Newborn narrator

Hi there! I’m REALLY new at this but I’ve been trying to read up before jumping in but there’s a lot to process (I know I’m not telling you anything you don’t know). I was reading this post viewtopic.php?f=64&t=85848 and ran through the steps there (though I’m beginning to suspect that those steps are for that persons file and not a cure-all). I ran the ACX-check file and the raw file fails with RMS levels, but running through those steps brings the RMS to acceptable, but raises my noise floor up to fail by just a tick. I was hoping to get some advice on what to do. Would the steps be the same with just some adjustment on the settings or should I be trying something else? I’m attaching the raw file which hopefully follows the submission requirements. It cuts off at the end, I just used a part of a chapter.

Oh, I’m a Macbook Pro, using a Blue Yeti with pop filter on the cardioid setting with the gain set at about the 2 o’clock position.

Any advice would be great! This forum has already been incredibly helpful and hopefully I’ll get the swing of this before too long.

I’ve posted many times I wish there was a one-button solution for posting ACX work.

[X] ACX Compliant

But not so far. Home Recording comes with a rainbow of problems. Drag-Select the area between 1/2 second and 1-3/4 sec. Run ACX-Check. Read Noise. I get -60. That means you can’t do anything else wrong in your reading. Any corrections or changes are going to screw up noise.

While it’s selected > Effect > Amplify > Enter.

Play it.

That should give you a rain-in-the-trees or surfing hiss. You have truck-going-by rumble or roar. This kills you when you start applying effects and voice corrections because you’re constantly fighting high noise level. If you can’t hear it, then you’re fighting another favorite home recording problem. Bad speakers or poor headphones (or in some cases bad human).

Let’s assume you can hear it. Mmmmmmmmmmmm in addition to the shshshshshsh which is normal.

That’s 120Hz roar typical of a motor or fan system (in the US). Do you have your Yeti on a desk? Try putting it on a book on a towel on the desk. Regular book/novel, not paperback. Fold the towel over several times. Make a test recording and see if the roar goes down or changes. Either is good.

If you’re in a heavily air-conditioned room, turn off the A/C temporarily and make a test.

Let us know, or just post the test(s). That first test was perfect, by the way. It told me exactly what I heeded to know.

I personally don’t like the background room/echo in your voice, but those performances seem to go straight through and yours isn’t particularly bad.


Attached. Book with towel. That will greatly suppress hum or rumble coming up through the desk. Also note the furniture moving pad on the desk. That’s not an accident. That’s to suppress desk slap and comb-filter effects in your voice. Vocal clarity goes up.

You can use a blanket or more towels.


You can go a long way to getting sound levels right by adjusting the system so that your voice spends a lot of time bouncing around the yellow zone, -6. Yes, that means you have to watch the meters and your script at the same time. After a while you get used to self-monitoring your voice and not need to do that. No, you can’t put sticky tape and magic marker labels on the knobs.

I don’t care where you have the knobs set. They should be where they need to be to make the sound meters work. If the knobs “run out” then you need to change your recording technique—get closer or louder, etc.



Thanks for getting back to me. I amplified the area you wanted and yeah, I hear that hiss. In that test, I’ve got the Yeti on 3 paperbacks that are on a towel. The towel is on a desk that’s in a closet (after several tries that was the only place I could find in the house that could get even close to ACX passing). I turned off the AC before recording, but I’m in a subdivision that has houses fairly close to ours, so I wonder if it’s another AC unit… I’ll try a different book and fold up the towel.

Could the background room/echo in my voice be from being in a closet? Not a walk-in either, just a regular closet. Maybe it’s bouncing off the back wall. I might try coming out into the room or maybe put up some foam on the back of the closet wall (it’s only about 20 or so inches away from my face, though I’m speaking at an angle to the wall).

So, since my noise floor is right at the bare minimum, after narrating the book, if I try any filters, I’m screwed? So my best bet is to get my noise floor lower somehow. Maybe there is some other place in the house I haven’t tried yet.

I appreciate all the help and I may post another test to see if I can improve things. Thanks again!


I amplified the area you wanted and yeah, I hear that hiss.

That’s normal. But do you hear the roar sound? MMMMMMMMMMMMMM.

I can force the clip to pass, but I have to do a list of things to it and some of the corrections can affect the sound.

that was the only place I could find in the house that could get even close to ACX passing

Isn’t that fun? Humans “tune out” sound that they live with day after day. I used to live in Upstate New York in a farming community where the night sound volume was statistically zero. People used to come up from New York City to visit and they couldn’t sleep because “The City Noise” was missing.

OK, let’s assume we’re stuck with that.

LF Rolloff (rumble filter)
– Select the whole clip or show by clicking just above MUTE.
– Effect > Equalization: LF Rolloff for speech, 8191 Length > OK

Let me know if you don’t already have that filter. It’s downloadable.

Notch Filter
– Select the whole clip or show by clicking just above MUTE.
– Effect > Notch Filter: 120 Hz, Q6 > OK

Noise Reduction
– Drag-select Room Tone. In your case, 0.5 to 1.5.
– Effect > Noise Reduction: Profile
– Select the whole clip or show by clicking just above MUTE.
– Effect > Noise Reduction: Settings 6, 6, 6 > OK

Audio Compressor
– Select the whole clip or show by clicking just above MUTE.
– Effect > Normalize: [X]Remove DC, [X]Normalize to -3.2 > OK
– Effect > Compressor: Thresh -20, Floor -50, Ratio 2:1, Attack 0.2, Release 1.0, > OK
– Effect > Normalize: [X]Remove DC, [X]Normalize to -3.2 > OK

ACX Check (attached).

The better your studio is, the fewer of those corrections you need.
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Corrected Clip.

Let me know where you get stuck in that list.


If you’re in the closet, so to speak, then leave the heavy winter clothing in there. Nothing soaks up echoes like fur-lined leather and puff-quilted Dacron.

Go to the rug store at night and steal some remnants and scraps. Put those on the floor. The rule is no two opposing flat surfaces. If you can’t soundproof the ceiling, soundproof the floor.


Each of those corrections is very gentle except for the notch filter. Notch just brutally cuts a hole in your show where that MMMM sound is. If your voice pitch happens to hit that tone, it will not be pretty. It would be really good if you can find where that tone is coming from.

Open the raw clip. Drag-Select 0.5 to 1.5. Analyze > Plot Spectrum. See that purple spike at 120? That’s what the notch filter suppresses. That’s your fan noise…I guess. It’s just inside the natural voice area.

The gentle corrections are why you still sound like you even after that list of software. Each step corrects the sound just a little bit.

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I can’t thank you enough for all your help! I’ve left as much clothes in the closet as I can and still fit in there, but I think I’ll put up a blanket on the back wall that I’m facing. If I’m still picking up noise, I’ll figure out a way to hang a blanket over the top of the closet that will drape down behind be to try and cut out some more and see if I can get rid of that MMMMM. I’ll post a new sample after some of the adjustments to the closet.

Again, thank you so much for taking time to help!


Are you a top floor apartment? Where are the air handlers and cooling compressors?

The Yeti set for Cardioid (recommended) has a heart-shaped (kidney shaped) pattern.

Sound directly behind the microphone doesn’t do anything. Sound on the sides does OK and sound from the front is terrific. Soundproof behind your head.

The closed-box voice sound is pure artistic decision. We are really looking for that MMMMM sound. That’s the one that affects all the correction tools, speed of production, voice quality, etc.

If you do this enough, you get so you can hear problems like that without Audacity. You defeat that part of your head that likes to tune those things out. I can’t walk into a big room without looking around for where I’m going to put the microphones.

“We’ll need to turn the ceiling lights off. That hum will drive us nuts in post.”

Another trick. Start a recording and pick up the Yeti (announce what you’re doing). If the hum suddenly vanishes, then it was coming from the desk. If you already have a towel there, then my guess is no. If the cable is long enough, gently push the Yeti against one of the walls. My guess is the hum is going to go - mmmmmmmmmmMMMMMMMMMMMM.


You don’t have the computer in the same room with you, right? Could we be listening to the computer fan?



I’m doing the recording on the second floor of my house. We have dual zone AC, and I turned off the upstairs one, but I don’t think I did the downstairs. And yeah, the AC/furnace fans are right above my head up there. So I’ll make sure I turn both of those off today and try it. No light or ceiling fan on.

I did have the laptop in with me. I never heard the fan kick on (that’s one of those noises I actually hear when it happens), but I do have a monitor I could put in there and maybe get a separate keyboard so that the Macbook isn’t in with me. I had put it as far away from the Yeti as I could and still be able to see Audacity and hit keys, but maybe that wasn’t enough. I am going to double up on the towels on the desk and hang a blanket on the back wall and see if that helps too.

Oh, and yes, I had the Yeti set on Cardioid.



Ok, here’s a new raw file. I’ve also attached my ACX check. Just out of curiosity (fixing my ignorance) what’s the difference between the two Noise Floor readings?

I’ve got a real book under the microphone, and a several-folded up towel under that now. My computer is out of the closet, as far as I could get it away from the microphone. I turned off the AC and what MAY have made the difference (if the MMMMM is really gone) is I turned off a pump for a fish tank downstairs. After waiting on someone down the street to knock it off with a saw, I got this. I think (if I’m reading this right) that I’m at least getting closer, yes? I just need to not spike so much?

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The figures look very close. A very small amount of “limiting” (Limiter effect) should sort those peaks out. b Try it with the default settings.

The Macs tend to make very little or no noise. I can just hear my MBP if I jam my ear in just the right place at the hinge to the left, behind the ESC key. Otherwise, nothing. The person who does the ACX demo videos has his MBP in the studio with him right behind the microphone. No noise. You might mention that the next time somebody pokes fun at you for “overpaying” for your computer.

The two noises are “flat” and “A Weight.” “A Weight” is the magic one. That one biases the measurement the same way your ear does. Your ear doesn’t do well with high pitch and low pitch sound, so the system pays less attention to those. Note the A measurement is always quieter than the other one. Most of the public safety measurements are based on A.

However, A is harder to measure and it’s not the one ACX uses. ACX uses the flat, unbiased measurement, which does have a name. It’s either C or X weighing, but nobody ever says that. This can be important because X weighing measures stuff you can’t hear.

Inexpensive microphones tend to produce sound you can’t hear. Not good news.

See attached. All that purple to the left of 20Hz is not sound and shouldn’t be there. In the restricted case of voice recording, everything to the left of 100Hz or so shouldn’t be there, either. All that garbage is pushing your noise measurements up for no good reason. The first filter I applied is Steve’s LF_Rolloff. This is a carefully designed Equalizer plugin that leaves as much as possible the human voice alone but dumps all that bad sound into the trash—including, by the way, 60Hz, the power system tone in the US.

But it won’t touch 120Hz.

I need to leave for a bit. As we go.

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Is PJTest2.wav with no processing…I hope?

We warn people not to submit processed work because we can’t tell what happened and we can’t take processing out.


Yeah, PJTest2.wav is without any processing.

I appreciate the info. It’s all good to know. This narration I’m doing is for a friend, and if it works out, the first thing I’ll invest in will be a new mic setup.

Also, good to know about the Mac and little noise. Might try putting it back in there.

Yeah, PJTest2.wav is without any processing.

Most Cool.

Take a breath.

– Select the whole clip or show by clicking just above MUTE.
– Effect > Normalize: [X]Remove DC, [X]Normalize to -3.2 > OK

In English, I reduced the volume a little bit.

That’s the entire list of clip corrections.


It doesn’t pass by much, and there’s little things that can be done here and there to make conformance a little more secure, but given a good microphone and a quiet room, you too can crank out ACX quality performances. I did it once in my third bedroom just to make sure I wasn’t blowing smoke on the forum.

I need to sit in the corner and try different techniques to see what’s best given you’re going to be reading for hours and the quality is going to shuffle a little.

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