Eliminate sounds throughout an entire file all at once

I could use some help with editing out breath sounds or background white noise. I’d love to know how to capture the sound one time and eliminate or reduce it throughout the entire file. I know to highlight the sound, go to Effect, go to Noise Reduction and record the sound I want to eliminate. But when I highlight the entire recording so it will eliminate that sound throughout the file, the entire sound is impacted. It goes from the deep rich sound of my voice to a cheap tin sound. So I’m back to doing each sound one at a time which takes so much extra work. Can anyone help me? Thanks!


Before you do anything, Export the work as a backup WAV (Microsoft) file and save it someplace safe. It’s a very common new-user mistake to edit and correct an original recording with no backup. If anything bad happens to the computer or Audacity in the process, you could lose all the work and have to start over reading it again.

It could be two different things. The profile step, the step where you record the noise has to be pure. If you really want to suppress background noise, it has to be the only thing you select. If there is the slightest bit of your voice in there, Noise Reduction will try to remove your voice, too.

Are you reading for audiobooks? ACX requires segments of Room Tone to be included in the presentation—that’s room noises only with no voice—so you will need to get good at this whether or not you use Noise Reduction.

The second part of the tool is application. You may be overdoing it. Try values of 6, 6, 6 and see if your voice is damaged. It’s possible to have too much noise or other damage for Audacity to recover. As you found, stiff corrections are audible and ACX will reject work that’s overprocessed.

Are you trying to read for audiobooks? We have a number of tools and add-ons that can help.


Thank you Koz.

Yes, I have just started some projects with ACX as I’d like to do audio books.

I do include room tone as eliminating noise entirely when I’m pausing sounds totally unnatural. I’d like to tone the white noise down a little but not entirely. Please tell me more about getting good at this. I just thought it was part of my presentation in the background but not a separate part of it with no voice at all.

Most of what I’m trying to control are my big breaths or sometimes the clicking noise from my mouth from being a little parched when I do a long reading. I try to manage that with frequent water. You can imagine how tedious it is to have to tone these sounds down individually for a large file. I’d love to capture it once and tone it down throughout the entire read. Not eliminate it entirely, just soften it.

It’s frustrating for me when I have a great voice but lose jobs because the quality of the recording is so poor. I have a good studio which I paid an expert to set for me. I do not record directly into Audacity. I use a Zoom H4n microphone and insert a sound card. I download the recording onto my computer and drag it into Audacity. I then highlight the recording and go to compression, normalization, equalization, and lastly go to amplify to about -7.7 which keeps the range in a good place. Please correct me if these are not the proper steps.

When I go to Noise Reduction, I capture the sound I want and I was told to have the settings for Noise Reduction at 12, Sensitivity at 6, and Frequency at 0. Are you saying to try 6, 6, and 6 for these levels? And should I be checking the Reduce or Residue button below it?

I greatly appreciate all your help. I’ve tried hundreds of smaller VO jobs and landed a few but I suspect it’s so low because of the poor quality of the finished product. Producer friends of mine tell me I have an outstanding voice and they’d use me but my recordings sound unprofessional. Instead of the deep, rich sound they hear when I’m talking to them, they get a tinny, shallow sound. One guy told me it was like I was talking into a can. It’s a shame to do so much work and not get more jobs because I’m pushing the wrong levels. Thanks again!


Rather than guess at it, shoot a 20 second sound test and post it here.


Don’t do anything to it. Pull it down from the H4n, cut it to size if you need to and post it. Don’t make it too short, either. Read the side of the milk carton. Anything. “Pacific Gas and Electric will be conducting a survey next week…”

Fair warning the hardest part of that is the Room Tone. Another reader submitted several tests as we mopped up their recording problems. They never got it. Every time I found lip smacks, gasp breathing, scratching shirt, adjusting pants, shuffling papers, something. Freeze and hold your breath. It just has to last for a second even though it says two.

Talking into a pipe is very common if you misadjust some of the sound processing tools.