Simple Audacity Forum Voice Test

For example, I have no Filter Curve option on the pull down list.

In older versions of Audacity I think you’ll find that as part of the “Graphic Equalizer” or “Equalizer” or “EQ”.

Normalize is on my list, but not RMS Normalize, if there’s a difference.

There is a BIG difference. Regular normalization targets the peak level and you need to set the RMS level. You can download it here: [u]RMS Normalize[/u].

Back to the audio question, if I aim to peak at -6.0 dB instead of -3.0 dB in the raw recording, is there anything lost acoustically by relying on mastering to compensate for the narrower dynamic range?

There is no significant difference. Your acoustic & analog levels could make a difference. i.e. A “stronger” voice gives you a higher signal-to-noise ratio relative to the room noise. But, turning-down the digital levels is not a problem. (Pros often record around -12 to -18dB.)

I sometimes find that the mastering in spoken word can sound so over-produced that the voice no longer appears to be a genuine human sound.

Normalization is simply a volume adjustment. It doesn’t affect the quality or character of the sound (assuming no [u]clipping[/u]/distortion).

Since RMS Normalization typically ends-up amplifying, it will also amplify the background noise. That doesn’t actually affect the sound quality because it’s no different from the listener turning-up the volume control, but it does make your ACX measurements worse…

The low frequency rolloff only removes low frequency noise. It doesn’t affect the normal voice frequencies. You may not hear any difference but your ACX measurements should be better.

Limiting does slightly change the character of the sound but it prevents the clipping that would otherwise be caused by RMS normalizing and it brings your peaks into spec. With most audiobook recordings, limiting (slightly) improves the sound but making it “stronger” and more consistent.

Noise reduction is where you might hear processing artifacts. (Or, if you over-equalize in an attempt to “improve the sound”.)