Removing Background Music in an interview (Win 10/ Ver 3.0.2)

Hello all! I am recording interviews for StoryCorps for trail maintainers of the New England Trail. The last interview had to be done in a restaurant due to bad weather, and the radio can be heard in the background from time to time. I selected a sample and tried to filter it out, but then the person I recorded sounded like he was a duck with a bag over his head. There may be a good way to fix a piece of this, but it is beyond my beginner skill level. I couldn’t add a very good sample size due to the limits in the forum…

Thank you!

I couldn’t add a very good sample size due to the limits in the forum…

Correct. 20 seconds of mono (one blue wave) is the limit. You can’t post a movie script or an audiobook chapter.

You hit one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (#4).

Screen Shot 2021-05-22 at 13.37.45.png
That’s not to say we can’t do anything. We just can’t do anything useful. This is the noise gate. Delete anything quieter than a set volume.

That background and music are now permanent performers in your show.

There is still the Hollywood Option. Write down the words and have an actor read them in the studio. If the actor is really good, they don’t need the written script. They can listen to the interview in real time on headphones and recite the words clean one or two seconds late. That sounds like magic, but that does really work.


I have posted restaurant work before just by saying this is the interview, have a happy day. But you absolutely can’t have recognizable music back there. Copyright problems.

Your car is not a dreadful emergency studio, either.


You know that famous “When Harry Met Sally” restaurant scene?

Those are all silent actors. The restaurant “noise” was put in later and the zinger line at the end was Estelle Reiner, the director’s mum.

That’s the restaurant you need.


What Koz wrote is very true, the music and background noises are permanent and copyright is a big issue.
They can be reduced but you will have to tolerate a certain amount of degradation to the audio.

How long is the total interview?
It could be time consuming, is it worth spending a few hours on it?

Below, I have attached two versions.
The first, has a bit (gentle) noise reduction applied to it.

The second is more of a “if you can’t beat 'em, join 'em kind of thing”, i.e. added extra restaurant ambience to it.
It does two things:

  • Masks more of the music
  • Hides some of the artifacts from the NR.

I second the “if nothing else is available, use the car as a studio” option.

use the car as a studio

How much outside noise reduction can we expect in a closed car?


It would depend on several factors such as internal padding of the car and frequency.
But on average, you can expect 6-8 dB at the low end (bass frequencies), going up to 20-22 dB at the high end (treble frequencies).

Have listen.

Might be a good idea to invest in a Lavalier (lapel mic) mic to keep in your gadget bag for situations like these. You could dug in your questions later in post production.

What I done was: see attached jpgs.
Test for radio-EQ.jpg
Test for radio.jpg

Wow. From the car to “Harry Met Sally”. Anyone related to Kevin Bacon here?

I love Paul’s version #2. The whole interview is about 20-25 minutes long. I would like to note that I usually record on both my StoryCorp phone app and on my laptop using a Yeti mic simultaneously as a backup. I have had to use backups. Usually, I record outdoors, on the section of the New England Trail that the person is affiliated with, and the added birds and wind make the recordings seem like a real piece of time is being preserved. The jets flying overhead in another recording were an easier fix. In one interview during covid, one person was further away- and I fixed that a bit.

I will have to work on the Jason Mraz piece, but since I am not using the recordings for profit or personal gain, it would be hard to slap me with a copyright infringement here.

Tarrying on!