How to Remove Ambient Noise From Audio Files Using Audacity
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Have you ever been working on an audio project and spotted something wrong? Perhaps it’s a hiss, regular tapping, or a clock ticking? Maybe a bird squawking, or just general ambient noise.

You really need to get rid of this, otherwise your audio project won’t sound professional. Fortunately, it’s simple to remove background noise from audio if you have the right tools.

Here’s how to remove background noise using Audacity.

Why You Should Be Using Audacity

If you’re not already using Audacity (available from audacity.sourceforge.net) you can use it to remove ambient noise from your audio. Better still, it doesn’t matter whether the audio was recorded with the software or not.

Remove background noise - Audacity editing timeline

If you have never heard of Audacity, where have you been? It’s the most popular free and open source digital audio workstation (DAW), covering all features and options that you’ll need. Audacity can help you streamline your podcast production Streamline Your Podcast Production in Audacity With 3 Easy Tips Streamline Your Podcast Production in Audacity With 3 Easy Tips Making podcasts is fun, but the post-production stage can be time-consuming. If you're using Audacity to edit your podcasts, these three tips can help you save a lot of time. Read More as well as making great sound effects, and much more besides.

If you’re new to Audacity you should check out our guide to recording with Audacity. In the meantime, you can open your audio in Audacity by opening the File > Import menu and browsing for the file in question.

Why Isolate Voice From Background Noise?

In some cases, you might be happy to keep the background audio. You might not even have realized that the ambient noise was a problem. So, when should you get rid of it?

There’s a simple rule of thumb here. If the ambient noise detracts from the music or talking that is the main feature of the recording, then it needs to go. At the very least, it needs to be reduced.

Podcasts, songs, and dramatic recordings—anything that needs to have a polished production—should have the ambient noise removed. Everything else, such as personal notes, or a recorded interview, should be fine with the ambient background audio left intact.

How to Remove Background Noise From Audio Files

To filter out the ambient background noise, you’ll need to find a section of audio where it can be isolated. This might involve splitting a stereo track into two mono tracks. You can do this via the down-arrow on the Track Control Panel by selecting Split Stereo Track.

Once you’ve found the audio—which Audacity will use as an example—you should select it with the mouse. Make sure the Selection tool is selected, then left-click and drag the section of background, ambient audio.

Remove background noise - Select the audio to take a sample of background noise

This audio selection will be used by the Noise Reduction feature to find similar background ambient and remove it. Not only is that clever, the end results are almost always superb.

How to Use Noise Reduction in Audacity

With the audio selected (it will be highlighted in blue), open the Effects > Noise Reduction feature. You’ll see a dialog box with a two-step tool. First, head to Step 1 and click the Get Noise Profile button. You have your profile selected already, so click this button.

Remove background noise - Click Get Noise Profile

At this point, the Noise Reduction box will close. Don’t let this confuse you. Instead, select the portion of audio that you wish to remove the ambient sound from. If this is an entire track, simply left-click the track header to select it all. Otherwise, select a larger portion of the track.

Remove background noise - Select the track header

Now, return to Effects > Noise Reduction, and look at Step 2. In most cases, the default Noise Reduction, Sensitivity, and Frequency Smoothing settings will work. Go ahead and click OK to accept these. It may take a while for the noise reduction to be applied, depending on the track duration.

Remove background noise - Filter the audio

Of course, you’re free to alter the Noise Reduction, Sensitivity, and Frequency Smoothing settings. If you have the time to adjust them, it can be worth your while to achieve a superior result. Note that with longer tracks, the processing time will be increased.

Once this is done, preview the results. If you’re happy with them, hit File > Save to retain the changes. You can then use these tips to make your audio sound even better, before you export your project as an MP3 file How To Create Valid MP3 Files With Audacity How To Create Valid MP3 Files With Audacity One of the more popular open source audio applications, Audacity, has recently upgraded to version 2.0 and is now no longer in Beta. Audacity has some great tools and effects that can be used to... Read More .

How to Extract Clear Voice From Noisy Audio

This isn’t just about tidying background hiss from your audio files. With Audacity, you have the tools you need for all sorts of audio manipulation. For example, you might have a track, perhaps someone talking in front of an audience, that is difficult to hear. What is the solution?

Well, using Audacity, you can keep the voice, and remove the background noise and music. Again, it requires that you have enough audio of the background noise without the audio that you want to keep.

Once you’ve got this, follow the steps above to extract a relatively clear voice from a noisy audio file. In most cases, the results should be adequate. If not, you may need to look for a more specialised solution.

Did Audacity Successfully Remove Background Noise?

In most cases, you should be able to dispose of any background hiss or other ambient noise using Audacity. I’ve successfully removed noises as irritating as typing and even a pair of tweeting birds. Audacity is superb for this sort of audio fixing; indeed, this is just one of many abilities the software boasts.

But what if Audacity isn’t working out for you? While its open source approach might yield results for many, you might require the power of a paid DAW.

To find out what else is on offer, check out the best Audacity alternatives 6 Awesome Alternatives to Audacity for Recording & Editing Audio 6 Awesome Alternatives to Audacity for Recording & Editing Audio There's nothing wrong with Audacity, and we recommend giving it a try if you haven't yet. But alternatives do exist - here are some of the best ones we've found. Read More for recording and editing audio.

Explore more about: Audacity, Audio Editor, Digital Audio Workstation, Podcasts, Record Audio.

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  1. Matthew Milone
    February 25, 2018 at 10:27 pm

    Hello, and thank you for the article. I imported the audio from a video and successfully reduced the noise. However, when I exported it back to the video, the noise reduction edit seemed to disappear. (I kept the original, and played them one after the other to make sure.) Do you know what's going on?

  2. JEH
    January 14, 2018 at 12:45 am

    I'm looking for a way to remove noise from my camera video. The mics are on either side of the camera in tiny holes and so the resultant wind noise is extremely well separated in the stereo. In other words there's no wind noise between the speakers or across the sound stage, it's all hard left and hard right. So what I guess I need to do is boost anything that is present in BOTH channels to any degree and remove all audio that is 100% panned Left or Right. Is this possible? Kind of like cropping the sound stage to remove what's at the edges?

  3. bond007
    November 24, 2017 at 3:40 pm

    Hi,
    I am using Audacity v 2.1.0, The name of the options are somewhat a bit different in this version. The mp3 file from which I want to remove noise looks like this-
    https://i.imgur.com/3VFon92.jpg
    You have mentioned that “We want to remove that noise but only affect the second track.” Why don’t we remove the noise from the first track also as it also has noise lines? Why is it showing 2 tracks for a single audio file?
    You have mentioned to select the track with the noise, in my case both one’s are having noise. If I select the either one a yellow border forms outside that recording. I am not able to select them both at the same time. How to do that?
    How to save the file in mp3 format itself, as the output files are getting saved in .audacity format only.

  4. Aaron Swindell
    July 26, 2017 at 6:22 pm

    Worked like a charm! Audio sounds like it was recorded in a nice booth instead of an open room. Thanks for this information!

  5. Kathryn
    June 9, 2017 at 3:46 pm

    For some reason I do not have the Noise Reduction option under Effects. I see it as an option but it is greyed out and I cannot click on it. Help!

    • Ryan M
      July 18, 2017 at 5:01 pm

      It will be greyed out if the track is currently playing, you'll have to pause/stop the audio before you can edit it in Audacity.

      • Christian Cawley
        July 19, 2017 at 8:30 am

        Yeah, Ryan's right, and what's more this is the same with the majority of functions in Audacity. Remember: make sure you click Stop before trying to make a change!

  6. Ahmed Azeem
    April 29, 2017 at 9:20 pm

    So helping. Nicely briefed. Thanks

  7. Msknight
    April 16, 2017 at 10:56 am

    Having a hard time trying to remove voice from a recording. Was at an event and captured footage of someone playing a Welsh harp, (tripple harp, Teifi harp) but a lot of voice around, sometimes children screaming and laughing, and adults chatting loudly. Trying to both reduce the vocals and also boost the frequencies of the harp, but it appears to all be across the range and I'm having a heck of a job. Any advice please?

  8. May Abou Zahra
    February 18, 2017 at 11:42 am

    Hi,
    I need to know how do I return the mp3 file to the video.

    • Christian Cawley
      February 21, 2017 at 9:05 am

      What software are you using?

  9. Sandy
    January 30, 2017 at 2:05 pm

    I am trying to remove noise from an ambient recording. It's voice not music. I have tried for 3 days now. All I get when I import it raw is static, no voice. I've split it, followed this article, I've tried everything I know to try. This is so important to me, but I guess I'm just not able to get it! So frustrated and disappointed!!!!!!!

    • Christian Cawley
      January 31, 2017 at 11:32 am

      WHat do you mean by "import"? Importing isn't really a part of this.

  10. Jesal
    January 25, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Hi

    I could not "Split Stereo Track". The option is greyed out while i click on the down arrow. Could you please help.

    • Christian Cawley
      January 31, 2017 at 11:32 am

      Hmm. STrange - first of all, is it definitely a stereo track?

  11. Jose Luis Greco
    January 6, 2017 at 1:01 pm

    Followed your instructions. Worked like a charm! Thanks

  12. Mandi
    December 15, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Does this program work with JAWS?

  13. Aksa Sahi
    December 5, 2016 at 10:50 am

    but to remove noise in this setting . the original voice is also affected. then what should do to maintain original voice level

    • Christian Cawley
      December 6, 2016 at 9:29 am

      Did you split the tracks? Did you select noise?

      The original voice should be *barely* affected unless you have a considerable background noise problem.

  14. Erica
    October 27, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Hello!

    Just wanted to say a quick thanks, this was very helpful. Super easy to download and follow. Was very quick and the audio quality on my recordings on my interviews for my bachelor thesis became so much better and so much more pleasant to listen to! (they were recorded in busy cafés) So great THANKS!

  15. Jordan Alston
    July 8, 2016 at 11:02 am

    it made my voice sound weird and echoey what happened ????? im so pissed right now

    • Erica
      October 27, 2016 at 6:13 pm

      First of all, the program asks you if you want to make a copy of the audio before starting to edit and mention that it is recommended. this way, anything you do will not affect the original file.

      Second, when you have done something and you regret it, you can just press "undo" and then it will be back to normal. You can increment the noise removal by taking away a little at a time. Good luck!

  16. 7tean
    February 23, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    Great tips! Thank you so much! Greetings from 7tean (Bulgaria). :)

  17. Anonymous
    October 16, 2015 at 9:04 am

    I have suffered in my attempts to remove the noise from my recorded sound tracks. Your program is an excellent solution. Easy to use and effective. Thank you so much.

  18. Anonymous
    October 15, 2015 at 11:48 pm

    Great thanks

  19. Bayleigh
    May 18, 2015 at 5:17 pm

    What if I'm not trying to get rid of noise but "fuzz" from the piano being to loud?

    • Ratio
      December 9, 2016 at 1:32 am

      Reduce recording volume and record again. No way to clean up busted level

  20. Monika Wahi
    February 18, 2015 at 10:32 pm

    Thank you 100 times over! This article was very helpful to me.

  21. Kc
    December 18, 2014 at 8:27 pm

    This is the only instructional I have found that actually does exactly what I wanted it to do. All the others just tell you to go to noise reduction and then my file loses half the volume. You rock. Thank you.

  22. hola hola
    July 11, 2011 at 8:43 pm

    im selecting a fragment of my recording .aif but i cant select ay of the effects--- any idea why? please help

    • Angela Alcorn
      July 12, 2011 at 7:55 am

      You can't select individual effects unless they're in Audacity as separate tracks. If you've just imported, it's probably in as left/right speakers or just one track. But that can still be used to get rid of the ambient noise if you follow the instructions in the article.

  23. Carey - Transcriptionist
    May 14, 2011 at 8:44 pm

     Thank you for this incredibly useful post.  In fact all your articles on audacity is really helpful for me as a transcriber.

    In my line of work, there is no dearth of poor audio recordings with background noise and what not!

    • Angela Alcorn
      May 15, 2011 at 6:55 am

       Glad to be of use - I'll bet this will be quite handy for you!

  24. Fish
    May 6, 2011 at 4:37 pm

    Doesn't Audacity processing involve transcoding? If it doesn't anymore, then I'll probably use it again.

    • Angela Alcorn
      May 6, 2011 at 5:07 pm

      Using Audacity does involve transcoding. There's actually a very good answer here as to why it always will. http://forum.audacityteam.org/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=39081

      But, it's always a case of using the right tool for the right job. There are some things Audacity is great for and other things that will be best served by using something else. Take it as you need it!