background noise, street interviews, compressor settings

Hi all,
I’m using Audacity 2.0.6 in Mac 10.10.5
My field recording gear is Zoom H6 with an external Rode M1 Microphone.

I’ve learned so much about the software over the last few months (thanks to you :smiley: ) but I still struggle to compress my files without boosting that natural background traffic noise during street interviews. I’m recording audio with strangers in loud environments so some background noise is part of the ‘feel’ . I’m not looking for noise removal because the hum of nearby people or minor traffic is okay-- but I want to make sure my post production doesn’t lift those sounds.

Any tips for good compressor settings that will even the louder voices while keeping that background hum naturally in the background?

Another quick related question: in equalisation, does the 100Hz rumble attempt to kill some of that street sound too? It seems to? :wink:

You can hear the type of show I produce here

Thanks so much all-- I’m grateful

Street interviews will almost allways benefit from a rumble filter (high-pass @ 100 Hz or even 150 Hz). It’s not only traffic noise that has a lot of energy in these low regions, but also sounds from mics rubbing against clothes, wind noise…

What you can try to find is a multi-band compressor for Audacity. Sort of an eq and compressor in one, but intelligent. Then you can apply different compression for different bands, since human voice only needs 250 Hz through 5 KHz roughly. Have a look here:

Anyhow, I’ve had a listen to your podcast about social media and it sounds fine. Background sounds are completely acceptable. The content/style is interesting and professional, so don’t overdo compression, filtering etc. as it will steal the “life” from the recording.

Background sounds are completely acceptable.

What he said.

One other poster did a cafe conversation recording and was crushed that the rest of the room and bustling activity could be heard. Given they did slightly overdo it, I had no trouble at all “being in the moment” for the recording.

Good thing, too, because we can’t split apart a mixed performance into individual performers and put them back together again after filtering.

The grownups do it hand-holding a shotgun microphone. That’s normally a distance microphone, say bolted to the top of your camcorder. Somebody did an interview this way once just to see what would happen and it was an immediate hit.


Thank you so much guys! Wow… really grateful for the advice. :smiley:
I need to sit down with a pen and paper because I find I get the EQ and Compression settings okay and then can’t remember them.
My audio ends up over processed. You heard a good episode in the link I originally forwarded: there have been some noisier ones :frowning:

Generally, in the compression tool of Audacity we have the degree of threshold which is - x dB
and the degree of noise floor which is - x dB.

What figures should I be experimenting with to even the voices but tame the traffic? I know what you guys are thinking: :unamused: :laughing:

I’m going to experiment with the plug ins too: look what you’ve started.


You can save and retrieve EQ curves - and the Manage button in affects lets you save and retrieve custom settings
See: Audacity Manual

and: Audacity Manual