How to get broadcast-quality audio into Audacity

I record audiobooks.

Currently, I have to run several functions after I record the WAV. (Compressor, Noise Reduction, De-Esser)

My goal, is to “one box” do all this stuff.

e.g. My goal is to simply have the audio coming out of the microphone be so good, that I don’t even need to run any functions after i’m done recording the books.

e.g. I want to get “broadcast-level audio” into Audacity in real-time. (i.e. like an NPR radio broadcast for example.)

Does anyone know what hardware or software I can buy to make that happen?


Audacity does not apply effects in real-time, (other DAWs do).
There are free standalone VST effect hosts (software) which apply VST plugin effects in real-time,
e.g. de-essing, compression, etc,
You could record & edit the output of the VST host in Audacity.
The faster the computer the better, perhaps exploiting the power of a graphics-card to process the audio.

I’d be very surprised if you can read more than a paragraph without some editing being required, let alone a whole book. Provided that the original recording is recorded reasonably well, the time taken in processing a raw (direct from mic to disk) recording, is likely to be insignificant compared to the time spent editing.

The biggest problem for most audiobook producers, is finding, or making, a recording space (the “studio”) that is quiet enough and sufficiently free of echoes.

Probably the biggest downside to processing during recording, is that if you over process, then you have to start again and re-rerecord. (if you under-process, then you’ve gained nothing as you will still need to process after recording).

If you process after recording and over-process, you can simply “Undo”, or restore your backup copy.

“I’d be very surprised if you can read more than a paragraph without some editing being required”

That’s true. I have a special setup. I don’t do it like most narrators. I edit on-the-fly - as i’m recording. e.g. if i make a mistake. I stop and move the caret back 5 seconds. When i breathe, I press a “soft pause button”

Took weeks to perfect the process (using weird buttons and AutoHotKey) but i’m pretty fast now

Hmm ok thanks

So it looks like i need an app to run as a “VST Host”
And this app will create a Virtual Audio Cable.
And then, Audacity will notice the Virtual Audio Cable, and I can direct Audacity to receive the mic input from here.

So I guess i need something like this
But I don’t think this is “real time”

Recommendations welcomed

So I guess i need something like this > > … ments.html
But I don’t think this is “real time”

I’m pretty sure Izotope CAN run in real-time on any of it’s [u]supported hosts[/u].

“Traditionally” you’d probably have a hardware compressor (and possibly an equalizer) between the preamp and recording interface. But, EQ isn’t that common for voice-over/broadcast. They just use a good microphone to accurately capture the sound.

You can also get a [u]channel strip[/u] which replicates on-channel of a hardware mixer with a preamp, compressor, equalizer, and perhaps more. (It might be more cost effective to get an actual mixer with these features, especially if you get a USB mixer so you don’t need a separate interface.)

There are software “channel strip” plug-ins, but IMO this is silly because you can use individual plug-ins. (Plus, you don’t get the advantage of a compressor/limiter in front of the ADC.)

Noise reduction is almost never applied in real time because it requires a “noise fingerprint”. And with a soundproof studio, good low-noise equipment, and a good-strong voice & proper mic placement, etc., you don’t need it.

The recommendations for live reading (occasional peaks around -10dB) and for audiobook submission (peaks slightly less than-3dB) are different. As above, some form of real-time compression and limiting are required similar to broadcast, where the output of the chain is ready for the transmitter (recorder).

especially if you get a USB mixer so you don’t need a separate interface.)

What he said. I’ve seen mixers with the whole compression chain built-in.

And with all of this, a dead-quiet, echo-free room is required. Pumping background noise will get you rejected so fast…

I’m saving this thread. One Pass recording is the holy grail of live reading.


can you point me to one of these?

One Pass recording is the holy grail of live reading.

Of course, that’s done everyday in the news business… And you live with what you get. The studio broadcasts seem generally excellent, but they probably wouldn’t pass ACX.

On-location recording is often noisy, sometimes very noisy, and that adds to the realism! And when the reporting is unintelligible they just apologize and move-on.

On the other end of the spectrum, they spend weeks on the audio for a 90 minute movie, or when recording/producing a CD/album.

can you point me to one of these?

[u]Behringer XENYX X1204USB[/u] (I don’t own that mixer so that’s NOT a recommendation. It’s just one I happen to know-of.)

they probably wouldn’t pass ACX.

Or maybe they would. The Proof Of Performance for a broadcast transmitter system has a noise floor of -60dB. ACX specs are suspiciously close to broadcast equivalents.

[me] Hey, wait. I’ve seen those numbers before…

Production Reading conveniently starts with the microphone which they can sell you, and not the quiet room which they can’t.

Or can they?