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Feedback Without Distortion: Audio Analysis is Here

Today, the ACX team is excited to announce the launch of a new feature available in Production Manager: it can analyze all your audio files, let you know if they meet ACX Standards, and give you a precise report on the changes that need to be made, all before you ever submit your project to QA—it’s the Audio Analysis Tool!

This feature will be accessible to producers and DIY authors on all new ACX projects. Now when you upload audio to ACX—starting with the 15-minute checkpoint—you’ll get an immediate report on seven common audio issues:

RMSSample Rate
Peak LevelsMixed Channels
BitrateDuplicate Files
Bitrate Method

That means no more waiting for the book to go through QA to learn you have one file in stereo and having to resubmit the whole project over again. Now you can find out right away and quickly make the required adjustments. The report contains precise indications on what needs to be adjusted and by how much, with links to helpful resources on how to do it. Don’t worry—all ACX audiobooks will get a final listen from our QA team before going on sale, and they’ll be on the lookout for spacing, noise floor, and other issues that can’t be detected by the tool—only now the process will be able to move a little easier, with smoother production timelines for all.

To give you some time to get used to this new feature, we’re accepting all audiobook submissions, even if Audio Analysis identifies errors within your files. When the feature launches fully, any issues detected by Audio Analysis will need to be corrected before the project can be submitted for Quality Assurance. This initial phase will give you time to identify recurring issues in your productions and make the necessary adjustments to your workflow without impacting your ability to submit audio and receive QA feedback.

We’re excited for this feature and we hope you are, too—we hope the earlier feedback and additional insights will help you improve you skills and setup, and result in a smoother production experience for all. And as always, if you have any questions about the feature, the answers can be found in our Help Center.

Putting Your Best Sound Forward

We don’t need to tell you the importance of a good sounding audiobook, right? Audible’s listeners are accustomed to the best sounding books in the industry, and nothing will tank your title’s sales potential faster than a few bad reviews.

Like just about everything in life, getting things right from the start is essential to creating a great-sounding audiobook. Actors who are new to the world of audiobook production can make the mistake of thinking that a poor recording will get taken care of in the editing phase or smoothed out in post production. But the truth is the purpose of editing and mastering is not to make a poor recording sound good, but to make a good recording sound great! Join us as we outline the steps you can take to set yourself up for success on ACX.

Let’s start from the beginning: treating your recording space. There are numerous options, from permanent structures to baffling panels and blankets to sound dampening shields for your microphone. Whatever method works best for you, the key is to minimize ambient noise and insulate yourself from the dreaded A/C units, lawn mowers, and traffic that can be major distractions to a listener.

The next area of attention should be your recording chain. This is the most important place you can put your money, as good equipment is the bedrock of a good recording. Making sure you find the right mic for your voice, as well as aiming for the cleanest input signal possible means you will have much easier time and a much better recording down the line. A secret weapon in your fight against noise can be a simple in-line high pass filter, like this one from Shure. For around $50-$60, you can get a filter that “helps to eliminate electrical and mechanical noise in an audio system, such as 60Hz electrical hum from AC power lines, low-frequency rumble caused by wind noise or air conditioning system, and stage/floor noise transmitted to a microphone through the microphone stand.”

The final key to a good recording is consistency. It’s important to ensure that your voice and recording environment have a uniform sound from day to day and project to project. Pay attention to mic placement, temperature and humidity and work to keep them consistent. Note the settings on your studio hardware and software on day 1 of a production, and be sure to match them on subsequent days. When you sit down to begin the day’s session, listen back to a few minutes of the previous day’s audio and compare it to the sound you’re currently getting in your studio. Then make small adjustments to your settings based on environmental and vocal changes if necessary.

Actors familiar with TV and film may be used to working in an environment where one can shoot as much as possible and clean it up in editing and post. But with audiobooks, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A little work at the outset can help make sure that you’re on the path to a great sounding recording.

How do you achieve a consistently great sound in your studio?