ACX Mastering Process Update: Normalize To -3.0 dB

Hey, there!

More than anything, I want you to have confidence in your ability to narrate audiobooks for ACX.

And part of that confidence is in trusting the process I teach.

Although thousands of books are on sale at Audible using exactly what I’ve described if you’ve taken my Recording for ACX with Audacity class (or the ACX Master Class that Dan O’Day and I teach together), there is one technical detail that we’ve seen talked about as not technically perfect.

So, let’s fix that, and let’s finally put the whole thing to rest.

Here’s the rundown of the issue and the fix, and a video to help you with the process:

1. We use Levelator to do our RMS normalization. It works great.
2. Levelator outputs a file that is measured at -1.0 dB peak volume.
3. However, ACX prefers uploaded MP3 files that are -3.0 dB peak volume, not -1.0.
4. There is an insignificant aural difference between the peak measurement of -3.0 dB and -1.0 dB.
5. ACX has accepted every book that has used Levelator from my studio and all of yours.
6. That doesn’t actually mean others won’t find fault with this part of the process.
7. It’s an easy fix: from now on, we’ll normalize to -3.0 dB just after importing our .output files, and just prior to exporting to MP3.

Here’s what I want you to do: add this one step to the mastering process, between the step of bringing your Levelated file back into Audacity, and the step of exporting as an MP3 file.

The step? Use Audacity’s Normalize… function (found on the Effect menu) to normalize your audio to -3.0 dB. THEN, export as a 192 Mono MP3 file as normal.

Screen Shot 2015-07-31 at 3.36.29 PM

(Click on that image to make it full size.)

Make sure you do this with every body/chapter you create.

Although this is a small change, it is one that will provide one less reason for me to have to reply to criticism that we aren’t doing things exactly the way ACX wants them.

Now, we are.

Oh, and this will be a video demonstration in the new VO2GoGo Labs area I’m constructing.

Hope this helps.


10 Responses to 6 Steps to a Perfect VO Demo

  1. Kelli August 18, 2011 at 2:58 am #

    I feel really good about my demo. It is a quick and fun process, even for someone like me who gets very self concious. :)

  2. David Britz September 5, 2011 at 11:25 pm #

    The demos are great. Superb quality. Why go anywhere else?

  3. David Britz October 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    Can’t wait to record my Narration VO Demo!! :))

  4. Mike Brang December 31, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Having a well-produced demo is one of the most important things in the VO business. I had a number of demos made from other producers in the past and they all had one thing in common — that manufactured, cookie cutter sound!
    What sets David apart from the rest, besides his affordable price and tremendously fast turn around time, is that all of the clips you record with him sound unique. Each spot sounds like an actual commercial you recorded for a job.
    My agent loved the quality and even asked who produced it to refer his other talent there!

    Thanks again, David for producing such a great, high quality demo for me. You made the process relaxing and enjoyable. I urge anyone reading this unsolicited reply to listen to David’s student demos to hear the difference for yourself. Anyone would be lucky to work with him

  5. Kristy Liles February 9, 2017 at 7:04 pm #

    I can not thank you enough. I worked so hard on 15 page IVR project, one day I cryed, look for answers, pull my hear (not really) but I was about until another VO send me this great tool. Thanks!

  6. Frank June 11, 2017 at 9:51 pm #


    When v123 indicates the audition is for a student/ nonprofit are we to assume it is for $0. If so, why does the audition ask for an amount to be entered?

  7. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:58 pm #

    I did get this scam through Voice 123. In our discourse, they offered me the gig and they gave me the name of a legit local place to record and the same runaround with the money. I didn’t send anything, but instead, I called the studio to make sure the booking was for the day we set up, and lo and behold, the people there had no idea what I was talking about. I then tried to call back my “contact person” who was setting this up and there was a fax machine beep on the other end. I immediately contacted Voice 123 and told them what had happened. You know what they say…if it sounds togaed to be true, it probably is. Thanks for the reminder!

  8. shirley jordan June 12, 2017 at 5:59 pm #

    …too good…not togaed.
    The one time spell check didn’t work!

  9. Bernard Prame July 1, 2017 at 9:44 pm #

    extremely helpful demo. Thank you!

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