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Great audiobook creation - an alien world

For 2024 I decided to turn my back catalogue into bestselling audiobooks.

It all sounded simple in principle. Buy a microphone, download Audacity, and away you go. Well, bugger me to next Sunday - what a palaver!

Without warning I found myself plunged into a world of pop stands, root mean square values, sibilance, fricatives, and plosives.

Luckily, the audio engineering concepts are well documented and Reddit and YouTube have helped with the rest.

RMS Values: This refers to the average loudness measured over time. When mastering my audiobook, Amazon's Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX) requires that the RMS values for audiobook submission must fall between -23dB and -18dB RMS

Each file must have peak values no higher than -3dB and a noise floor no higher than -60dB RMS.

Luckily for me, somebody much smarter has created a plug-in for Audacity that checks for ACX values. All I need to do is run a few rounds of compression and normalization until it passes.

Fricatives & Plosives: These are types of consonant sounds. Fricatives are noises created by forcing air through a narrow space, like "f" or "s." Plosives are popping sounds from stopping and then releasing airflow, like "p" or "t." Watching my microphone technique will keep these from sounding too harsh.

Sibilance: Apparently, this is a tricky one for me. Who knew I spoke like Daffy Duck trying to say "suffering succotash."

Still, there are a few techniques to remove these harsh and distracting sounds, including noise reduction and "De-Ess" plug-ins.

Follow the blog to keep posted on progress, or the lack thereof.

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