Noise is probably the most-common problem in amateur podcasts. Professional podcasts sound great not just because of the equipment, but also because of techniques. Learn some ways to reduce noise before and after you record.

Reduce noise before you record

Turn off noise-makers

Fans, air conditioners, refrigerators, computers, and more can all cause background noise in your recording; try to turn them off if you can. I turn off my air conditioner whenever I start recording because I have a loud vent right above my studio equipment.

Consider a different room

If you can’t turn off noise-makers, such as an air conditioner or refrigerator, consider switching rooms. Pay attention to the carpet, walls, and furniture in the room. The less “flat” you can make the room, the less the sound will reverbrate.

Reduce computer fan noise

Turn your microphone away from the computer and place as far away as possible. If you use a notebook computer, try to minimize your running software to prevent the fans from activating.

Switch to a dynamic microphone

Condensor microphones can capture a beautiful range of audio, but they’re more sensitive to noise from the room (great for ambiance recording). Dynamic microphones are traditionally not as good with the audio range (such as the low pitches), but are more focused in what they capture and aren’t as sensitive to room noise. There are cheap dynamic microphones, but they won’t have the wide dynamic range of audio that they can capture. There is also my prized Heil PR40 for $325, and it sounds beautiful.

Reduce the gain and get closer to the mic

The microphone won’t eat you! Get closer to it! You may think this will distort your audio and you’re right, but that’s why you reduce the gain, which is the mic’s sensitivity. The more sensitive the mic, the more noise it will capture. Imagine it like a bubble around your mic. Gain makes the bubble bigger, which captures more sound. Make the “bubble” smaller and get inside it!

Get a compressor/limiter/gate (CLG)?

Not really. I shared in-depth settings for Chris’s Dynamic Compressor for Audacity, and also just discussed software and hardware compressors. CLGs are only effective at not allowing any audio in the spaces between your talking. It won’t remove noise while you record.

Plug everything into one power outlet

When you get electronic interference with your hardware (as I still have in some of your recordings), keep all your hardware plugged into the same outlet via surge protector. Also ensure your hardware is not in close proximity with other pieces (like audio cables sitting on power adapters—I made this mistake recently).

Use a USB adapter

If you record directly into your computer, converting that analog audio signal to digital before in reaches your computer has proven an effective method for reducing computer interference noise. Get either an adapter with 3.5 MM jacks or a Behringer U Control UCA202 USB Audio Interface for RCA jacks. This works great for desktops and notebooks.

Removing noise after you have recorded

Do everything you can to reduce the noise before you record. It’s possible to easily reduce it so much, that you won’t need to removal the noise afterward. There are probably some of these steps you can implement to get better recordings. If you still need to edit things after you recorded, here’s how to remove noise with Audacity.

  1. Select the “silent” section of your audio, where it’s just noise.
  2. Go to the Effects menu and click Noise Removal.
  3. Click Get Noise Profile.
  4. Select all of the audio from which you want that background noise removed.
  5. Go to the Effects menu and click Noise Removal.
  6. Adjust the settings if necessary (defaults are fine) and click OK.
  7. Listen to ensure your audio doesn’t sound like it’s underwater.

Here are the before-and-after waveforms.

No live shows for a while

I got married! Although I will have prerecorded episodes still released on a schedule, this was the last live recording for a while. After I’m married, I may rearrange the Ramen Noodle™ and The Audacity to Podcast™ to be live on the same night.

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This post may contain links to products or services with which I have an affiliate relationship and may receive compensation from your actions through such links. However, I don't let that corrupt my perspective and I don't recommend only affiliates.

About the Author
As an award-winning podcaster, Daniel J. Lewis gives you the guts and teaches you the tools to launch and improve your own podcasts for sharing your passions and finding success. Daniel creates resources for podcasters, such as the SEO for Podcasters and Zoom H6 for Podcasters courses, the Social Subscribe & Follow Icons plugin for WordPress, the My Podcast Reviews global-review aggregator, and the Podcasters' Society membership for podcasters. As a recognized authority and influencer in the podcasting industry, Daniel speaks on podcasting and hosts his own podcast about how to podcast. Daniel's other podcasts, a clean-comedy podcast, and the #1 unofficial podcast for ABC's hit drama Once Upon a Time, have also been nominated for multiple awards. Daniel and his son live near Cincinnati.

47 comments on “How to Remove Noise with Audacity – TAP012

  1. sanjitkumar says:

    audacity is very good. i use it in my free time.

  2. Mandy says:

    This is fab thanks!

    1. Thanks! I'm glad that I could help.

    2. Anetta says:

      You could also try Edit8 app for noise reduction

  3. Caleb says:

    My recording sounds like its underwater to begin with…

    1. Can you describe your recording equipment and process? There may be something along the way that is causing the problem.

  4. mary says:

    is there a gate feature in Audacity

    1. Hi, Mary! There isn't a great gate in Audacity, but you can use Chris's Dynamic Compressor as a gate. I explain how to use it (albeit an older version) in episode 5.

      1. mary says:

        you just made another fan, thanks for the uber fast response Daniel!

  5. mary says:

    Daniel
    is chris' dynamic compressor available for 1.3 beta?

    1. Yes, the exact same plugin works for either 1.2 or 1.3 beta. However, I highly recommend using the beta, as even the plugin will look better and be easier to use.

  6. chris says:

    The effects and anlayze menu are greyed out.Why and how to over come them.I am using 1.3 beta and windows XPpro.TQ

    1. You must have audio selected before you can run an effect or analyze it. Double click within the waveform to select an entire section (this will be the entire track, unless you have cuts), or click and drag across the section you want to edit, or click and the beginning and then shift-click at the end of the area.

  7. Chris Seal says:

    hey Daniel! Cliff Ravenscraft sent me your way. I run Tuneplant Music Productions, and I'm looking to expand into the podcast market by making my services more affordable to start-ups. Would you like to chat sometime?

  8. Vicki says:

    Hi Daniel. Will you please advise how to remove noise that is a result of editing?
    (I have been trying to separate a track in Audacity into two sections, but whether I do this by leaving a gap with no audio or copy and pasting a very quiet piece in the middle it leaves an interference noise in that place as a result of the editing.)

    1. Hi, Vicki!

      This is a very strange issue and I would have to see the actual project, or at least a screenshot, to figure out what’s happening.

  9. Laura says:

    I recorded a very old cassette tape and there was a lot of over-noise – you could barely here the people talking (it was a recorded interview). When I followed your steps, it took away ALL the noise, including the interview. Is there a way to reverse it? What else can I try?

    1. It sounds like your recording is simply too noisey.Faithfully,

      Daniel J. Lewis
      Grow your podcast from average to amazing! http://PodcastMasterClass.com

  10. Arsalan says:

    man i really very thankful to you cz i got great voice but dont knw the softwares and stuff u reallly help me out

  11. Deepak Malhotra says:

    I had recorded some of my audio by using my laptop and used audacity to remove background noise. 🙂 it worked
    Yo can get a direct tutorial over here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jqbXec-YcJU
    Must share and comment 😀

  12. Thirunarayanan says:

    I recorded a cassette tape on Audacity. Some segments of the tape had very low volume. Is there a way to increase the volume for that segment on par with the rest of the recorded music?

    1. I specialize in helping podcasters, so you could try the same tool I recommend for them: http://auphonic.com

  13. Crash Cole says:

    I followed your instructions on how to remove background noise, it worked ! but my recording now has a sound like a xxxx faucet high pitched what did I ddo wrong

    1. That’s the unavoidable consequence of too much background noise and too much reduction. So back of the amount of reduction and accept some noise so as not to sacrifice understandability.

  14. Patricia Cruz says:

    I was wondering how do I remove background noice and with not removing voices?

    1. Hi, Patricia! The instructions in this episode should help you do that. But your results may vary depending on the kind and loudness of your background noise compared to the voices you want to keep.

  15. Jacob says:

    Hi Dan, we have a program that uses machine learning to remove any noise that isn’t the actual voice of a speaker. I think it could help you and other podcasters. You can see a demo at https://www.mokri.io/clean

    1. It’s a neat API. Thanks for sharing!

      It sounds very similar to what someone could get by using a DAW’s built-in noise-reduction tool.

  16. Gabriel says:

    just a small question if i had an audio that contains people talking but got edited and a song was added to the that audio and it has a very high amplitude that you can’t hear people properly can you tell me please how to remove that noise?

    1. The only way to fix it would be to go back to the original before the music was added.

  17. Linda says:

    Hey, are your podcasts anywhere else, like iTunes or Spotify? This was so helpful, thanks!

    1. Yes, my podcast is in Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and generally everywhere podcasts are available.

  18. Thank you for helping me better understand how to record sound and how Audacity can help edit those problem areas.

  19. Douglas says:

    Wow! I find it amazing that such a talented actor as yourself is so involved in helping the community! Loved your acting in My Left Foot!
    Fanboy aside, I tried everything before going to post- Audacity got rid of my noisy laptop fans perfectly with no distortion to my voice! (Helps that I have a low frequency voice I guess)
    Thanks for the help!

    1. LOL. I’m the Daniel J. Lewis, not the Daniel Day-Lewis. A simple look at my paycheck confirms it.

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