"Making Sound Come from Afar"


I just installed Audacity and am amazed that it seems to be able to do much more than I was expecting… (I had installed it for a simple M4a to mp3 conversion).

The following question reflects my total lack of knowledge in sound editing:

Which effects setting should I use to make a song sound as if it “comes from afar” even when using headphones? (For instance, when you watch a movie using relatively good headphones, some of the effects --or music, voice etc.-- sound like they are coming from afar, somewhere behind you… I hope to make music files sound like that on headphones).

I don’t even know whether this is possible with Audacity…

Many thanks!

The effects that you need are:
Equalization - reduce some of the higher frequencies (treble) - sounds tend to become more dull with distance.
Stereo Delay/Echo/Reverb type effects to simulate the sound bouncing around off other objects and to “diffuse” the sound. I’m not sure what good stereo delay/reverb effect are available for Mac OS X so I’ll leave that to someone else.

(I had installed it for a simple M4a to mp3 conversion).

Depending on how you’re doing that, you can do a very credible job right inside iTunes.

You can get far away effects by decreasing the bass a little with the equalizer tool and then adding a little echo with GVerb. GVerb is a little sticky to use, so if you can find a nice echo plugin you like, that may be indicated.

You can get deep or behind you effects by changing the timing or phase between the left and right parts of a stereo track. Split the track and apply tiny delays to Right with the time shift tool and listen as you go.

You can extreme effects by flopping the up and down rhythm of one track completely. This generally happens by accident by mis-wiring a microphone, but you can use it to advantage in a production. You are warned that anybody listing on one speaker or in mono will not hear this part of the show.

See: Segment Four.



On a Mac, you might have Effect > AUDelay and AUSampleDelay. Those are Apple’s Audio Units and they are general tools for all to use.

Is “far away” happening inside or outside? Outside doesn’t have echo.

There was a similar question on a video forum and many, many people posted all with completely contradictory recommendations.

I did observe one common point. Change it and it almost doesn’t make any difference what you do. It just has to sound different and maybe a little lower than normal speech.



That’s not casual echo. That’s travel in an airplane and then a bus to go to a place that has echoes like that. Unless your script calls for that…

“Oh, John. How nice for you to propose to me at Echo Point.”

And any second we’re going to hear from the poster to tell us what he actually has.

Thank you very much everyone for all helpful suggestions. I have begun to play with the settings in accordance with the suggestions and the sound is close to what I hoped for already… (I am trying all except kozikowski’s last two since I am too much of a novice to try those yet).

I was thinking of “inside” I guess, a large room possibly (AUMatrixReverb too seems to be helpful for that); but this was only for personal use, no “serious” stuff.