My Garageband Settings for Audiobooks (ACX/Audible)

Hi folks! A while ago I posted about recording an audiobook for my novel Where the Hell is Tesla? (I used Garageband for recording and exporting to ACX/  The post got a lot of positive response, and just the other day I got a request from Mark Clason for the actual settings I used in Garageband. I thought this was a great idea, but since Garageband has a kind of loosey-goosey user interface without a lot of specific numerical settings, I decided to do two things:

• 1. Here’s a link to download a sample Garageband 10.1 file

It’s got all my settings for a Master Track and a”Chapter 1″ track for your audiobook. Just load it up and give it a go!

• 2. Here are some Garageband screen shots/descriptions showing the settings and the (built-in) plugins that I used.

Special note: I am NOT a professional sound editor. I do have lots of experience recording voiceover and music, with professionals, but I’m the first one to say I don’t know everything, just enough to be dangerous, and for higher-end stuff I usually have other people at the controls. So if you see something here that looks wonky or wrong, let me know and I’ll update/fix it, so you’re more prepared to record your own audiobook.

1. Master Track – EQ

Master Track EQ settings for Garageband Audiobook

Master Track EQ settings for Garageband Audiobook

Make sure you can see your Master Track (Track > Show Master Track), then start editing your plugins (the Master Track already has plugins in there, you just have to turn them on). For EQ, I just left it flat, deciding instead to have individual EQ settings for each chapter, in case I wanted to tweak as I went. I didn’t tweak the individual chapters too much, however, so if you wanted to just use a master EQ, that should work no problem. (You can see my Chapter 1 EQ settings below.)

2. Master Track – Compressor

I turned on the Master Track Compressor. Applying compression to a track in Garageband lowers the volume of loud sounds to the same level as the quieter sounds. You can then raise the overall gain of the track, having reduced any peaks or troughs in the volume. I left the default settings:

Garageband Compressor settings for Audiobook Master Track

Garageband Compressor settings for Audiobook Master Track

3. Master Track – Limiter

I turned on Limiter plugin. According to ACX production guidelines, “Each uploaded file must have peak values no higher than -3dB”, so I set the Limiter’s output level to -3.0db to follow their peak limit:

Garageband Limiter settings for Audiobook Master Track

Garageband Limiter settings for Audiobook Master Track

4. Chapter 1 Track – EQ

Okay, that was it for the Master Track settings (though you can also play with the master volume, but we’ll get to that in a minute).  For the Chapter 1 Track, (and all chapters started with these settings), I wanted to add bass to fill out the sound, give it some gravity, take out a little of the middle, or leave it flat, to make it less “mushy,” and punch up the high end just a little to make sure it was crisp and not overly bassy. I changed the default EQ values as follows: (Note that if you start a new Garageband file to record your audiobook and choose “Voice” as the project type, it’ll give you lots of tracks/options to play with.)

Garageband EQ settings for Audiobook Master Track Garageband EQ settings for Audiobook Master Track Garageband EQ settings for Audiobook Master Track Garageband EQ settings for Audiobook Master Track Garageband EQ settings for Audiobook Master Track Garageband EQ settings for Audiobook Master Track Garageband EQ settings for Audiobook Master Track

I totally recommend playing around with them visually, but if you want the exact numbers, download the sample Garageband file, or use these:

Frequency 92.0 Hz; Slope 24dB/Oct; Q: 0.20
Frequency 160.0 Hz; Gain +20.5 dB; Q: 1.10
Frequency 80.0 Hz; Gain -0.5 dB; Q: 2.20
Frequency 6000 Hz; Gain +9.5 dB; Q: 0.71
Frequency 1160 Hz; Gain +0.0 dB; Q: 3.20
Frequency 3500 Hz; Gain +0.0 dB; Q: 0.71
Frequency 7000 Hz; Gain +0.0 dB; Q: 0.71

5. Chapter 1 Track – Compressor

For each chapter track, I turned on the Compressor, and tweaked the values. I wish I could say there was a math to this, but I just did what sounded good. (Remember to use headphones, preferably good headphones, when tweaking values like this). Here are my values:

Garageband Compressor settings for Audiobook Chapter Track

Garageband Compressor settings for Audiobook Chapter Track

6. Chapter 1 Track – Noise Gate

When you’re recording your audiobook, unless you’re in an amazing sound-proof room (which is awesome if you can get it), you’re going to have at least a little ambient room noise. Depending on your microphone and your recording levels, you can have quite a bit of control over this, but I found that I still needed a noise gate to cut off a certain low-end of noise so that I could have silence when there was supposed to be silence! (Although a wee little room noise can be okay, and sound perfectly natural, so don’t overdo the noise gate.) ACX wants your noise floor (the ambient noise level when there is no speaking or sound) to be no higher than -60db. So here are my settings: (Note that they change a bit from chapter to chapter.)

Garageband Noise Gate settings for Audiobook Chapter Track

Garageband Noise Gate settings for Audiobook Chapter Track

7. Volume Control

You’ve got so many different places you can affect the volume: the Record Level on your input, and then for output you have your Master Track, Your individual Chapter tracks, and your Master volume.

Garageband Volume Controls for Audiobook

Garageband Volume Controls for Audiobook


And none of these have numerical inputs (that I know of). So there’s no way around it: you’re going to have to play around with these inputs/outputs to get the right volume. (And you also have your headphone/speaker volume to contend with.) But this is the way I went about it:
• Left the Master Track output volume at default
• Started with Chapter track output volume at default
• Tested recording vocals, and played with the recording level to get this:

Garageband Volume Target for Audiobook

Garageband Volume Target for Audiobook

That’s a volume output that tends towards the upper-mid-to-high end of green, extends into the yellow for peak moments, but never goes into the red (though your Compressor and your Limiter should eliminate that anyway). I know this all sounds inexact, and it is, but it worked great for my audiobook, and I haven’t gotten a single comment from listeners about volume issues.
• Then tweak as necessary. Honestly, I didn’t worry about ACX’s instruction “Each uploaded file must measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS.” But as I said, I put a Limiter plug-in on the master track of -3.0db to follow their peak limit

8. Mastering/Export

I received a comment recently from someone concerned about the ACX / “mastering” requirements. I’m not sure what they mean by this, as I didn’t do anything extraordinary on these files and they worked out great. As I showed above, I simply played with plugins on the Master and individual tracks. I guess you could call that mastering. (?) Then, I literally just exported with Share > Export Song to Disk > MP3/HighQuality 192 kBit/s. Boom. Done.

Garageband Export Settings for Audiobook ACX, Audible

Garageband Export Settings for Audiobook ACX, Audible

Feedback from ACX and audiobook reviewers

My files, using the settings above, went through no problem. There were a couple of chapters that they kicked back, because I didn’t leave enough head and tail (beginning and end) silence. So I’d recommend a healthy 3 seconds of absolute silence at the beginning and end of each chapter.

As far as reviewers, I haven’t received a single negative comment about production quality, and in fact have gotten some really nice production-related feedback:

“★★★★★  The production quality is top-notch and the voices are spot on.”

“★★★★★ The narration is superb with a good range of voices.”

“★★★★★ This guy has a future writing and reading. I have over 500 audio books. This is right near the top of the heap.”

“★★★★★ In the company of recent great reads/listens like John Dies, Ready Player One, Lost and Found. I love this funny sci-fi stuff and the narration is fantastic.”

(If you’re so inclined, you can read some of the other 1,216 reviews of Where the Hell is Tesla? over at If you’re inclined to listen to a sample chapter, head on over. Oh, and of course you can purchase it there too. 😉 )

Final thought

Seriously – if you have additional (more expert than li’l old me) advice, or corrections, or more questions, I’d love to hear from you — just leave a comment below or email me. I’m planning on keeping this post updated, to help out as many folks as possible. And if you find this post helpful, let me know! (And as a small publisher, I rely on word-of-mouth for exposure, so a Facebook/Twitter share of this post would be awesome.)

Good luck recording your own audiobook!


    • Hi Pearl — I don’t have an iOS version of the template. And I checked out how to transfer existing Garageband files to iOS and it is pretty darn involved! If I tool around with it in the future, I’ll post my findings and a reply. Good luck with your recordings!

      • Hello Rob, Ive just started as a Narrater on ACX and found your post super helpful, I have a different version of GarageBand so can’t be 100% sure I’ve got it all right but…. I also wondered two things, Did you have a master echo switched on? and in the main sounds bar on the left did you jut select Voice- Narration vocal and underneath in the track EQ- Voice-over EQ?
        Many thanks, Ariana

        • Hi Ariana! First, congrats on becoming a narrator! Yes, there several versions of Garageband, but I’ve worked with three and they’ve all been about the same. I don’t have any master echo or reverb on (actually they’re set to “on,” but the level is at zero so they have no effect). You can play with adding a bit of echo/reverb, but be very careful of overdoing it. For the main selection, Voice/narration and then EQ voiceover should be just fine. If you want to download my Garageband file, there’s a link in the post. Good luck!

  1. Hi Rob, Thank you. They just added new mixer controls to the iOS version, but it doesn’t have numbers. I hope one day they’ll make it available, even if I have to purchase it. I am going to look at the screen shot of your settings and try to mimic them. I’ll record something and send it in; that’s the only way that I know to test it. If I figure it out, I’ll save a template and send it to you. If you can test it before I send it to Audible, let me know.

  2. Hi Pearl – awesome! Let me know how it works out, and whatever you learn, I can update this post with your learnings (and credit you, of course). Good luck!

  3. Hi Rob, excellent recording and pointers. I downloaded your sample, but for some reason all EQ readings show as flat. Am I missing something? I’m totally new to this, trying to record my book. Thanks!

    • Hi Alexander! Okay, I didn’t put the custom EQ in the Master Track, so make sure you have Chapter 1 selected. Then make sure you’ve highlighted the little EQ button in your smart controls, and UNCHECK the little “Master” button. You should see the custom EQ setting I have set up. Let me know if you still don’t see it.
      — Rob

      • Thank you, I can see them now. Being new to this, I like the way your book sounds so I’d like to use your presets. Would you mind telling me how to record my track with your settings? Do I delete your track and record over it?
        Thank you for helping us out. Really helpful stuff.

        • Apparently, it’s possible to save settings as a template. It would be huge help to me and others, I think, if you posted a template file like that. Either way, thank you for blogging about this.

        • Hi Alex,

          I left the audio content in there for new narrators to hear my volume, the breath edits, pacing, etc., and I think most people who download find that helpful. So in that case, you would just delete my content and replace it with your own. But if you want a totally blank file with just my settings, here’s the link! ( Note that Garageband does NOT allow creation of template files, you’re just creating a blank file with certain settings, so when you open this up, remember to immediately “Save As.” Hope that helps!

          • Also, if you found this post/my comments helpful, I’d humbly ask you to share the love on your favorite social media – facebook, twitter, G+, whatever. Thanks dude!

  4. Rob:

    Thanks for sharing your experience with Garage Band and ACX!

    I tried recording using your settings, and it sounded great! Then I edited some breaths that were too loud and saved it. Now there is a loud click sound at the beginning and end of each recorded region. You can see the LED’s on the track bounce up to about 50% when the play head travels over the beginning or end of each region. I tried recording on new “Chapter” tracks, and get the same result. It’s not coming from the mixer– I disconnected that to see if the hardware was the issue. Any suggestions?

    • Hmm. I haven’t seen that before. I’d first try to expand all the way out so you’re seeing the smallest waves in the Editor window (click the little scissor icon). Then I’d see if there is any sound wave you can actually see. If not, there’s something up with the playback hardware/software combination. Tool around with it a bit, and if you’re still having problems, contact me through the contact page, and I’ll have you email me a “saved as…” copy of your file with one example of the problem and I’ll take a look.

  5. Thanks Rob. Still no joy on solving the pop problem. I can’t see any audio indication on the region where the Pops are occurring. I’d appreciate it if I can mail you a short sample so you can look at the file to see what settings I have missed.

    Please let me know the best email address to use and I’ll send it over to you.

    Best regards,

  6. Hey Rob! Did you find any way of exporting the tracks as individual mp3’s? Or did you just unmute one track at a time?

    Great information on all other points. I used this to convert an old cassette audiobook that isn’t available for digital download or even CD. I used a simple cassette player with a male to male headphone cord plugged into the cassette player an the line in on my mac mini, then used quicktime to record the front and back of two cassettes. Then I put the whole long files into garageband, spliced it up (using command-T) into separate tracks. Pretty slick.

    • Hi Kenny! — Yes, in my case I record chapters on individual tracks in the same Garageband file, then when I’m read to export I mute all tracks except the one I want, and use the “cycle” tool to select the time range I want to export. Then I Share>Export Song to Disk> and select “Export cycle area.” And btw, love your solution with the cassette!

  7. There may be a difference btwn our GB, I am 10.1.3, but I don’t
    understand why you would Export to disc rather than Share to ITunes. And then do the conversion to MP3 in ITunes. Seems to me that is where the files are going to be archived anyway for upload.

    • You could totally do it that way, especially for songs or something you’re going to be listening to later through iTunes. But since I’m outputting for Audible, I just go Garageband > Export to MP3 > Upload to Audible, not involving iTunes at all.

    • Perfect! Yes, every room, mic, and voice is a little different, so it ultimately all comes down to your ear and how the end product sounds.

  8. One last ques – I send off my Audible stuff w/ “room noise” of about 1.5 sec at top and :03 at the tail per their regs. R u recommending :03 silence beyond that or including it?

  9. I want to thank you for this very helpful post. The first audiobook narration I produced was just published yesterday and I think your helpful advice helped me to pass ACX’s quality control checks with no problems. You really helped me out.

  10. Rob, this is fantastic. One question. When you export your files from garageband, do you have auto normalize on or off? It’s in preferences>advanced on GB 10.

    • Hi Joe – I have auto normalize OFF for my exports. I personally feel like you’d be better off controlling volume/gain/limiting inside the file, but I haven’t done any tests with it, so if you do, I’d love to hear your results.

  11. Every time I have things to learn about using garageband, I seem to end up on your blog getting the best explanations and help. I really appreciate it and I did share this link in a blogging group I am part of.

    • I’ve got a compressor and a limiter already active in my master track, so regardless of my input, i’m hearing it back and outputting it to ACX’s specs. Good luck with your recording!!

  12. Hi Rob, I’ve been working with your GarageBand file, but I’m still getting so much room noise and i still have to go back in an delete breaths and the like. I notice you don’t worry about placing background room tone to replace any silents moments. When I do that, it sounds so strange to go from room tone while i’m speaking to no sound at all when I’m not. Any advice?

    • Personally, I like no sound at all when there isn’t speaking, so I use the Noise Gate to bring the sound to silence in between. Alternatively, you can have the Noise Gate set a little lower (higher?) to let more room noise in, so when there is no speaking, you can still hear a bit of the room. In that case,
      1. Record maybe 30 seconds of just room noise on its own track;
      2. The next time you take out a breath or such on one of your tracks, copy and paste a wee bit of that room noise from the extra track and paste it into the space;
      3. Adjust the ins and outs so they butt up against your speaking areas.

      This is pretty tedious work, and that’s why I prefer to go all the way down to silence, but you can totally do it this way. Good luck!

      • (And I would definitely do what you can about the noise — more blankets! Or if you can somehow limit the space. I’m currently facing a corner in the basement, with a full sheet of audio foam surrounding my back. ( So the space I’m recording in is maybe 3′ x 5′ — as small as possible.

  13. Hi Rob, thanks for the great article. I can’t seem to get the limiter to work when using your exact file unmodified, or perhaps I am misunderstanding. When I export to .mp3 then open the file in Audacity, it appears to be peaking and needs to be normalized again. Do you know what I might be missing OR how to check an .mp3 exported file to see if the ACX requirements are met? Thanks!

    • Hi Bo – are you auto-normalizing in Garageband? It’s in the preferences, I keep mine off. I don’t do any normalizing. (I’m not sure if that’s how you’re supposed to do it, but that’s how I’ve done it and I’m happy with the results.) I know it’s not an exact thing, but when I export I simply make sure I’m hitting the yellows on my peaks (not the red), letting the Limiter do its job, and I haven’t had any problems with ACX. (I have gotten a few files kicked back for being too soft, but I just bumped up the gain a little bit, re-submitted them and they were fine.)

  14. Mr. Dircks, you are an internet oasis. Auto-Normalizing? I would have NEVER found that and Audible didn’t mention it. I suspect that is the culprit I’m currently dealing with as all of my files got kicked back for peak over -3, and even 0db.

    (fingers crossed)

    BTW, first time narrating.

    There are a lot of time wasters on the internet, you sir, are a time saver.

    • Glad to be of help! Yes, you are not the first person to mention auto-normalizing as a problem. Good luck with your next round of submissions!

        • Wow, that’s awesome Dexter! Hey, I listened to the sample on Audible and your voice sounds GREAT! Nice and bassy and rich, and the production values are terrific. Bravo, dude. I’m psyched to have helped, even just a wee bit.

  15. Hi Rob,
    Thanks for the great post! I can’t seem to be able to download or open the file on my macbook. Will have to try some other way.
    Thanks again for the detailed description.

  16. Hi Rob,

    Do you use an expensive microphone? Could you give any advice on what microphone to buy? Price is a consideration because I’m working within a tight budget.

    I very much appreciate your work here. I am in Australia and that presents an almost insurmountable obstacle to putting an audiobook together. I’ve been looking at it for more than a year now.

  17. Hi Rob. I hope you can help me with my question. I received the following message from ACX.

    Issue: 8 files have a low RMS and are too quiet: Intro.mp3, Chapter 1.mp3, Chapter 2.mp3, Chapter 3.mp3, Chapter 4.mp3, Chapter 5.mp3, Chapter 6.mp3, Chapter 7.mp3
    Requirement: files measuring between -23dB and -18dB RMS
    Solution: Please raise the overall RMS level of each file to within our requirement. For example, if a file’s RMS is -30dB RMS, it must be raised +8dB to be within our -18dB to -23dB RMS requirement range. Learn Mastering with Alex the Audio Scientist.

    I have made this change once already but ACX has now rejected the files a second time for the same thing. I thought this setting was in the compressor but apparently I must be missing something. Any help can offer would be great.

    • Hi Earl, I have had files rejected for the same. When you export those chapters, change the setting on your Limiter to add more gain. (I emailed you a graphic to show it.) So maybe +4.0db? More? A lot more? You’ll have to listen to it, side-by-side with your original export, to make sure you can hear a significant difference. Good luck! – Rob

  18. What a boon to have come across your site. I have almost finished recording my book (first time audio book narrator) in Garageband 10.0.3 so perhaps I’m after the fair. But I downloaded and applied your settings to the last chapter I recorded and what a difference!

    However, my AUPeakLimiter does not look like your Limiter. It has 3 dials: Attack Time, Release Time (no negative option) and Pre-Gain. Beneath that is what looks like a slider marked 0 – 20dbs, only I can’t see how to affect it. How do I use this to ensure the ACX decibel range is adhered to, please?

    Also, am I right in assuming that if I apply your settings to the recordings I have already made, I should be able to pass the ACX tests? Or is there anything else I need to do?

    Many thanks again for providing such invaluable advice here.

    • Hi Chartreuse! I’m glad you like the posts and have gotten something from them! I’ll be the first to say I’m not an expert at Garageband or plugins, but I believe peak limiter is to avoid peaking when you record (too loud, going off the red). You can leave that plugin in place if it’s doing what you want, but you should also notice in my template file the plugin “Limiter,” where I’m adding overall gain (+2db) and “limiting” the maximum output to -3db. That will help keep your files within ACX’s requirements. HOWEVER, using this templates is NOT a guarantee that you will pass ACX QA process. Please follow all their guidelines to make sure ( — Rob

  19. Hi Rob I wanted to thank you for posting this garageband template, it has been infinitely helpful for getting me started on ACX. I was able to use it for my first production and it came out great with no QA issues. Thanks again and best wishes.

  20. Hi Rob! Thank you so much for all the information. I’m a first time narrator and got a reject on all my files for “noise floor requirement – All files have been heavily processed with noise reduction”.
    However, I now know the auto-normalizing was set to “on” and I’ve tweaked some stuff with you settings…It seems to have helped.

    My question is, does the “track volume” or the “main slider/project volume” dictate if the output volume is between 23dB and -18dB RMS?

    Thank you so much for your time!

    • Hi Summer – both the track volume and the main slider dictate the output volume. I generally aim for the main slider to be just hitting the yellow a bit in general, and set the Limiter plugin to -3dbs to make sure my peaks aren’t too high. Also, with the noise floor — I can’t stress enough (and from personal experience!) how getting your space as quiet as possible is maybe the most important factor in getting clean files that pass ACX quality control. – Rob

  21. Hi, Rob!

    For my first effort, I recorded a short story which is currently in three separate files. Can I submit just one of the files to learn of any problems before submitting the second and third, or does ACX require the entire story at once for QA?

  22. Hi, Rob!

    For my first effort, I recorded a short story which is currently in three separate files. Can I submit just one of the files to learn of any problems before submitting the second and third, or does ACX require the entire story at once for QA?

    • Hi Janet! Yes, ACX still offers a service where they’ll review a file and give you an assessment before you upload the rest. (You will have to re-upload that one file again when you want to send it into production.) Assuming you already have an ACX account (if not create one), call them at 1-888-396-6347. Tell them what you want to do and they’ll generate a specific link for you to follow to answer questions and upload a file. Good luck! — Rob

  23. I’m pleasantly shocked that you answered me so promptly! You’re amazing, Rob! I followed your very clear instructions and now possess an MP3. Thank you for your willingness to help us all, and your generosity in sharing your experience and time. I’ll return with an update. Meanwhile, my favorite genres are historical romance and women’s fiction. Which of your books would I enjoy the most?

  24. Hi Rob,

    Great work, you are awesome! I’ve learned a lot. I have 3 questions, if you could be so kind to answer them:
    – Do you have any trouble with clicks/pop sounds when it comes to cutting the clips and punching back in? If I record a line, stop and then add more lines, you can hear the slightest pop where the edit was made. I hope this makes sense..Do you have any thoughts on this?
    – I have to deliver my voice over files with the peak at -3 db just like you said. Do I set the limiter (-3db)on all the seperate tracks or do I only have to do this at the end when mastering? I am a bit confused on the whole output settings.
    – Most jobs I receive also mention my peak INPUt which should be between -6 to -12 db..but I have no idea how to set this up on Garageband interface.

    Sorry for all the questions. I hope you can help me out.

    Kind regards,
    Willem Rolf

    • Hi Willem, First, congrats on your book, and on getting to the recording phase! Okay, onto your questions: 1. Clicks/pops on cuts — I personally don’t have this problem but have heard of it. Try trimming the cut as close to the ending sound and the beginning of the next sound (eliminating the whole cut area) and see if it persists. 2.Limiter plugin — I set the Limiter on each track to -3db. There are lots of ways to do it. 3. Input — yes, Garageband doesn’t have really specific controls for levels, but as a rule of thumb, I try to get the input and output generally staying in the higher green area, and peaking in the yellow area (staying away from red). I know that sounds inexact, but it’s worked for five books! Additionally, there’s a tool I found that you can use to analyze your exported MP3s for average RMS (Root Mean Squared) to make sure it’s within the -23db and -18db limit, and that your peaks are at or under -3db. Here’s the link: Good luck! — Rob

      • Thanks for the speedy and clear reply.
        When it comes to that 23db and -18db input limit; this is not a level you choose at the ‘Individual track volume output (as you call it)? I guess not because that would mean the volume is almost down. I see your individual input level is around +0.8.

        Thanks again!

  25. Good afternoon Rob.
    Trying to learn how to put 1-10 hours of audiobook content on one CD. Do you have any links you could send me please? I would appreciate your assistance. Thanks for your consideration in advance.

    • Hi Donald – CD burning and such is not my expertise, and that sounds like a lot of hours to try to jam onto a single CD. But I used to use Roxio Toast Titanium ( to compress DVD content (video) and it worked great. Maybe they’ve got a way to compress audio too? Good luck, and if you find out post back so folks can see the solution. Thanks! — Rob

  26. Damn dude, you are a godsend. Just published my audio book and it is selling very well. Question: i noticed a very differences between the screen shots and the actual values on the sample (template) audio file i downloaded here. Anything to be concerned about? Working on my second book now.

    • Hi Colin, That’s awesome! And no, nothing to be concerned about differences between screenshots and actual file. I’m always tweaking settings (as you should be for your own setup). Continued good luck! – Rob

  27. stupid question. I thought we were to have a separate file for each chapter which would mean submitting multiple files. I noticed you sample file has an opening credits track and then a chapter 1 track that starts after it. Is that what we’re supposed to do? Also, Is there a way to submit a sample file to ACX to see if it meets standards before recording the rest of the book? Thanks

    • Hi Kaiulani, Not a stupid question at all. You can have a separate file for each chapter if you like, that’s not wrong. I just prefer working it all in one file and muting the chapters I don’t want to hear. Regarding sending sample files, yes, ACX still offers a service where they’ll review a file and give you an assessment before you upload the rest. (You will have to re-upload that one file again when you want to send it into production.) Assuming you already have an ACX account (if not create one), call them at 1-888-396-6347. Tell them what you want to do and they’ll generate a specific link for you to follow to answer questions and upload a file. Good luck! – Rob

      • Thank You. Love that youre so helpful and supportive. Their requirements make it very clear that each file submitted needs to contain only one chapter. so do you then separate your ticks into separate files after you’re finished? The main requirement I continue to be mystified about is “Each file must measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS.” I don’t see how to monitor that or even see what level a track has recorded at in either Garageband or Audacity. Hints?

        • Hi Kaiulani, 1. I keep all tracks in one file, then MUTE the tracks I don’t want to hear when I export each separately. (So you still have one file, but each chapter has its own exported track.) 2. For the required levels, re-read this post and you’ll see if you set your Limiter plugin to -3db and play with the gain, you should have all files in their required range. A tool I found helpful (and FREE!) is Audioleak ( After you export a file, drop it on Audioleak (make sure the “graph” function is on), and you’ll see where your volume range is. Good luck!- Rob

  28. Thank you kindly. Sadly, I am old and a bit deaf. Your settings files have helped. Well, I think they might have. My wife usually checks my voice-overs, but sadly she too is a bit deaf.

  29. Love your voice and tone of your recording. Immense thanks, for your willingness to share your template, which came in very handy for me as I’m not versed with garageband. Have one question though. Recording is great and sounds rich but has a deep masculine tone to it for my female voice. Could this be due to the settings you did for your voice? Any idea how I can correct that? Appreciate your response.

    • Hi Chris, Yes, I really pump the bass for a rich “male” tone. So you’d have to play with the EQ, bring down the bass, bring up the upper middle maybe (you don’t want it to sound too thin). It’s very trial-and-error, and don’t think you’re doing it wrong if it takes you a while, it took me forever to get them where I liked them. Good luck! – Rob

      • Much appreciated Rob. I’m doing an audiobook so the pumped up bass does come in handy when I do the male voices. Thank you immensely for all the helpful hints on this page. Here’s to wishing you a prosperous 2020 in all your endeavors.

  30. Hi Rob, I’ve been struggling a bit to get the ACX RMS limits right, I had my master compressor gain wrong initially on my first two submissions. Now, using AudioLeak I’m trying to get the measurements right. Do I need to have my files between -23 and -18 as if it is a range between? I’ve been resetting my files and trying to get them at -22.9 or -22.5 but then wondered if I needed to be above -18 on the emono measurement. I’m getting things on the left and right at at least -22db but then it struck me that most of them are below -18db.

    • Hi Phil, Don’t be discouraged if it takes you some time to get the levels right, it’s definitely a trial-and-error process, and you might have to add even more gain. Here’s a screenshot of one of my files to help.audioleak
      I basically make sure the unweighted (white) line is between -18 and -23, and that my peaks don’t go too far above -3. Good luck! — Rob

  31. Hi Rob – many thanks for all your guidance in this minefield!! I’m just so new to this and wondering – how does this master track work overall if i am only recording on the say the “chapter 1″ track? where does the master track come into play? Lastly do you use a ‘d-esser” at any stage?

  32. Thanks! Such great detail. I have GarageBand, and never thought I could use it this way.

    I’m planning on the Narrated by Author version of my novels (why share the fun if you can learn to do things yourself?), because I think they are special, IF you can learn to do a professional job.

  33. I have narrated a couple of Audiobooks and used ProTools, which was basically a nightmare – – forever having problems with inputs and process to meet ACX standards was cumbersome. Tried Audacity but compatibility problems with latest Mac OS. I like GarageBand (seems simple) and thanks for your “template”! My sound seems great (with little noise) and I have used 2nd opinion software to check for ACX standards – – only issue is that 2nd opinion says it sees 2 channels but expects 1. I think I am set up to record mono and only have on mic. Can you help? I also continue to have problems with head/tail end silence. Thanks!

    • Hi Henry, I agree with you about ProTools – it’s an amazing app, but unless you’re a true sound engineer like my brother, it can be a PIA to get everything just right. That’s great that the Garageband template seems to be working for you. The check software I use is AudioLeak. You can download it here: Just drop a sample MP3 export on it, and make sure you’re viewing the graph, and it’ll show you where your peaks are and where your average volume is (RMS), to make sure it’s within ACX’s limits. Regarding the stereo/mono, I export my files as stereo and have never had a problem with ACX. I think they just have to be consistent – either all stereo, or all mono. Good luck! – Rob

  34. Hey Rob just updated my MacBook Air to the Catalina 10.15.4 version and have come to find after that the Audioleak {3.1} program your suggested in one of your posts is no longer compatible. Updater beware. Alternatives?

    • Hi David, Yikes! That’s exactly why I haven’t upgraded to Catalina — there are several programs I use that would become incompatible. Maybe send the Audioleak folks an email to find out when an update will release? And if I find something else in my travels, I’ll post it here. – Rob

  35. Hi Rob,
    Thanks for all the info! Very helpful. I’m an author and first time narrator for my own book.

    I recently uploaded my audio files to ACX. Eight of my files were rejected because “Peaks exceed 0 dB. Reduce peaks to below -3 dB. ”

    I did set my Limiter to -3 dB. I even played around by lowering the Volume on failed Tracks to -10 dB but sill failed the ACX requirement. What should I do?

    • Hi Lia, The most common cause of this is that people have “auto-normalize” set to ON when you export. It should be set to OFF (unchecked). You can find the setting in Preferences > Advanced. (I emailed you a screenshot). If that’s not what your problem was, try playing with the Limiter plugin, setting it even lower (and check that you don’t have limiter plugins in both the tracks and the Master track). Good luck! – Rob

  36. You are a true hero. If only I’d found this sooner! It’s been so hard tracking down Garageband-specific information for audiobook recording. And Garageband itself just isn’t all that precise or accessible for those of us new to voiceover. Thank you for sharing this!

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