Better Noise-Reduction option?

Is there a better option for noise removal with Audacity than the built in ‘Noise Reduction’ effect? I can remove the background noise and static I want to with the NR effect, but it’s really drowning out the audio that I’m trying to save.

Using the latest version of Audacity on Win 7 btw

I can remove the background noise and static I want to with the NR effect

And that’s usually the mistake. The old tool was called Noise Removal and we changed it because too many people expected it to removed noise to zero. It doesn’t do that. It won’t turn your messy, hissy, noisy live recording into a studio production. Very few software packages will do that and maybe none.

Effect > Noise Reduction is always a juggling act. The goal is to reduce the background noise gently increasing in strength until it starts to damage the show. Then you stop. That’s as good as it gets.

How are you recording the show and what is it?

If you’re recording audiobooks, we have tools that can help.

Details are good.


There is Noise Gate. I think it’s an optional add-on effect. That one tries to figure out when you stop talking and it slams the sound to silence. It usually sounds about that good.

There’s no other tools I know of.


For specific types of “noise”, filters can work better than “Noise Reduction” effects. A typical example would be where the “noise” is a constant hum or whistle with only a few frequencies, in which case Notch filters can be used to cut those frequencies.

I’ve just got an acoustic guitar with an onboard preamp system w/ a piezo pickup, going into one effects pedal, then into a usb audio interface, then the computer.

I’ve adjusted the settings on the guitar and usb interface every which way and neither seem to have any effect, except for lowering the volume of the piezo knob, but then I’d just have to increase the volume in audacity and I’d still have all the noise anyways.

I tried the noise gate as well, but you can still hear the static when the recording kicks in.

Is there a way I can upload a few second sample of the noise, would that help?

I tried the notch filter effect as well, but there are too many other frequencies besides the standard 60hz electronic hum.

We totally want to hear it. Record a second or two of silence and then 8 seconds of stereo playing (two blue waves) or 18 seconds of mono (one blue wave). Export WAV (Microsoft).

Scroll down from a forum text window > Upload Attachment > Browse.

There’s a pretty serious limit on the length of sample you can post, so no, you can’t post a 3 min song.


Here’s an example of the noise i’m getting. The first 10 seconds is the unaffected noise, the next 10 is static with the effects pedal on, and the last 20ish is some playing with the guitar for reference.

Looks like that file didn’t export correctly, This one has the static cut down to about 3 seconds each, then as much playing as possible to keep it under the upload limit.

Part 2

What happened on Part-1 at 4 seconds? Until 4 seconds, that’s a very high level of hiss (ffffffff) but maybe OK depending on how much stuff you have connected. At 4 seconds, it goes into spaceship special effects swishing and giggling and then the music hits.

All of Part-2 has killer hiss in the background, but from listening to Part-1, I’m not totally convinced that’s normal electronic hiss that every piece of electronics has. I think the system is making its own noise and it sounds a lot like normal hiss…but isn’t.

I do like the performance music. We need to figure out why the noise is destroying it.

I’m stuck in the field for a day or two, so I don’t have my killer sound system and analysis tools. It’s whatever I can do with a laptop and cup of Starbucks. Other forum elves will be along.

Part-1 has plain, normal US version hum. 60Hz, 180Hz and 540 Hz. Bad cable, bad connection, dirty connection contacts or cable too near other electronics, powerful motors or lights.

I resolved an odd hum problem a short time back. Turns out the wall power cable for my sound mixer will cause hum in a microphone cable if they get too close to each other. I went several years not knowing what caused that.

While you’re listening to that mmmmmmmmmmm sound (start a recording, but don’t play anything), move things around and wiggle the connections. See if you move one thing and the hum comes and goes or changes. Changes are good. “When I move my cellphone away from the effects units, the hum changes pitch.”

If the computer is a laptop, see if the mmmmmm sound changes when you go on internal batteries instead of shore (wall) power.


In part 1, the first four seconds is nothing but the static and noise I’m trying to get rid of, then at 4 seconds I’m turning on the reverb pedal, I just wanted to give an example of the noise with it on as well.

It was originally one 28 second-ish clip, but I had to divide it into two parts, and cut it up to keep under the upload limit.

I did try rotating and switching around the cables, no change unfortunately. I also tried turning off my monitor, moving my cellphone across the room; basically turning off all electronics i could or moving them far enough away that they shouldn’t have any effect, but that also seemed to make zero difference. I’ll try this again tomorrow just to be sure i didn’t miss something.

The instrument cables I’m using are very cheap tbh, I was thinking about buying some nicer shielded cables to help. I’ll trying using a different USB cable as well, and replace the 9-volt in the guitar also.

The computer is a desktop unfortunately, so no changes to be made there.

There is a free plugin called DTBLKFX which has a contrast effect : like turning up the contrast on the spectrogram , so quiet sounds , like the hiss , get quieter …

DTBLKFX settings.png
But it’s better to remove the hiss at source , rather than try to remove it in post-production (in Audacity).