Recording too quiet, but still peaking

I’m struggling to get my recording to meet ACX requirements. My recording is consistently coming out as too quiet, and if I amplify then my peaks are too high. By moving very close to the microphone I managed to get a test recording in the right level, but it was peaking too high and when I lowered the peaks the rms level was too quiet again. It’s driving me nuts and I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, or how to fix it.

Nobody can announce directly into ACX. They have a pretty ordinary list of standards (cousin to broadcast), but most people don’t talk that way. If you have a celebrity voice, you can really miss the boat.

We publish two different mastering methods. More in a bit.

You can check your work either by submitting to ACX Audiolab.

Or install ACX Check which was written here.

They’re slightly different, but they both work from the ACX published sound standards. Someone said AudioLab does not test noise. I don’t know. ACX-Check does.

A recent poster submitted an Audiobook Mastering process.

We posted a shorter process that might work for you. This is the long explanation.

And this is the short version.

Passing Loudness (RMS) and Peak is a snap compared to Noise. Passing noise is rough. Announcing louder is a lot easier than finding out where that annoying whine behind your voice is coming from.

Making your Audacity blue waves come out right is only the first step. You also have to pass theatrical tests: you don’t stutter, you don’t have lip smacks, and your voice doesn’t scare the horses.

And there are marketing tests. Your book has to be on sale in paper or eBook on Amazon and it has to not be on this list (scroll down).

There was one forum poster who planned on reading a cookbook and another who wanted to read Yoga chants.

That last one is ripe for publishing as a YouTube presentation. I remember one video series where Yoga people arranged in a circle on a wind-swept cliff did their works with artsy camera motion. It was weather dependent and they might have been dying of the cold, but it was stunning and memorable.


Post back if you get stuck. Include which process you’re using and which part you couldn’t get to work right.

Have you done any voice work before? Are you following anybody’s process or recording technique? Links?

Submit a voice test to the forum before you read the whole book.


So koz, are you saying that Effect > Limiter will fix this, but do the other steps, first?

Neither Loudness Normalization nor Limiter do anything if they’re not needed.

Filter Curve is handy if you’re a beginner because many home microphone systems produce very low pitch trash (10Hz!) and that trash can fake out the other two mastering tools. So mopping that up is the first step. That can throw off your existing loudness.

It’s best to use the three tools “en suite.” A harmonious grouping. Don’t add anything in the middle and don’t leave anything out.

If you’re using Audacity 3.0.2 or later, there’s a pre-baked Macro program which will do all that in one step.

That’s assuming you’re planning on using our shorter system. RadioEng’s mastering system is much more comprehensive.


When ellenauthor posts back, we can figure out which direction to go with this.