Newbie needs help with fixing saturated audio

Hi! I’m new at this, just under a dozen episodes into my podcast and learning as I go. Newest obstacle: I let someone I interviewed hold the microphone themselves and they held it way to close to their mouth, the audio is saturated and I don’t know what to do! I’ve separated tracks so I can modify my questions and her answers separately (my audio quality is pretty okay), but I really need to figure out how to fix her tracks. Help!

We can go through the process of posting a sample clip and then we inspect it, etc, etc, but overload/dense/saturated is one of the errors with no recovery.

Try it. Drag select a ten second segment of damaged audio (I assume mono, right?) and File > Export Selected: WAV (Microsoft). Post it here. From a forum text window, scroll down > Upload attachment.

You should totally start thinking about what would happen if you/we can’t clean it up. You missed a key phrase. The Kiss of Death is someone who posts “Help me clean up…”

Serious Props on using dual sound files. Many posters make a single mixed sound file and then ask us to split the two people. …Nope.

If somebody had a gun and said you had to fix this, the Desperation Method is turn the damaged guest dialog into a printed script and have an actor read it. Record it in the same location so the background sounds match. Edit your brains out.

Where are your podcasts posted?



Thanks so much for your response. I’ve uploaded 10 seconds of the file- it’s in stereo, not mono. Any advice would be great. I don’t have an audio community to consult where I am- kind of the only anglophone podcaster in Paris at the moment…so I really appreciate this!

Emily (

Attached pix: Turn on View > Show Clipping. All those red areas are overload and permanent damage.

The attached sound file is brute force patching. I reduced the volume slightly and muffled everything with Low Pass Filter. At those settings, the crisp, crunchy goes away, but it turns the interview into a moderate quality phone call.

Effect > Normalize: Normalize to -2dB
Effect > Low Pass Filter: 48dB, 3461

Desperation Method. Type out the words and get her to read it, or someone who sounds like her. Nobody is bringing this clip back. It will turn your show into a studio radio drama, but nobody has to know you’re doing that and it’s the difference between having a show and not.

Number 2.

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.)

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 3.30.15 AM.png

Lovely blog.
Where are the podcasts?

I agree.

The podcasts are in the top menu’s. Example:

Type out the words and get her to read it

I’m not making that up. Not all motion picture live shoots result in good quality sound. A significant portion of the movies you see have picture from the shoot, but voice from a studio sound room shot two weeks later.

That is an advanced technique, yes. It requires additional skills, yes. Given half your shoot is trash, how were you going to do it?


I’m at 6 minutes in Episode 8, The Grape Harvest.

I would love to stick with you, but my French is limited to politely inquiring about the rain pouring on the library of my aunt. “La bibliothèque de ma tante…”

In My Opinion, you should, in the case of the grape farmer with the horse, do simultaneous translation. The man starts to talk regular volume and then goes voice-under. A male translator then speaks the English translation (voice-over) at regular volume. Your voice is almost never heard in French, or never full volume.

“I asked John-Jaques about using his horse in the vineyards.”

“Mon cheval est en bonne compagnie…” [Voice Under - Announce] “My horse is good company in the long days spent harvesting the crops even if he eats some of it along the way.”


This also takes care of you translating after the fact: “John-Jaques said his horse is good company…”

Producers call that “tightening up” the show. It has the additional advantage of greatly increasing your audience to the English and American non-French speakers. I don’t know about England, but that’s effectively everybody in the US. Los Angeles is heavily bi-lingual, but none of it is in French. Thinking really hard, I know three (3) people who are bilingual in French. One American, One Parisian and one Swiss.

I’m perfectly aware that’s going to make editing much harder and you need a staff of voices. It doesn’t work if you are all the voices. Nobody can keep track of who is speaking.

Let us know if you decide to do that.


You’d be stuck with two separate voice tracks. Trying to do simultaneous translation with a mixed track, while not impossible, would be a months-long nightmare.

[Voice Under - Announce] > “My horse is good company in the long days spent harvesting the crops even if he eats some of it along the way.”

That presenter can be any man (in this case) with a good microphone, well-behaved computer and quiet room, anywhere on earth.

Watch. I’ll do one right now [pushes chair back].

Farmer Voice Over. Attached.

No computer. I shot that cold into a little Olympus recorder in my third bedroom. I know. Hollywood is not knocking at my door.


Haha, thanks for all the help, Koz! I’m still figuring out how to incorporate the French into the podcast. Back to only english interviews for the next one! I’m going to see if I can re-record the whole interview, I guess this is how we learn!

This is a John-Noel segment heavily edited. I know some of it doesn’t make sense in either English or French. Listen to the narration rhythm and flow (attached). You can do all the French you want if you overlay the translation like that.

Still can’t rescue the saturated sound, sorry.


This is what Audacity looks like to do that. You may have to zoom your browser wider or scroll to see the whole thing. That’s what the John-Noel track looks like with the volume dipped with the Envelope Tool, two white arrows and bent blue line. That makes a hole for my translation.

The second track is slipped into position with the Time Shift Tool (two sideways black arrows).

Audacity automatically smashes everything together into one sound file when you Export.

It’s really important that the translation be “clean.” No bedroom echoes or other background noises to take you out of the mood. It’s meant to be an intimate voice in your head.

One other Audacity oddity. It’s a good idea to have the screen update continuously while you record, but it’s a terrible idea when you’re editing. Set that in Preferences > Tracks > Update.

Screen Shot 2015-12-11 at 11.38.03.png

Quick Note. If the MP3 plays silent, pause it and start it again. I may have discovered an “unintended feature” of Audacity MP3 System.


I made a more convenient illustration of the Envelope tool showing the control points and blue lines (attached).