Suggestions for soundproofing and background elemination

Hi all,

I have been trying to get into doing voice over work for some time now. I’m making do with what I have, which isn’t a lot and the space that I have as well. I do not have the space or the option to setup an area where I can truly soundproof a room for an ideal voice over setup. The setup I have is, I use my laptop to record (using Audacity) and a nice MXL Studio Condenser microphone with a Focusrite USB interface that plugs into my laptop & a xenyx 802 soundboard. There are problems I am still dealing with though that I wanted to reach out to this forum and see if there might be any suggestions such as possible filters and filter’s settings, respectively that I can use.

Issues I am encountering are:

-Extraneous noise such as the hum from our attic fan as we have no central air. It is becoming way too hot not to have it on with my room being upstairs. When I have been in an actual room that is built for recording voiceover, and I start recording, I notice the sound waves are completely flat. It’s not picking up any background noise whatsoever. However, in my current situation and setup, I do hear the air coming from the air vent, and any other ambient noise in general causing the recording to pickup those noises resulting in a not so silent recording even when I am not tracking anything. I’ve attempted to use a mudguard, but with how my desk is positioned and I place the mudguard behind my mic, that really doesn’t do much because the air vent is behind me & defeats the purpose of the mudguard.

-When I edit my voice track and splice it up taking out breaths and other unnecessary stuff, I can literally hear the edits and cuts after splicing–sounding a bit jarring. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to this stuff obviously, and I know it doesn’t sound good at all. This as opposed to recording in a true sound booth & not hearing any ambient noise, etc… obviously any edits, cuts, etc… are smooth and I don’t hear any jarring edits.

So my question to this group is, are there any filters I could use, and if so, what settings would you suggest I use to help eliminate this extra noise but at the same time, not let drastically affect the way I sound. I hope I didn’t make this too confusing. If you’d like, I can post a sample track to show what I mean. Which in turn, might be better to help understand what I’m dealing with.


an actual room that is built for recording voiceover, and I start recording, I notice the sound waves are completely flat

That’s misleading. The blue waves are in percent, not dB. They run out of poop (technical term) at about -30dB and just look flat. Quieter than that, the sound is invisible. Noise limit for an audiobook reading is -60dB. Sound doubles every 6.

You can run the blue waves in dB format, but that distorts the display so much as to be not useful for normal day-to-day operation.

I think the sound meters come out of the plastic wrap at -60dB. I change my meters to -96dB, the limit of normal recording volume, but I also stretch the meters over the whole width of the Audacity Window. The ends of the meters are drag bars.

Without being too much of a Debby Downer, you are describing an aggressively hostile recording environment. I know professionals who would refuse your job.


Hi Koz,

Thank you for your reply and I apologize for the delay. Yes, I totally understand that based on what I said, it doesn’t sound like the most ideal setup and environment professionally speaking which I can’t tell you how extremely frustrating that is for me (not that you said it–just because I already know that) and as I mentioned, I don’t have the capabilities or money to configure a proper setup at this time. I really do enjoy voice over work the most too.

You’ll find attached this post, a sample I recorded given 2 seconds of what was described in the link you provided of tips. Thank you! Please let me know what you think.

I thought you were going to post a two second clip. We can’t do much with that.

This is perfect.

Nice voice. Thank you Johnny Olsen.

This better? Set the playback volume so your voice is normal and then rewind to the beginning and listen.

It meets AudioBook standards.

I applied the Audiobook Mastering 4 tools from here. The posting is obsessive. It’s really only three filters.

Followed by very slightly aggressive Noise Reduction. 9, 6, 6.

You got lucky. Most of your trash is low pitched and the rest is “well behaved” and moderately easy to get rid of. I can talk you through that in detail.


Even if you get rid of the fan noise, and the kill the reverb in the room, you’ll need to de-click & de-ess

Haha well thank you for the compliment! When I read you wanted 2 seconds, I thought that meant 2 seconds of “pre-roll” if you will, followed by a less than :20 read. I’m always practicing voice over and had this copy in my folder of other copies. I thought why not just give him the real deal? :smiley:

Now as for your rendition of editing, wow does that sound beautiful! You must tell me your recipe haha. I’ll take a look at that link you sent me. If I find I get lost in the directions, would you mind if I sent you a PM through here so you can walk me through it? Thanks again, really appreciate it!! I think this’ll help me out a lot. I literally am dealing with a catch 22 situation in my current living conditions. I get really ticked once I start recording, hearing trucks, motorcycles, blarying through the small Po-dunk town I live in then of course just noise carrying from downstairs. Other times though, my surroundings are completely quiet give or take the ambient noise, etc… trash noise.

would you mind if I sent you a PM through here so you can walk me through it?

We try to keep instructions and dialog on the forum so other people can see them.

I literally am dealing with a catch 22 situation

You can’t get out of a dangerous bombing mission through an insanity exemption because you’re sane enough to apply for the exemption?

once I start recording, hearing trucks, motorcycles

I live in deepest, darkest Los Angeles and even I have to wait for the MetroBus to go by. They “fixed” a pothole in front of the house and every time the bus goes by just right, it makes a 1.8 Richter earthquake. Hard to ignore those when the china is rattling.

**“…and with a little further work, the warrant was posted all over the British”**BOOm-mm-mm-m … Son of a !@#$%^

I tried to be clear when I wrote Mastering. You need to download and install two tools. When you in particular get to the end of Mastering, you will also need Effect > Noise Reduction.

Step 1. Export a WAV (Microsoft) 16 bit copy of the work and save it somewhere safe. A USB thumb drive is OK, so is one of the Cloud Drives. This is so you have something when the dog eats your computer.

The first tool is the rumble filter. Select the whole work by clicking just right of the up arrow (on the left). The whole track will light up. Effect > Equalization. The presets are lower left. Low Rolloff for Speech. The “Length” slider is on the right. Anything in the 5000 range is fine > OK.

That’s it. You just applied the rumble filter.

Effect > RMS Normalize…follow the settings in the instructions. > OK.
You just made the ACX RMS (loudness) setting work.

Effect > Limiter… follow the settings > OK.
You just made the ACX Peak setting work.

Equalization, RMS Normalize and Limiter will hang on to the settings forever or until you change them.

Analyze > ACX Check.
You will pass the first two but fail noise.

Drag-Select some clean background noise > Effect > Noise Reduction > Profile. It will close itself. This is the step that lets Noise Reduction “sniff” the noise so it knows what to do.

Select the whole track > Effect > Noise Reduction: 9,6,6 > OK.

That’s it, we’re done.
Analyze > ACX-Check. Everything should pass. Unless you change something in your studio, it should do that every time


One caution. RMS Normalize runs out of steam at 37 minutes. So if you like to read forever, you may need to break the performance up into half-hour chunks to apply Mastering 4.


Which version of RMS Normalize are you using Koz? Could you post a link.

Thanks to a recently added Nyquist plug-in feature, it is now possible to have an RMS Normalize plug-in without this limitation. Does that sound like a good idea / useful thing?

This was a comment from earlier. I tried it and sure enough, mine pooped out at 37 minutes. Yes, it would be desirable to make it go longer. I’ll sort this when it gets to be daytime here.

How will I know which version I have other than the obvious trying it?


Where do you tell people to get RMS Normalize from?
I think a time-unlimited version could be a good candidate for the Wiki.

Is this the one:

There appear to be two different version of rms normalize that you’ve posted on the forums. This one, released in Dec. 2015 as well as this one, released Mar 2017. The Mar 2017 version is the one linked for download from koz’s Audiobook Mastering.

Here’s a (zoomed-out) comparison of the code, with the 2015 version on the left:

I inspected the code and my current plugin is missing dates, rev, issue, or level info.
I know “version” doesn’t work because that’s a Nyquist or License ID.
I’ll pull the “old” one down when we resolve this.


Thanks ve4jhj

The Mar 2017 version is the one to use and should be fine even for very long tracks.

I’ve moved the old version to the “plug-in archive” section.

One of Koz’s AudioBook Mastering posts has SetRMS, not RMS-Normalize. That’s even older. There may be other corrections—or just delete some of these orphans.

I thought of a different way to do this RMS Normalize thing. What’s the hero file size?

Right this second, however, Koz is moving to a different server/company. Last time this happened was…a long time ago.


So I did a test run using the plugins and instructions. I really like the improvements I am hearing. How’d I do with implementing them? The only thing that I do hear is just my laptop running. Unfortunately, that’s the only thing I have to contend with equipment wise because my desktop computer is even louder, especially the more the weather gets hot.

Thank you so much for letting me in on this. I think it’ll help tremendously and perhaps help me not be as discouraged as I was putting a demo together.

Sounds like the noise-floor on compressor has been set too low, (too large a negative number).
Particularly noticeable at the end of phrases, e.g. on the “t” of “vote”.