ACX and most other narrators and articles and blog posts will tell you that the average time spent on 1 hour of finished recording is 3 to 3.5 hours. If you have thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of pages to record that doesn’t work. You need to be down to .5 to 1.5 per hour of finished recording. Otherwise you are going to drive yourself batshit trying to get it all done. This inevitably means that you cannot sit and demaplify all the breathing. It’s tedious. It’s annoying, and eventually, you’re going to want to throw your computer through a wall.
And You Say BUT BUT BUT All Those Videos and Articles Say It Only Takes a Few Seconds
It only takes a few seconds to do a few SECONDS of audio. They’re recording 4 or 5 seconds of audio then showing or telling you about the process. They’re also doing it for videos and podcasts, which don’t have the same restrictions that you have to meet recording an audiobook. In fact, if you don’t have to run the compressor, you don’t have to debreathe anything. But You, YOU, my friend, have to run that compressor because YOU and I cannot meet those ACX metrics without running it. And the minute you run that compressor, you are amplifying everything, including that breath you thought was quiet. So, something that was a little clink in the original recording is a car door slamming in the finished product.
Enter Noise Gate
Noise Gate is a more advanced version of Noise Reduction. Noise reduction deamplifies everything based on a noise profile that you selected. Run it more than twice, and no matter how well you recorded the original track, you’re going to sound like you recorded it in a tin can. Not to mention, you just can’t successfully get rid of breathing that way. If you’re lucky, you can run it one time for a breath problem and not get something that sounds like tin, but it’s really a game of chance.
Now, when you read other articles about Noise Gate, it sounds like you can activate it before you start recording, record and not catch anything below or above certain threshholds. As far as I can tell, that’s not true. It’s an after-the-fact audio cleanup tool just like the compressor. Just like Amplify. Just like Noise Reduction.
You’re going to install it exactly the same way you installed ACX Check. And you are going to enable it, and if you are running Audacity 2.2.1, you can’t find it. It’s not in the Effects section. Oh wait, but it is. Down at the bottom of that dropdown menu is something called Plugins 1-15, look there. It just doesn’t seem to go into the main section.
Once you get your Noise Gate installed and a chapter finsihed, highlight a breath. At this point, you should know what your breaths look like. Run Noise Gate → Analyze noise level. This will tell you what setting you need to put in the Gate Threshhold. Just leave everything else alone until you are willing to really sit and learn Noise Gate and test settings.
Run Noise Gate on the entire track with that sound setting you just input. Don’t forget to select GATE.
Most of the breathing should be gone. However, if it still looks sloppy, rerun the Noise Gate on another Breath. Doing it twice on two different breaths should clean it up so that you are only running Amplify on -12 a little bit as you check your track for problems. Though, some chapters do better than others. I just got done with a chapter where you’d think I hadn’t Noise reduced or Noise gated and I did both, so some chapters will still be a deamplify nightmare, but this makes it a lot more tolerable on most chapters.
Putting the Sound Floor Back in and Finishing
Once you do this, you do not have a sound floor. It’s gonna be somewhere between 95 and 115. If you have anything over 120 on the ACX check, undo what you just did and redo it. If you are over 120, you are not getting your sound floor back with any process.
Now, here’s where it gets fun. You get to play with all those things I told you weren’t needed in other articles, and they’re not if you’re working with a fairly raw recording where all you did was deamplify every breath. You are Going to NECA.
Equalize – on the bass Setting
Amplify peaks at -3.5
Run Your ACX check. You should pass. Export as an MP3. Upload it to ACX, listen to however much of it you feel like you need to listen to. If your sound floor still fails, undo Amplify and compress. Run your equalize again. Then, rerun Compressor and amplify. IF this doesn’t work, you probably need to rerecord after finding a new position for your mic. A good rule of thumb is that you can do everything twice without totally destroying the quality. After that, use at your own risk. Remember, the more you play with it, the more you risk fucking it up.