How It Works

Video Lessons & Resources

ACX requires finished retail-ready audio—rough, unedited narration won't cut it. Whether you’re new to audiobook performance or are a seasoned narrator hoping to become a more proficient producer, study up on our ACX Audio Submission Requirements, and then watch these helpful video tutorials to see exactly how to get that high-quality result. Then, visit the ACX blog for even more video instruction.

Setting Up A Home Studio

The room you record in will have a massive influence on your finished work. A great set-up will allow you to quickly and efficiently produce audiobooks that sound great, while a poor set-up will make your work very hard and can ruin otherwise great performances.

Of course, the equipment you use is important, too, but if you’re on a budget, spend more on getting the room right than on top-end gear.

Watch and learn about:

  • The elements of a good recording space
  • How to set up your home studio
  • The basic equipment you’ll need

Key elements of a good recording space:

  1. Isolation from outside noise (No noise from cars, airplanes, or nested birds)
  2. No home noises like boilers turning on, air conditioners, TVs in other rooms, dogs, or kids
  3. A low noise-floor
  4. A dead room

The Gear You’ll Need:

  • A comfy chair that won’t creak
  • A script stand
  • A microphone (preferably a large-diaphragm condenser)
  • Mic stand or deskmount
  • Mic Shockmount
  • A Pop filter
  • XLR Cable to connect microphone to an audio interface
  • Audio interface (such as an MBox)
  • A reasonably fast and quiet computer
  • External Hard Drive (solid-state drive preferable as they are typically quiet and fast)
  • Recording/Editing Software (such as Audacity, Twisted Wave, Wavelab, or Pro Tools)
  • Material to deaden sound
  • Lighting that is easy on the eyes (Avoid fluorescents or anything with a dimmer)

Putting together your first home studio can be a daunting task. To help make this easier for you, ACX has compiled an Amazon wish list containing much of the gear you’ll need to get started. All products are highly rated by the audiobook-producing community.

Sample Setups

The Basics of Recording

Make the very best recording you can the first time around. Be well prepared: Make sure you're rested, well-fed, comfortable and familiar with the material.

If you don’t get a good initial recording, you’ll have a very tough time producing a great product profitably.

Watch and learn about:

  • What to wear and eat
  • How to position yourself and the mic
  • The basics of recording with Pro Tools

Keys to a good recording:

  1. Be prepared! Know your script, get familiar with the characters, and practice pronunciations.
  2. Don’t use compressors, expanders, limiters, or gates when recording.
  3. Record “roomtone” at the start of every session. This is 15-30 seconds of “air” that you’ll use during editing.
  4. Give your files clear, explicit names.
  5. Leave cell phones outside of your booth!

Helpful Links:

Advanced Recording and Editing

ACX can help you become more proficient at the recording process. We’ll also teach you how to polish your recordings through effective editing – which is as much an art form as a technical endeavor.

It takes practice to become truly skilled at recording and editing, but doing a great job at both will make a significant difference in your finished product.

Watch and learn about:

  • How to make basic edits
  • How to “punch” record
  • Cleaning up your recordings

Keys to editing:

  1. Listen first! Take a few minutes to sit back, close your eyes and really listen to the performance.
  2. Get familiar with keyboard shortcuts.
  3. Listen again! (This is also known as the QC stage.)

Mastering your Audio

Mastering is, to many, the most mystifying part of audiobook production. Getting a good result requires a bit of trial and error—but, fear not. What you do in mastering can be undone, and you can try again. Plus, if you're consistently recording in the same space using the same recording settings, you’ll be able to save your mastering settings and use them over and over again for every audiobook you produce.

As a reminder, files submitted to ACX should measure between -23dB and -18dB RMS, with peaks hovering around -3dB. Your noise floor should fall between -60dB and -50dB.

Watch and learn about:

  • Why master?
  • Common tools of the trade
  • Important recommendations

We also encourage you to download and listen to these sample files. Open them in your audio software of choice and listen critically. They highlight both what to aim for and common mistakes to avoid. While you can play them right from this page, opening in your recording software will help you see and hear how they compare with your own work.

Good Samples

These were produced in well-planned home studios that were properly treated and insulated from extraneous sounds, and with much care put into the entire process, from recording and editing to final mastering. Plus, these examples sound just as good (if not better) than what can be produced in studios costing many thousands of dollars.

Good Sample 1

Click to download audio file

Good Sample 2

Click to download audio file

Good Sample 3

Click to download audio file

Bad Samples

Before being released for sale, every audiobook is given a quick check by the Audible staff to ensure it meets our quality standards. Titles with flaws such as these can result in a poor listening experience and may be rejected.

Bad Gating Sample 1

Click to download audio file

Bad Gating Sample 2

Click to download audio file

Bad Room Sample

Click to download audio file

Unacceptable Sample 1

Click to download audio file

Unacceptable Sample 2

Click to download audio file

Distortion Sample

Click to download audio file

Elements of Successful Narration

You'll find a lot of good books dedicated to the craft of audiobook performance. There are also many great schools and workshops you could attend to help you become an even better narrator. We encourage you to read and study a lot.

In the meantime, this video gives you a solid's designed to help professional actors learn about audiobook performance.

Watch and learn about:

  • Preparation tips from a veteran
  • How to create good flow
  • What if you’re the author?

Want to hear some great narrators talk about the best titles they ever voiced? Check out

Key Ingredients For Great Narration:

  1. Training
  2. Preparing well
  3. Knowing the point of departure
  4. Working at the level of the paragraph
  5. Handling characters and accents
  6. Knowing your strengths and limitations
  7. Imitating strong narrators

Additional Videos

Industry Veterans Discuss How to Be a Better Narrator of Audiobooks

Stefan Rudnicki and Gabrielle de Cuir of Skyboat Media, both award winning narrators, producers, and directors, lead a round table discussion with a small gathering of audiobook narrators who are relatively new to the game. This candid discussion is filled with valuable tips, tricks, and insights that narrators of any level may benefit from. With multiple Earphones Awards, Audies, and even Grammys between them, Stefan and Gabrielle have proven industry experience!