Mind checking my voice test?

So I’m very interested in doing voice work, primarily I’m interested in voice acting for video games but I enjoy audiobooks and like the idea of recording them myself - especially something that needs character voices as opposed to just narration, but I don’t mind expressive narration. My current job is not remotely related, though my hobby is acting, so I’m hoping I can make a career change to some home recording.

Spent a bit of time looking around the forum and other places, I’m certainly no editing whizz and don’t understand a lot of the things I’m using. But attached is a raw sample straight off the mic - I’m using a Rode NT-USB, 6ft cable, positioned slightly off to the side, supplied curved metal pop filter, in what is basically a blaknet fort on all four sides, no noticeably loud things in here, apart from my 2012 iMac which does have a slight ‘whirr’ but I’ve put a blanket around it (with a cut-out for the screen, just a barrier for the fan noise but they aren’t blocked) and even putting my head up to it I can’t make them out anymore.

I pass on peak, just fail on the RMS, and fail fairly well on noise level. Just applying the audiobook mastering steps from the wiki gets me to a pass on all three though, noise at -65. If I apply noise reduction of the beast before mastering that gets me to -70.

Would love to know if there’s anything you’d recommend technically for starters, and any feelings on theatricality - I know that’s the be all end all for ACX and there’s no way to know what it’ll be until you’ve recorded an entire book, but any feelings on how my voice is just to listen to, and I’m very worried about the ‘wet mouth’ noises, and things like ess and pop.

I’ve been acting on the stage for nearly two decades, so hoping that’s done me some good for this realm!

I pass on peak, just fail on the RMS, and fail fairly well on noise level.

The goal is not to announce straight into ACX compliance. Nobody can do that reliably. If your announcing sound peaks occasionally reach up to about -6dB to-10dB (blue waves about half-way tall), that will give you enough elbow room to do some theatrical expression without clipping, overloading, or other sound damage. Then, Audiobook Mastering will smooch you into compliance. If you’ve been “reading the mail,” you know these tools were chosen, including that particular noise reduction, so nobody can hear them working. You sound exactly like you except you pass audiobook standards.

And you do.

The theater helps. If you already know how to act, that goes a long way in pushing your career. It doesn’t say so explicitly in the introduction, but the “real” goal is to make me want to buy that milk. Not just get through the words without, as my joke goes, “scaring the horses.”

I can’t think of anything else. I can listen to a book in that voice.

There is an abbreviated Macro version of Mastering. So mastering a chapter works out to one step instead of three. And any minute I’m going to find it…

Koz

Audiobook-Mastering-Macro.txt (498 Bytes)
Yes, it is a plain, ordinary text file and should install in your Audacity 3.1.3 Tools > Macros. Then, select your chapter > Tools > Apply Macro > Audiobook-Mastering-Macro. No “Enter.” It just does it.

If you open the text file in your text editor, it will seem to be a clutch of random words and instructions.

Screen Shot 2022-04-11 at 2.09.39 AM.png
But if you stretch the text window really wide, the text will organize itself into a line of file and publication information followed by the three Mastering tools.

Screen Shot 2022-04-11 at 1.58.10 AM.png
I don’t remember if I ever published the jobs of those three tools.

The first one, Filter Curve is a rumble filter. It gets rid of thunder, earthquakes, some low pitch wind noises, and the odd insistence of many home microphones to inject rumble into every performance. It’s designed after the rumble filter option included in many field or Outside Broadcast sound mixers and microphones.

The next one sets overall loudness (RMS) and the last one goes through and gently squashes any tips and peaks that try to exceed the ACX Peak specification.

Good luck,

Koz

Koz,

Appreciate the very speedy feedback, and your technical but clear advice. Especially aiming for a peak of -10db to -6db while recording - I know I’ve got to get the hang of watching the monitor to keep volume consistent throughout the recording, especially when adding in some of that theatrical expression.

I have indeed picked up that my goal should be to do as little as possible to my recording, and what is done to be as unnoticeable as possible - very many thanks to everyone who contributed to those tools, settings, and the wiki and forum here. Brilliant work. Likewise thank you for the macro, I had come across it on another topic you’d contributed to (there are many, of course) but appreciate the fetch and explanation of what it’s doing.

That’s pretty much what I was looking for, thank you.

Long way to go, but at least I can make a confident start. Hopefully I’ll return in not too long and let you know how I’m getting on - and hopefully not because I’ve had a catastrophe…

Cheers
Chris

We note that ACX Quality Control is so strict that we expect an audiobook submission to be successful almost anywhere else. The worst you would have to do is change the overall volume a bit if the new client needed that for production matching.

Also pay attention to the client submission standards. ACX requires you to submit MP3 at Constant Bitrate, 192 quality. Mono (one blue wave) is requested, Stereo (two blue waves) if you absolutely have to.

Other clients may have other standards.

Do Not use MP3 in the middle of production. Export your Edit Master Archive in WAV (Microsoft) 16 bit.

MP3 gets its tiny, efficient, convenient sound files by re-arranging your voice tones … and leaving some of them out. If you make an MP3 from an MP3, it does it twice. By the third time you don’t have a show any more.

Koz

I know I’ve got to get the hang of watching the monitor to keep volume consistent throughout the recording, especially when adding in some of that theatrical expression.

There is a trick for that. It’s also a terrific idea to listen to yourself on big, wired headphones while you perform and get good at changing theatrical expression without getting louder. The headphones help you do that.

Your microphone or microphone interface may allow that. Many do. As a rule, you can’t listen directly to your computer because of delays in recording and playback.

Wireless headphones and earbuds need not apply. Whatever you choose needs to have a good seal against your ear so as not to leak sound into the microphone. Wireless services are married to the network services in the computer and can’t be applied to devices outside the computer. You can listen that way during editing and simple playback, but not during live performances.

Also there’s the thing about BlueTooth causing some sound distortions.

Koz

Thanks again and all noted. I don’t have the greatest headphones, but they are wired and sealed - from what tests I can manage I’m confident there’s no sound leaking back to the mic, which does indeed have a jack for live monitoring. Had plenty of experience of the dreaded bluetooth audio delay, no interest in trying to deal with that during a recording.

Likewise on the WAV, I intend to keep saves of raw, edited, and mastered files in WAV, mp3 only for final exports where requested.

I am relatively new to Audacity, although not to audio editing (Dalet and Hindenberg in my past). I just set up home recording booth and I am aiming to meet ACX requirements. I am using a Peavey PVM-80 Dynamic microphone and a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 3rd Generation audio interface on a Macbook. I have reccorded a sample according to your group guidelines. Feedback is welcome.

Problem #1: Excessive sibilance, curable with de-esser, e.g. desibilator plugin … https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/updated-de-clicker-and-new-de-esser-for-speech/34283/199
suggested settings #.png
[ After De-essing you can boost treble a little ].

Problem #2: Some room reverb. The free version of Couture plugin can help reduce it somewhat.

Problem #3: Needs de-clicking … https://forum.audacityteam.org/t/updated-de-clicker-and-new-de-esser-for-speech/34283/1

Excessive sibilance

Something happened. Dynamic (moving coil) microphones can sound loud, but are generally not bright and crisp. Also, they’re not known for high volume and thus give a slightly louder than normal background noise.

You have a very, very low, well-behaved background noise. !???! I think either you or something on your machine applied noise reduction or other processing to your presentation. That can cause sound damage if not carefully controlled and that’s what Trebor is fixing with those patches. Your supplied sample has a background noise value of -83dB. That’s impossible.

Even if you didn’t intentionally apply recording filters, the computer may have applied them to “help you.” Most processing is not welcome when your goal is simple, clean voice recording—as for audiobooks.

Any of this ring a bell? Do you like to use Skype, Zoom, Meetings, or other chat applications? They can leave processing tools lying around willy-nilly to trap the unwary.

Koz

If the sample is normalized to -20dB RMS the lead-in noise is -70dB which is possible without processing if they have professional mic/pre-amps.

Yes, but… Catskill’s Cows are supposed to be posted with no processing or adjustments. Record it, cut it to size, export, and post it. You can’t do a meaningful discussion of corrections if you’re fighting already existing corrections.

We’ll see what the poster has to say. I’m on the edge of my seat (and it’s a little rough to sleep this way).

Koz

I use facetime, facebook messenger videochat and zoom for videochatting. Is there something any of these apps might have done to my machine without my knowledge? If so, how to remove the effects. Also, I downloaded the desibilator and installed it in Audacity, but - as a rather technically inept greenhorn - I have no idea where to find the access to the plugin within Audacity, to apply the range adjustments suggested by Trebor. If you can direct me to a manual section I would appreciate it.

By the way, Koz, the audiobook mastering macro works wonders. Now if I can figure out how to activate the de-essing plug-in and deal with any ghost-fixers to my basic input, I may have a chance.
cheery bye,
John

Here’s how to install the desibilator (i.e. Nyquist-type) plugins …
https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/installing_effect_generator_and_analyzer_plug_ins_on_mac_os_x.html#nyquist_install

After installing plugins they have to be enabled in the plugin-manager before they appear on the effects menu …
https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/manage_effects_generators_and_analyzers.html

Thank you Trebor. Your patience and help are both welcome and appreciated. The desibilator works fine.
Cheery bye,
John.

There are DeBreath plugin$, but I’ve never seen one work in Audacity.

Audacity’s Envelope tool can be used to manually attenuate each breath, but it will take an eternity …

Usually attenuate rather than completely-remove breath sounds … https://youtu.be/94AIKcLAfCA

Is there something any of these apps might have done to my machine without my knowledge?

All of them configure the sound pathway behind the scenes. That was the breakthrough that let you effortlessly push a button and talk to nine other people without their combined noise swamping the call.

I know the Mac thing is to leave applications “conveniently” running in the background so to be immediately to hand, but that’s not a good idea in this case. Shut down the Mac, wait, and Start it. Don’t let anything start automatically. See if the odd noise suppression—and possibly the crisp sibilance goes away.

Yes, mouth noises and gasping are hard. My announcing is a festival of odd oral sounds. Gasping is particularly hard because the desperation method of Enveloping your way out of trouble isn’t the best solution. That leaves odd “holes” and pumping noise. What you’re supposed to do is carefully paste background noise (room tone) over your gasp so everything matches.

Punch In is reported to be the tool of choice for this. I’ve never tried it.

https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/tutorial_punch_in_repair_of_recordings.html

There was a forum poster asking for help who was clinically asthmatic. The samples were painful to listen to. They were the poster child for someone who should probably not be doing voice work. There was another worst-case poster who assured us they were going to patch and clean up their reading word at a time. They’re probably still doing it to one job years later.

Koz