How can I remove noise caused by setting my mic's gain too high?

Hello all!
I have an issue that may or may not be appropriate for this forums, but I trust that Audacity will have the features to fix it.

So, first off, I recorded some audio using a microphone. (Not important)
However, I accidentally set the GAIN on the microphone too high, so now on the high points, the audio is flattened out and sounds as if I put a plastic bag over my mouth. You know, that flat, buzzing sound?

From what I figure, it should be fairly simple to remove those bussing sounds, just by trimming the top and bottom of the waveforms, perhaps?
But I have no knowledge in audio, so I have no idea how to go about that.

I’ve tried lowering the volume (buzzing is still audible), and using the Limiter effect. Buzzing is still audible.

Do any of you know how to fix this issue?
if not, I fear that I’ll have to use the audio as-is, or record it from scratch. Sigh.

Thank you all in advance!

No, it’s virtually impossible to repair clipped audio.

If the clipping (loss of waveform peaks) is bad enough to sound like buzzing, then I’d say that it is irreparable.

If the clipping is very minor, then the “ClipFix” can attempt to restore the missing peaks, but for bad clipping there is no cure other than re-recording.

(The “low pass filter” effect set at around 5000 Hz can sometimes make the audio less painful to listen to, but the result will still sound muffled and “bad”.)

Thanks for your answer! I guess the only solution is to re-record.
Thanks again!

I guess the only solution is to re-record.

:smiley: Good!!! Most of the time when we see a post like yours, someone has recorded a one-time event with no possibility of “take-2”.

…Just a couple of unimportant comments -

The fact is, MOST recording problems can’t be fixed and even with the latest expensive software, pros still record in soundproof studios with good equipment and on-location movie dialog is re-recorded in the studio, etc.

“Too low” levels are better than too-high levels. You can amplify after recording but you can’t fix distortion. Digital recording levels are not critical at all as long as you avoid clipping. In the analog days you wanted a “hot” signal to overcome the tape hiss so it was a compromise between tape noise and distortion. But with digital… no tape noise!

It IS important to get a good-strong acoustic signal into the microphone to overcome room noise and any noise from the analog electronics.

And just to clarify the terminology - “Noise” is generally low-level and in the background so it’s more of a problem with silence or when recording quiet sounds. …Although a loud barking dog is also noise. Noise is "unwanted sound" so if you’re trying to record a barking dog, that’s not considered noise (in recording terminology). :stuck_out_tongue:

What you’re hearing is “distortion” which is a change to the wave shape. You’re getting [u]clipping[/u] (overload distortion) which is the most common kind of distortion. You can also clip an analog amplifier like if you try to get 150 Watts out of a 100W amplifier. Distortion is more of a problem at high levels.

Those are just generalizations, but noise is usually a problem at low levels and distortion is usually a problem at high levels.

Another way to look at that is during the clipping, the digital system stopped following the show. The damage is obvious and permanent which is why so many home microphones have low volume. Overload and Clipping makes you want to send the microphone back.