So I want to set the dB range to -42 to 0 dB before recording in order to reduce background noise. Is there a way to do this in Audacity?
The only way to split the difference between the performance and the background noise is to make the performer louder in real life. This is why live recording is such a stinging nettle.
In extreme conditions the recordist can use a head-mounted microphone:
Or in an unusual application, This American Life uses a long-distance shotgun microphone and pushes it into the guest’s face. They rarely miss an interview.
You can make the environment go away:
There is a wacky application of a camcorder stereo microphone that can help with this as well, but it demands software tools that Audacity doesn’t have.
It’s for a commentary. What I’m trying to do is this (skip to the 4:04 mark of the video and watch until the 4:37 mark) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zkosxvl2Nx0 . The person in the video sets the dB range to -42 to 0 dB through Sony Vegas, but is it possible to do this in Audacity? because I don’t have Sony Vegas.
The only feature that is like that in Audacity is Sound Activated Recording . You set a dB level and when the level of the input is above that level, recording starts or unpauses, and when the input level is below that level, recording pauses.
I’m not clear if that Vegas feature is more than that or not (I could not find that right-click menu in the Vegas Manual on a quick scan where it described the meter). If when you set “-42 to 0 dB” Vegas actually filters out audio below -42 dB that would otherwise be recorded (that is, noise that is underneath your peaks at -12 dB or whatever), that’s clever. Audacity does not do that. Audacity “Sound Activated” records the entire dynamic range that is there, whenever the peak level of the input goes above the level you set.
Incidentally the later part of that video shows Audacity working well as Sony Vegas’ external editor. Audacity export opened to the folder the Vegas file came from, probably because the author of the video always uses that folder, and after export from Audacity, Vegas noticed the file had changed and reloaded it.