Starting Narrating Adventure and need HELP!!! Pleassssse

Hi, I am extremely anxious reaching out here, but, I need the help. I am at a loss right now. I have worked really hard to build my “whisper” room (yes, I know it will never quite be a whisper room, but close enough). It has taken us a long time in the making, almost 9 months. I will tell you how we built it and the set up I am using and then the help I am needing. I have several auditions I am waiting to do, one I have submitted. That I know I will now be rejected as it will not pass the sound level. The checks show I will pass, according to the ACX checker. Anyway, here goes:

We used 2x4 wood to frame the structure followed with ¾ MDF board inside and out to frame the room, with Owens Corning Rockwell 703 Acoustic insulation between. We used Acoustic Green glue in and over all cracks/crevasses and screw holes. I put up 1” Acoustic Foam all around the room as well as the Acoustic Wedges in the corners. I used padded carpet for the flooring. At this time, I do not have a ventilation system, that will come in the future. For power, we cut a hole under the constructed table (that is also padded with carpet) and the hole is filled with the Rockwell insulation and I covered the hole with the acoustic foam. For lighting I am using LED lights surrounding the top of the room. The door has 2 expanded foam seals as well as the Rockwell between the ¾ MDF boards and matched framing of 2x4 constructed frame. Total dimensions outside of the room is 5x6x7 and inside is 3’8” x 4’9” x 5’10”.

I am using a Samsung laptop, 64 bit, Windows 10, with a cord ran inside my room connected to a 32in flat screen TV, wireless mouse and keyboard. I am using the Focusrite Scarlett Solo 3rd Generation USB Audio interface with Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone in the shock mount and a boom arm as well as Audio-Technica closed-back head phones. I also have a 4T external hard-drive that I am directing all of my audio work to (it is also safely stored, outside of my room).

My noise floor is great. I think. I have provided a sample of one of the readings I just did, that did not pass the sound test. I am reading everything I can on how to be a narrator (and have been for over a year now) and I guess I am just overwhelmed with it all right now in the practical terms. Maybe I am doing things in the wrong sequence? Or I do not have the right settings?

I know I have a lot of ss (pun intended in my heading) but I thought that ACX did not want producers/narrators to use the de-esser? I also was reading that ACX did not want us to use the Noise Reducer?? I am so confused… Anyway, I really need help with the sound piece, I will work through the other technical issues later. I have come too far to give up now. Any help would be greatly appreciated. I apologize for the long thread here.
I just provided a small sample of the reading. I watched my meter to make sure I did not go into the “red” zone and sometimes I would just barely get there and other times, I would not. I also provided a small sample of my room, unedited. Have at it and let me know please… Thank you soooo much!

In fuzzy general terms, you should shoot for blue sound peaks about half-way up, 50%, or -6dB to -10 dB on the sound meters. That should allow you to be loud enough to override the background noise yet not so loud that you create overload or clipping distortion.

In your examples, you missed an important one. Announce normally, don’t do anything to it, and post it on the forum as WAV. We can’t take effects and corrections out of a presentation, so we can’t tell where you started from and what mistakes you may have made.

MP3 creates sound distortions, so as a rule, never do production in MP3.

Yes, ACX requires submission as MP3, but you’ll note it’s a very high quality MP3, not normal. That’s a business decision, not an audio production one.

Essing or sibilance is a “feature” of many modern microphones because it sounds “professional.” It makes my ears bleed. We can figure out the best way to deal with that when we hear your sample.

ACX’s goal is someone telling you a story over cups of tea in a natural voice. Anything other than that is to be avoided. They have a failure called “Overprocessing” and they hate distractions.

The Audacity Audiobook Mastering Suite of tools is chosen because it automatically produces two of the three ACX technical standards, Loudness (RMS) and Peak, and you can’t hear it working. If you have a quiet, echo-free studio, that may be all you need for basic recording.

ACX has changed some of their submission requirements. They no longer (as far as I know) allow you to submit a short chapter for testing. We’re hoping they change that back sometime soon. They used to allow that and it was insanely handy. I suspect they join the long list of companies that ran out of people to do the work. After you pass the technical requirements, loudness, etc, you have to make it through Human Quality Control where they judge your theater presentation. That’s the test that takes a person.

I need to buy your book on Amazon before you submit.

They publish a list of undesirable book types. Scroll down. No, you can’t submit a tech manual, travel guide, or cookbook.


I stand amazed at the lengths you have gone to, to construct a silent room. And your equipment. Let me mention a few things I do here that allows me to record with no problems. Things you should be aware of, and things that may help. I too am working on ACX material, a novel specifically.After a lot of messing about I have no special setup.

Shure 55S Mike into a iRig Pre that goes to the Mac Mini Earphone port. Oddly enough the iRig equipment is made for iOS so the mic part is built into the Earphone port as well just like on the iPhone. Anyway, it doesn’t use the dummy power supply part.
Focusrite Solo into USB for one mic. Which I don’t use for ASX but did.

Either Mic setup works fine.
No special soundproofing as I control the mic. It’s sound coming from behind you that does all the damage. Even your own voice echoing from the walls. So a felted partition behind you is really all you need. And a good mic. as I said, my ASX mic is the Suyre 55S Cardioid mic. Read all about it here. and it’s a brilliant mic. Initially I ran it into the Focusrite, but I’ve changed recently and put it on the iRig Pre.
But it’s sound floor is miniscule. Very directional. and no interference from anything.
Now the other mic I use is a B SkynBM-800, BTSKY™BM-800 Condenser Sound Recording Microphone + Mic Shock Mount, Ideal for radio broadcasting studio, voice-over sound studio, recording and so on (Blue) on Amazon. It now runs into the Focusrite with the dummy power on, but turned down so I cant hear the hiss.

But like I say, other than that I work at my normal computer desk, dual monitors, and not much outside noise. Fortunately a quiet neighborhood.
All ASX plugin test parameters pass and I record to WAV files.
I don’t use much signal processing to get this, and there is no sss’ing from the mics.
Up to chapter 19 at the moment…

Screenshot 2021-02-21 at 13.37.49.png

… and as someone else said, a lot of Mics are really problems with sss’ing, especially “computer” mics.
I Listened to your TS Test track bit. It sounds very compressed?.. is it supposed to. Like it’s been modified quite a bit.

Like it’s been modified quite a bit.

The two samples submitted are noise-only which is of limited value without the accompanying voice and processed MP3 voice which doesn’t do us much good without the unprocessed voice. So we await the “clean” test.

Up to chapter 19 at the moment…

How do you do file management? Do you use Audacity Projects? It makes me nervous to see all the chapter tracks on the screen at the same time.


I do track management by exporting each track as a WAV file to a specific backup location. So even if something major happens, I still have the finished WAV file. I also have backups of the project files on the Mac, iCloud automatically, and of course in Timemachine again automatically.
I just started leaving them ‘on screen’ so I knew where I was up to each time :slight_smile:
And it is all in a Project of its own.

Good morning, thank you all so much for the responses thus far. I appreciate you. I apologize, I did not realize I needed to upload in WAV form. I will record the test after I submit this response.

I am speaking off past the mic to help avoid the plosives and harsh t’s. I do not know if this is a part of my problem or not. (I also have a pop filter).
I plug the mic directly into the focusrite. I was shooting for the 6-10 mark on the recording meter and was not loud enough? Anyway, I will be vary grateful for al the help so I can fix what I need to and make some great recordings. (yes, I am being optimistic here)

My house has no sound proofing in general. I can hear someone while I am in the basement, cough on the top floor at the opposite end of my house. I did try the moving blankets and a small frame on my desk, but it did not work, I capture all kinds of bird and dog noises while I was talking.

Be back shortly with the “clean” sound


I wondered [writing that down].

Have you ever had any of the automatic systems interfere with live work?

You on your second or third book?


I did try the moving blankets and a small frame on my desk

The Kitchen Table Sound Studio kills echoes and recording-in-the-kitchen effect, but it’s only a fair studio for rejecting outside noises. The up side is that it’s cheap and inexpensive. Your 2x4s and other materials were probably considerably more expensive and time-consuming (and effective).

6-10 mark on the recording meter

That’s about right. Look at @rachalmers tracks. All about half-way up.

I capture all kinds of bird and dog noises while I was talking.

I have a very quiet bedroom, but it’s still good to wait until later. I can hear cars and trucks on the street and experience a M1.6 quake if one of them hits my utility access (manhole) cover. I know when my metrobus goes by [watches ripples in coffee].


Ok here it is. Apparently, I am all wrong. I am not hitting the mark when I need to, like I thought I was. I need all kinds of help. I did several recordings just to get this one loud enough. :frowning: (My mouth was literally on the pop filter, and it was very uncomfortable)
I honestly do not want to keep moving all dials until I know what I need to do exactly. So since I am not sure how to take a picture and upload it on here, let me tell you where my dials are sitting on my focusrite: I have the gain turned 3/4 over the 48v power is on the air button is on and the green light for the monitor button. My recording level for sound is set for 89 as I was told that is what it is supposed to be and I am at a loss for what to set my playback sound to, but at the moment I think it is set for 80? :confused: :unamused:

Excellent. I need to drop for a while.


Wherever the settings are, that seem, to work. The supplied WAV file is just about the right size and it satisfies ACX Technical testing after I put it through Audiobook Mastering.

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But. Um…

Is that … the way you’re… going to read … everything?

Read it again and this time go out to 20 seconds. Try to read naturally. Pretend it’s a commercial. There’s nothing magic about ending up on the right word at the right time, but whatever you do, shouldn’t go over 20 seconds.

If you read too long, cut off anything over 20 seconds before you export the WAV file.


That sounds like way too much gain on the Focusrite. Are you monitoring on the Focusrite as well? Your headphones plugged into the monitor port?
On mine I turned it up until I hear the hiss/buzz then wind it back till it’s silent. That’s a good level fir that.
On Audacity switch on the monitor mic display and adjust the colour level to just peaking on yellow or a fraction below it. On mine about -6 I think from memory. I’ll check tomorrow.

Your mic is Omni- directional so it’s Very sensitive. You might put a half-pipe sound screen around it. That’s a sound screen that looks like a pipe cut in half? Usually mounts on the boom or stand. It helps but it’s not perfect. Also, as most sound enters from behind you see what you can do to dampen that sound.
Failing that find a mic that is directional. A shotgun Mike or even a genuine Shure 55SHi although the Shure doesn’t use Phantom power. You’ll toast it if you do. But they do plug into the Focusrite, just don’t turn on the phantom power for those sorts of mic.
It’s not how close you sit to the mic, it’s what sound is getting to the mic. I’m probably about two or three feet from my mic. Comfortable.
So get that part right and everything else will fall into place.
You are in a silent room. Mic gain = introduced noise.

:laughing: No, that is not how I am going to read everything :laughing: , unless it is required of course… I am absolutely frustrated at this point…lol… I will redo and put some ummph to it.

Remember the shining goal on the hill. Make it sound like natural conversation or at worse, presenting a commercial if that’s the job. We note that the technical measurements are only the first battle. They measure that to get you in the door. The second half is a human listening to it for theatrical desirability. They’re selling a performance not a loudness value.

You’re using an Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone right? You should be speaking into the side grill just up from the company name.

You don’t aim it like a garden hose. Just checking.
It’s a directional microphone and either won’t work, or will act funny if you try it any other way.

There’s a story about that. The Yeti is a really popular computer microphone and the company wasn’t any too good about telling people how to use it. It works like yours—talk at the side, but I’ve seen it with people talking into the end. The latest Yeti instructions are a lot more clear.

One note about that “AIR” switch? That’s a special effect. That’s not a natural volume or other microphone adjustment. You should probably leave it off until we get everything working.


You up for an experiment? The Solo knob turns green when you’re loud enough and turns red when you get too loud, right? Can you use that instead of looking at the Audacity screen? I can’t tell from the instructions where the colors change, but that might be handy.

Do a sound test (using your own words) that has a bright green knob with an occasional red. Ideally, it turns red before you screw up, not as you’re screwing up.


Audio-Technica loses points. I dredged through the instructions and they almost told me where the front of the microphone was. This is pretty important because it only receives sound well from the front…wherever that is. I thought I would catch them up because this microphone has a low pitch suppressor switch and volume turner-downer switch. The instructions assure me those two are on the microphone…somewhere.

I may send them a note. It’s nearly 100% certain you talk into the company name and the switches are on the back.

Anyway, the PAD switch should be 0dB, not -10dB. -10dB is for when you play your trumpet directly into the microphone. Super Loud.

The other switch, straight-line and bent-line should probably be left on straight line. It’s job is to quiet down wind, thunder, earthquakes, trucks driving by…and P-Popping. The problem is Audiobook Mastering already has one of these built-in and you shouldn’t apply two. This one’s hard.

You said you had a tennis racket blast filter in front of the microphone, right? That should be enough. Leave it straight.


I about spit my coffee out when I read your reply. No I am not speaking into it like a garden hose. :laughing:
Yes I am speaking at the level just above the insignia in the front. (so at the mic) However I have my head slightly turned to the right as to avoid the harsh plosives.

The switches are on the back of the mic on the bottom, one on the left and one on the right. The PAD switch is on 0dB. The other, I believe, is “bent”.

I am willing to try the experiment, however, I do not ever get to any red or yellow when I am recording unless I am EXTREMELY loud and my mouth is almost on the mic. I was playing with this when I set up the focusrite.

With the pic you provided, I am a little closer (say the hang-10 sign, so about 6 inches from the mic?) with the pop filter in there and I am facing slightly to the right where my computer screen would be, and that is my set up.

Ok, I am going to go try this recording with the AIR button off, the Straight line on the mic.
No promises on the acting piece :unamused: :laughing: (I am tired and my voice is cracking, oh I can hear the jokes now…)

Here is the second test. Ok, so I am not an actress, or maybe I am not buying into this script :laughing: , I just can’t get into this one, I made no promises. lol… I hope I am at least getting the technical part down :wink:
I did not see my previous post, so I am not sure if this will come through before the other post is approved.

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That’s after applying the Audiobook Mastering Suite of tools. In short, like this.

So you could submit that. Noise passes as quieter than -65dB. Yours is -68dB and the ACX limit is -60dB. Quieter is bigger numbers.

I hope I am at least getting the technical part down

You seem to be. But, [ahem] I couldn’t help noticing you got the name of the client wrong. It’s “Catskill Farms,” not “Catskill’s Farms.”

It might be time to revisit the goal. Are you planning on reading your own book? Can I buy your book on Amazon in either paper or eBook form? That’s one of the New and Improved requirements for publishing an audiobook on ACX. I thought maybe they didn’t require that any more, but they just moved the requirement from the last time I saw it.

We had a forum poster try to sell his paper book on amazon at the same time he was publishing his audiobook on ACX. It wasn’t fun.