Cleaning Skype audio

I realize from the start I may just be screwed - VOIP is VOIP - but I’m no audio engineer - far, far from it. I’m using audacity to podcast and as my interviewees are almost all overseas (this one was in Singapore) I’ve no option but to record skype audio. So far I’ve done three phone interviews via skype and the audio was OK. My issue is this latest interview done skype-to-skype. The tonal quality of the audio is quite good but the entire recording - only on the Singapore track (my own audio is fine) is laced with - well, junk. Pops, cracks, even in some cases what I would call phasing.

Can anyone suggest any ways of cleaning this up. The interviewee was a university professor and I hate the idea of having to 1) scrap the interview, 2) ask her to do it again but I just don’t think my listeners would sit through 30-40 minutes of this. Hoping there’s an effect(s) in Audacity that might help? Keep in mind I’m a creative type, not a technical type so I’ll appreciate links to any directions on how to use phasing or compression or noise gates, or whatever might be able to help.

A small portion of this can be cleaned up with some very judicious editing, but most of it is on top of her voice, not in between. Any serious suggestions appreciated. I’ve attached a short snippet to illustrate the problem.

Keep in mind I’m a creative type

My first experience with a hard-core creative type was sitting around a coffee table drinking coffee and discussing a job. He was fiddling as he thought about the tasks. When he left, the junk on the coffee table looked far better and more harmonious than it did when we sat down. I watched him do it and I can’t figure out how he did it.

Right then. I was able to help a tiny bit. I applied Effect > Low Pass Filter with the attached settings to the two instances of harsh crashing during the voice. The slight muting on the words may be preferable to that screeching sound in your ears. Attached.

Unfortunately, I did go in manually and drag-select those screechy words, so there’s nothing automatic about it.

There may be a way to use Noise Reduction in a fancy, semi-automatic way, but I’ve been juggling for ten minutes and I’m out of ideas.

I would recommend Very Strongly that both sides use headphones or earphones during a call so Audacity doesn’t have to do echo cancellation (gargling/bubbling), although I’m sure most of that trash is multiple time-zone data errors. I’m always amazed how Skype can pick a useful conversation out of digital garbage.

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If you do this often, you might consider using an old-fashioned real telephone line and a hardware telephone fork. That will isolate you from the typical and very hard to solve VOIP problems…

Something like this:

Thanks Koz and Cyrano —

I’ll take a look at what you did Koz and see what happens. And Cyrano - interestingly I’ve done the three previous interviews using Skype to call an overseas landline and none of this happened. A few clicks and pops but easily removed, thanks for the suggestion. I use Skype weekly for language lesson conference calls, within the USA, and it works perfectly - so I tend to agree that most of this may have been time zones garbage. And I’m on headphones this end, not sure about the guest, but will suggest that to all going forward.

Well, that’s VOIP for you…

It works very well 95% of the time. Sometimes you need 100% and that’s why some people use old style phone lines and forks with a DSP to solve these problems. Plug and play, even when the line isn’t so good. But it is an expensive solution.

Doesn’t help if the line goes down, of course :smiley: