New to ACX and narrating any advice would be appreciated

I have been reading this forum religiously since I have been on ACX as a narrator. I finally received and offer and was ecstatic thinking I was completely ready since I had prepared before posting for projects. I would really like any feed back I can get on the below samples I have provided. I provided one without any mastering (this is sample 1) I have only edited out the bad takes and applied noise removal. The second sample is after I have mastered. I apply a noise removal, equalize, compress (-40 noise floor, 2:1 ratio, -25 for threshold) and then I normalize. I run compression and normalize 3 times to get the number to meet the requirements for ACX. For some reason when I listen to the mastered copy on my laptop I do not hear fuzz in the background as I do on my phone. I have kept all of my edited tracks so I am hoping I am mastering wrong and can fix it. I would love any advice you can give. I am completely new to all of this so I know it’s going to be a learning experience. The equipment I am using is a mac laptop and Blue snowball. My recording space is in a closet in my home and I have put up foam. I don’t mind brutal honesty. I will take it offensive I am coming down to the ending of this project and I am just completely lost so again any advice, suggestions or finger wagging will be appreciated. Thank you so much in advance

sample1 doesn’t seem to have gotten posted.

sample2 is “too quiet” which I would not fault except the you sibilances have an unnatural sounding whistle to them, and I suspect that may be due to the over-application of noise-reduction.

Please post the unprocessed sample so we can see what you are starting with.

I am sure the experts will weigh in but I have battled with noise reduction myself. The main problem was that the default noise reduction value was 20 and I did not know any better and ran it as is. I only run it at 6 now and I usually do that last in my treatments. I found it much harder and voice changing to reduce noise after the fact than to simply record at a lower lever and amplify. The setrms plugin from Koz makes RMS simple.

After guessing and fiddling and trying things I found online, I went back to the basics.
My treatments are only Equalization with the LF Rolloff for Speech setting (also from Koz), de-clicker (downloaded from this site as well), then SETRMS to -22 at the Nyquist prompt and as mentioned, Noise Reduction set at 6dB. On occasion if a chapter has some action, I will need to run the limiter. I sound like myself on a USB microphone and have completed two books on ACX and working a third.

As you are doing, I stumbled and guessed and learned along the way. You will get there!

I would consider the de-clicker (don’t take it personally, I click like mad sometimes and you barely had any) and for your whistling and drawn out esses, just keep in mind that you do that and you will learn to soften those with mouth and mic technique. Think of a listener latching onto those and how distracting they could be. You have a nice and confident voice! I am sure everyone here will tell you that they need to work on their performance, I know I do!

Sorry for the quick and less than detailed response, I am pressed for time. I really wanted to include links to the plug-ins that people on the forum have generously shared. Hopefully someone will jump in and help make sense of my post and provide links.

There is a serious new user problem where a first performance has a number of problems and solving them, instead of fixing things, leads to more problems…

If I wasn’t cheerful enough with that, ACX has a failure called “Overprocessing.” If you got there by beating your sound file with a stick (multiple compressors), the result is probably not going to sound very good and they look for that in further testing.

ACX has two different levels of testing. ACX-Check is only Audacity’s version of the hardware and physical test. Following that is Human Quality Control where someone actually listens to your work. If it sounds stiff and harsh or like a bad cellphone, you will get a rejection notice.

Please create a fresh performance according to this. Record it and post it. Don’t filter or help it.

You may have noticed that the Audacity forum restricts the size of sound postings. That formula sound file should fit.

It’s not unusual for us to be able to create a simple correction suite so you don’t need multiple passes of anything to achieve a good reading. But we do have to start from the beginning. It’s not good for two different people (in different time zones) to slather on corrections.


Dueling posts.

If you’re far enough along with your current suite you may not need any further work. Let us know.


Actually, links and instructions are a constant problem. There’s no telling what sort of corrections a poster will need or what the starting and end points are likely to be.

That and it’s a moving target because some of the tools are overly simple and are “in development.” That’s felt-tip pen on paper napkin programming. “Here. See if that does what you want. Don’t mind the marinara stains.”

Like someone working on your car while you’re driving to the 7-Eleven/Tesco/Piggly-Wiggly.

“At the next stop sign, can you hand me that wrench?”

As we go.


Hi all!
Thank you so much for the responses, I apologize for my late response. Oh my drawn out esses I know they are horrible lol. I try to stay aware but then end up forgetting. I hope I become a lot better at this overall. Thank you Number 400 I will definitely try the de clicker. I have posted sample 2 as I am not sure why it did not post. Unfortunately that first sample was an original without me touching anything. :neutral_face: I fear that is my biggest problem is the volume because this is why I find I have to run compression and normalize so many time to get my RMS to meet ACX standards. All of my original recordings are very low until EQ, Normalize and Compress. Can you tell I am very freshly born into this. :confused: Koz Oh my gosh, I am literally fan girling lol every time I hop on to just read up and get some knowledge I see your post which are so helpful. I have attached a room sample below and also Test 1 and Test 2 are untouched samples too. Test 1 I didn’t touch my gain or volume and Test 2 I put it up to 20. I am feeling a little silly because I am now realizing how low I sound. I don’t know if this helps but I have also provided 17 seconds of the first chapter after I do all the mastering (this includes running both compression and normalize three time) I just need help thank you all so much! It’s so appreciated!

Here is my room tone as well. I could not add it into my last post because I already had 4 attachments. Unfortunately I am very much deep into this project. I fear I may have to start over and although that would be horrible I have to do what needs to be done, but if we can fix this with mastering that would be great. Fingers crossed while I take a leap of faith lol. Also I have saved everything in Wav format I just changed it to mp3 to send through here because the files were too big. Thanks again!

Here are the wav files :slight_smile:

We can make this more complicated.

The forum has about a 2MB file size limit. That works out to about 20 seconds of mono WAV sound file. I didn’t know about the four posting limit, but that wouldn’t surprise me.

So. If we’re analyzing a work that cares about surgically ripping the sound apart and correcting fine details or technical conditions, you’re stuck with WAV, or many people use a file posting service instead of using the tiny forum postings. If you’re posting works which don’t care about that kind of granularity such as theatrical emotion, then yes, you can post MP3.

Please note that ACX requires submission in MP3 and they have some very strict rules for doing it. It is very strongly recommended that ACX Submission is the only place you use MP3 (short of publishing to your iPod for listening at the beach).

I posted a method for forum submission that gathers together different tests in 20 seconds.

Just posting room tone doesn’t tell us anything because the show quality is Room Tone as compared to your voice.

I made a “go off in all directions” mistake. :blush: I didn’t immediately realize there were two different voices in the message thread. Number400 is using the more modern, shortcut tools. You’re still trying to do it the old way with multiple passes of compressor, etc. The English words make a lot more sense now.

I lump the DeEsser and DeClicker into post-production theatrical corrections. In my opinion you should make a reasonable show and pass ACX Check before you get into that.

I drop out in chunks of time to take care of Real Life.

As we go.

Oh, this is Rev1 of AudioBook Mastering.

You can read through that, particularly Notes and Comments, but most important is scroll down to Custom Tools and do that if you haven’t already. Ignore Process. That’s changed three times since I wrote that.


I don’t think the overly crisp gritty sound is you. I think the microphone is doing that. Do a forum test and throw a dish towel over the microphone. Not bath towel, that’s too heavy—or maybe a cotton T shirt.


yes my microphone is a bit old and used. I just purchased the blue Yeti but received it after I started this project and didn’t want to switch microphones in the middle of the project. I have posted my the audio with a light dish towel over the microphone below. :slight_smile:

I’m not sure where to go with this.

The Dish Towel version has better tonal balance, but the towel reduces the overall volume and you don’t have enough volume to begin with. This causes the track to violate the noise specification, which causes tonal distortions, which causes… etc, etc, etc, etc.

This is what recording Audacity is supposed to look like for a normal voice track. Peaks—tips of the blue waves—should get high enough that the multi-colored Audacity volume meters start turning yellow.

Can you do anything to get the volume that high? Keep getting louder and louder and closer and closer until the recording meters come out about right.

Do you have any drivers or adjustments that you could have turned down by accident? From memory, Audacity doesn’t have any adjustments for a USB microphone, but yours might.

I know this is going to sound a little wacky, but if people are writing big checks, it’s good to know how to break your equipment. Surprises are not welcome when you will never be able to record an important performance again, so it’s good to know not only how your machines work well, but how they behave when they don’t.

Can you make your microphone overload? What do you have to do to make the Audacity sound meter go all the way up and turn red? If you have to be an inch a way and screaming, then there’s something wrong. That’s not normal even with home style microphones with “gentle volume.”