Improving quality of recorded file

Hello everyone,

I need some help on trying to clean up an audio file. It was recorded using Audacity 2.0.5. The quality is pretty bad, but I’m positive it was not due to Audacity. I think it had to do with the mixer or the computer. Anyway, I’ve cleaned up the file a bit already using the “noise removal” feature and then the “high pass filter” feature. While this has improved the quality, I think it could still be better. But I don’t know what else to do. Does anyone have any suggestions? This audio is just a person speaking at a meeting.

Thanks in advance!

This audio is just a person speaking at a meeting.

With the recorder at the back of the room.

I’m pretty sure it’s hopeless. We can’t do anything constructive with echoes. #1.

The Four Horsemen of Audio Recording (reliable, time-tested ways to kill your show)
– 1. Echoes and room reverberation (Don’t record the show in your mum’s kitchen.)
– 2. Overload and Clipping (Sound that’s recorded too loud is permanently trashed.)
– 3. Compression Damage (Never do production in MP3.)
– 4. Background Sound (Don’t leave the TV on in the next room.)

We can make a recording from the back of the room, but not with the equipment you had.


You almost always need to get the microphone close to the speaker.


I know it doesn’t sound like it, but I followed almost all of these rules. The recorder was not at the back of the room. The person talking had a Shure handheld microphone, which was connected to a Mackie mixer. And the mixer was connected to a computer. The sound coming out of the speakers were fine, but something happened to the recording. I’ve recorded at this place for years and have not had trouble with echos, room reverberation, or background sound. This time something just went terribly wrong.

I was hoping there were some features in Audacity that would improve the quality enough to make the file useable. But I guess not… :frowning:

This time something just went terribly wrong.

This time you were recording the built-in microphone on the laptop instead of the mixer.

Of course, that’s never happened to me.

You can help a little more by carefully selecting the sound between words or at a natural pause in the speech and use that for the Noise Removal Profile. I was able to get marginally better sound that way, but echoes are still very difficult. Also don’t overdo it. Use noise removal numbers in the 9-12-18 range. Don’t automatically go for a studio performance. You’ll never make it.


I’m assuming you’re talking about the noise reduction (dB)? If that is it, I used the default at 20. But I’ll go back and try your numbers.

If you use reduction values too high, the voice can get tinkly and faerie-like. The Profile step is very important in this process.

20 is still generally in the right range. People try to make a studo performance out of trash by going for 30 and up. It generally doesn’t work. There was a game commenter that was able to get some very nice results. He had access to both sides of his show, so he could tune everything pre and post production.

Here’s some notes on using Noise Removal. “Smoothing” is set so Noise Removal ignores the voice. This can help with the tinkly voice problem.


I’ve used the noise reduction before and overdid it, so I know what you mean by the tinkly sound. It does sound very weird. Almost something out of a SCI-FI movie. I’ll take a look at the nose removal manual. Thanks!

I was able to get some echo correction with the noise removal tool, but after I got all excited, I went back and couldn’t reproduce how I did it. !@#$%

Right… Which is one of the reasons I always say, If you are recording something critical where there’s no possibility of “take two”, don’t use a computer unless you have a back-up system recording in parallel. The back-up doesn’t have to be a computer. It can be a cassette or VHS recorder.

Computers are the LEAST RELIABLE things we own! :frowning: I love using computers for audio & video (and other stuff), but once in awhile something goes wrong. Most of the time it’s a user/configuration/set-up problem, so it’s not always the computer’s “fault”. But no-matter what the root cause, you are much more likely to have a problem with your computers than with your TV.

Sometimes you can find & solve the problem in 10 minutes or a half-hour, but you don’t want to miss the 1st half-hour of a lecture or live performance. Or sometimes you can’t fix it, or (as in this case) you don’t even know there’s a problem 'till it’s too late.

…At least you got your recording even it’s not the quality you wanted.