Cleaning up noisy old 78's?

I know there are older threads, but I’d just like to check on the choices and options with the new version of Audacity. I have a CD produced from some old 78’s of a blues singer, and there’s a lot of hiss from the worn out 78’s it was made from. Some other typical worn out record noises in many tracks, but all have that worn out hissing.

What are my best choices to try cleaning this up? “Simple and inoffensive” versus “lots of work but might be even better” ? The LP was from an obscure label, the original even more obscure, so I’m reasonably certain that given 1990’s options, they just captured what they had, with no attempt at noise reduction back then.

I read through that twice. You have a CD with a performance taken from a 78.

It’s not necessarily worn out. A high hiss level can be somebody who tried to transfer a 78 with an LP needle. The LP needle is narrow and it sits on the bottom of the 78 groove. It’s significantly noisier than actually using a wider 78 needle which balances itself between the two groove sides.

Quite a number of the tutorial submissions have to do with transferring vinyl.

Scroll down.


Try a low-pass filter at about 5kHz. Most of these older records are noisy but there wasn’t much high-frequency information on the records and older/original 78RPM record players didn’t have much high-frequency capability so you’re probably hearing more hiss than would have been heard at the time.

If there’s some silence (noise only) at the beginning or end of the track you can take a noise profile and try the noise reduction effect. But, there may be artifacts (side effects).

so I’m reasonably certain that given 1990’s options, they just captured what they had, with no attempt at noise reduction back then.

There’s only so much you can do with an old poor-quality* recording, and processing such as noise reduction can sometimes make things worse, so it’s often a compromise.


  • By today’s standards.

Thanks. I don’t expect to make DVD quality audio out of it, just to see if I can improve on what I’ve got. The miracle is that recordings have survived that long in the first place.

I too gad some old blues recordings that were 78s but my albums were on vinyl fir the transcription.

In addition to using Audacity I used Brian Davies’ tools.

  1. Click Repair to get rid of the clicks and pops - see this sticky thread:
    I had already purchased this for my other vinyl transfers.

  2. Then I went to work on them with his DeNoise:
    As I only had 2 LPs to process I did all the work within the 14-day free-trial that Brian allows.

DeNoise is much harder to use tha ClickRepair you have to fiddle with the settings mor to get a good result;
Plus I found that as they had all come from differen 78s’ I had to work on each song on the LPs separately.

But the great thing about Brian’s applications is that you can monitor:
a) the input raw signal
b) the output processed signal
c) the “noise” that is being removed.
And note you can switch between these modes while the audio is being processed, very useful that is.

c) is very useful as it enables you to make sure you are not removing too much music with the “noise”

See this wotkflow on 78s transcription:
obviously only part of it will apply to you with the recording you already have on CD.

Do let us know how you get on …