Punch/copy/paste and the order of effects for audiobook

Hi! I’m following Audacity’s recommended procedure for audiobook mastering. It’s stated to do this prior to applying any other effects.
Does this include Punch/copy/paste, which appears on the effects menu - but looks like an edit tool? Am I being too literal?
I’m working from spare room and need to apply noise reduction in order to pass ACX check. Keen to get things in the right sequence from the start. Thanks for your help. Gill

“Punch Copy / Paste” and “Noise Reduction” are tools for repairing a poor recording. Ideally they shouldn’t be necessary at all, though it is hard to achieve low enough noise levels consistently without a little bit of help from these kind of tools.

To do “what” before applying any other effects?

Do you mean this: Missing features - Audacity Support

Thanks! Yes I was starting from the page on your link. Now feeling very stupid because, on re-reading, it clearly states:

“Start this process with an unedited recording. No processing, adjustments or fixes.”

So, I think, my process needs to be to master as directed on that page before dealing with any unwanted breaths etc. I am failing ACX test on noise floor but can consistently pass with the help of noise reduction - is that the next step, in sequence? (I need to optimise my settings for noise reduction, but that’s another story.)
Thanks for bearing with me. :slight_smile:

Am I being too literal?

I think you are scrambling your tools. Punch/Copy/Paste series isn’t for background noise. That’s for tongue ticks, lip smacks, and epiglottal pops. Tiny, sharp, annoying sounds that distort smooth, pleasant speech.

I’m working from spare room and need to apply noise reduction in order to pass ACX check.

You should do everything possible to avoid background noises in original readings. I published the Kitchen Table Sound Studio…

…and there’s no shortage of methods of soundproofing a room with common materials like blankets and towels.

There’s some tricks too, like never set a microphone directly on a table.

Effect > Noise Reduction isn’t “free.” It causes voice distortion and your job is to arrange the tool’s adjustments for the least damage. In addition, Noise Reduction isn’t the only tool that can reduce noise. Rumble equalizers, notch filters, and the mosquito filter can all be used to “clean up” your show, depending on what’s wrong. You shouldn’t need any of them.

Past the voice quality damage, there’s the corporate/business problem. How much time do you spend cleaning up your work? You should be cleaning up your studio and you only have to do that once.

Noise Reduction can be used for converting a just barely passing performance to easily passing. In hard numbers, that’s using Noise Reduction of the beast (6, 6, 6) to move ACX Check from -62dB noise to -68dB noise.

Post a raw sound test.



One other note. When you do patching and corrections, you should play through the whole corrected segment at speed to make sure your corrections are smooth and graceful.

Creating a messy, noisy original performance dooms you to days of post-production patching.


Cheers Koz.
I’m an author narrating comic fiction which has a lot of dialogue and changes of pace, so keeping the edit smooth is really important to me.

I think your studio is fine. I applied Audiobook Mastering (which fails) and then slightly stiff Noise Reduction of 8, 6, 6.

Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 8.08.24 AM.png
I sometimes tell people to read that like they’re trying to sell me milk. It makes zero difference to the analysis, but it makes my right-brain creative side feel good. Also, since you’re a performer now, you need to be able to slap back and forth between different theatrical presentations. There was one forum poster that only had one theatrical “speed,” and couldn’t change it. They’re doomed, although we didn’t say so.

That’s the good news.

Your microphone or recording system likes being bright and crisp, some would say sharp and gritty. I suspect that’s where your background noise, that sssssss leaking air sound is coming from. Some home microphones sell that as a “professional sound.” It makes my ears hurt.

It also accentuates mouth noises and some paper and clothing sounds. You might find if your microphone didn’t do that, you would have a lot fewer patching and corrections to do.

So how are you recording your voice? What’s the microphone and how is it connected?

I took some of that out as a test.


Sorry. Missed one. Your recorded volume is low.

How you did it (blue waves lower right).

1-Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 8.47.42 AM.png
About here would be minimum volume.

2-Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 8.43.15 AM.png
And even louder would be OK.

3-Screen Shot 2022-06-30 at 8.47.26 AM.png
To get to that last one, I doubled your recorded volume…twice. That might be rough for a home microphone to do and we can use what you have. It just takes some serious volume boost to get to ACX acceptance. I only bring it up because low recording volume can produce background noise problems.


This is all so helpful, thank you. :sunglasses:
I was concerned from the start that I couldn’t get the recording volume any higher. I’m using a dynamic mic ATR2100x-USB on a stand. This was recommended on an audiobooks for authors course, and I get the logic of that for a home set-up - the condenser mic I’ve used before picked up the dust settling, never mind kids, dogs, airbase etc. Do I just need a better mic?

Hwvr, the ‘made easy’ course taught a specific process involving compression which ended up exaggerating every breath and was going to make editing my particular material a nightmare. So I abandoned that and looked more closely at Audacity’s own recommendations.

I really do want to get this right because I have other audiobook projects I want to work on.

It is interesting though the things that annoy us, once we notice them. I’m critical of mouth clicks now, but wary of using de-clicker because it seems to blunt the sound.

the condenser mic I’ve used before

Which one? Do you still have it?


the condenser mic I’ve used before picked up the dust settling, never mind kids, dogs, airbase etc. Do I just need a better mic?

Here’s the thing… Condenser mics are usually more sensitive than a dynamic mic but microphones are linear so they pick-up more signal and more noise so the (acoustic) signal-to-noise ratio remains the same and once you adjust the volume there is no difference.

A directional mic helps because a non-directional mic picks-up noise from all around.

But, if you’ve got preamp noise (usually hiss) a stronger signal from the microphone will give you a better (electronic) signal-to-noise ratio.

Getting closer to the mic (as long as you are not too close) and speaking with a strong-confident voice improves both the acoustic and electronic signal-to-noise ratio.

Condensers also tend to more sensitive in the high frequencies. They tend to sound more “crispy” with enhanced “T” and “S” sounds (and “enhanced” breathing). But, that’s also something that can be adjusted after recording.

Hwvr, the ‘made easy’ course taught a specific process involving compression which ended up exaggerating every breath and was going to make editing my particular material a nightmare. So I abandoned that and looked more closely at Audacity’s own recommendations.

Unfortunately, the Audacity-recommended procedure does the same thing (although maybe not as bad). Normally, you end-up boosting the volume to hit the RMS loudness target. So of course, that boosts the background noise along with the “signal”. Then the peaks are usually too high so you use Limiting. (Limiting is a fast-kind of dynamic compression.)

Dynamic compression boosts the quiet parts or lowers the loud parts. (It’s most often used to make “everything louder”.) By reducing (compressing) the dynamic range you ALWAYS make the signal-to-noise ratio WORSE! :frowning:

BTW - A Noise Gate is a dynamic expander. It’s a downward expander that makes quiet parts quieter (or silences them completely). Compression is used “everywhere” in audio production but a noise gate is usually the only place you’ll see expansion used.

I have to dive in and out of this for the afternoon. I have to play “real life.”

a specific process involving compression

Do you wear good quality, sealed-on-the-head headphones during the performance?

Your microphone has provision for that in the bottom. You can’t use wireless headphones.

That and an occasional glance at the blue waves will go a long way to not needing volume-correcting compression. You can hear yourself getting louder and softer in real time and make positioning and sometimes unconscious corrections as you go. A couple of chapters in and you don’t even think about it any more.

There is a New User “joke” that you get to the end of your first book, make a face, and re-read the first couple of chapters.

Do you have a method of publicly posting good quality voice work longer than ten seconds?

This is a segment from another posting about making sound files.


There are some interesting ways to deal with the shortcomings of “home microphones.”

The usual recommendation for announcing into a microphone is suspend it about a Hawaiian Shaka in front of your face.

If you pull it slightly high, you have room to put your paper script or Script Reading Device. Another variation on that is park a pop and blast filter (black tennis racket) between you and the microphone and shrink the distance to one power fist. That’s good to suppress P-Popping, thumping, and some breath noises.

Paper is recommended, by the way. It’s possible to have an iPhone or iPad radiate trash into your performance.


All that is normal microphone behavior passed down through the ages.

But with the advent of hyper-quiet home microphones, you might want to try a variation.

This is oblique placement (B).

Leave out the pop and blast filter and move the microphone opposite your cheek rather than your lips.

And get closer. You will find you can pump up the recorded voice volume significantly and get rid of a lot of mouth noises. Most mouth and lip noises go straight in front of your face. That’s not where the mic is any more.

This technique is more sensitive to head movement, so wearing large headphones is even more important.

You might try that and see what you think.

I can publish that simple equalizer curve I designed to get rid of some of that crisp harshness.

I know I’m missing one… Later.


wary of using de-clicker because it seems to blunt the sound.

As well you should be. I’m going to run out of recommendations now. There are techniques and processes to get rid of breathing and mouth noises, but it’s not fun.

There is a relatively new series of tools called Punch/Copy/Paste which lets you find and select one tongue-tick (for example) and slide an equal duration background noise over it so it effectively vanishes. Then go on to the next tongue tick. You don’t point a tool at a whole chapter and go make coffee while it works. Reading the book can take you a couple of weeks, but editing and cleaning it up can be a career move.

Mouth noises are hard.

Back when ACX still offered complete quality control for newbie readers, I submitted a test reading. My evaluator congratulated me on producing a sound file practically perfect in every way, but my mouth was so noisy it would have taken forever to clean it up.

I did not give up the day job.

The oblique placement is less likely to record mouth noises. Pay attention to that.

Have you ever listened to an audiobook? That’s recommended. I like Sarah Vowell series. She’s proof that you don’t have to have perfect reading technique to make an entertaining book.


This was gifted to me some years ago and I can’t recognise any brand from the box. I used it briefly for family purposes.
Photo on 01-07-2022 at 10.53.jpeg

My favorite microphone ad:

BM-800 Professional Broadcasting Studio Recording Microphone Mic Kit Condenser

That about covers it.

There was another branch. Someone cranked out a metric ton of condenser microphones and sold them to whoever wanted to ship them from Asia. That gave us everybody in the US selling the same microphone with similar part numbers. I started noticing similarities and then I started looking harder.

Did you try oblique positioning? I was able to get passable results from a lot of different microphones and recorders that way.

Reading the mail…

Oh, right. I was going to post that gritty remover.


:slight_smile: Thank you so much for all your comments and help. You’ve really moved me on. I hadn’t come across oblique placement and will definitely try it. Once Wimbledon’s over and I can get the spare room back… :laughing:

This is Effect > Filter Curve EQ.

Louder is up, quiet is down. Pitch is left to right. Earthquakes and large trucks on the left, sizzling, frying bacon on the right.

Screen Shot 2022-07-01 at 8.17.15 AM.png
On the left: 0dB is no change. -6dB is a reduction to half.

On the bottom, the correction starts at 700Hz and gets stiffer as it goes toward the right. It stops changing at 7000Hz.

The area of the slanted line and to the right is where your crisp, gritty sound is. Fair warning, if you change microphones, it’s a good chance you’ll have to find a new adjustment. That correction isn’t a gift from the angels, either. That was just first pass based on a quick analysis of where the harsh sound is.

When I get back, I’ll see if I can generate a more complex curve that’s doesn’t sound quite so muffled. Yes, there are automatic tools that can do this—De-Essers—but you have to critically adjust and set them up similar to the De-Clickers. Wasn’t that fun?

Note I’ve been dancing around the question of “Should I get a new microphone?” The next question is “Which one?”

I have an unpopular, fuzzy rule that if you make it into your second week of trying to force your computer to record your voice, you should probably stop recording on the computer. There are some very nice stand-alone sound recorders available.


Once Wimbledon’s over and I can get the spare room back…

You’re hosting tennis matches in your spare room?


One more ACX note. Once you start recording, Don’t Change Anything. There is no “get a new microphone” in the middle of a book. Your chapters have to match.