Yet Another ACX Noob

Trying to meet the required guidelines. I have most of it down except the RMS standards! I believe I meet the room floor and can work on the -3 peaks if I don’t meet them already, but I always seem to end up at around -30 to -27 RMS. Here is a 10 second, unedited clip. Any help would be appreciated.

Any other comments are also appreciated, unrelated to the RMS or not. I just recently posted my first 15-minute audition and have no full books under my belt yet, so any help/advice is welcome (beyond what I have already skimmed in the forum at large).

I think you are probably ok on those scores. If I amplify your clip to put the peaks at -3 dBFS, I get an RMS reading for the whole clip at -21, and a noise floor just a little below -60 dBFS. (Your test clip didn’t give us much silence to work with, I used the larger breaks to check the noise level).

What worries me is that I can hear some sort of distortion in your voice, that to me sounds like a weak FM channel – static that is being modulated by your voice. It may be just how your voice sounds, but you might double check that there are no “enhancements” enabled on your microphone input.

What equipment are you using?

I am using a Turtle Beach Earforce z22 headset. As for the distortion, I noticed it too once I uploaded it! When I listen to the .aup file it doesn’t have that effect, but it seems when I export it to .wav or .mp3 it shows up. Since your post reassured me as to my noise floor, I will see if just lowering the input volume can rid the .wav of the distortion, or if you have any more advice I’ll try that. Thank you for being so helpful!

I assume you are using in conjunction with their “inline amplifier”, which appears to provide a USB interface for the microphone path, but use the analog headset output of your computer for the output path.

That is a little distressing if true. Exporting a project as .wav should give you a wave file that sounds exactly like the project in Audacity.

FYI, (In case you were not aware) the .aup file is just a list of pointers to the actual sound files.

From the ACX listings, a “room tone” segment is required for submission. It’s required for submission here, too if you want us to tell you what’s wrong and how to fix it.

You can slate it so there’s no mistaking what you’re doing. You can submit ten seconds of WAV at 44100, 16-bit, mono on the forum.

“Room Tone,” [hold your breath and don’t move for two or three seconds] “This is a voice test and I will now read the New York Times at my normal speaking voice…”

After the room tone you can read anything you want at what you consider normal speaking volume.

A raw submission, before processing, is best. We can tell you typical settings for filters and effects and sometimes how to improve your performance. If you submit a clip after you corrected it all we can do is tell you it didn’t pass. Full Stop, and have a happy day.


I moved the microphone farther away and turned the input down to try to limit the “tunnel” or “FM” noise but I don’t think that worked. This is killing me right now, I can hear the buzzing in the .wav file but not in the .aup when I replay it! I think part of it is the natural timbre of my voice but it becomes noticeably more pronounced in the .wav. I have no idea what would cause that. Here is a room tone clip, anyway.

Yes, unfortunately by moving the mic away from your mouth you have given up the small margin you had over the ACX requirements. Now if I amplify the so that the peaks are at -3 dBFS, the room noise is at about -53 dBFS. It does sound like ambient noise in the room and not electronic noise so there could be hope, but as you observed the funny distortion that you hoped to cure is still there. I don’t know how to explain how it is present in the .wav and not it the recording directly in audacity. You could possibly post the .au recording file (you’ll need to browse to where you saved the .aup, and then into the xxxdata subdirectory to find them.

I wonder if it would be worth trying to export a selection into .FLAC format to see if it too is distorted in the conversion/export process. If so, maybe your computer is being overloaded during that process and not behaving as it should. If not, there must be something specific to the .WAV conversion.

BTW, can we upload .FLAC files here as well as .WAV?

As a side note, if you are wanting to upload an Audacity folder and it is bigger than you’d like to upload, you could either record a shorter version for that specific purpose, or while in Audacity, select the section you would want to upload copy it & then paste it into a new Audacity project and save it as a different name. Then you could upload just those files &/or folders.

I don’t know if this will help or not but thought I’d throw it into the mix…

I also do books for ACX. I usually have the manuscript open on my laptop, which is also where I use Audacity with my usb Samson mic. I found that if my mic was too close to my laptop, there was a barely perceptible hum induced into the mic. I simply moved my laptop away at arm’s length and that solved it.

I usually have the manuscript open on my laptop,

How do you keep keyboard, screen and script management buttons from getting into the performance?

You can run your system in monitor (right-click on the red meters > Start Monitoring) and possibly arrange the microphone so the tilt and orientation won’t pick up noise with the laptop closer. A desk stand is the worst of all possible worlds for voice work. I shot my sound test with a stand-mounted microphone at the level of my left eye pointing down slightly at my mouth. No pops or breath sounds and good quality voice (given that it’s me). No pop filters, foams or screens.