How to Remove Background Noise With Audacity

Noise from ventilation systems, cars driving down the street, keeping yourself warm with a heater or even the hum of flourescent lighting – these are all sources of background noise that can make or break your audio quality.

Having a constant hum or buzz in the background can be very distracting and cause people to turn away from your podcast. Fortunately, the Audacity audio editing app can help you get rid of the noise in a few… not quite so straight forward steps. Not to worry, though – while the 2 step process may be a little bit odd when you first see it, it is not difficult to understand or accomplish.

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The Video

I’ve put together a short video to demonstrate how to use Audacity to clean up your audio. It’s 7 minutes of step by step instructions, including a demonstration of the original audio and the cleaned up audio. Check it out on my Youtube channel, or watch it here, embedded in this blog post.

The Audio

In addition to the video on how to use Audacity to clean up your audio, I’ve also got two podcast episodes to demonstrate the difference.

The Original

In this original source file, you will hear a constant hum in the background, from a ventilation intake right outside of my office. You may have to turn up the volume a bit to hear it, but it is unmistakably there.

 

The Cleaned Up

Now in this second version of the same audio file, I’ve used Audacity to clean up the background noise. The effect is dramatic – the noise is gone during the quiet periods of the episode. But, it is not perfect. If you have high quality headphones, you will be able to hear a little bit of distortion or noise in the low-end frequencies while I am speaking. You may not hear it if your headset is not of high enough quality, or if there is too much noise where you are listening, but it is there.

 

Additional Cleanup?

Note that it is possible to do additional cleanup of the remaining low frequency noise during my speaking. I left this as-is, though, to demonstrate some of the limitations of what the noise removal tool are. I may, at some other point, show how to do additional processing to clean this up a bit more, but that will be another post for another time.

Professional Audio Cleanup

It’s fairly simple to add at least a modest amount of audio clean to your process, as you’ve seen here. However, there are some limitations to what Audacity can do, and it does take a lot of practice and experience to really get things perfect. You may find yourself in a situation where you don’t have time to learn all the tricks, or you need some additional expertise in cleaning up and doing post-production audio work. If that’s the case, you might want to look in to an audio production service such as PodcastFastTrac.

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PodcastFastTrack is a service that can handle all of your podcast production needs, including editing, splicing in music and intros, audio clean up and more. The combination of post-production work from PodcastFastTrack, plus hosting services from SignalLeaf.com may be just what you need to keep yourself production and focused on your podcast, instead of having to worry about the technical and production side of thigs.

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