Updated mastering chain

Using: Audacity 2.0.6 on Mac OsX 10.6.8, dmg
Equipment: Tascam DR-05, pop filter

I asked for help here before with a sound sample

and Koz gave me a mastering path to make it pass acx specs.

Two dozen books later, I’m still using the same formula, because it works, every time.

Noise Reduction 1
Drag-select 21.2 seconds to 24 seconds. Effect > Noise Removal > Profile. It’s super important that you don’t catch any of your voice or breathing in that sample—or as little as possible. But you still need to give Noise Reduction enough to “chew” on.

Noise Reduction 2
Select the whole piece (Click above MUTE).
Effect > Noise Reduction:

Apply Steve’s custom LF_Rolloff filter. Attached. Double click to get the XML file from the ZIP. Effect > Equalization. Import the custom XML file.

Audacity Manual
Scroll down the manual to importing and exporting. The special filter has to be applied with the “Length of Filter” slider all the way up. Attached Illustration.
This is another one of those struggle through installing it once and you just apply it from then on.

0.2 sec
1 sec.

Effect > Normalize: Normalize to -3.2 Remove DC

That’s it. The work should pass all three measurements. If it falls below RMS 23dB, UNDO your way back to compression and try 3.5:1 or 4:1.

Thing is, the first emergency was primarily because I had laptop hum in my sample, and what you gave me overcame that. The laptop is long gone from the room, so now I’m wondering if/how the mastering could be made more gentle. I fancy it sounds a wee bit over or unnecessarily processed now after applying this chain.

But when I try to tweak things myself it goes awry, and I go back to my prescription.

Will you be so kind as to give a listen and your opinion on a new set of mastering specs? To pass AND sound great?

I assume it sounds OK now, or it would not have passed ACX Human Quality Control. They’re pretty sensitive to vocal quality issues.

That clip should be a raw capture sample with no effects or filters. I’ll take a listen in a bit.

There is one note. I will not be on Audacity 2.0.6. I’m using 2.1.0 and the tools and filters are going to be different. In particular Noise Removal isn’t there any more in favor of Noise Reduction. Improved, but different.

Do you use Time Machine or other backups? We have another poster who went into full upgrade, couldn’t make the process work properly and couldn’t return to a previous working configuration. It’s not fun being them.


Yes, I have Time Machine.

Did you forget about me here?

So sorry.

Is that clip the raw recording? It’s suspiciously quiet.

Anyway, I got it to pass ACX with minimum of processing. I took a little of the theatrical expression out with Effect > Compressor and that let me change the overall volume to bring in all three measurements (attached).

Before and After sound remarkably alike and you would only know I did anything if you directly compared the blue waves.

Audio Compressor
– Select the whole clip or show by clicking just above MUTE.
– Effect > Normalize: [X]Remove DC, [X]Normalize to -3.2 > OK
– Effect > Compressor: Thresh -20, Floor -40, Ratio 2:1, Attack 0.2, Release 1.0, > OK
– Effect > Normalize: [X]Remove DC, [X]Normalize to -3.2 > OK

The down side of bare-bones processing like this is what happens if a chapter fails. Suddenly, it’s into sound analysis and juggling tools and settings to keep the rescued chapter more or less matching the others.


Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 16.47.41.png

To pass AND sound great?

I note carefully reading that again that’s not what I did. I got it to pass, I used the minimum processing to get there and the sound is nearly exactly the way you shot it. If you’re not happy the way you shot it, that’s a different problem.

Now we’re into “sweetening” and that’s where I go for a nice cup of tea and settle back to watch what happens.