Improve or Remaster Old Songs

Hey there everyone,

I wanted to ask for help regarding improving or even remastering old songs. I am not sure if this can be done with Audacity that’s why I am making this topic. The biggest problem is static in these old songs, since the recordings are not in a good shape. However I have been looking online, like on Youtube for help and the only thing I find is how to remove static from your own recordings, not songs. Also, this is always a part where people are not singing or talking, but how do you remove static when it’s trough the entire song?

When I use the “Noise Removal” is only lowers the volume of the entire track, it doesn’t remove the static. The only static I can remove is when people are not singing or no music is playing. Let me show you what I mean, I would like to improve and old song like this one. In the entire song you hear static, now how do I remove that?

Lastly what else can I do to improve older song like this? I know how to increase the volume but sometimes this ruins the song because certain parts go to high and get distorted.

I hope some people can help since I am trying to create a special cd for my uncle who likes this kind of music, but most opera singers like these have been recorded long ago.

As a general rule, you can’t make an older recording sound like a modern recording. Noise reduction works best when you have a tiny amount of background noise… It works best when you don’t really need it.

Recordings are still made in soundproof studios with very good equipment, because there are limits to what can be done with software to fix-up a bad recording. On-location movie dialog is re-recorded in the studio too.

You can try using some equalization to improve the frequency balance, but on some of these older recordings there is no deep-base or high-frequencies to boost. Just experiment with equalization by ear, but be careful not to overdo it.

Lastly what else can I do to improve older song like this? I know how to increase the volume but sometimes this ruins the song because certain parts go to high and get distorted.

One of the characteristics of classical music (and jazz) is that it’s highly-dynamic… There are supposed to be loud parts and quiet parts. And, the peaks may be short-term (before your ear & brain responds), so those loud 0dB maximized peaks will often not sound as loud as modern music that’s dynamically compressed and constantly loud.

Music has generally become more dynamically compressed over time even as digital recording & storage with their wide dynamic range capability and low background noise have made high-quality reproduction of dynamic music possible. ([u]Loudness War[/u])

For the hiss:
take those little pauses inbetween the vocals and create the noise profile from it.
Like this one, comprising two gaps with noise (and some breath):

You can also take the profile from artificially generated noise. Take pink if the hiss is rather a hum, i.e. not so sharp.
The noise removal/reduction removes in general noise over the whole material, not only in the gaps (unlike a noise gate). However, it is somewhat similar but processed for many bands at the same time and depends on the attack and release times as well.

The apparent distortion is another issue.

Hi, Mr Sokolov

I know this software:
[Moderator note: Non-free commercial software: “SpectraLayers Pro 3” mrp $298.95 US]

[Moderator note: product home page]

[Moderator note: Youtube tutorials for “SpectraLayers Pro 3”]

but it is quite expensive and you should have a lot of tedious work by hand depending of the lenght of audio you want to improve.
Don’t know if it help.

**[Moderator note: For the benefit of all our users, unauthorised advertising on the forum is strictly prohibited.
Links to product pages for products other than Audacity may be allowed if they are directly relevant to a genuine user question. This is at the discretion of the forum moderators and will usually be only for free software.

I have made an exception for this post as the non-free software is directly relevant to the question.
Note that similar functionality is available in other expensive software such as Adobe Audition, iZotope RX, and others.

A new feature in the next version of Audacity (version 2.1.0) is that it includes some "spectral editing features.
For a preview of spectral editing features in Audacity 2.1.0, see:]**


@Robert J.H

Thanks! I will try to do that. Should I use Noise removal once or multiple times then on a song like this one?

So unless you are a professional and have professional equipment, you can’t remaster old songs. I thought it was possible since I see many people upload remastered songs on youtube like the one I gave as an example, but apparentely they probably use expensive software to do that then.

I am not sure how the equalisation works to be honest, can you perhaps explain that a little?

Real “remastering” requires that you have the original “master” recordings, which in those YouTube examples is rarely if ever the case. In the vast majority of cases it is not really “remastering” but just “tweaking” a commercial recording with such effects as Equalization and Noise Reduction.

Audio restoration is a huge topic, ranging from simple tweaking of the bass and treble (see: Audacity Manual), to advanced noise reduction techniques.

More information about noise reduction, equalization and other sound restoration techniques can be found in the manual.

A good question actually.
Normally, you should be able to set the parameters from within the dialog by repeatedly previewing the effect (which is unfortunately not always what you’ll get eventually). However, it is also possible to set the reduction to a small amount and apply the effect several times (ctrl-r), with the previously taken profile (or even another one, based on another gap).
The next Audacity version has an overworked noise reduction effect and the approaches might be different somewhat.
It would be worthwhile to analyse the different methods for their max benefit.