Welcome to the final installment of our series aimed at helping ACX users ensure their titles make it from “in production” to “on sale” quickly and painlessly. The first four parts of the series can be found here.
Gating is a process used to help tame unwanted noise within recordings. Used effectively it is completely transparent, can be a great time-saver, and can help give your audiobook a nicely polished sound. Used improperly, it can result in a seriously flawed sound that takes away from the listening experience.
There have been a few titles submitted to ACX with the hallmark sound of an improperly used gate, and the majority of these have needed revisions made before being allowed up for sale. At best this means going back to a version of your work saved before employing this tool and making a few adjustments (You archived a 100% unprocessed version of your original recording, right?). At worst, especially if the gate was a part of your recording chain and you have no unprocessed version saved, you’ll need to rerecord the entire book.
Take a listen to these samples which contain badly used gates. You’ll be able to hear the room tone cut in and out as well as the occasional cut-off word – two very distracting problems that make listening for extended periods of time an uncomfortable experience.
Your takeaways should be:
- If you’re considering using a gate and don’t know how to set it up, consult a qualified and experienced audiobook engineer to help with this task. Once you dial-in your settings you can usually use them again and again on future projects.
- If you’re hearing fluctuations in your room tone after employing the gate, it is not setup properly. Same for cut-off words. Continue to work on getting your settings right or simply do not use the gate. Again, your room tone should not change at all– it must be consistent throughout the entire listen, whether under your voice or in the clear. Your audio should never drop to absolute zero. Your room tone should be your baseline.
Finally, remember that there is no substitute for good editing. When you do employ gating, it should only be used as an aid, and in conjunction with a proper end-to-end edit/QC pass.
This wraps up our series, and will hopefully help ACX producers achieve better sounding audiobooks. Make sure to follow us on Twitter and Facebook for more tips, and be sure to tell us your thoughts in the comments below!