Recording on a new line and timer questions

Click the Skip to Start button. Repeatedly click the Zoom In button until the timeline shows about 2 seconds. What do you see?

I assume you are trying to select exactly 1/2 second (00.50) at the beginning of the audio.

as I start to highlight the silence at the beginning, the end time moves to 00.445 when it should be 00.50

Why should it be 00.50? Are you saying you can’t move the mouse and make the selection be 00.50, that it jumps around and you can’t make it be exactly 00.50?

– Bill

I see. I didn’t know that it was called zoom in. I clicked the Skip to Start button. Do I highlight something as I’m zooming in? I don’t see where 2 seconds is. Two seconds is in the same place on the timeline no matter how much I zoom in or zoom out. I don’t get the connection. Are you saying I can get to 00:50 without using the Selection Toolbar?

ACX requires 00.50 seconds at the beginning of a chapter of a book, 2.50 seconds between the title and the body, and 3.50 seconds at the end of a chapter. That’s their requirement, so I really need the timer to be able to show me the amount of time as I go along so that I know I have the official times in those places. What I’ve got right now does not help me at all. I’m sorry. I don’t get the connection between zooming and getting those exact numbers from the Selection Position Box.


In my experience, the ACX specifications feature words like “greater than,” and “about.” Nobody is going to hit those three times exactly, particularly because the MP3 sound format—also required for submission—is notoriously sloppy.

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That’s a capture from the ACX submission web page.

Since Room Tone is basically what happens when you stop talking (background sound) I would leave generous silence in those places while you’re recording the text. Go in during post-production editing and cut them down to size.

I would probably do that as a last step, after you get chapter loudness processing and noise reduction (if any) settled.

In that case, yes, you will need to zoom into the beginning and set that time and the end and set that one.

I don’t remember where it said to set the chapter announce spacing. Do you remember where it is?


You’re right. I didn’t mean that it had to hit 00.50 exaxctly or 2.50 after the title or 3.50 at the end. But I at least need to see how close I’m getting. I do leave generous amounts of room tone when I first lay down a chapter and at the end. But to me, zooming is a visual thing. The numbers counter in the Selection Position Box tells me where I am by the number. How can I reach 00.50 at the beginning by zooming? I don’t understand, “you will need to zoom into the beginning and set that time and the end and set that one.” I’m so sorry. I just don’t see how I can find an exact number/amount of silence with zooming.


I at least need to see how close I’m getting.

Totally. Say you have a short chapter on your timeline. For example, 22 minutes worth of blue waves.

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Drag-select a tiny chunk from the beginning. See that tiny white segment on the left?

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That’s what that tiny piece looks like magnified—zoomed in.

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Do it again. Drag-select a small chunk.

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And there’s your half-second of “silence” (Room Tone).

You can inspect it, shorten it, do whatever you want. Edit your brains out.

Remember Shift+Scroll Wheel will slide the view left to right.

Control+F to zoom all the way out to the full show.


Is this a New User assumption that everything has to be done at the time of recording?

I’m with you. Leave generous chunks of silence at the appropriate places and “tighten up” the show in editing. Breathe very quietly and do not move. Of course, given you will also be correcting your fluffs, sneezes, tongue ticks, P-Pops, and other reading and presentation errors in editing, so it will be a busy time.

Turn your phone off.

Do not depend on going back in later to record corrections. Even the grownups have trouble doing that. Clap or whistle or do something very loud and record the work again, in complete sentences, correcting the error. Do Not Stop. The clap or whistle is so you can find the errors later in editing.

There’s a number of tricks like that. I should write a book.



Thank you for the visual. I really appreciate it. I think I have it. If I use zoom, then I don’t use the Selection Toolbar? I just look at the numbers above the wavelength and make sure the wavelength begins/ends at those particular numbers? Do you ever use the Selection Toolbar?

Your oddity didn’t hit any bells …until now.

When you announce your chapter, Export it as a WAV (Microsoft) 16-bit sound file. Errors, claps, and all. That’s the protection file if something naughty happens to the computer while you’re editing.

When you get done editing, correcting your errors, setting volume, etc, etc, etc, export an Edit Master WAV file. THEN make the MP3 file for submission to ACX.

As I mentioned above, MP3 files have ratty, unstable start and stop times. They have compression distortion. You can’t open up an MP3 for editing without causing more damage and it’s permanent. Do everything from your Edit Master WAV.


I just look at the numbers

Right. Obviously, at the end of a chapter, the trailing silence will be the numerical difference between the beginning of silence and the end of the show.

Do you ever use the Selection Toolbar?

I’m not a good person to be presenting edit lessons. I got reasonably competent in video editing and all my instinct/favorite tools are different, scrambled, or missing in Audacity.

It wasn’t pretty.

The other elves are far better at editing than I am. I can “microphone” pretty well. If you have trouble with that, post back.

We are skipping gaily over a ton of cautions and problem areas. If your microphone is set up and working, can you produce a 10 second test sound file?



I took the ACX Mastermind Class with David Lawrence and Dan O’Day. We were taught the stairstep method for editing. So I do all my editing/correcting in my WAV file. Then I proof it twice before I ever turn it into an MP3 file that gets sent to ACX. You’re right about trying to edit an MP3 file. I learned that the hard way. Never again.

I have a portable Snap Studio set up in my closet, so I’ve solved most outside sound problems. I can’t afford a brick studio. I live in a quiet suburb, so I don’t have a lot of problems with environment noises. (If you do right a book, I will read it. You’ve been so helpful with my rookie questions. I’d rather eat ground glass than have your job.)

In your picture of the half second at the beginning, the numbers at the top of the grid (when really zoomed out) say 0.50. What I meant before was do you go by those numbers, rather than using the Selection Position Box at the bottom of the screen?

I will lay down 10-second test for you as soon as I can. I wanted to respond first to your other questions.

Thanks so much,

ACX Mastermind Class with David Lawrence and Dan O’Day.

This one?

I rooted around briefly. I couldn’t find any comments or promotional messages from the two instructors. Lots of satisfied customers.

David H. Lawrence XVII. D. H. Lawrence the seventeenth? I wonder if he’s ever been to Arabia?

The screens seem to suggest it’s a year-long course. Is it? Are the classes multi-point Zoom sessions or something like that? I only ask because my internet connection is a salty-wet string and isn’t fast enough for fully interactive conferencing.

Snap Studio set up in my closet

Complete with furniture moving pads. That’s the stand-up version of my Kitchen Table Sound Studio.

Much nicer than trying to wrestle with acoustical foam squares and less likely to be fake. What’s your performance limit before you have to sit down? I understand you get the best vocal quality standing up, but I personally won’t be announcing an 800 page book standing up.

I’d rather eat ground glass than have your job.

Taking thorns out of paws has been very good for me. I helped a college group with a sticky technical challenge while I was working in broadcasting in Washington, DC. Much later, I got a call: “We have a job for you in Hollywood.” And, etc.

rather than using the Selection Position Box at the bottom of the screen?

I expect the boxes at the bottom of the screen and the raw information from the timeline band above the blue waves to match. Now that you know how to zoom (in the time sense), you can view time details both ways.

Read the test like you mean it. We have had readings like the presenter is putting up with something distasteful. We had one reader who made me want to go buy milk. They are going to do well.

How much dollars was the course?


We were in contact with ACX for a while there, but we spent a lot of time talking past each other. They were all Publicity, Promotion, Marketing, and Representation.

We were all “How do I record a voice track?”



Here is my sample that I promised you.



Yes, it’s the ACX Mastermind Class with David H. Lawrence XVII and Dan O’Day. Don’t know if David’s ever been to Arabia. He told us one day that it’s a SAG/AFTRA name. (I thought he was counting his ancestors way back.) He was asking the union how he could make his name different. They told him D.H. Lawrence was not a good idea. :>) He found out there were 16 other David Lawrences in the union, so that’s how he calls himself the 17th. (Guess he can’t be in Game of Thrones. He’s not first of his name.)

I’ve heard that about ACX (publicity, promotion, marketing, representation). Acting/VO work crashed for me because of COVID, and the ACX course had the connection to (the big guys), so I took the course so I could work from home.

Now, besides my troubles with understanding Audacity, I’m having to do my own publicity and marketing. I found out that ACX doesn’t help with that. And since I had an agent for 20 years, I have no idea how to do that part. Yay.

The course is a month long. I don’t remember the price. I took the course in 2019 but had to wait to start narrating books until I could afford to get all the equipment. I’ve narrated four books so far.

In my 20 years of VO work in a pro studio, I always stood up. I could stand up in my studio, too, but I’m with you. I wouldn’t want to stand up for 800 pages.

Congratulations on having a great outcome from helping the college group!

I hope you want to buy the milk I advertised :>)


To quote Julie Andrews, “Practically Perfect in Every Way.”

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That’s after simple Mastering.

No fancy-pants effects, processing, or filters. The first step in Mastering is a rumble filter. You have very low pitch (thunder) tones in your original work and it’s good to get rid of those no matter what else you do. Nobody can hear them, but they “take up room” and can affect the other tools.

You are at the exact center between wanting the fuzzy-warm security of the tiniest possible noise reduction; and don’t do anything and be down one bothersome processing step.

Being obsessive, I applied Noise Reduction of the Beast (6, 6, 6) and see the noise value got quieter.

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That’s not rocket surgery, but it does take two steps.

Drag-select a chunk of your pure room tone.

Effect > Noise Reduction > Profile.

Select the whole chapter. Effect > Noise Reduction > 6, 6, 6 > OK.

Where’s my car keys? I need some milk.

“High on a hill stood a lonely goatherd…”


I’ve narrated four books so far.

So you’re not the New User from Scranton. I thought this was going way too smoothly.

Have you noticed that it’s possible to get the forum messages out of temporal order.

16 other David Lawrences in the union

All under different variations? I know they would rather impale themselves than allow two actors with the same name. This problem appeared on the forum a while back. Josh Turner posted with microphone problems. He was busy becoming a recognized music name until he ran into Josh Turner the American Singer… Well, Shucks.

I’m having to do my own publicity and marketing.

They drop you as a hot rock now? They used to offer services, classes, and connections to other companies.

The Covid Thing screwed a lot of things up. ACX used to allow you to submit a voice test for Full Audiobook Acceptance including Human Quality Control. Not any more. Now it’s the fully automated ACX AudioLab. No humans allowed. It checks basically the same things that Audacity ACX-Check does. Are you loud enough…etc. No theatrical tests.

See what happens when everybody with a pulse is trying to read for audiobooks?

I don’t remember the price.

$3, $30, $300, $3000? The people on the forum tend to worry about the smallest charges and prices.

Congratulations on having a great outcome from helping the college group!

That was only one representative example. That one was pretty serious. Four time zones.



Thank you for your kind words. Julie is a god to me as I did a lot of musicals. Also, the next time I need surgery, I’d like it to be rocket surgery. :>)

I’m going to try to follow the mastering instructions. I want to get this right.

Does the 6, 6, 6 mean the noise reduction (dB) should be 6? It’s at 12 right now.

The sensitivity is at 6, but the frequency smoothing (bands) is at 3. Should I change that to 6?

I’ve changed the loudness normalization and Limiter numbers to what you have. But for the low roll-off fo speech, I’m going to have to send you a screen shot.

Thanks again,


Oh no! I just tried to submit a chapter to ACX, and they rejected it. They said:

The bit rate method, value VBR, was not encoded in Constant Bit Rate (CBR). They said to read the encoding guide, which made no sense to me. Could I have caused these rejections from what I changed in the mastering?

My hair is on fire with trying to get this book submitted correctly.

Do these requirements make sense to you?


Could I have caused these rejections from what I changed in the mastering?

No. I think the Audacity MP3 defaults to Variable Bit Rate because it produces smaller music files than the “legacy” Constant Bit Rate. Unfortunately, Variable is not as well and as widely supported and recognized as Constant, so if you’re going to run a corporation on a widely available, stable product, Constant is the way to go.

If you approach the process with a mono sound file (one blue wave) the Channel settings along the bottom don’t do anything.

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Noise Reduction works in two passes. Drag-select a bit of what you consider evil background noise. Effect > Noise Reduction > Get Noise Profile. This lets Audacity “sniff” the noise so it knows what it’s looking for. Picture the dog sniffing the missing guy’s shoe. The panel closes.

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Now select the whole chapter or passage. Effect > Noise Reduction 6, 6, 6 (top to bottom) > OK.

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Those settings are very Hollywood. They were chosen to look good. Those settings either don’t matter, don’t do anything, or produce perfect, gentle noise reduction—and they’re easy to remember.

Gotta go. I need to get my coffee and doughnut before Craft Services goes home.