ACX-Check

Narrating and Producing Audiobooks.
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grayspires
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Re: ACX-Check

Post by grayspires » Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:18 pm

kozikowski wrote:
Tue Mar 03, 2020 3:51 pm
Here it is. Buried in the justifiably dead archives. This is what ACX Check used to look like. Apparently there was an early ACX-Check app and it wasn't entirely stable.


ACX Audiobook Testing

You can do ACX AudioBook acceptance testing with normal Audacity tools. This will only test against technical standards, not theatrical.

Manual tools can be handy if the automated Audacity conformance tool ACX Check fails or gives irrational answers.

Notes

— You should do these tests on a simple 10 second sound clip before you read long works.

— The bracket values are ACX AudioBook standards.

— Analyze > Contrast only works with a mono sound track. Contrast retains the last value, so be sure to press "Measure Selection" each time for a fresh reading.

— Effect > Amplify will not give a negative number. That's OK. The number itself is valid.

_________________________________

— Measure Noise [-60dB or lower]

Drag-Select room tone or a pure, quiet background portion of your clip.

Analyze > Contrast > Foreground > Measure Selection (Read the number) > Close

— Measure RMS (loudness). [Between -18dB and -23dB]

Select the whole clip by clicking just above MUTE.

Analyze > Contrast > Foreground > Measure Selection (Read the number) > Close

— Measure Peak Sound. [-3.0dB or lower]
Select the whole clip by clicking just above MUTE.

Effect > Amplify > Read the number and CANCEL. Do Not Apply the Tool!!

Edit > UNDO if you apply it by accident and the blue waves change size.

— Help

You can ask questions on the Audacity Help Forum.

The forum is moderated, so even if you log in, your question may not appear immediately. Don't double post.

2015-05-23
2016-06-14

grayspires
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Re: ACX-Check

Post by grayspires » Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:21 pm

Hi Koz

That was a fantastically interesting and most helpful reply. Very grateful.

Graham Spiers (recording as Martin Hussingtree)

kozikowski
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Re: ACX-Check

Post by kozikowski » Tue Mar 03, 2020 4:46 pm

For your interest I now have a proven Macro which passes 99% of the time.:-
Normalise>Equalisation>Compressor>Normalise>Limiter>Compressor>Limiter....... If RMS is too low I repeat Compressor>Limiter which always works
Where is the Macro or what are the tool settings? There is no Equalization any more, so this is out of date?

If the extra Compressor>Limiter pushes you from 99% to 100%, why not include it in the Macro?

Koz

grayspires
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Re: ACX-Check

Post by grayspires » Tue Mar 03, 2020 5:01 pm

Hi Koz

I am still using Audacity 2.3.0. From what I read on here changing to 2.3.3 at this time does not help me. Equalization as it is works fine. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. My understnading is that the "old" Equalization is one of the two options.

Making a Macro is something that I have not done yet, although the tried and tested sequence above works very well. I am not a techy so the thought of doing so does not excite me as much as it should. Doing things manually works.If there is an idiots guide to doing a Macro kindly tell me where it is in non-techy language.

Your neanderthal friend

Graham

kozikowski
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Re: ACX-Check

Post by kozikowski » Tue Mar 03, 2020 6:31 pm

changing to 2.3.3 at this time does not help me.
It may not. In My Opinion you should not upgrade until you can point to a specific reason.

Equalization has been a thorn. In older versions, Low Rolloff Equalization came with variations, sliders and settings. You had to pay attention. The new rumble filter (Low Rolloff) is named the same, but it runs in the newer "Filter Curve" tool and has no options or variables. So far so good. It also comes with a name nobody can find and a much stickier problem that under Macro control, it doesn't always call the correct curve. Not something you'd want to be running hidden in the background. I understand there's a new version in the works.

So you're running all those tools manually........

We publish a grandly named Audiobook Suite of tools. "Suite" because you shouldn't run them out of order, add any, or leave any out.

Mastering.png
Mastering.png (35.17 KiB) Viewed 1237 times

That's a cutting from the much longer detailed instructions.


If you recorded in a nice quiet environment, that will produce an audiobook specification sound file. It will hit Peak and RMS right in the middle every time. The only variation is if ACX changes the specifications slightly.

The main difference between the older tools and ACX-Check and Audiobook Mastering is an acknowledgement of what "RMS (loudness)" even is. Your collection is what happens when you do it brute force without RMS tools. That long thing I published up the thread is what happens to ACX Check without convenient RMS tools.

Both older services work. That's another fuzzy rule. If you have something that works, hold onto it with white knuckles, and DO NOT change anything in the middle of a book.

I don't know that there is a "Macros for Dummies." It's simplified, but you are managing a programming language with all the nutty things that can happen when you do.

I have to drop for a while.

https://manual.audacityteam.org/man/macros.html

Koz

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Re: ACX-Check

Post by kozikowski » Wed Mar 04, 2020 3:35 pm

Normalise>Equalisation>Compressor>Normalise>Limiter>Compressor>Limiter.
Do all those duplications operate with the same settings? For example, do both Compressors operate with the same sliders and checks? I ask that because straight, simple compressor and limiter are downward-only tools. They don't boost anything and adding another pass of regular Compressor and Limiter to the chain won't help—depending on what failed. Home readers are always too quiet.
The results get rave reviews from my authors
What do you do with new authors who don't pass noise? Nobody reading from home passes noise. Homes quiet enough to pass are very rare.

This from counting the number of forum new readers with exactly the same complaint. "My readings are too quiet, I can't pass all three ACX values at the same time, and my submissions are too noisy."

Koz

Synapse001
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Re: ACX-Check

Post by Synapse001 » Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:52 am

I have posted files since they implemented this automated check. It found no errors in any of my files.

I used the suite of Rolloff, RMSNormalize, Limiter, and then ACXCheck and as long as the files passed and on listening, I found them acceptable, I uploaded them. I am still waiting on the manual QA process, so I will let you know more.

kozikowski
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Re: ACX-Check

Post by kozikowski » Sat Mar 14, 2020 9:27 am

I have posted files since they implemented this automated check.
Tests or the real thing? A whole book?

I read that three times. You posted chapters to ACX and their new robot quality control didn't find anything wrong. They always had automated acceptance at the beginning, but this new one is different and we assume "better." We know from postings that the ACX one takes into account the silences between words and theatrical pauses. Audacity Audiobook Mastering doesn't, but we still expect to get numbers close to each other. It's reassuring that this seems to be the case.
I am still waiting on the manual QA process
You're waiting for ACX's Human Quality Control. Yes. This is the step you spend on the edge of your seat waiting for them to object to some announcing oddity or sound damage only obvious to a human.

If they do accept you, you will get a congratulations message and other brief comments about what's going to happen next. Please post that if it arrives. If they reject you, they usually list the parts they didn't like, but traditionally, they won't engage with you after that. As I've posted before, it's not their job to troubleshoot your studio.

It does occasionally cause confusion if you have multiple problems because they may not specifically complain about all of them. Only the worst ones. Also, again Noise pops up, you two may get conflicting analysis if your noise passes the -60dB limit by multiple different measures, but they bounce you anyway. Some noises such as the USB microphone "frying mosquitoes" sound is still objectionable even in the background. That's the "baby screaming on a jet" effect. It's not very loud, but just try to sleep through it. There was a recent "Sandra and Woo" cartoon where one of the characters got stuck on a plane bound for a colicky baby convention. He offered to deplane before they landed.

ACX's overarching goal is to reduce distractions to zero. I believe that's still their goal.

I see ACX's postings are a good deal more interested in establishing the relationships between authors, performers and ACX. One can only imagine the problems if they published something where the author had no idea what was happening.

Koz

Synapse001
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Re: ACX-Check

Post by Synapse001 » Mon Mar 16, 2020 2:06 am

The robot seems to check each file during upload and the Audio Analysis tab is present and has feedback after the first upload.
I didn't get any hits so I do not know if it is a cumulative total.
AudioAnalysis.png
AudioAnalysis.png (107.76 KiB) Viewed 799 times
It always had that same message from the start to the finish.

kozikowski
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Re: ACX-Check

Post by kozikowski » Mon Mar 16, 2020 4:29 pm

So that's what success looks like now.

What was the delay submission to finish?
The robot seems to check each file during upload
I'm not shocked. My impression is of a hierarchical testing structure. If you fail basic file or noise limits, you go to the office where people give you a brief explanation of what you did wrong and point you to prebaked solutions. They won't entertain conflicts or try to fix your studio with you.

If your files are OK, only then do the serious Quality Assurance people listen to it for theatrical errors. Are you recording in a bare room with echoes, do you stutter or split when you talk? I see by their postings that they expect to lift humans out of these jobs as well. Algorithmic analysis of human speech is not that hard any more.

And just to inject a ray of sunshine into this process, Text to Speech software is getting better and better. That's the end of the QA office.

Koz

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