Questions From New Narrator

I know this must be a very basic question but I can’t find the answer anywhere. Do I record the front matter of the book such as copyright info, foreword, dedication, testimonials etc. or do I just start with the Opening Credits and close with the Closing Credits with no back matter either?

Thanks for your help.

If you’re reading for ACX publication, you should find out what they want.

They have specific guidelines about what to read and when. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an audiobook with anything more than “Title, Author, Chapter One.” The problem with an audiobook is you can’t easily skip the pages you don’t want.

In my opinion you should find out if you can read to ACX technical standards before you dive into massive production. Have you submitted a test clip to them for inspection?

We posted a sample sound process and ACX Check plugin that simulates their conformance testing.


Thank you for the advice and links. I will plow through all of that and I think it’ll answer my questions.

I am recording for ACX and I have not submitted a test clip but I will do that now. Also, I have never listened to an audiobook with more than the basic author, title and chapter name.

I appreciate your help,

I will do that now.

They may take several days to get to you. Reading is pretty popular. You can post a 20 second mono reading on the forum and we will give you the first pass opinion on how it’s going.
Doesn’t matter what the words are. I’ve been known to read the cereal box.

“Part of a healthy, balanced breakfast!!”

Oddly, the hardest part of that clip submission format is not making noise at the first two seconds. That’s harder than you think. One performer managed to noisily adjust every article of clothing in that two seconds.

The gap isn’t fuzzy, either. The mastering and measuring tools need that blank spot to work right, and Room Tone (the official name) is burned into the ACX submission requirements.

The up side of ACX conformance is the ability to submit to anybody. Once you get everything working it’s all up to your reading style and performance.


Hi Koz,

Ok, I’ll prepare a clip this morning and upload it here. Thanks for the offer!

Here is my test clip. Thanks for letting me know what you think.


The background is a little noisy, but it surrenders to moderate Noise Reduction. Attached.

First three readings and sentence 2/3 down.
Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 12.49.36.png
I can tell you how I did that in a bit. That’s basic housekeeping. Can you tell if your computer is on just by listening?

I like your basic human voice quality. I could listen to a story in that voice. “It was a daaaaark and stormy night….”

What is your microphone? It has a slightly peaky and crisp, harsh quality. We have some tools that may be able to help, but sometimes microphone placement can change things a bit.

Are you recording in a room with wooden floors and plain white walls with occasional tasteful artwork?

As we go. Have you ever installed software or plugins into Audacity?


Thank you! Overall that’s pretty good news. I was worried about the base noise level because I can’t afford a soundproof booth just yet. So, I will try to answer your questions.

  1. No, I can’t hear my computer when it’s on
  2. My microphone is a blue yeti usb. I also have a full-size studio JVC headset and a Knox pop filter.
  3. The room where I’m recording does have a plank vinyl floor but it is about 90% covered with a thick rug. My computer sits on a wooden table (well, maybe wood dust, it’s from Ikea) but I have covered the table with a blanket. The walls are white and there is a fairly big window on one wall. I do live in a very quiet area (at least from fire engines, etc.) but I know I need to find a way to cut down on the background noise.
  4. Yes, I did install a d-esser plugin to my Audacity. It was a while ago but I think I still remember how to do it.

You are being hugely helpful to me. I really appreciate it.


My computer sits on a wooden table (well, maybe wood dust, it’s from Ikea)


You ticked all the boxes. You have been doing your homework, right down to the blanket on the wood-adjacent table.

I don’t know that you need to go to a whole lot more trouble with noise. It’s correctable with modest Noise Reduction.

Speaking of Ikea. Do you have one of their affordable 8" round, plain white wall clocks? I can hear something ticking in the background. I have to take my clock out of the bedroom when I record.

I am curious what it is.

I made a fake extended noise track. I duplicated your two second room tone performance multiple times and then boosted it. It can make identifying noisemakers a lot easier (turn the volume down when you listen).

You don’t need to get too concerned about the background rumble because the first step in the AudioBook Mastering Suite is a rumble filter.

Sibilance. Did you do anything to your track submission before you posted it? Sometimes you can get sibilance boost by applying stiff noise reduction.

I got rid of most of the “essing” by application of the DeEsser at these settings.
Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 15.47.26.png
I don’t know what to do about the boomy room.

Are you sitting with your back to one flat wall? Can you move so your back is toward one corner? That should reduce the room boom slightly because each word echo has to travel between two walls instead of one.

I’m supposed to publish the AudioBook Mastering Suite on the WiKi but I haven’t yet. So it’s still a forum posting.

It boils down to three tools: Rumble filter (Equalization), set loudness (RMS Normalize) and round off the audio peaks (Soft Limiter).

If you’re reasonably careful about your Room Tone noise, you can apply the three tools and go make coffee. I can routinely do that for microphone tests in my quiet third bedroom.

The family two before me had a kid that played drums. Daddy soundproofed the third bedroom for him. I got supersonically lucky. I have a studio.

Noise Reduction is a little wacky because it’s in two steps. Drag-select some portion of the evil sound (room tone) > Effect > Noise Reduction > Profile. That lets Noise Reduction “sniff” the sound it’s supposed to be attacking.

Then select the whole clip by clicking just right of the up arrow > Effect > Noise Reduction: 9, 6, 6 > OK.

Then try running the De-Esser at those settings.

Let’s see how that goes.


The noise on the clip sounds like a factory to me. Whoa, I had no idea! I can hear the ticking but there’s no clock in that room. It’s the dining room so there is nothing that moves that I can think of but I’ll look around to see.

No, I didn’t do anything to the clip except turn it into a WAV file before I sent it to you.

Thank you for the de-esser settings and I will try sitting at the corner of the table with my back to two walls and see if that helps. You are lucky that your house came with a room ready to go. How nice!

I’ve also downloaded your suggested plugins and I will now try to create a great clip.

One other question, I had been using the Silence button to get rid of breaths, etc. I take it I should have been using room tone?

Thanks again for all your help.


The noise on the clip sounds like a factory to me.

Right. I isolated your two-second room tone and boosted the volume—intentionally making it worse. Then I selected the clip, copied it and then pasted multiple times. It should be there long enough to get used to the character of the sound and start associating it with machines or conditions in the room. People occasionally post a one or two second test clip and expect us to do extensive analysis. Not so far.

As I said earlier, you are darn close to workable as it stands. The only serious shortcoming I can see is the boxy room sound—and that’s not even that bad. That’s your voice echoing from the walls (that kitchen/bathroom sound) and we can do nothing with echoes in post production.

The Yeti has multiple different ways to receive sound. You should use simple cardioid (heart-shaped) and you should be speaking into the screen just above the Blue logo. The yeti is a side-fire microphone.
Screen Shot 2018-04-11 at 20.04.49.png
This is a side-fire microphone. Your lips should be where my thumb is.

That will change slightly depending on your pop filter.

I had been using the Silence button to get rid of breaths

I’m not a fan of that. It leaves little dead silent holes in your presentation. I’m not aware of anybody being rejected for breathing, but they totally will bounce somebody for “Overprocessing.”

OK, just to bring this all around.

Record another test similar to the first. Export a WAV (Microsoft) and put it in a safe place. That’s your backup and it’s good to get in the habit. Nothing like having your machine throw up during an edit—and it flushes the only copy of your reading.

Run Mastering Suite, Noise Reduction, and then the DeEsser. Those DeEsser values are factory. I have no idea what some of those settings do.

Run ACX Check. I expect it to pass and I expect it to sound reasonable.

OK, no I don’t actually expect that, but I have no idea what’s going to go wrong.

Oh, can you do a newspaper white noise test? White noise is similar to rain in the trees on a warm spring day. SHSHSHSHSHSHSH. Doesn’t work for me. Cactus’s don’t make noise.

Stand or sit about a foot or foot-and-a-half back from the microphone and instead of speaking, crumble a newspaper. I’m talking a regular daily: New York Times, Washington Post, LA Times. Not the heavy paper grocery specials and not the neighborhood Free Paper although that can be used in a pinch.

There is a microphone quality test you can do with a perfectly sound-proofed room and calibrated instrument-grade microphones, etc. etc. etc. Or you can get really close by crushing newsprint. Take your time. Four seconds? Five? I’m going to analyze what it does to all the tones in the crush.

I have one of those tests here somewhere.


This is a Blue Snowball microphone.


Still there [knocking on screen]?

If you get stuck anywhere, post what happened and we’ll dig you out.

I guess it’s also possible you are performing your real life and ran out of time.

It’s also possible it all worked and you’re on your third book.


Sorry. For some reason, I didn’t get notified of your response but I have been busy. First, I tried recording a sample in another room (bedroom) because I thought the bed might absorb some of the sounds. But that was worse. I couldn’t get it to pass the check at all. So I went back to the setup I had in the dining room and it passed on the first try. I guess I’ll stay in there.

I will try your suggestions tomorrow and let you know what results I get. I have not been using the heart-shaped mode so hopefully, that will help too.


The stereo mode is wacky and almost unique to the Yeti. That’s a special effects pattern. The Figure of Eight pattern is used when you have two presenters, one on each side. The circular pattern, omnidirectional, is an extension of that. Those last two almost demand a studio because you would have trouble orienting them to avoid room effects and noises.

The cardioid has a dead spot directly behind it—opposite from the presenter. That can be very handy if you have a single source of noise.

You can help with the room boom by making a dead tunnel. Pile boxes or stacks of books or something on each side of the microphone and cover them with double layers of bath towel. The idea is to make it difficult for sound to enter from the sides. The area directly behind the microphone is dead and you are directly in front. That and putting a room corner behind you may be enough.

There are mini-studios you can get which shield the microphone.

That’s the thing on the far right.

And another one (scroll down).
Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 22.40.09.png
Or you can simulate that with enough cardboard boxes or stacks of books. I did it with furniture moving blankets.

One presenter did it with hardware store plastic pipes and actual quilts.

She didn’t use glue. That whole thing falls apart for storage.


Okay, I built the dead tunnel and changed to the heart-shaped setting on my microphone. Then I recorded the three clips below. The first is completely raw and saved to a WAV file. The second is the same clip after I applied the mastering suite, then the noise reduction and the de-esser. When I put it through the check it passed with no problem. Interestingly, the raw clip also passed the check with no problem.

I’m interested in what you think.


Test 4.aup (1.29 KB)

Test 4.aup isn’t a sound file. AUP is an Audacity Project Manager. It goes with a similarly named _DATA folder which has the actual sound.

That’s a project.

That’s only really useful if you have a complicated edit and you want to pick it up later with all the tracks, positioning and screen management in place. Oddly, it doesn’t save UNDO.

Stick with WAV files until you get more experience.

So you need to post the “post” again.


Interestingly, the raw clip also passed the check with no problem.

You win!

Nobody wrote that you can’t read right into ACX conformance. It is possible. It’s just most people can’t.

You also present an interesting conundrum. Should you go through Mastering or not?

If you don’t, then you have to read exactly that same way… every time… for a whole book.

But if you do go through mastering, then your presentation can wander a bit and still conform nicely.

ACX recommends using the minimum number of corrections. They hate noise reduction (I think because most people abuse it).

Now it’s going around in circles. DeEsser depends on the timeline blue waves being exactly correct which is why it’s at the end. It follows mastering. I don’t know if you would get consistent de-essing with a raw reading.

If you go with live reading (no corrections) and one chapter doesn’t quite pass, I’m not sure I can tell you how to fix it. ACX is very clear all your chapters have to match and if you mess with one, someone would have to come up with custom corrections.

I’ve never run into this before.

Let’s see what your processed one sounds like.


Ok, thanks for the explanation about the Audacity file. Here’s the WAV file for that raw file.

Also, it seems to be better to master the files because I don’t know how I can be sure every file will be exactly the same.

Do you think my setup is ok or do you think I should still plan to build a booth like the PVC one in your picture or a small shield that surrounds the mic?

Things seem to be moving along! Thank you.


While all that happens, it’s time for the disclaimer: There is no acting filter. If ACX or the client rejects you for theatrical acting reasons, you’re on your own. When you read in your apartment, you have to be your own recording engineer and acting coach.

Your newspaper test came out better than several of my microphones. Are you sure you’re using a Yeti? There are two Yetis. Are you using a Yeti Pro?
Screen Shot 2018-04-13 at 18.08.19.png
Dueling posts. I’m reading your other post.