How to Remove Background Noise from Audio

RevBlogResourcesCaptions & SubtitlesHow to Remove Background Noise from Audio

Let’s set the scene. You had a time and a place. Maybe it was a quick scene or interview that went well. But then when you start reviewing your recording the next day, something is off. Maybe it’s not constant, but there is definitely detectable background noise in your audio. Even though the video looks great, the audio quality is low. You can clean up this recording, but how do you keep this from happening again? Let’s dive right into how to improve background audio.

Plan in Advance

Of course in an ideal world, everyone would have access to a studio. Noisy environments would be avoidable. But we learned that even the best-laid plans can go awry in a pandemic. NPR hosts were recording from apartment dining rooms. Award-winning comedy podcasts were relegated to a closet. And then those intrepid street reporters have always had to deal with a multitude of random noises. But sometimes you can plan ahead to help improve background audio.

Long story short, if you are stuck with the location you have, practice noise reduction. Prevention is always easier than the cure. Make sure any nearby washing machines or radios are turned off. Lay down a rug to help with reverb. Mute your cellphone. And despite what you hear, a closet isn’t always the best place to record a podcast. But a room with stuff to blunt bouncing sound can help. That’s step one to getting great audio.

Establish Room Tone

Most people are used to certain sounds from around their office, home, or favorite coffee shop. Maybe it’s dogs barking, a plane that flies on the hour, or just the sound of laptop keys clacking. When you have your quiet space picked out, you need to figure out its tone. To improve background audio, you have to know what you’re working with.

To determine your room tone, start by setting up your equipment just like for the final recording. Then, take a 10-20 second audio recording of the empty space. Listen to the recording. Now that sound is just focused in your headphones you’ll hear different sounds. Can you turn off the air-conditioner? Can you offer a headset to the video gamer on the other side of the wall? Do your best to mitigate the noise. This background-only clip could also come in handy later, so hang on to it.

Next, take a brief recording of your vocal intro. Listen back and note how your voice sounds. Is it distorted by any new ambient noise? Also, see if you need to adjust for the room’s size or density. And one simple fix: just speak closer to the microphone. Don’t be scared!

Improve Background Audio

You picked a quiet spot. You removed unnecessary noises and added a rug. Then you recorded a solid room tone clip. But after recording, you still end up with an unwanted noise throughout the recording. This is where an audio editing program such as Audacity, Adobe Audition, or Camtasia comes in handy.

Upload your audio file to your chosen program. Then use that earlier room tone recording as a baseline for what the background noise should sound like. Adjust your recording and listen again. Done!

Make Audio Accessible

High-quality audio is appreciated by all viewers. But it’s especially important for those that are hard-of-hearing. You want your work to be enjoyed by as many people as possible, right? Even if you cannot clean up the audio perfectly, there’s a solution: add captions.

Using a caption provider like Rev.com allows you to balance out any audio issues. That way viewers can clearly read the dialogue and background descriptions.