amplifying sound only (not silences too)


I live in an area with noise from dogs barking, motorbikes driving past etc. To prevent these sounds from affecting my voiceover work, I’ve set the recording volume to 0.60. This has worked in that when an external noise like a dog bark happens, no waveform appears in audacity to represent it. The problem with 0.60 recording volume though is that it makes my voice too quiet. Now if I select all and amplify the entire track to make my voice louder, everything gets amplified to the higher volume, even areas with no waveform (no waveform areas which include external noise like dogs barking etc).

So what I need is a way to amplify areas that have significant waveform (my voice) but NOT amplify, and preferably even silence, areas that have no _______ (like that) or very small waveform. This would make my voice louder which is needed with recording volume at 0.60, but it would eliminate external noise like motorbikes, dogs barking etc.

Does anyone know how to do this? Because there must be a way to, instead of selecting all, select just all parts of a track that have significant waveform? And then from there amplify just that, having selected it, and leave the quiet areas unamplified. Thank you for your time!

Best wishes,

Yes, you can use the Envelope tool - see:


thank you I am looking into it!

will only remove dog barks when you are not speaking: in the “silences”.

no waveform appears in audacity to represent it.

If you’re using the regular blue waves, they only show the loudest 25dB or 30dB of sound out of 90dB or so total. You can hear quiet stuff and not have blue waves. That’s where your environment noises are coming from.

It’s not the best idea to reduce recording volume to try and get rid of the motorbikes. That also makes your voice noisy (fffffffff).

You should do whatever you can to not record the motorbikes. People record at night. I can record OK in my garage, but I can’t do it during the day because of my noisy street.

You can also make a “studio” out of moving blankets and plastic pipes.

Here’s a guy that can make a bathroom sound pretty good with just a blanket.

Record with your microphone at oblique placement (B) instead of straight-on, and get closer.

People have recorded voice work very successfully in their car. One of the production people at work routinely turned up with terrific voice clips and I know he lives in a very noise house. I asked him how he did it and he said “My Toyota.”

I know it seems like you should be able to push a few buttons and get rid of background noise, but it doesn’t work like that. Even with good Noise Gate settings (Effect > Noise Gate), you’re still going to have motorbikes inside your words. That and most of the solutions have problems of their own like cutting beginning and endings of words and sound pumping.

If you ever decide to read for audiobooks, ACX is looking for damage like that and they will reject you.


“Noise Gate” is the tool to do that: Noise Gate - Audacity Manual

Here are more ideas:

Just to be Suzy Sunshine a bit. Whatever you do to get your show in presentable form you will have to do to every show from now until the sun cools off. Further, if you do get a collection of tools to work, it’s only going to work until the noises change. So you have to constantly pay attention.

Contrast that with recording in a quiet area where you get to the end, maybe adjust volume, cut it to length, export WAV for backup and MP3 for posting, and go make coffee. You’re done.

That constant attention and pile of filters thing is going to get really old in a hurry. There’s a thing about post production processing taking three or four times the length of the show. So don’t start your career with a two-hour long podcast. That’s about eight hours of work to get it out the door.

Hope you don’t get popular.


Thank you for all your answers! I’ve converted my wardrobe into a makeshift recording studio with a duvet, clothes and pillows to absorb sound, put a mattress in front of the window, and seem to have eliminated most all outside noise. :slight_smile:

seem to have eliminated most all outside noise

Exactly correct. There was a radio show from someone who was going to produce a podcast segment in her hotel room closet. Done this several times before in her travels. She got all set up and started the recording. She closed the door and it locked from the outside. The dramatic show was her trying to get someone’s attention to open the door.

Ian in Hollywood started his voice career in a closet in his apartment off busy La Brea Ave. He also has the longest forum posting on record. It took us over a year to get him running, but he is successful.

I got super-duper lucky. The first owners of my house had a kid that played drums, so they soundproofed the tiny third bedroom.


It’s interesting because in my bedroom often the noise level is too high for recording, but by putting the mic at the back of the wardrobe/cupboard, it’s the one tiny space in this apartment that is extremely quiet.

Also I’m already finding that most audio issues are best solved before recording with the right setup, rather than trying to use software tools to fix bad bits after. Prevention better than cure.

seem to have eliminated most all outside noise

I had a musical keyboard with a broken speaker system that didn’t go all the way off when I turned it off. There was one place in the room that didn’t pick up background hum. Drove me nuts for a long time.

There are several forum postings from people who started out in actual professional studios. Record the book or production, collect the sound files, and go home. They decided to try it from home at reduced cost. How hard could this be?

They have a step up from everyone else because they know how this is all supposed to work.