Tips for improving sound quality on tape transfer

Hi there,
I’m transferring some family tapes to digital format (mp3) and am using Audacity to attempt to polish the sound up a bit. I’m wondering if there is a general sequence of steps I should apply as far as the different tools on there, in order to get the best sound possible.
Some of the tapes are all talking, and some have singing as well. Different points in a given tape have different issues (e.g. someone talking too close to the recorder creating a muffled sound, or in other places, too much background hum or hiss, or in other places people speaking much more quietly or loudly than others). I could either use different techniques for improving sound quality for each of those parts (if I know which is best), or could apply filters or effects for the whole thing, if that’s a better approach. Or some of both, as I assume even after tinkering with removing hiss in a portion of a tape, I’d still want the tape as a whole to ideally have pretty consistent volume all the way through.

So I’m just wondering if there is some kind of recipe essentially for which filters/effects to apply and in what order (since that does seem to make a difference, from my random experimenting with it so far, not too successfully), in order to get at least the best overall sound quality possible.

Thanks in advance for any tips about this!

See this page in the Audacity Manual for just such a “recipe”:

And seev also this page for further tips re tapes:


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MultiBand compressor plugin …

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Excellent, thanks very much Peter. That looks like a perfect resource, and the further tips will be helpful too. Appreciate your help a lot!

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Thanks a lot Trebor. Excellent information! I appreciate your help a lot!

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