Review please - Too Bassy?

Hi, so I’m using the settings given for the ACX mastering for general voiceover work. Good idea?

I have a good pair of Audio Technica headphones, but the vocal sounds too Bassy for me.
I know there is the sound of the computer fan in the background so please ignore that.

Using a Scarlett solo and a Rode Nt1a mic in a sound treated room.

Can I check with you guys who have the quality speakers/headphones/knowledge if this is the case (Too Bassy) ?


There’s something a bit strange in the bass. I can’t quite put my finger on what it is, but it gives the impression of “booming”. It doesn’t sound like a natural effect, so I’m guessing that it is caused by some effects / processing that you have done.

Reducing the frequencies below about 300 Hz seems to help in my opinion.
Here’s a preset for the Graphic EQ effect that deals with that:
attenbro.txt (5.15 KB)
There’s also some subsonic rumble that can be removed (below 50 Hz)

Here’s a quick sample, though I don’t have my monitor speakers available at the moment - you may want to tweak the Eq a bit - to some extent it’s a matter of personal taste.

My money is on a bassy acoustic resonance in the recording booth.

AutoEQ plugin is the quickest way of fixing that in post.
The two cheapest AutoEQ plugin I know of are Hornet31 & Acon DeFilter.
(In both cases you can try before you buy)

Rode Nt1a

Directional microphones like the NT1a have “Proximity Effect,” where the closer you get, the more you sound like a ballsy RADIO ANNOUNCER. I once played two different people, a man and a woman, by taking advantage of that effect.

Extra bass is concerning because the first step in Mastering, Filter Curve, removes bass notes, rumble, and thunder. If you’re still bassy after that…

bassy acoustic resonance in the recording booth.

a sound treated room.

There are tricks to that. A studio should have no two clean opposing walls—including floor and ceiling. Did you put rugs on the floor?

My bet is just getting too close to the microphone. Attenborough sounds like he’s whispering directly into my ear.


One more. People forget the ceiling/floor echo path, but you can get sound distortions from the desk, too (although probably not bass booming).

Note there’s a furniture moving pad on the table.


Hi, so I’m using the settings given for the ACX mastering for general voiceover work. Good idea?

You can change the limiter to 0dB. ACX has an “odd” requirement of -3dB maximum.

Along with that, you should be able to boost the RMS normalization by 3dB (to -16 or -17dB), or your client may have a different loudness requirement. Any boosting will also boost the noise floor but it won’t hurt the actual signal-to-noise ratio.

You can change the limiter to 0dB.

You could, but I wouldn’t. The conversion to MP3 is sloppy and you may have 0dB peaks on your timeline, but that may not be what the customer/audience/client is going to get.

Please note that ACX Mastering Limiter is not -3dB which is the audiobook standard. It’s -3.5dB to account for this error.

There is a cheat. Instead of running ACX Mastering and then changing each of the tools, Run the Mastering Macro to ACX compliance and then Effect > Amplify to make up the 3dB difference. That puts you in two production steps instead of three.

Do Not leave out Filter Curve. Home microphones have rumble and low pitch trash that you may not be able to hear, but screws up the other two tools and makes your presentation too quiet.

Audiobook-Mastering-Macro.txt (498 Bytes)
Macro Install and Use.


After you run the mastering Macro, Effect > Amplify like this. Choose Amplification (top number) 3dB.

Screen Shot 2021-09-02 at 8.20.07 PM.png
Since the Macro settles the sound peaks at -3.5dB and overall loudness at about -20dB, Amplify gives you an overall boost, loudness and peaks, of 3dB. Loudness should settle in at -17dB and final show peaks settle in at -0.5dB. Maximum loudness just before clipping distortion.

After you do it the first time, the settings all stick. Select the file > Run the Macro > Effect > Amplify > OK.

That’s it. That’s the whole thing. Since I’m obsessive, I would check the Amplify settings before I pressed OK. It should be the same setting as the last time you used it.

To be clear, that’s based on a goal of automatic, perfect, clear, distortion-free voice work, as loud as safely possible. If you decide the goal is to be as loud as possible and you don’t much care what it sounds like, then you need different tools. Regular Compression, possibly Chris’s Compressor, Harder Limiters, etc. And you’re right out of my world.

It’s also really important you know how to run your microphone and do it in a quiet, echo-free room.