Need help with settings please

I’m trying to use Audacity to record my book to an audiobook through ACX productions. I’m using the audacity 2.0.5 version and I have a blue snowball microphone with a filter. I had submitted a sample recording to ACX and received the following response. Can someone please help me obtain these required settings. I am very new to all this and am teaching myself as I go along and I have no idea how to get these settings. The response reads below. Thanks :0)

"The main issue here is that the file was recorded and mastered at too low a level (-30dB RMS). Because of the low input signal, there is a poor signal-to-noise ratio. Thus, when the volume of the file is brought up to a usable volume, it exposes noise artifacts that may not be heard at lower volumes. This is resulting in a loud noise floor level when the volume is brought up.

I suggest re-recording this file with a stronger input signal. Increase the gain on your preamp or microphone until the audio is peaking around -8dB. This should give you a good input signal level, while also leaving headroom for post-production processing.

Then, in the mastering process, normalize your files to -3dB (peak), to ensure that your files are within the ACX mastering requirements. ACX requires submitted files to measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS, with a maximum peak level of -3dB."

We have a pretty good record of getting people published, but it’s not a slam dunk. ACX requires studio level performances and you may not be able to get that from just parking a microphone on your desk or table.

We have some custom tools for you to install and one handy-dandy analysis tool which will tell you what ACX is going to say ahead of time—without submitting anything.

But the first step is upgrade to the current Audacity 2.1.3 from here.

Audacity 2.0.5 is very old and not directly supported. Do you have a bunch of custom audio filters, Audacity effects or add-on software? If you do, you should just do a regular install and the new Audacity should leave them alone. If you don’t, it is recommended that you tick the box that says reset all the preferences and settings. That will give you a fresh Audacity without any baggage.

blue snowball microphone with a filter.

Pop and blast filter? Like a tennis racket in front of the microphone?

That’s the black thing between Chris Pratt and the microphone.

First bad news. Can you tell if the computer is on just by listening? Does it have fan noise or worse, a fan that goes on and off? What’s the computer?

We’ll talk you through the “noise floor” “dB levels,” yadda, yadda.


Can you read? I don’t mean can you turn printed words into meaning. I mean do you enjoy reading stories out loud to children or relate experiences to adults without them running away with hands over their ears?

I’m reading over a paper I wrote on AudioBook Mastering to see if it’s still current and that’s one of the considerations.

You don’t have to read CNN, BBC, or NPR quality. One of my favorite AudioBook readers is Sarah Vowell. She has a very unusual reading style that I can listen to for hours.


"The main issue here is that the file was recorded and mastered at too low a level (-30dB RMS). Because of the low input signal, there is a poor signal-to-noise ratio.

Set the switch on your snowball to position-1 (directional with no pad). Then if the signal isn’t strong-enough, try getting closer to the mic and/or practice speaking louder. This is where you can help the signal-to-noise ratio by capturing a strong acoustic signal to overcome any acoustic or electrical noise. Cranking-up the volume later boosts the signal and noise together which doesn’t affect the signal-to-noise ratio, but as they said it makes the noise more noticeable.

Sometimes noise reduction can help, but there are often side-effects and it’s always best to prevent as much noise as possible from the start.

I suggest re-recording this file with a stronger input signal. Increase the gain on your preamp or microphone until the audio is peaking around -8dB.

That’s reasonable, but don’t worry if it’s a little louder. The main thing is to avoid “trying” to go over 0dB because your analog-to-digital converter can’t go over 0dB and it will clip (distort). It’s OK if you get close to 0dB, but if you’re hitting 0dB (before any adjustments) you’re probably clipping…

RMS is a kind of average that correlates somewhat to perceived loudness. A higher RMS level will sound louder, but higher peaks won’t necessarily sound louder.

The ratio (difference*) between dB and RMS is constant when you (linearly) change the volume… If you boost the RMS level by +3dB, the peaks will also go up by +3dB. Dynamic compression & limiting can bring the peak & RMS closer together. Note that compression & limiting make the quiet parts louder and/or the loud parts quieter so it makes the signal-to-noise ratio worse. You can also reduce the difference by using the Envelope Tool to boost the quiet parts and/or reduce the loud parts.

There is an [u]ACX Check Plug-in[/u] for Audacity.


  • Decibels are logarithmic so the difference is a ratio.

Thanks for the responses so far but I still need to know how to set my settings to meet the requirements as stated in my original question. I have everything else set up to satisfaction. Sound controlled room, mic set up etc. I’ve already researched all the tips on that stuff. I just need to know how to adjust my settings to that of what is in the original post. If anyone could tell me how, it would be greatly appreciated.

OK. Working backwards.

Starting with Audacity, make sure the input level control is all the way up (microphone symbol).

Audacity doesn’t apply any corrections or filters on recording.

Then make sure Windows is turned up. Right-Click on the speaker symbol, lower right. While you’re in there, make sure Windows isn’t trying to “help you” by applying chat or conference voice corrections, noise cancellation or environment suppression.

Then, as above, make sure your microphone switch is at #1 (directional, no pad) and you’re speaking into the company logo.

This is the link to the AudioBook Mastering Suite Version 4

The tools only work in Audacity 2.1.3 or later. Please don’t ad lib or leave tools out. The steps are tested as a suite and depend on each other.

Write back if you have problems.


Here’s some Real Life.

The two clips are raw recording and after processing in the AudioBook Suite.

The microphone system is noisy (fffff), so it took 9dB of simple noise reduction to get rid of it. That would never happen with a theatrical microphone.
Screen Shot 2017-09-23 at 14.57.08.png

Hi Koz, thank you for all your help. I applied your feedback and downloaded the 2 plugins you recommended. I resubmitted my sample to ACX and this time it passed :0)