Ripping my hair out in frustration

Hey all.
I need some help as you can guess.
I got the okay for an audition I submitted, which made me quite happy. Submitted the first 15 minutes and got approval for that, so I record the rest of the book thinking nothing is wrong.
I just submitted the finished product, and find out that it’s not loud enough. So I download the ACX plug-in and keeps telling me that my recording is exceeding the noise floor, or outside the RMS standards. If I use the RMS standards plug in to normalize everything, it takes it over -3db.
I’m new to narration and want to make my client happy but I have no idea how to fix this and where I went wrong so I don’t repeat my mistake. Any help is appreciated.

That’s ACX/Audible/AudioBooks, right?

I’m surprised they didn’t catch that on the 15 minute clip.

Is this your first reading? It’s not unusual for a fresh reader to gain enough experience on the first reading that they want to read it all again. ACX warns against the two ends of the book not matching.

We can’t do a blanket fix. Is the work in mono, one blue wave? Drag-select about a 20 second portion of the book and post it here so we can hear it. Export WAV (Microsoft). Scroll down to where it says “Upload attachment.”

If it’s in stereo, two blue waves, 10 seconds.


Sure here you go.
Yeah I am new to this whole ACX thing. It’s frustrating but I’m not giving up, and now curious as to why I didn’t notice all this when I sent the first 15 min.

That better (WAV clip attached)?
Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 11.26.00.png
Turn up the volume in the first second of your supplied clip. What is that motor noise in the background? MMMMMMMMMM You should do whatever you need to make that noise go away. The room should have no, as in zero noise when you stop talking.

If it’s computer noise, you may have encountered one of the shortcomings of USB microphones. You can’t get more than four feet away from the computer.

Another shortcoming of USB microphones is the inability to get loud. Your supplied clip is seriously low volume. This is about what Audacity is supposed to look like when you record live voice.

I got to your patch with two tools.

– Select the whole clip or show by clicking just above MUTE.
– Effect > Normalize: [X]Remove DC, [X]Normalize to -3.2 > OK

Then I applied noise reduction.

– Drag-select the first second of the clip.
– Effect > Noise Reduction: Profile
– Select the whole clip or show by clicking just above MUTE.
– Effect > Noise Reduction: Settings 12, 6, 6 > OK

ACX frowns on using any noise reduction at all, so you really need to get rid of that cement mixer in the room with you.

You also have “recording in the kitchen” room echoes, but I’ll let them complain about that. This is a really bad example of room echo. We can’t take that out, so you will be reshooting that. Your option is record in a padded room, a padded “fake” studio …or outdoors. I got lucky. One of the people in my house before me played drums and the third bedroom is soundproofed.


Because of tool interaction, you may still exceed the -3.0 peak when you make the MP3 for ACX submission. In that case re-apply Effect > Normalize with a new value of -3.5 or higher. Don’t go too high or that will kill your RMS (Loudness) rating.

You really need to get rid of that background noise.


Thanks, the mic being used is a Neumann TLM102, so not USB. As for the buzz the only thing that was on at the time in that same room was the computer.
It’s been bugging me for the longest time what can be done to help the recording and kill that damn buzz. I’ll keep notes on what was done here so I don’t run into the same issues. Should I move the mic and sound cage to my bedroom, the next room over?

I’ll keep notes on what was done here

Those notes may get your existing reading through submission compliance. Up to you.

You can’t plug a Neumann TLM102 into a computer, so describe the rest of the setup. Don’t leave anything out. I get around the computer noise problem with my Macs which make almost zero noise.

That’s the semi-official recommendation of ACX. Note in their test setup, they have a Mac sitting right under the microphone (in their echo-free room).

Screen Shot 2016-07-02 at 12.45.36.png


Here is a photo of my mic and preamp setup. I’m thinking of getting a 20 ft XLR cable and running it to the next room so the computer fan won’t be heard. If there are any other suggestions I’m open to hearing them.

That’s a Focusrite with a red case. Model number? I didn’t think they made a mono model.

Isn’t that the company that has the knobs that flash green and red to tell you the volume of your performance? So you have to have either that preamp or Audacity and its sound meters visible to make sure you don’t go seriously outside the general volume range. Too low may give you background noise problems and too high can permanently damage high volume points in the performance.

Extending the microphone cable is perfectly valid out to a startling long distance, but that puts you flying blind during the performance.

“We’ll see if I have a damaged recording in about twenty minutes when I finish reading.”

You can’t safely extend the USB cable beyond about four feet and you can’t live in the same room with the noisy computer.

Noisy computers are a very serious problem. But as further up in the posting, you can get there with noise reduction, it’s not just optimal.


It’s called a Scarlett Solo and they just released a 2nd gen. You are right that the gain knob goes green or red when your getting too loud. I think the longer cable should at least help me get away from the noisy fan as the one I have in those photos is 6 ft. long

As long as you have a real, good quality XLR cable…

…and no adapters, you can push that puppy out to 50 feet, 60 feet or longer. This cable type was designed to do this.

Yes, that will totally get you away from the fan noise. How are you going to tell how loud you are? You can’t see the knobs and lights or Audacity from the next room.

Being an engineer, I can immediately design a completely impractical webcam system with a camera watching either the Solo, Audacity sound meters (or both). Set up your SmartPhone to watch the levels over WiFi while you present.

Aaaaand. We 're done [dusting off hands].


Most computer displays are fanless/noiseless, and while they won’t go quite as far as that Mic cable, 30-40’ hdmi or dvi cables are readily available. So using a long cable to that second monitor connection on your computer combined with a cheap (possibly second hand) LCD display can solve the remote meters problem reasonably cheaply.

And remote monitor is one of the solutions mentioned in the ACX documentation. Once you get your basic announcing settled, it’s just a matter of getting a little louder or softer to maintain overall presentation volume. It’s a memory or presentation hint.

It’s not unusual over the course of several chapters to discover you’ve been getting slowly quieter…and quieter…and quieter.

Of course, that’s never happened to me.