Cleaning up a cassette tape recording

I’m using Audacity 2.0.6 on Mac OS X 10.10.2.

I have successfully recorded some old cassettes. I’d like to clean them up. I’ve discovered Normalize and Remove Noise, which are wonderful. Can anyone suggest other helpful effects?

I’m missing some manipulation tools which I’m sure exist but I can’t find them. Is there a way to simplify selecting the entire recording? I did find Zoom (Cmd-F). Cmd-E, and Cmd-3, but I don’t understand them. There is a tutorial on Zoom that doesn’t say how to Zoom.

Any thoughts or suggestions?

You can select the entire recording at any time by clicking just above the MUTE button. You can Zoom to the Full show with Control-F (That doesn’t select the show. You just look at it.).

Drag-select a portion of the blue waves and zoom into that sElection with Control-E

If you zoomed in a little too far to see what you’re doing, Control-3 will zoom out a little bit. That one is actually part of a much larger suite of tools and you just have to memorize it.

If you’re getting into that kind of granularity with the tools, you might also consider turning off Auto Update. Auto Update will try to flip to the next screen when the cursor gets to the right-hand edge. That will hide your edit points if you’re not careful.

Audacity > Preferences > Tracks [_]Update Display…(de-select).

Auto Update is handy on recording.


That’s wonderful advice. Thank you.

Where is the mute button?

Any advice on effects?

Is “silence audio” the same as mute?

Sorry. I found the mute button. Thank you.

Did you see the entire track turns gray (selects) when you do that?

All Normalize does is turn the volume up and down (and a couple of odd tricks). It doesn’t magically make everything all better like the name suggests.

Noise Removal is something of a violin. It’s best in experienced hands. If you have a very hissy old tape recorded with none of the Dolby options, you may be stuck with the hiss. The tools and filters may just convert the tape to different damage.

Export the tape dubs to WAV, not MP3. MP3 is convenient and it produces really cool small files, but it also damages the sound in doing it. MP3 makes it much less likely to be able to fix the sound later. You can make an MP3 for your music player from the WAV, but you can’t go backwards without creating problems.


This is the manual entry on Noise Removal.

The bumper sticker version is to drag select some portion of the noise only and make that the profile. The next time you run Noise Removal, it will try to subtract that sound from the show. If you get any voices or music in the profile, Noise Removal will try to remove them, too.


No. Edit > Remove Special > Silence Audio permanently affects the selection you apply that to, unless you Edit > Undo it.