Absolute beginner attempts to amplify sound level and clean

Hello, everyone, Happy New year to you all,
I have just downloaded and installed Audacity 2.1.2 today (I knew about it for years, but never had time to play with).
Installing on my Win10 box was just a breeze, following instructions from the site.

I am an absolute beginner in soundtrack remastering, and I need to clean and enhance a record:

  • The event was a public meeting at my city hall
  • I recorded through my smartphone in stereo (or so it says)
  • The track is more than 50 minutes long
  • The speaking people were at least 20 yards away
  • There is some reverb of some kind
  • and also voice humming or moving chair’s noise …

Well, the soundtrack is awful!
I must replay with my helmet or PC speakers at 100% in order to almost understand the speech.

I managed to use some Audacity effects to clean some obvious issues (smartphone buzzing while receiving a notification, causing a pike), but now I am stuck … due to my ignorance, since many of the names of effects do not speak to me!
I have tried many of effects, but as I do not know what they are useful at, and do not understand in what way I should change settings, most of them do nothing … or too much.

So, if someone can give me some hints and advices on how to enhance my soundtrack, that would be nice :

  • How to amplify sound, so that a 50% level on helmet or speakers is enough
  • How to remove background noise, such as moving chairs or whispering people
  • How to give more “volume” to speaker’s voice

Thanks for any answer,

DBZ Please accept my apologies for hijacking your thread , if you are concerned in any way please let me know and i will delete and create my own. The reason i have posted is that my issues are so unbelievably similar to yours that any feed back from experts to resolve your issues would also help me.

In a nutshell i am an absolute novice and what i want to achieve is probably impossible but worth asking the question. I have done a home recording on a home camcorder and some of the relevant conversations took place as people were outside the room prior to walking in to the main room and hence the voice conversations are very low level in the background and dont become clear until they walk into the main room. I would like to know if it is possible to “pull” the background conversations into a more clear and audible state using Audacity 2.1.0 on a Windows 10 machine.

Thanks in advance for any advise

Software can only do so much… There’s a reason pros still record in soundproof studios with good equipment, good microphone placement, and hopefully there is a good performance to record. From what you’ve said, it’s unlikely that you’ll get anything that’s “comfortable” to listen to…

•How to amplify sound, so that a 50% level on helmet or speakers is enough

… •How to give more “volume” to speaker’s voice

Start with the Amplify effect. The Amplify effect pre-scans your file to find the highest peak, then it defaults to whatever gain is needed for “maximized” 0dB peaks. Apply the default gain to maximize/normalize the file.

If it’s still not loud enough, try the Limiter set to Hard Limit, and apply Make-up Gain. And/or you can try the Compressor effect. Compression and limiting can bring-up the overall-average loudness without boosting & clipping/distorting the peaks. Now… The downside to compression/limiting is that it boosts everything (except the peaks) and that means it boosts the background noise.

•How to remove background noise, such as moving chairs or whispering people

The Noise Reduction effect (filter) can remove quiet sounds that are truly in the background, but from what you’ve said the voices you want so save are in the background. Noise Reduction works best when you have a constant low-level background noise (such as slight background hiss). As you try to remove louder sounds you begin to damage the good parts of the recording.

Hello ratter, nice to know I am not alone!

Hello DVDdoug, thanks for your reply.
You teach me nothing about my expectations being unrealistic. And I know that my Townhall’s meeting room is definitely NOT a professional soundproof recording studio.
Ok, now I am going to try to apply your advices, and I will eventually post about my results (maybe with screenshots?), since it may help others.

Soon about this, thanks again

Hello, me again,

So I have tested DVDdoug advices.
Beforehand, I first thoroughly scanned my track and manually removed every obvious peak (like smartphone vibrating :smiley:) with the “Taire l’audio” tool. (“Silence audio”? in english. I have searched how to switch back language from French to English, but didn’t find)

Then “Amplify” with the defaults
Then Limiter set to Hard Limit and defaults? (Limit to -3.00db, Hold 10.00, Make-up Gain yes).
Then Compressor (Threshold -12db, Noise level -40db, Ratio 2:1, Attack? 0.20 secs, Release time? 1.0sec, Offset? gain to 0 yes).

Effectively, the sound seems a little better so.
Then I tried to use Noise reduction filter but the “Profiling noise”? button did nothing in Step 1.
First I selected a few - too few? - seconds, and it did nothing, second I selected to whole track, it spent 1mn analyzing, and then settings were the very same - defaults? (Noise reduction 12dB, Sensitivity 6.00, Frequency smoothing 3 bands, Noise=residue).
So I applied step 2.
Sound is better again, but not as good as I want.

From very old memories popped up the notion of low-pass and high-pass filters.
As they are amongst the effects, I tried them.
High-pass filter seems promising (Frequency 1,000.00 Hz, Rolloff 6dB per octave), voices are clearer.
If anyone (DVDdoug) can give advice on the best way to choose these parameters?

But I have to go to my job, so trials and errors will be for the next time.

See ya’ folks