Weird vocal distortion - HELP!

I’m working on a book narration, I have a good microphone, a recording closet, and great headphones, so my setup is good. I usually don’t have this issue, but I’m having it now and it is driving me crazy. For some reason, when I amplify this clip and proceed to clean it up, I get this weird ghost echo sound. I have no idea how to fix it, below is a list of what I’ve tried:

  • Re-recording
  • Changing headphones
  • Using Low/High Pass Filters
  • Using Noise Reduction
  • Using Vocal Reduction/Isolation
  • Using Bass/Treble

Everything seems to make it worse or makes me really muffled. Any help would be greatly appreciated!

I’ve attached clip of what I’m trying to do and hopefully you’ll be able to hear the weird sound as I talk.

Thank you in advance!

I couldn’t hear this on the laptop, but it’s more obvious on the larger office machine.

I usually don’t have this issue

On all your other books?

Audacity doesn’t apply effects, filters, or corrections during recording.

Have you started using Zoom, Skype, or other chat or meeting software? Make sure the software is completely shut down before you start recording. If there’s any doubt, shut down all your apps, clean shutdown the machine and start over. Shift+Shutdown > Wait > Start. Not Regular Shutdown and not Restart. Make sure Zoom doesn’t try to start by itself.

It’s worth a trip into Windows sound control panels to make sure they’re not “helping” you. You should have no Enhancements or other sound tools.

Any of that help?

It’s insanely valuable to know if you can make it worse.

How much Noise Reduction are you using? What are your reduction panel settings? You have Very Stiff noise reduction and that can cause wine-glass/milk-jug sound distortion.


koz has much better ears than I, and it may just be me, but when I do Tracks > Mix > Mix Stereo Down to Mono, it seems to sound better. And you may not need stereo for your final product.

And you may not need stereo for your final product.

What he said. ACX recommends, but doesn’t demand, that you post work in Mono (one blue wave) and not Stereo.

You are warned that if you do get accepted in Stereo, then you’re stuck in stereo for the whole book. Stereo (two blue waves) takes up twice the storage, transmission time, processing time, and cost.

There may be reasons to record in stereo. Some microphone systems don’t much like working in mono and will deliver reduced volume recordings. That’s easily fixed, but it’s good you know what’s happening.


I get this weird ghost echo sound.

It’s not easy to hear. I can just make it out on The Big System. That slight odd distortion and your extreme ACX-Check numbers make me think you overdid the Noise Reduction.

The Audiobook background noise specification is -60dB or a thousand times quieter than your voice. Nobody is interested in hearing your traffic noise, the jets going over, or the refrigerator.

It’s not unusual, if you’re careful, to be able to announce with background noise at -63dB to -68dB (quieter).

If the angels smile on you, you can get noise at -70dB (way quiet) and you can just submit that with no further work.

Most of us normal people get something in the mid 60s and can apply gentle noise reduction to get into the low 70s. Your work clocks in in the 80s. That’s unbelievable. Literally, I don’t believe you actually did that. I think you got there with very strong Noise Reduction and that can cause sound distortions such as you’re complaining about and I think I found in your test.


OK. Action Item. Record a ten second sound test and submit it on the forum.

Do Not apply any Corrections, Filters, Effects, or Modifications. Just record 10 seconds (cut it down if you need to—we’re not going for a Grammy here) File > Export WAV and post it. There’s detailed instructions in that panel. Post here if you get stuck.