Need help with file settings

Sorry to be back so soon. I’m new to audacity and I need to set up audacity to produce files that measure between -23db and 18db and have -3db peak values and a maximum -60db noise floor.

I’m trying to do my own first book narration. Scary stuff.

Can anyone get me to the settings for this setup?

Thank you,

Topic moved to the “Audiobook” section.

Your describing the “ACX standard” except that you are missing one bit of the specification:
“and not sound like it’s been mangled by audio processing”.

Hitting the numbers is relatively easy, and that may get you past the “AXC quality assurance robot”, but then your recording gets listened to by a human where it has to “sound good” (not mangled by post-processing).

The first thing to do is the make a “mono” recording in a “silent” and “echo free” room with a reasonable quality microphone with a pop shield. Set your recording levels so that you are hitting about -6 dB maximum.

When you have that, post a 10 second sample in WAV format that has no processing, no amplifying, no noise reduction, no anything else - just a straight import from the raw recorded track. Ensure that this test sample includes 2 or 3 seconds of room ambiance (hold your breath for a couple of seconds and sit still while you leave the microphone recording).

From that we will be able to tell you how close you are, and if you are in the ballpark, then we can probably suggest what you may need to do to hit the requirement.

See here for how to post a sample:

Attached is my sample audio file for your inspection.

Thank you so much.

Your forum submissions have to go through inspection before they actually post. That’s why they don’t just appear. If you stick with it long enough, that goes away.


I like your voice. You have a good natural meter, presentation and pitch. I can’t help wondering what it would sound like announcing a meteor hitting the earth and wiping out all life as we know it in that voice.


That’s the good news.

This is what a perfect recording looks like.

It’s multiple times louder than your work. This loudness boost is usually needed to make your voice louder than the microphone built-in noise (fffffffffffff) which they all have. Your voice is not louder than that noise and is one of the specification fails.

There are instructions how to painstakingly measure each of the ACX technical specifications, but we have a measurement tool called ACX-Check that does everything in one go.

You install it in Audacity and it appears under “Analyze.” Attached what your clip looks like.
Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 8.07.17 PM.png
It says your voice falls lower than the required loudness, but what it really means is your show is so low volume as to be almost invisible.

What the ACX readings mean:

Describe your recording equipment down to model numbers so we can look them up. It seems you have a “modern” room with no rugs and nothing on the walls. Is that true?

That’s not particularly good news.


Not really sure what to do to fix the things you mention, but here is what I’m using to record. Please tell me more.

Avid M-Audio Fast Track Audio Interface
RODE NT1-A Microphone with Pop Screen
Audio-technica ATH-M30 Headphones
M-Audio AV-32 Speakers

My recording room is a converted closet, carpet on the floor, moving truck blankets on two of the walls nothing on other two walls. Nothing much in the space small table covered with blanket. Speakers, laptop, and audio box on table.

How do I get my voice to the correct RMS? Is this done with the gain or an effect?

I have installed the ACX Check, it is nw available for me to use.

Thank you for helping!

Not really sure what to do to fix the things you mention,

We’ll get there. We should chew on the equipment list a bit. That’s a good list. Did you get it from someone?

What’s the computer?

The rule for wall hangings if you can’t deaden all the walls, is deaden each set of opposing ones. For example North and West. Not North and South.

I have a little voice nagging at me. Your presentation is so low a volume that it’s possible you’re using the wrong microphone. If you’re on a laptop, it’s possible you’re on the laptop microphone instead of the NT1-A. You can check that by scratching each microphone announcing as you go while you record (sample clip). I recently got burned with this when an application got it in its craw to switch microphones on me and I didn’t catch it. My laptop microphone is behind a grill just to the left of the left-hand SHIFT key.


I got storm clouds.

Avid M-Audio Fast Track

You need to get us closer. I get multiple hits when I search for that. Do you have a Fast Track Solo?

We have had troubles with Avid equipment. They’re designed to be plugged into large Avid video editing suites or Pro Tools studios. It can be difficult to find driver software for plain, simple voice recording on an ordinary computer. And if you don’t get the software right, the Fast Track may not work according to factory specifications. That can be very serious on a microphone amplifier.


One day just to do it, I set up in a very quiet third bedroom with a rock band microphone and a simple, small sound mixer on a Mac Laptop. I was able to produce an ACX compatible sound clip by just changing the volume a little bit in post production. All three specifications. No filters or effects.

The guy who does the video lessons on the ACX web page did the same thing with an equipment list very similar to yours. The video has an MBox Mini-2, but that’s no longer available. The Fast Track Solo and Fast Track Duo are the current hero microphone amplifiers.

So we just need to iron out all the kinks. A good kink to iron is make sure you’re using the right microphone.


OK, so here’s the first problem that needs to be resolved. This picture compares your recording with an “ideal” raw voice recording. Note that the “ideal” recording shows the voice waveform peaking to about half the track height whereas the voice waveform in your track is barely visible. Your recording level is about 30 dB too low.
Half track height is about -6 dB. You eventually want your peak level to be -3 dB, so that means that if you start with a recording that is -6 dB it will require +3 dB to bring the level up. Amplifying is not choosy - when you amplify the voice it also amplifies the background noise - ‘everything’ is amplified. So in this “ideal” case, the background noise will be amplified by +3 dB, which will not be a problem.

In your recording, the peak level is -37 dB, so to get that up to -3 dB requires +34 dB of amplification. This is a problem because it raises the noise level by +34 dB.

As koz suggested, let’s go back a step to where you describe your recording setup. Your equipment list sounds good. The Rode microphone is known to be exceptionally quiet and carpets / blankets in your “recording booth” is terrific. Where are you sat? How far from the mic? How and where did you set the recording level?

May I add a little comment here? My apologies if I am interrupting.
As mentioned, your equipment is fine. Being the Mic it is, a Rode, (Go Australia) you need your phantom power turned on. Make sure your gain level is way down when you do turn it on … then watching your audio level meter on Audacity, start talking. Anything will do, just keep talking and slowly bring up your gain until the Meter level is reading about -6DB Maximum. It will fluctuate, but there should be a little peak bar showing at or about, or just above, the -6 mark.
Your mouth position should be somewhere about 2 to 6 inches from the mic. It’s difficult but not impossible.
Put a “screen” directly behind you. It sounds like you have a good setup, but most extraneous noise comes from behind you.

and from personal experience - I’ve found that I get best results for Voice - audio books, using a good Dynamic mic. I use a Shure55SH Series II into a Focusrite Solo pre-amp. With a Dynamic mic, you need to have the Phantom power OFF, and the gain control all the way up. The Dynamic mic will have enough power then. After that, all I have to tweek usually is Normalize and or Limiter.
As an aside, I"ve had very little success using my Condenser mic, It drove me NUTS trying to get consistent levels.

Don’t know if that helps… hope so. Audacity is great software, and it’s fun making it all work together,

Can you tell me what the Phantom power is and where to turn it on?

I’m so new to this that I don’t know what setting to use to try and reach for the perfect recording levels. I will try your suggestions.

Thank you,

The phantom power will be a switch on you mic pre-amp, which will turnn on the 48v power light. Dont turn it on with the gain knob turned up… You can deafen yourself :slight_smile:
Your condenser mic needs it. A dynamic mic doesnt.

There’s the switch at the back on the right of this image,

and the light at the front.

If the “clipping” light flickers, you have the gain up too high. Hmmm, wait, you don’t have a gain control on that unit ! So you will have to control it with the Audacity Recording Level control slider.

I use one of these .

which does have a gain control built in. Very nice unit.

However, keep on trying. Suddenly one day you will have it and it feels great :slight_smile:


i really do appreciate all the help. Is there any of the settings or effects and there settings that you could share with me that I can try. I know I need to have pain in order to gain and I’m sure there will be some.

Thank you,

Which exact model of “Avid M-Audio Fast Track Audio Interface” do you have?

It’s easy to get into the weeds quickly with tech problems, but to recap:

We know what the microphone is. Nice unit.
We know you have a nice voice.

We don’t know which FastTrack you have and it can make a difference.
We don’t know which computer you have. That can make a big difference.

Fill in the holes.


I have attached a new audio clip file and an image file of my ACX Check dialog.

The ACX Check shows that I have somehow reached a pass on all counts. Is this true? I pretty much just played with the mic distance, the Normalize, and the Noise Reduction effects.

Not sure I could d it again, at this point.

My AUDIO Interface is a M-Audio Fast Track (AV-32) from Avid.
My computer is a ASUS Zenbook UX303UB Touchscreen Laptop | Inter Core i7 | 2GB Graphics | Quad HD+ | Windows 10 | 12.0 GB RAM

Please let me know what you think.

Thank you,


These are the “M-Audio Fast Track” models that I can find on-line:
Fast Track USB
Fast Track
Fast Track Pro
Fast Track Ultra
Fast Track Ultra 8R
Fast Track C400
Fast Track C600

The M-Audio AV 32.1 is a three speaker system with two passive AV 32 speakers and 6.5" sub woofer unit.


The exact model I have is M-Audio Fast Track USB 2 Computer Audio Interface as I see it on Amazon.

Thank you,

Interface as I see it on Amazon.

Post the link. When we search we turn up lots of variations. Take a picture of the front page of the instruction book—or scan it.

We can give you general starting points and adjustments and suggest what to look for…if we know what you have.

Yes, your clip does pass ACX requirements, but I’m not sure I totally believe the numbers and as you say, you may not be able to repeat it again and again for a book. I’m playing catch up. You did post a second clip, right?