How to remove background noise and echo from audio

By | August 8, 2016

I had grand plans of launching a podcast on hackstories but when i listened to my first audio recording it was so bad that i decided to delete it and never listen to it again. It had a lot of background noise and static coming from my laptop and a shit ton of echo. On top of that i didn’t like the quality of my voice at all!

To finally launch the podcast on hackstories i had to learn how to remove background noise of fans and my AC, how to remove static and how to prevent the echo/reverberation from entering my microphone. This is exactly what i did and now i want to teach you guys on how to go about it.

Problems with recording an audio

1) I didn’t know which microphone to use because i was really worried about the quality of the audio and i didn’t a have shit ton of money to buy a blue yeti microphone. Yeah that’s the best in business son. I researched a bit and find out that we can get a decent audio quality from a cheap microphone using a free software called audacity.

2) When i finally recorded an audio there was a lot of  background noise like that of my fan, AC, dog barking on the street and the fucking cat jumping around. If you are screencasting, that is, recording your screen using some software like Camtasia there will also be the sounds of the mouse clicks and the keyboard keys being pressed.

Cat sorry for making noise
3) I sounded really weird and unprepared and knew that somehow i had to improve the quality of my voice and the quality of the audio to sound more clear and a little mature.

Things we are going to to learn

– Which microphone to use for sound quality enhancement
– Tips for preventing echo and background noises from creeping in
– How to remove background noise using audacity ( free )
– How to improve the quality of sound and your voice
– Finally, if you are into screencasting we are going to learn how to use Camtasia to remove background noises, clicks and sound of keyboard keys being pressed.

It’s going to be a long article so sit tight and i promise by the end of it you are going to be an audio editing ninja. So lets get started!

Microphone Recommendations

Expensive – Many of the instructors like Udemy instructors who are good, use really great microphones like the blue yeti microphone that gives crystal clear voice and recording. So if you have the money. Go for it.

Blue Yeti Microphone

Blue Yeti Microphone

Cheap – Before these instructors became great they didn’t have much money so they used alternatives like iphone earpiece, headphones with a microphone and even just their laptop. Currently i use a logitech headgear that has a microphone. I got it for about 25$ and it works fine for me.

Background noise Reduction Tips

1) Unidirectional microphone – The difference between the bi-directional and the uni-directional microphones is that the bi-directional microphones picks up the sound from all the directions, so if your next door neighbor is speaking loudly, most probably it will pick that up but the uni-directional won’t, as it only picks up the sound from one direction.

Note – If you want to buy a uni-directional microphone just go to amazon or google and search for it. I won’t give a recommendation as i don’t use it but many people in podcasting business love it.

2) Night – The most obvious thing that people ignore is to just do your sound recording at night when there is no noise around you. I know common sense right? But apparently

“Common sense is not so common these days”

3) Switch off AC and fans – If you choose not to switch them off because you don’t wanna die then no worries we are going to learn below how you can remove this noise from background. Though switching them off will reduce your work.

4) Remove static – Sometimes you will get a screeching noise or a buzz when you listen to the audio. This is because a static is produced when you microphone is in close range of your laptop or PC. To prevent this keep an insulator like a table mat under you laptop.

Screencasting problems

When you are recording your screen for some tutorials, most of the times it is really difficult to eliminate the clicks of mouse and the sounds of keyboard keys being pressed. Here are some tips that might come handy.

– To reduce this use a keyboard cover protector which is a silicone cover that reduces noise when keys are pressed. You can get it for about $2.
Silicon Keyboard Protector
– Try pressing the keys more gently for once.
– The BEST way to deal with this problem is to record your video and audio separately.

For example, if  i had to make a tutorial on “how to prevent background noise in audio” then first i would have recorded the video using Camtasia 8. Then i would have used it’s voice narration feature to explain what is going on in the video.This completely eliminates the noise due to keyboard keys and mouse clicks.

Echo Prevention Tips

What is an echo?

If you clap in a large room or a hall, you will hear a clap and then you will hear it again after sometime. This is due to the echo. When you clap,some of the sound-waves directly go to your ears. But some of the waves go in other directions. When they go in other directions they sometimes hit a wall and are reflected back towards your ear. That is why you hear two sounds.

what is an echo

The same concept applies when you are recording an audio in the microphone. Due to echo you hear a boom or a hissing sound in the background. As your room is small therefore the echo is not that distinct but decreases the quality of the audio. Here are some things you can do to eliminate echo –

1) More furniture – If you notice echo usually happens in empty halls. So more the furniture, more the sound waves will be absorbed and there will be less echo.

2) Green screen – Hanging the green screen on walls is the most effective way to remove echo and is used by professionals all over the world. Not cheap though.

Green screen

3) Cloth over head – This is the trick i use to remove the echo from my audio. It is free and you can do it right now. What you need to do is make a V- shape out of blanket and keep it over your head while recording. Kind of like the baby below. This will remove all the echo and the audio will be very clear.

Cutte baby

Remove background noise using audacity

Audacity is a free software that you can use to record and edit your audio. You can download audacity from here. I am going to be using audacity on windows but the procedure on mac and linux is pretty much the same. Here is the step by step by process i follow after opening up audacity.

Step1 : Record the audio  – Turn on the recording. Don’t speak for 5 seconds after the recording starts. We are going to capture the background noise so that we can later delete it from the main audio.

Record audio - Audacity - background noise removal
Step 2 : Make a noise profile – Select the first 5 seconds in which only the background sound was being recorded. Then click on Effect -> Noise Reduction -> Get Noise Profile

Noice Reduction Profile Audacity - Background Noise Reduction
Step 3 : Remove the noise – Select the whole audio recording and again repeat the procedure above, that is, go to effect -> Noise Reduction .

This will remove all the background noise including the noises of your fans and AC.

Step 4 : Silence the unspoken – Now that we have removed the recurring noises in the background it’s time to remove all the noises that are in between the sentences that we speak. What i usually do is that i have a script and after each paragraph i take a little break.

Silencing audio

We are going to learn to remove/mute all the noises in those little breaks. Here is what you need to do –
– Select the first area in which you didn’t speak in audacity ( those areas will have almost no wave height)
– Then Press CTRL  + L on your keyboard.

Just a tip : Make sure to not overdo the last step because this causes a lot of unnatural pauses in between.


 

That’s pretty much it. Make sure to play the audio every time you edit it so that you don’t mess up. If you mess up you can always press CTRL+Z on windows keyboard and undo your actions on Audacity.

Remove background noise using Camtasia 8

If you are recording your screen or screencasting for some tutorial based video then you are most probably using this popular software called Camtasia. Now there are two ways we can about recording videos

Method 2 – Separating audio and video

You can record the video with the audio turned off then use the voice narration feature of Camtasia  to record the audio seperately.

Camtasia Voice narration settings

The advantages of doing this are :
– You can import this audio to audacity and use the above tutorial to remove the background noise.
– One of the other main advantages of doing this is that it gets rid of the clicks of mouse and noise of keyboard keys being pressed.

This is the method i use in all of my videos and is also used by professionals all over the world.

Method 2 – Using inbuilt feature of Camtasia 8

In this method we are going to record the video and the audio at the same time and then use the Camtasia inbuilt noise removal and noise reduction system to remove any kind of noise.
The advantage of this kind of screencasting is that it takes less time and the disadvantage is you might still hear a little noises in background and there is no way to edit them out.

– First record the video and audio together. You can do this by clicking on audio option and then on Microphone option.

Camtasia Microphone Switch on

– Click stop and save the video.
– Then click on the audio option

Audio option camtasia
– Check all the option given below

  1. Enable volume leveling – This will decrease the variations in your voice. So if you shout on the microphone it will decrease the intensity so it doesn’t hurt the human ear.
  2. Enable noise removal – This will remove the noise. The value of adjust sensitivity should be between 30 to 60. Then click on the advance button and tick the options “Remove clipping” and “Remove clicks”. This will remove the keyboard keys noise and mouse clicks. Click sensitivity should be between 20 to 50.

Noise removal options in Camtasia

You can try out both the methods and just see what works best for you dawg.

Conclusion

I would suggest you try out the methods stated above and see what works for you. I have found out in my research that preventing the background noise and echo from creeping into your audio is much better that using audacity or camtasia to edit it.

“Prevention is better cure”

I usually try prevent to prevent the noise from creeping in and if some noise comes in my audio then i edit it using audacity. If i am screencasting, then i record my audio and video separately and them mash them up together later. That’s pretty much it. If are confused about something, just hit me up in the comments below. Peace!


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