Need help to ID problem with Audio book recording.

I have a VO talent who sounds great voice-wise and her sample passes the ACX check technically…but her recording sounds way off to me. I’m actually looking for two things here, 1) confirmation that the audio sounds off to others and 2) what the heck she might do to correct the problem. She has cut back on reverb and is speaking closer to the mic than earlier efforts. While that helped correct the spec-level issues it did little to correct the overall problem that I hear.

Sample is attached. Thanks.

The first thing that hits me, is way too much noise reduction, which causes that “under water” metallic bubbly timbre. I’m guessing that’s because your original unprocessed recording has way too much background noise?

Yes. Nobody passes ACX Noise easily in a home studio and you usually can’t make up for a noisy room with post production effects such as The Dreaded Noise Reduction. It’s almost impossible to make up for room echoes, ever.

I measured one tiny part of the performance background noise as -80dB. Nobody reads that quiet without a lot of help.

It’s possible she’s reading into a microphone system that’s adding noise correction on its own similar to the way on-line voice conferencing or cellphones work. Windows machines can do that by accident.

Do you have the passage you posted before processing? Raw WAV? If you don’t, that’s two errors. Always export WAV copies of first-pass work. That way, as now, if Something Goes Wrong, you can go back to the clean reading and won’t have to perform it again. We can’t take that kind of honky sound error out of a voice.

if you didn’t record or produce the original reading, that’s the third error. If you’re not the original recording engineer, we are now going to play “Telephone,” where we tell you something and you tell them something, and then they tell…etc.

Let us know.