track clean up

Hi, I made some vocal and acoustic guitar tracks for a song and now I want to clean them up a bit before I mix down. I have used noise reduction, compression, eq, normalization and limiter all successfully. wondering what the best order is for using these effects to enhance a track. do you have any personal tips, recommended vids or reading on this? cheers

do you have any personal tips…

If you found a process that works for you, hold on to it with a death grip. The usual post is “Help me clean up my music track…I have no idea what I’m doing.”

Do you have a finished song posted somewhere we can listen to it? You can only post about ten seconds of high quality stereo on the forum. I assume your songs last longer than that.


I’d say noise reduction first because it’s going to work best when the noise is consistent. (Compression will tend to bring-up the background noise and it can also bring-up any noise reduction artifacts.)

Then EQ because it’s going to affect levels and you want your levels pretty-well set before you apply compression/limiting.

Compression and limiting can affect frequency balance so you may need to go back and do another iteration of EQ and compression (or maybe just level adjustment & limiting) after after your 1st compression/limiting.

do you have any personal tips, recommended vids or reading on this? cheers

Try to get the best recording possible so it doesn’t need much “clean-up”.

Do you have a “studio style” condenser mic with an appropriate audio interface or a good “studio style” or “podcast” USB mic? Do you have a quiet recording space with good acoustics, or “dead” acoustics?

before I mix down.

Note that mixing is done by addition (summation*) and you can get [u]clipping[/u] (distortion). So reduce the volume of your tracks before mixing, or render (export) to floating-point (which won’t clip**) and then bring the mixed file back into Audacity to normalize.


  • Analog mixers are built around summing amplifiers.

** Although the floating-point file won’t clip, it can clip your DAC when you play it back so it’s not good to have a “final” file that goes over 0db.

No,no. Wait. Normalize first or Noise Reduction won’t have enough to chew on.



Doesn’t matter.

You can actually do a noise reduction on a track that has a peak of -60 dB…
However, you can judge the result better if the track is normalized.

No, no. You’re supposed to say you have a different preferred order.


“Normalize ↔ Noise Reduction” the order does not really matter. I prefer to Normalize first so that I can hear the result of Noise Reduction better.

“Compression → Noise Reduction” BAD. Don’t do this. Compression can make the noise floor fluctuate, which messes up the Noise Reduction.
“Noise Reduction → Compression” OK.

That agrees with what it says in the Official Book of Words: