Test Sample fails ACX Check

Help! I’ve been stalking this forum for a while but clearly am not going to get my levels right without professional help. I am fortunate to have a few authors who have heard me read aloud who have asked me to record their books, I just need to get out of the weeds with the technical aspects of recording.

Key elements:

  • MacOS Mojave version 10.14.3
  • Audacity 2.2.2
  • Yeti Blue microphone + pop filter

I’ve attached a WAV sample file. Unfortunately, I’ve recorded about half a book, then went to edit and realized I have a mess on my hands… do I need to re-record it all? (I understand it’s important to be consistent.)

Thank you!

Before we go into diagnostics, please record a 20 second test clip according to this.


Don’t help. Record it just exactly like that, export it and post it to the forum. The instructions how to post are included. Your first posting didn’t make it.

There is a very firm limit to how much you can post on the forum and it’s not very long.

I’ve recorded about half a book

I don’t know any way to prevent that. “Everybody Knows” you have to buy a Blue Yeti microphone and “Everybody Knows” you should read the whole book before you stop and check it. Both of those can cause some very serious problems.

It is strongly recommended you read your chapters and export them as WAV. Edit and correct a copy and keep the original recording in a safe place. When you get the edit the way you like it, then make the MP3 and submit to ACX.

Eagerly awaiting the test clip.


Ooops, I thought I attached a clip to my original post. Attached here as a wav file. Thank you!

I also have a Marantz Professional pod pack 1 microphone that my son recommended when I started. What are your thoughts on that?

I don’t think there’s anything wrong with a Yeti. If it and the computer get along (yours seems to) and I think I found a good way to tame it’s excessive crispness, it should be good to go.

I applied AudioBook Mastering and the clip easily meets technical standards.


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I applied DeEsser and the tonal balance seems to work better.


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How are you listening? It’s not unusual for new readers to have two problems. An OK microphone in a shaky room, and no good way to listen to the work to make sure the product is OK.

I’m posting two clips. The first with mastering-only just to get the volumes and blue waves in the right place, and then again with mastering and the DeEsser applied. See what you think. You’re listening to piercing, harsh SS sounds in the words, present on the first clip but not the second.

If I lean forward and really pay attention, I can just barely hear the room you’re recording in. That doesn’t actually count. In normal listening, nobody is going to hear that and I think it will easily pass both the ACX robot and ACX Human Quality Control.


If your chapters are under, I think it’s 37 minutes each, you should be able to open a chapter and apply Mastering and DeEsser.

Run ACX Check to see how you did. It should even sound good. This is assuming you have prepared your chapters with room tone “silence” at the beginning and end according to the ACX specifications.

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That’s from here.


This is something of a firehose of information. I got it to work, so it is possible. Post where you get stuck.


Thank you so much for the help!

Based on the recommendation of a friend, I purchased Izotope Rx6 when it was on sale last year. After editing my reading on Audacity I’ve been running it through Izotope for the de-click, de-ess, and de-plosive (but still, really don’t know what I’m doing here). I appreciate all the support!


Plosives are “P Popping.”

Chase is way too close to his microphone and all his “P” sounds are emphasized and sound thumpy. You can cure that with a pop and blast filter and proper spacing. No post-production needed.

Please note the object is as few corrections, filters, and effects as possible. The goal is to read, maybe change volume a little (Mastering), post to ACX and go home. Applying a laundry list of changes for each chapter gets old in a hurry.

DeEssing is whatever sounds good to you (and ACX). DeEssing is rough to adjust because the tools have odd, magic adjustments and success can depend on your headphones or speakers and how old you are. A recent poster went for hearing help when over several days it was clear that what she was hearing and what I was hearing was very different on the same sound file.

You are listening for piercing, sharp, crisp SS sounds in your original post. They’re prominent.

All that is different from Mastering. The Mastering process we post is just so your work meets ACX technical standards: Is it loud enough, does it meet overload standards (too loud) and is the noise low enough. Those, in one sentence are the ACX standards.

Mastering doesn’t do a thing for quality of sound. If we do it right, the sound quality is exactly the same after as before.

Another reason for avoiding a long list of corrections is ACX will bounce you if they catch you at it. The rejection is “Overprocessing.”


Thank you for all the help, Koz! I’m usually pretty good at picking up new technology, but this is a whole new ball of wax!

this is a whole new ball of wax!

Recording is a decades old ball of wax. What’s new is doing it in your kitchen with no prior experience.


Hi Koz,

Can I clarify, do I Export/Save as a .wav file and then edit that file in Audacity? Or do I edit the .aup file and the WAV is just a safe backup of the raw recording?


There’s a third variation. I make WAV files because I have to ship them to a client and goodness knows what they’re using. Everybody can open and play WAV files.

Even Macs.

Export safety WAV files of all original work and keep them in a safe place. You can work in Audacity Projects keeping in mind that Projects do not save UNDO. Also, every so often save a Project with a different name. That guards against a failure taking out your whole show back to the first life on earth. It can only get destroyed back to your last name change.

And then, of course, you have the WAV’s on thumb drives, cloud or separate hard drives if everything really goes into the dirt.

It’s a very new user error to shoot something, edit it and then produce the final show, all in one Audacity Project. It Is Written that the computer is going to fall over just before you export the edit master taking the damage all the way back to performing the work on page one.


Got it. Thanks!!