How to remove background audio noise in your recordings for free

Use Audacity: A step-by-step guide for removing background audio noise

Background noise is annoying 🔈

Getting clean audio recordings can be really hard, especially in noisy environments. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do to avoid it. So, what can you do? The good news is that there’s a free way to remove background noise from your recordings using Audacity.

Audacity is a free audio editing program created by a community of audio experts. Audacity accepts almost any audio file type and has a noise removal tool specifically designed to solve the problem you are trying to solve. It is a robust piece of software, but also very easy to use.

Removing Background Noise Step-by-step 📋

Step 1

Open Audacity, click “File” and “Open” and locate the file you want to fix

Step 2

Select your “Room Tone” by dragging your mouse over a section where there is little or no audio sound

Step 3

Select the “Effect” menu and then select “Noise Reduction”

Step 4

Click “Get Noise Profile” and wait for the modal to disappear

Step 5

Click back to your timeline of audio to clear your selection

Step 6

Select the “Effect” menu again and select “Noise Reduction” again

Step 7

Click “Preview” to hear the default noise removal settings. You can select one of these defaults to see if they work

Step 8

If you still hear noise, then simply adjust the Sliders (see descriptions below) and then click “Preview” again

Sliders in Audacity 🔦

Note that any movement to the sliders in Audacity can create a big change to the sound of the audio. It is recommended that you ‘go easy’ as you adjust the sliders.

  1. Noise reduction slider: 
    This controls the amount of noise reduction in your volume
  2. Sensitivity slider: 
    This slider controls the range of noise. The higher this is the more your audio will be affected.
  3. Frequency smoothing slider: 
    This controls the rate at which something occurs over a period of time. The default setting is 3. Higher settings favor spoken word whereas lower settings are better for music.

Capturing great audio 🎤

Removing background noise can be a pain, so it’s always best to do everything you can to reduce the noise before you record. If you follow the steps in this How to Capture Great Audio article, it's very possible that you won't need to remove any noise afterward.

What about removing background noise in video? 🎬

Audacity is great for cleaning up audio associated with radio, podcasts, or music. For spoken-word video, it’s not as simple. You’ll need to export the audio from the video and then once you are done removing the background noise in Audacity you’ll need to re-sync the audio to the video. So technically it’s not impossible, but it’s certainly not the most efficient way to remove noise especially if you’ve already edited your clips.

Audacity works best with audio. If you are working with video, then you should check out this article: How to remove background noise from video.

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