appear to have a quiet voice so have started using a mic with a gain button up full.

I have checked the ACX specifications and have downloaded the ACX checker plugin.

I use Windows 10 and Audacity 2.4.1.

I use the process noted on another thread:
EFFECT / Filter Curve / Manage / Factory Presets / Low Rolloff for Speech / OK
EFFECT / Loudness Normalize / RMS -20 / ok
EFFECT / Limiter - Soft limit/ 0 / 0 / -3.50 / No / ok
EFFECT / Noise reduction / Get Noise Profile
EFFECT / Noise reduction - 10 / 6 / 6

Whilst this does pass everything on the ACX checker. I find my recording still has a loud hiss. I’ve also tried Killer Mosquito(8) and Peace Equaliser but these haven’t helped.

I really just wanted to know if there was anything else I could do to negate the noise. I’m aware that using gain increases the volume and therefore the background noise, but I thought noise reduction would reduce it enough to sound “normal”.

I’ve atttached the raw unedited test recording in WAV format with no effects/edits. I’ve also attached the post edit/effects WAV file which I still think is too loud in the background but it does pass ACX checker. Let me know your thoughts and suggestions.

Many thanks


That does sound a little odd, but I think there may be more than one thing wrong.

Are you “diving for noise?” That’s a common mistake. Set your playback volume for pleasant storytelling listening and then don’t touch anything when you listen to background noise. I might apply Noise Reduction, but nothing like what you did. Background noise is not supposed to be dead black zero, and cranking your volume all the way up to hear it doesn’t count.

What’s your microphone?



Thanks for the reply Koz. I’m currently using Maono cardioid usb mic with gain button.

You’re speaking into the side grill just up from the company name, right?

Screen Shot 2020-07-16 at 12.59.07 PM.png
She’s too close, but you get the idea.


Yes, I’ve got the mic the right way round and speaking into the front rather than the top :smiley:

I forgot to add that I have the windscreen cap on and use a pop shield too.

I’ll have time at the weekend to try a different set up with the mic and see if that helps any.

Thanks again


speaking into the front rather than the top

You scoff, but it’s almost impossible to tell which side up the popular Blue Yeti microphone is. I found a very good, clear illustration of correct and proper Yeti usage—but it wasn’t drawn by Blue.

Noise isn’t a problem, but you do have some very sharp-sticks-in-the-ear “Essing.” Not all, but many of your SS sounds are boosted.

“…and pale white SSkin.”

Some microphones do that because it sounds “more professional,” (it doesn’t) but what’s special about this is I can’t get rid of it with the normal tools. It sounds harsh and piercing no matter what I do—and I pulled out some of the heavy tools from the back room.

Maybe it’s a combination of microphone and your natural voice tones. I’m not sure where to go with this. I think the voice is perfect past that.

Oh, and to the original question. I did exactly what you did except I used Noise Reduction of the Beast (6, 6, 6). Listen to the story at normal volume and then listen to the first two seconds without touching anything. It’s close to dead silent and it passes all three ACX Check values easily.


Do you have an actual newspaper around? London Times? News Of The World?

Crinkle one up in front of your microphone. It doesn’t have to be very close, but try not to overload Audacity. Make sure the blue waves don’t go all the way up and down. No effects or corrections. Export WAV and Post it. If you do it in mono, one blue wave, you can post up to 20 seconds.


The essing may just be the sssscottish sccent :smiley:

I’ll try 6 6 6 instead :smiling_imp:

I guess I’m worried i’ll overdo the effects trying to lower the noise.

I’ll spend time over the weekend trying more mic set ups.



The essing may just be the sssscottish sccent

I guess it’s possible…

I know other microphones which do this, so nobody is shocked when this error turns up.

It is a surprise that the effect resists correcting.

Of course, nobody said you can’t have both. If you have a bright voice and a bright microphone, you might be able to cut wood with the recording.

Do you have a laptop? Do a test recording with the built-in microphone. I know nobody is going to win any awards, but I want to hear what the voice tones do.



Unfortunately my laptop mic is not working properly. When I enable it I get a constant feedback echo noise!

I’ve recorded 2 more using my usb mic. One has full gain and the other has half gain. Neither have been edited.

I’ve recorded 2 more using my usb mic.

I’m not ignoring you. I was typing a response when my internet went down. It’s been dead for about a half-hour. I noticed I wasn’t getting a response to my connection. That’s…special.

Anyway. We need to resolve the broken laptop before we go any further.

Do you like recording YouTube music or shows? Do you use Skype, Zoom or any of the other comm, chat or conference services? Are they running in the background right now?

Do a clean shutdown. Shift+Shutdown > OK. Wait. Start. Do not let anything else start. After it settles down, launch Audacity and see if you still get the screeching. If it seems to be normal, see if you can record a short voice test on the laptop.

Audacity > Edit > Preferences > Recording. Is [X] Playthrough… selected? That can cause this problem. De-select it and restart Audacity.

Did any of that help?



Dont worry. I didn’t think I was being ignored :smiley:

Yes, that helped with speaker and feedback issue. All now seems resolved and screechy (clangers) noise has thankfully stopped.

  • Recording using Lenovo laptop attached.

I didn’t have a newspaper so have improvised with a sheet of A4 printing paper!

  • Recording attached.

I’ve also done a quick test using another mic - UHU condenser with phantom power. It would be good to have your opinion on that as I’m undecided between the UHU and the Maono usb mic at present.

  • Third recording attached!!!

Thanks ever so much for your help.


I think I found all the formulae and spells.

I did corrections on the original clean sound clip, Corsairs.

I applied Audiobook Mastering, Noise Reduction of the Beast followed by DeEssing according to these settings.

Screen Shot 2020-07-18 at 9.01.26 AM.png
Screen Shot 2020-07-18 at 10.38.30 AM.png

That should work. I suppressed all or most of the piercing SS sounds leaving your normal crisp voice and delivery.

Do you remember how you recorded that one?

I’ll catch up with the other tests. I need to play Real Life for a while.


I did notice one other problem while I was messing with that clip. Your “room tone” (background sound) isn’t background sound. It has thumping and shuffling in there. You can’t do that. ACX expects your Room Tone before and after each chapter to sound like quiet rain, almost like you weren’t there.


Thanks for this Koz. I need to clean up my cupboard under the stairs where I record so I don’t bump the mic

Enjoy real life :smiley:

Sorry, I have one last question regarding room tone at the beginning and end of ACX recordings.

Is this something you record separately just before beginning to record a chapter, then paste in after you have edited? i.e the room tone itself does not get edited in any way?

Thanks again

record separately just before beginning to record a chapter

I bet you’re expecting this to be simple…

You may not Generate Silence. Full Stop. It has to be an actual microphone with an actual room, etc.

Room Tone should match the show. Any time you stop talking for any amount of time (theatrical pause…) that background sound should match the Room Tone at both ends of the chapter. You can certainly record a stock of Room Tone and cut it up, paste, copy, etc, any time you want, but be warned it has to match the show. So there is no pasting pre-mastered room tone into a mastered chapter.

You can’t do it in MP3. You can’t edit an MP3 without voice quality declining.

There are slight differences between Save-Project and Export-WAV, although I’m reaching for this one. I don’t expect anybody is going to notice the difference. Use WAV for your Noise Library unless something bad happens.

Also you have to be there, in the booth, when you record it. Your body is part of the room “signature,” so you can’t get up and leave.

There was a poster who recorded Room Tone with this Noise Library idea and found to his horror, he couldn’t cut the background noise into his show without a tick or click at the edit points. I don’t know that we ever found out what went wrong, but that’s very rare.

And last, we should remember that ACX expects all the parts of your book to match; beginning and endings of chapters, and beginning and end of the book. So make that room super comfortable because you won’t be redecorating for a long time.

This is more controversial, but don’t update anything during the book. This will be a serous problem with Windows which sometimes forces an update and you don’t have anything to say about it. But it’s a lot more of a problem if you’re using one computer to do your whole life. So half of your world is going to need the security updates and the other half isn’t.

This brings you to my opinion of not recording your book on the computer at all.

So don’t buy a new computer in the middle of the book and certainly don’t, like one poster did, move houses in the middle of a book.


All great advice Koz. Thank you for this

The de-essing has gone a bit too far: “thith may sound”.

More bands are the answer on this occasion to catch all the whistles …